With a rather sneaky sleight of hand, Twitpic, the hugely popular photo sharing service used to upload photos to Twitter, has updated its terms of service to let the company flog off your photos to third parties. For lolly.
Reacting to the growing concern about newspapers and magazines helping themselves to newsworthy photos tweeted via the service, Twitpic has decided to cut itself in on a piece of the action.
Under their new terms, when a user uploads a hot celeb photo to Twitpic, they still retain copyright of the image, but now automatically agree to license it to the company – so that Twitpic can flog your photo to magazines, papers and photo agencies.
To distribute the photos, Twitpic have signed a deal with news agency WENN, whose chief executive, Lloyd Beiny, commented
The belief by some that any photo posted on Twitter is available at no cost is completely wrong but now as result of this new arrangement, anyone wishing to publish celebrity photos posted on Twitter via TwitPic will be able to do so legitimately via WENN.
Here a snippet from Twitpic’s terms:
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, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the Service (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels.
Not surprisingly, some users were a little less than chuffed with these changes, and the company were forced to further explain their new policy in a blog post:
As we’ve grown, Twitpic has been a tool for the spread of breaking news and events. Since then we’ve seen this content being taken without permission and misused. We’ve partnered with organizations to help us combat this and to distribute newsworthy content in the appropriate manner. This has been done to protect your content from organizations who have in the past taken content without permission. As recently as last month, a Twitpic user uploaded newsworthy images of an incident on a plane, and many commercial entities took the image from Twitpic and used it without the user’s permission.
So there you have it.
Whatever you post up to Twitpic may end up being sold and republished elsewhere without you being asked first – and, as far as we can see, they won’t be handing you any of the cash they get for them.
You’ll still own copyright of course, but it looks like you’d have to try and chase that up yourself.
We’ll drop Twitpic a line and ask them exactly what they’re playing at and get back to you if we get a response.
Update 1st June 2011 0:33: Nope. We’ve haven’t even heard a peep back. So we’ll never be using Twitpic again, then.