It’s so easy and fun to share photographs online that folks often give away rights to their photographs without even realizing it. HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN? The terms, conditions and licenses that the photographer agrees to when posting a photograph to various social media and photo-sharing websites often grant other folks broad rights to use posted photographs. Keep in mind that every social media and photo-sharing website has different terms, conditions and licenses that are agreed to automatically simply by USING the website and POSTING photographs and other content. These terms, conditions and licenses are modified and updated frequently.
Here is an interesting and fairly haunting example: A photograph of a teenager was taken by her youth counselor and posted to his to Flickr account under a broad Creative Commons license that allowed others to use his work in any way, including for commercial purposes, if they credited the photographer. (See the inserted photo). A slightly edited version of the photograph ended up in an advertising campaign for Virgin Mobil Australia. A lawsuit followed.
THE TAKE AWAY: Read the terms, conditions and licenses that you are agreeing to when using and posting photographs and other content to social media and photo-sharing websites. Most popular social media and photo-sharing websites, including FACEBOOK, PINTEREST and TWITTER have fairly broad terms, conditions and licenses that change frequently. Websites post their terms, usually at the bottom of the webpage. These same terms that often give other folks broad rights to use posted content, also contain the steps to follow if your photographs or other content are being used without your permission on the site and you want to request that it be taken down.
This post was inspired by my friend Mel and a host of social media comments about a photograph that ended up on a series of KEEP CALM shirts.
BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.
See also: Articles about the Virgin Mobil example above from the Sydney Morning Herald and The New York Times; photo of a Virgin Mobil Ad; Flickr’s Creative Commons licenses at https://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/; other blog posts on photo copyright at https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/copyright-photos; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.