Last week, Twitpic changed its terms of service to state that on signing, you grant it a “worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license” to your content, and a lot of people are not happy.
The change in the terms of service took place on 4 May, though as a result of negative feedback around the blogosphere, Twitpic updated them again yesterday and posted a blog to explain its side of the story. The update however has not appeased those upset at the change, particularly photographers who feel the change will lead to images they upload being used without their permission. Under the copyright section of the Terms of Service, Twitpic says users “retain all ownership rights to Content uploaded to Twitpic,” however it goes on to say that it will also be able to “use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works” from your images. Some photographers believe this will give Twitpic the freedom to sell and licence their, and general users' images to whoever it wants without asking you.
Twitpic's response yesterday was to issue an apology regarding the confusion it said the change in terms of service caused. It added that it updated the terms yesterday to make them clearer but the offending sentences still remain. Twitpic said the reason it updated the terms of service was down to the use of content without permission by news outlets. “This has been done to protect your content from organizations who have in the past taken content without permission. As recently as last month, a Twitpic user uploaded newsworthy images of an incident on a plane, and many commercial entities took the image from Twitpic and used it without the user’s permission.”
While Twitpic says users retain the copyright of their images, many people will still be worried about the granting to Twitpic’s of a royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable licence.