Or maybe you should ask yourself if you still want to maintain the exclusive rights to your art? That may sound severe but it is something people need to consider, especially for sites like Flickr, Facebook, or SoundCloud where artists may be uploading their visual work or musical compositions. Yet there are so many sites with so many different terms; how can we make sense of it all?
Sites need the TOS. They must protect themselves, as does any party entering into a contractual agreement although sometimes they are broader than necessary. But look at it from the point of view of the legal team writing them; they want to provide their client with the greatest protection possible, considering every contingency they can imagine. The breadth and depth of the terms will depend on the size of the user base and how many different services are provided. So, the TOS for large sites, like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr are extensive and often end up looking like an unnecessary rights grab
Let’s look at Facebook for an example. Imagine Facebook creates a poster which will be distributed in every major city. The poster art is a collage of Facebook profile screens, each poster containing only profiles form people living in that city. Facebook does not want to obtain permission from every person on that collage, especially since it may contain copyrighted materials. Having surmised that this kind of marketing was possible, the attorneys writing the TOS added in broad copyright and licensing language, including the right to use the material without specific permission as well as a perpetual license for that material just in case years later, they can re-use the same image even if the users have deactivated their accounts.
Facebook probably has no intention of exercising those broad powers, and if they did, it would likely be limited to a reuse, but they could likely use the images in ways that might be harmful to the reputation of the artist and affect the value of the artistic work. But Facebook also knows that a broad TOS will not result in the loss of many users. While the user might find the TOS unacceptable, they will likely still use the service and probably never read the TOS in the first place, so don’t understand the risk.
That is a conundrum that is difficult to overcome but here let me make my audience aware of a little software tool that might help. Terms of Service: Didn’t Read is an add-on for Firefox and Chrome that provides a summary of the TOS for sites as you surf. It’s simple to use; just surf to a site, click the question mark in the toolbar and a summary of the TOS for that site will be provided. The tool has a large database of sites so it seems to work for at least most of the larger sites. Below is the summary for the copyright section on Facebook:
The copyright license that you grant to Facebook goes beyond the requirements for operating the service. For instance, it includes the right for Facebook to transfer the license or to license it others on their terms (“sublicense”). Also, the copyright license does not end when you stop using the service unless your content has been deleted by everyone else.
The add-on provides a discussion area so people can comment on each aspect of the TOS. It’ s free, so give it a try, and maybe it will help you make better and more informed decisions and keep you from losing some of your exclusive rights.
- Make Your Terms of Service the New Must-Read (tech.co)
- You Don’t Own Anything Anymore (buzzfeed.com)
157 Comments|Getty Images is one of the largest purveyor of stock photos in the world and aggressively protects their copyrights. With the Internet being an ocean of visual imagery ripe for the picking, many stolen images are from one of the Getty Stock Photography sites. It's so easy to copy photos from...
136 Comments|Should anyone find themselves a recipient of a Getty Demand letter, this article includes a sample response letter that might be helpful.
82 Comments|Today's artists and creative entrepreneurs use blogging as a necessary tool to demonstrate thought leadership and capture a dedicated audience and internet following. For artists and photographers, finding photos aren't usually a problem – they're just using their own. But what about lifestyle, fashion, and food bloggers, who tend to...
77 Comments|When the Copyright Act was first enacted in the United States, the copyright duration was only 14 years. Today Copyright duration can last over a century in some cases. Why such a drastic change? Some say it is all due to a cute little mouse named Mickey. Copyright duration had...
70 Comments|Buying visual art, such as an oil painting, and we may have joint ownership along with its creator. So what did we really buy?
- How Can Museums Copyright the Works of Old Masters?If an artwork is in the public domain, free from copyright protection, then how can a museum claim it holds the copyright? […]
- 2019 is a Huge Year for Public Domain ArtOn Jan 1, 2019, we not only ushered in a new year but also an unprecedented amount of creative works entering the public domain. […]
- Can You Copyright an Idea?Understanding the difference between idea and expression is crucial to ensuring your creative work has sufficient copyright protection. […]
- Using Orphan Works (Copyright Holder Can’t Be Located)If the owner of a copyrighted work cannot be found, can I use it? It may be possible if you analyze the orphan work properly. […]
- The College Art Association Guide to Fair UseFair use is a common art law issue that arises for artists. Here, we review the College Art Association's Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts. […]