the fine print

Education is when you read the fine print. Experience is what you get if you don’t. – Pete Seeger

Have you ever heard the story about the blogger whose annual family holiday photo somehow ended up on a billboard advertising a supermarket in Eastern Europe? A billboard they never would have even known about if a friend hadn’t been vacationing in the Czech Republic and saw the thing?

Yeah, it happens. Really.


Some days the Internet seems like an unruly adolescent/toddler, constantly attempting to wield their independence through ridiculous Terms of Service. The fine print that few of us read, but that we all click and agree to, and then go about our days, totally unaware of whatever it was we said OK to.

I saw Eddie Izzard perform this piece about terms and conditions at the WriteAid benefit he headlined in 2007. Thanks to YouTube magic, someone posted Eddie doing the bit in ’09 for your viewing pleasure:

Click and agree. We do it all the time.

When Twitpic took copyright ownership of photos posted using their service, it didn’t bode well. People were pissed. Even though they’d agreed to it in the TOS. We click. We agree. But we rarely stop and read the fine print.

The good people of twitpic thought it over, said they were sorry, and changed the TOS back to the “yours, mine, and ours” deal you find with most photo-sharing apps.

Did you know what’s yours is also twitpic’s? (Or Instagram’s, yfrog’s, Lockerz, etc.) Check out the TOS and you’ll find magic word like perpetual, royalty-free, and non-exclusive. It’s right there, squished between a bunch of other words you didn’t read either.

I love Instagram. And I know they have the right to use my photos. I clicked. I agreed. But it does make me wonder if some shots are better shared via a service like Mobypicture, which is very clear in their policy that you retain the rights to your photos. (With Photosynth the rights remain yours, too. I’m not sure what else is out there. Anyone? Anyone?)

I have no plans to stop using Instagram. It’s a fun app and I’m not too precious about the images. I mean, I’m using it to post them on twitter afterall.

If Instagram wants to make money on my photos, well, at least I know that I gave them the OK to do so. But, they have to credit me as I own the copyright.  xo a.

Nothing in life is free, but what do you think about these sites being able to use your photos how they please?

Is it the fact they can use images of your kids, friends, or your dog sleeping in a chair your office  that concerns you?

Or is the fact that they can make money doing so that bugs you more? Or maybe it doesn’t bother you at all?


5 thoughts on “the fine print

  1. edenland

    Wow, have not really thought about it. FB makes me concerned, for similar reasons. Is that your puppy? What’s his name – (or she) – SO GORGEOUS. xo

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