How Online Photo Sharing Sites Make You Forfeit Rights to Images

Many naïve users and organizations do not think twice before submitting photographs to online photo sharing sites. Most of the sites effectively make you forfeit the rights to your graphics and content the moment it is uploaded to their servers. The following article explains this in detail.

The Problem

Online photo sharing sites like Flickr, PhotoBucket, and even social networking sites like Facebook, make you forfeit the copyrights to your images the moment they are uploaded to their servers. This is a reason why you should not be uploading many of your personal images to them.

How It Works

There are countless incidents of people committing copyright infringement on online photo sharing websites with people downloading pictures and selling it as their own works. This is aided by the fact that most of the sites enable copyright infringement through their APIs.

Plugins and third party software that search for photographs using these APIs simply throw up your content based on the tags assigned to them. This happens even if the photos are tagged with “All Rights Reserved”. Such acts of ignoring proper API development and implementation practices cause a lot of copyright infringement.

This effectively means that any APIs that are implemented and approved by an online photo sharing website have the potential to put an “All Rights Reserved” license designated picture on sale. This causes literally thousands of infringements a day and a large potential loss in revenues to photographers. Online photo sharing websites simply issue API keys and place the sole responsibility of recognizing image licensing terms on the developers.

Compliance, requirements and restrictions are the sole responsibility of the photographer and any one can hold that right once they upload a copied image.

What Can You Do?

Most sites allow you to place restrictions over downloading, printing and making pictures available to public search. Tuning these options can give you a good deal of protection.

If you are a paying customer then you can force the online photo sharing website to honor your rights by ensuring a stricter implementation of developer APIs. This is because each online photo sharing website has the ultimate responsibility of managing its APIs and subscriber rights. Also you have to be aware that when you upload a picture to these websites, you are not forfeiting your rights to any third party developer or their end users. You can also ask the developers of the application that uses the API to respect your rights and implement filter criteria in their code.

As a final measure, you can take your pictures of an online photo sharing website and put them up on a self-managed and properly coded blog or website that prevents copying of your pictures and unauthorized printing. Many users implement a light box to void this scenario on a blog.