Twitpic faces backlash for selling rights to users’ photos

13/05/2011

Photo-sharing tool Twitpic now has the right to sell images posted by their users, prompting outrage from some of its members. The US-based website, which is used by millions, was forced to apologise and clarify its position after moving to claim the right to sell users' photos without getting their permission.

Twitpic signed a deal with news agency WENN for rights to distribute any posted images. With some people even calling for a boycott, Twitpic founder Noah Everett posted a message saying sorry and again rewriting the terms and conditions relating to posted pictures.

13/05/2011

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"First off I want to apologise for that confusion and our lack of clarity. We've updated our terms again to be more clear and to also show that you still own your content," he wrote.

In part the new terms say:

"You retain all ownership rights to Content uploaded to Twitpic. However, by submitting Content to Twitpic, you hereby grant Twitpic a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content in connection with the Service and Twitpic's [and its successors' and affiliates'] business ..."

Everett stressed that Twitpic account holders own the copyright on the images and said the terms had been changed again to show "that you still own your content".

However, by signing up to Twitpic users also agree to let the service distribute their images to the company's partners.

This clause was needed, said Everett, because as Twitpic has grown, a lot of the pictures that people post to it have found their way into reports about newsworthy events.

One of the most famous images posted on Twitpic came from January 2009 when a US Airways jet crash landed on the Hudson river.

"We've seen this content being taken without permission and misused," wrote Mr Everett.
By changing the terms, Twitpic hopes to limit this abuse. In this vein it recently signed an exclusive deal with the Wenn news group to syndicate images posted on Twitpic.

Twitpic's terms and conditions are similar to those of many other Twitter picture services such as Yfrog, Flickr and Instagram which all give those firms the right to redistribute images.

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