Photographers, beware of user generated content terms and conditions

I shared a photograph on Instagram, tagged the hotel where the photo was made and was asked if it was ok to repost the photo.

That’s a normal thing which happens daily to thousands of people on Instagram. But Hilton linked to their terms and conditions for user-generated content. What I read shocked me.

By approving their use of your photo on Instagram, you’re also approving their use to sell and do anything they want with your photo, and even your profile and profile photo. I’m not a lawyer, but that’s how I interpreted it.

Photographers beware. Check terms and conditions before approving user generated content.

Photographers, beware of user generated content terms and conditionsI’m not a lawyer, but that’s how I interpreted it. Photographers beware. Check terms and conditions before approving user generated content.

Here is a quote from the terms and conditions from the Hilton website.

“You hereby grant us a non-exclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, perpetual, transferable, irrevocable, and fully sublicensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, sell, assign, translate, create derivative works from, distribute and display any Submission in whole or in part, as well as your name and other identifying information, including without limitation any social media identifier, handle, profile picture, image, likeness, posts, statements or other information available or provided by you, in any form, media, or technology, whether now known or hereafter developed in connection with the Hilton marketing, advertising and promotional activities referred to above.”

Here at Imagely, we recommend working with Rachel Brenke from The LawTog for any legal advice related to your photography business.

When we repost photos from the Imagely community, we're doing without claiming ownership over it at all.  We also show who the originator is. We do it just to share good content, like articles and photos. 

Some examples of how Imagely handles user generated content from Instagram are as follows:

  1. Weekly Instagram Love:  we curated our favorites images from the #imagely hashtag on Instagram, and shared them in a weekly series on the blog. We have since discontinued the series, at least for now. Every image has a link back to the original.
  2. Shared via Buffer: We share blog content we love via Buffer. An associated image from the post is shared on Instagram and credit is given to the site.
  3. Reposted on Instagram: We use a reporting app which watermarks the image with the originator, and also includes attribution in the image caption.

The most important part is that we do not claim rights on any of them. Simple as that.  We won't sell images without licensing it from the originators. And the only modification we make is in #3 which adds a watermark of the originators Instagram profile.

We hope other businesses do the same and stop abusing rights.

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