Do You Fear Terms of Service?

This was a discussion I started on my F-Stop Beyond Facebook Group that I thought would be great to bring to the blog. In my last “new” episode of F-Stop Beyond we had new media masters Thomas Hawk and Robert Scoble. They each have a very laissez faire attitude about posting their photos online and various sites’ terms of service (ToS) with respect to use of photos/videos posted. Robert even puts all of his photos in the public domain.

Then, on the other side of the spectrum is another new media pro and photographer veteran Scott Bourne. He’s famous for his negative feelings about ToS that seem to give the site owner free reign on the use of any photos or videos you upload.

What’s your take on it? Do you care? Is the marketing exposure you get from posting your photos/videos worth giving another site rights to do what they want with your content? The issue is made a little more interesting by the latest Facebook  fiasco–using a member’s post photo in a Facebook ad (served by a third party) for singles. Oh, and that member is married! (Read about it here). Chime in.

Here’s the episode with Robert and Thomas:

5 thoughts on “Do You Fear Terms of Service?

  1. The feeling I get from Facebook and their ToS is that they are going to take it for the free ride until someone challenges them on it. The attitude that comes from social sites like this is one of people are going to use this regardless.

    People who just post pics of themselves etc in daily life dont seem to be generally worried or even care. How many of them have even read the ToS?

    Most of those don’t care if someone uses a pic of their cat or a pic of them throwing up the “peace” finger sign while holding a beer in their hand? Pro photogs on the other hand are the ones who are generally leery and rightfully so.

    I fall into that category and understand that when I post to my blog it will cross pollinate from flickr to Facebook, etc. I tend to brand my images with a border and watermark, but that is never a deterrent from anyone who wants to use part of your image regardless. If skating on the pond of Facebooks ToS is beneficial to you and your brand like it is for Edmonson, Beckstead and Jarvis, then sometimes its worth overlooking the thin ice. Jarvis just uses FB as a link station, I dont see him posting direct works there.

    MPix recently launched a new brand in the form of MPix Pro to attract higher end medium volume and specialty photographer business. They used language from their parent company, Miller, that received tremendous kickback from the pro photog industry. The boiler plate language was simply cut and paste from Millers site stating they could use any image you uploaded in any form or a piece of that image if Miller deemed it so with no compensation or notice. It was changed immediately when brought to their attention. Why? Miller through MPix know their market.

    Facebook never seems to lock anything down. Their attraction is not the pro photographer market but to be the anti-MySpace. The fact that the most buzz you hear about Facebook is their ToS and their possible charge for content/use speaks volumes to me.

    Facebook can play in the Hollywood celebrity circle and do interviews on Oprah all day long, but eventually the exploitation from their vague ToS is going to bite them.

  2. It’s so hard to police something like this. I think that’s what it boils down to for a lot of media artists. For the corporate side of things, I think it helps to have a solid ToS. It establishes a respectful relationship and shows you are serious and professional. Also, it’s easier to get taken advantage of and loose more money in the corporate arena. For the family oriented stuff, it’s easier to be lax and let them do what they want with the photos. I would still provide some type of ToS contract, because again, you want to establish a respectful and professional relationship.

  3. Facebook provides a free service that, more or less, users tend to take for granted. It costs $0.00 and doesn’t force anyone to join.

    If you want to be part of it, you have to agree to their terms and service. Otherwise, you have the freedom to not post photos or share media you want to keep private.

    As everything on the internet has become easily available, user-content-driven, and *free*, it seems that people have started to develop a false sense of entitlement.

  4. I just read that post about the facebook fiasco. Wow! Unacceptable! That is not cool. I guess I need to read the fine print on the facebook terms of service a little more clearly.

  5. Alvin it’s true – looking at Facebook’s TOS I made the simple decision to abandon Facebook altogether. They have a right to set any TOS they like. I have a right to go somewhere else – which I have done. But I have no sense whatsoever of entitlement. I am not entitled to their service any more than they are entitled to my photos. Professional photographers should pay very strict attention to the TOS contracts they accept. In many cases, the service you receive for what you give up is just not worth it. I am proud to say that other than having a placeholder so nobody else can use my name, I have zero involvement with FB and it hasn’t bothered me a bit.

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