What Pictures To Put Up On Facebook/Twitter/Twitpic?

This one. No, seriously.. this one.

With the launch of new services out there like 500px and now Google Plus, you’re going to begin to see a bit of buzz coming insofar as Terms of Services. The conversations usually focus on the idea that the terms and conditions to use X service require you to give up intergalatic, in perpetuity, super exclusive, no matter if you die and 300 years pass.. so and so terms for the images that you are placing online. That will bring out throngs of people who will create an incredible tempest in a teapot, raising the internet pitchforks to strike down “The Man” as “The Mean Corporation” will try to take your images.

Without getting overly philisophical on the topic, I do have some feelings on it:

Show You Really Care with a Copyright
If you cared about the images that you were placing online – you’d spend the 20 minutes it will take you to register the gang of them at the US Copyright Office. I’ve done a class on this. My buddies Ed Greenberg and Jack Reznicki have a class on this called Copyright and Registration that is absolutely fantastic at explaining this. Like leaving a door open to your car in front of your house – the first order of protection starts with you.

Did You Pay for It? No? Then Stop Making Demands
More often than not – companies are usually talking about these rights so they can use the images to sell their stuff. I think if you have the option to not have a website, sign up to Twitpic for free, take a picture, and immediately share it with thousands upon thousands of people, they SHOULD be able to use it for their marketing. You’re into them for 0.

Are You The Master of Your Domain?
If you want to be the ultimate controller of the images that you place online – I wouldn’t put any of them on these sites. I know it’s going o sound pitchy – but this is exactly why I wrote “Get Your Photography On The Web” in the first place. These days it is shockingly easy to make a web presence for yourself that you could be your own curator for all of these images. Whenever you take an image that you feel the urge to share on Twitpic – stop. Go to your WordPress powered blog that I walked you through and make a post. Upload the image to that and publish it. Now that picture lives on your website.

So What About The Social Networks?
This is a snapshot of what my public Facebook page looks like. Rather than spend the time on Facebook uploading the pictures that -could- be generating buzz/comments/and brand on my own website, I use Facebook as a way to notify my friends that I did something on my site. This lets me keep the community that I look for in a Social app like Facebook, as well as let me build my brand and blog presence with posting the content that is mine on my own site.

This falls the same for things like Twitpic, Yfrog, or whatever it is thats out there and free. More often than not, I usually show a low res picture of an image that i’m working on at these sites, and usually surrounded by a Photoshop or Lightroom screen. I also use the free services to post Photo Booth images, or something dumb that I really have no interest in. The best way i’ve ever heard something described came from Mike Monteiro of Mule Design on his F@%K You Pay Me video (Which was awesome, btw):

“I dont Discuss Clients on Twitter: Twitter is for d@*k jokes”

So Whos Doing It Right? 500px

Recently i’ve been using 500px to put some of my images up. One of the things that’s impressing me the most is actually their terms of service. They went an extra step and made it so that you not only own the copyright to your work, but that you actually understand what the terms of service is trying to do for you.

At the terms of service page, you have one column that shows you the legalese on the site. The right column shows you what that legalese is trying to say in normal terms. I think this reduces that nervous barrier and encourages you to say.. ah.. cool.. I can do this. It’s at least got me comfortable enough to put my stuff up there.

That said, I STILL registered it with the copyright office. And you should too!


  1. Very well said RC, and I can concur that the Ed Greenberg and Jack Reznicki videos are easy to follow as well as entertaining to boot. After watching the videos, I registered over 2000 of my imaged in one shot and it was easy.

  2. Pingback: Giving Away Your Creativity to Google?

  3. Nice short and important post that I was thankful to read as a photographer just starting out in the business world. Keep posts like this coming.

  4. Really good advice, I being guilty of posting on facebook for advertising and destroying my photos with watermark all across it. Gotta update with your technique instead. Great book by the way

  5. Hey RC… Just watched your great Kelby Training course on Protecting Your Images Online. I also have watched Jack & Ed’s course. But, I still have a question about submitting photos to eCO. It has been mentioned that photos should be submitted as a group or collection by year and not mix multiple years. My question is, can I submit multiple collections (separated by year) on a single $35 session as different “registration Services?” On the screen before payment you seem to be able to add more “Services” before clicking on the Checkout button. Or, do I need to pay $35 for each year submitted and do each one separately? Marty

  6. Great post. Thanks for the info. Now I have to run off and apply it.

  7. I found your profile on Linkedn and was drawn to the article you posted, and I have to say it did not disappoint! Thank you for sharing this information. I knew that FB wasn’t the best medium to showcase my work, but this actually explains why. Will def be back to read more on your blog!

  8. RC,
    You and Jack may need to updated your classes soon.

    The US Copyright Office is recommending a change to registering a group of unpublished photos . Usually you just need to provide a single title that will cover a group of unpublished photos per registration. But now the Copyright Office is recommending providing a title for the group of photos and providing a title for each photo in the group.
    I recently received a letter from the Copyright office stating this recommendation and that they might make it a requirement soon.
    This is the body of the letter:
    “We hope that you continue to use eCO, our electronic-filing process, to register your future copyright claims. When you do file in future to register a collection of your unpublished works, we are encouraging you to
    1. give a collection title only in the primary application title area (from the Titles screen in eCO,
    click “New” and then select “Title of work being registered” in the Title Type drop down
    menu; type your collection title into the “Title of Work” field; click “Save”);
    2. and to list all of your particular titles in the “Contents Titles” area (after entering and saving
    the collection title, click “New” again and select “Contents Title” from the Title Type drop
    down menu, and enter individual titles in the “Title of Work” field, either one title per field
    or several titles per field separated by a semicolon);
    3. and to upload a titles page as one of the links that you attach to your case.
    4. We hope that you upload electronic editions of your works, but if you mail hard-deposits
    instead, still you should list all contents titles in the electronic application and include a titles
    page in the hard-deposit that you mail to us.

    The certificate that we issue to you should contain a collection title for the set and individual titles for all
    works that you included in the set. It is important that you list these individual titles as “Contents Titles.”

    Although listing all of your titles in the application is not a current registration requirement, we might
    require this soon for all collections filed electronically and, more importantly, some recent court
    decisions have ruled that a registration might not extend to any work that was not listed by title on the
    copyright owner’s registration certificate. Thus, we are encouraging that you list titles in order to make
    the most bulletproof registration.”

  9. I liked this article but the two links to the classes at the top seem to be broken. Here is your image protection link
    and here’s the Ed and Jack talk

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