In the Wild West of online content ownership, Twitpic – the popular photo sharing service for Twitter – has taken a stance in favor of content creators. It has updated its terms of service to explicitly state that “all content uploaded to Twitpic is copyright the respective owners.” We’ll see if other photo-sharing services follow suit.
It’s not uncommon for bloggers, media outlets, and news organizations to take images uploaded onto services like Twitpic and use them for their articles without the proper attribution or acknowledgement of the image’s creator. But now, at least, the creators will have some legal backing if they find that their content has been misused.
The changes to Twitpic’s terms of service mean that whoever uploads an image owns the copyright to that image. This might sound like an obvious “duh” moment to anyone who hasn’t heard of the copyright issues surrounding digital media, but there has been confusion around the web – particularly the social web, where sharing is so prevalent – as to what a third party can actually do with someone else’s content.
Twitpic’s founder Noah Everett blogged about their terms of service changes, stating that:
“To clarify our ToS regarding ownership, you the user retain all copyrights to your photos and videos, it’s your content. Our terms state by uploading content to Twitpic you allow us to distribute that content on twitpic.com and our affiliated partners. This is standard among most user-generated content sites (including Twitter). If you delete a photo or video from Twitpic, that content is no longer viewable.”
Copyright ownership has always been a sticky issue online, but now Twitpic users can breathe a little easier. They’ve got the clearest signal from their favorite photo-uploading service that they – not Twitpic, not the public domain – own their own images.