The Small Print Taketh Away If You Post To Twitpic

Painted image of curly from city slickers lighting up a cigarette
Curly's Law - image by cogdogblog on flickr

I found this article over on tumblr, and I figured I should share it with you.

This article, pretty much highlights and backs up my feelings about using a site that you don’t own or control to share your content. It also highlights why you should always read, or at least try to read, the terms of use of any website that you post content to.

It’s a NY Times article about Twitpic and their recently announced partnership with an outfit called “World Entertainment News Network.”


Here’s the nitty gritty:

World Entertainment News Network, a news and photo agency, announced this month that it had become the “exclusive photo agency partner” of Twitpic, a service with over 20 million registered users that allows people to upload images and link to them on Twitter. The deal allows the agency to sell images posted on Twitpic for publication, and to pursue legal action against those who use such images commercially without its permission, according to the agency.

So basically, if I’m reading this right, you could conceivably be told to stop using the photo that you took because you no longer own the rights to it by uploading the picture to twitpic.

But wait, it looks like I’m only partly wrong. The NYTimes saw fit to gives us some clarification…

Twitpic’s terms of service say the site’s users retain ownership rights to the content they upload. But it also claims “a worldwide, nonexclusive, 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.”

That doesn’t really help me much. So, I still own the rights to my picture, which I can then sell to someone, but twitpic can also sell that same picture to someone else to use?

It’s confusing. To paraphrase the character “Curly” from that movie “City Slickers,” I know one thing.

That one thing is that I will not be uploading any more pictures to twitpic. Also, any pictures that I do happen to send to any photo sharing site will have a watermark with my name on them from now on, just to be safe.

Not that anyone would ever want to use my photos for anything, but you never really know, right?


Rafael is an aviation geek, a consumer advocate, a dad, a multiple personality blogger, a photographer, politically opinionated, a videographer and many other things as well.