Friday, February 13, 2009

Photo sharing site grabs rights to sell images

Photographers are concerned their images posted to a group of social photo-sharing sites will be sold without their consent following a change in the site owners terms and conditions.

Internet Brands which acquired Trek Lens, Trek Earth and Trek Nature has used its Terms and Conditions to cynically grab the rights to sell and adapt the work of photographers who upload images to its photo-sharing sites.

Here is the relevant paragraph from their T&Cs:

By displaying or posting content on the Site, you hereby grant us a nonexclusive global license to publish the content submitted by you to the Site. You also grant us global nonexclusive adaptation and resale rights over any content and material submitted to the Site. These nonexclusive publishing license and resale/adaptation rights extend to any materials submitted "for publication" within the Site, including both message board postings and content submitted for uploading and subsequent publishing within non-message board portions of the Site. Neither we nor our staff will be responsible for any misleading, false or otherwise injurious information and advice communicated on the Site or for any results obtained from the use of such information or advice. We will not be liable for any loss or damage suffered by a user through the user's reliance on information and advice gained on the Site.

Photographers who upload their images have expressed concern on the Trek Lens forums but so far Internet Brands has not responded.

We have seen efforts to grab the rights of photographers before, for example when they enter a picture in a competition, but I do not recall seeing anything on this scale where thousands of images uploaded by photographers in good faith over many years have been grabbed for resale by the website owners.

As with most sites the owners reserve the right to change their T&Cs without notifying members but surely when it comes to copyright work which may have commercial value this kind of thing cannot be acceptable. Yet legally as far as I can see members who not agree to hand over the rights to sell their work have only one option. Delete your work and leave the site.

I sincerely hope the media picks up this blog and brings pressure to bare on Internet Brands. If they do not change their T&Cs I feel sorry for all the photographers that have spent so many hours lovingly working on their images, uploading them and writing informative and useful notes. So much good work will be lost if they have to delete their porfolios.


Paul Indigo
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