Would You Grant Me a Worldwide License to Use Your Photos for Free?

Facebook LogoIf you haven’t heard already (which is hard to believe), let me fill you in.  Facebook changed their Terms of Service Agreement a few weeks ago causing quite a few people to react in the community.  It seems the part of the new TOS that people have gotten worked up about is the following:

The following sections will survive any termination of your use of the Facebook Service: Prohibited Conduct, User Content, Your Privacy Practices, Gift Credits, Ownership; Proprietary Rights, Licenses, Submissions, User Disputes; Complaints, Indemnity, General Disclaimers, Limitation on Liability, Termination and Changes to the Facebook Service, Arbitration, Governing Law; Venue and Jurisdiction and Other.

After doing some research, I found it shocking that the following part of the TOS (which is actually in the old TOS as well) is not the part that people are throwing their arms up in the air about:

You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof.

I’m not a lawyer by any means, but reading this makes be think I’m giving FaceBook the right to use my content in anyway they choose, including for commercial gain.  If that’s the case, I don’t care what Robert Scoble is saying, this is a big deal.

First, let me clarify that I am mostly referring to pictures that I upload to Facebook.  I don’t really care about my status updates, emails, etc being passed around, duplicated, etc., however, if I was a writer, I would be worried about those little snippets of info as well.

So, with that said, I completely understand that putting my images online gives anyone access.  I understand that sooner sooner or later someone might decide to steal one of my images without asking for my permission.  I understand that I will always retain copyrights and ownership to these images and should be able to legal take anyone to court who tries to make a buck off of my images without my permission.  But this final point is what I feel Facebooks TOS takes away from me.  I still own my images (according to another part of their TOS), but by agreeing to the above, I’m giving Facebook the right to use my images in anyway they desire, and this is what I  find to be a big deal.

I’m do not consider myself a professional photographer, but I am trying (ever so slowly) to make some money with my photography on the side.  Granting Facebook a “…fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense)” any of my photos and ultimately “use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers)” just does not sit well with me.

What is your opinion?  Do you think Facebook’s TOS is fair?  Am I misreading this part of the TOS?

Going forward, I will probably continue to share certain images with my Facebook community, but will limit the quality of my uploads even further and increase the prominence of my copyright notice on each of them.

Till next time…

[Update:] If you want a good informative read about Facebooks TOS, check out Jim Goldstein’s writeup

[Update:] Chase Jarvis wrote up an interesting post as well and makes some interesting points.

[Update:] Carolyn E. Wright, over at Photo Attorney, has given her 2 cents on Facebook’s TOS.

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Categorized: The Social Web
  • http://www.toddsmithphotography.com/transparency/ Todd Smith

    I can see why they might feel they have to do it, but I personally don't put any more pictures on Facebook. Instead, I link to images or posts I have on my own site.

  • http://blog.justinkorn.com Justin Korn

    They obviously need something in there to give them the “okay” to move your content around the site freely. I just don't like the terminology they are currently using to give themselves those rights. Like I said, I'm not a lawyer, but I can only imagine there is a better way to write it so it removes the notion of them being able to use my content commercially.

  • http://www.toddsmithphotography.com/transparency/ Todd Smith

    I can see why they might feel they have to do it, but I personally don't put any more pictures on Facebook. Instead, I link to images or posts I have on my own site.

  • http://blog.justinkorn.com Justin Korn

    The obviously need something in there to give them the “okay” to move your content around the site freely. I just don't like the terminology they are currently using to give themselves those rights. Like I said, I'm not a lawyer, but I can only imagine there is a better way to write it so it removes the notion of them being able to use my content commercially.