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!