Tuesday, April 27, 2010

AFP and The Twitter Debacle

The blogosphere is all aTwitter over the fact that a photographer on Haiti, seemingly without options for getting his remarkable images out, opted to use Twitter to do so. (PDNPulse - here).

When Agence France Presse (AFP) published those images, and, yes, profited from their distribution as did all their subscribers, the photographer got mad, because he was not profiting from the images, as he should have. Or should he?

(Continued after the Jump)

The Terms and Conditions for the use of Twitter grants Twitter the right to redistrubute without payments to the originating party, whatever passes through their system, but apparently the photographer didn't read the terms for the service he used? Instead, the photographer should have built up the necessary infrastructure and had it at the ready (Sat phone, anyone?). For example, I have the necessary equipment to traverse a blizzard, get around during the aftermath of a hurricane, and reduntant communications systems both in the office and on location in the event of system outages.

Arguments by the photographer that he didn't read the terms of service should fall on just as deaf a set of ears as the arguments that are made by clients who say they shouldn't be held to the terms of our delivery memos, contracts, or embedded-metadata restrictions on our images. "Officer, I didn't see the speed limit posted..." is not a valid excuse.

It's unfortunate here, but just as most photographers don't read the heinous wire-service contracts that freelancers are signing because they're non-negotiable, so too, are they making mistakes when posting images on free services with onerous terms and conditions.

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9 comments:

danno watts said...

except that it was posted through twitpic not twitter and twitpic's terms say that the copyright remains with the creator.

rocksteady,
danno~

Anonymous said...

So am I completely off base here, or does everyone but me seem to have this wrong?

The way I read Twitter's ToS, they have a write to distribute anything posted on Twitter. But Twitter only supports TEXT posts. There is no way to actually post a photo on Twitter. They don't offer that ability. You have to post your photo elsewhere, and then you can post a link to it on Twitter.

The only thing this photographer posted on Twitter was a URL in plain text. So Twitter should be able to fully exploit their ToS to republish and distribute the URL he posted on their service. And only the URL. That's the only thing granted to them under their ToS.

He actually posted the photo itself on a service called TwitPic. This is different than Twitter. He posted a URL on Twitter that linked to a page on TwitPic where he posted the photo.

Are you suggesting that simply linking to a page on Twitter grants Twitter the right to use anything on that page? If so, then no corporation would ever link to themselves on Twitter.

It's TwitPic's terms of service that should be examined here. Not Twitter's.

Brian Schneider said...

Based on the Twitter terms of service that means Twitter could use the photographer's work without paying for right? Does this give AFP the same rights as Twitter to use the images since the photographer posted them to Twitter?

Augie De Blieck Jr. said...

Someone is suing the wrong people. Twitter doesn't store photos, only text messages of up to 140 characters, often which contain links to content that's stored on other servers in other systems.

Looks like it's TwitPics' terms of service that need to be referenced here, not Twitter. Don't sue the messenger...

In the end, though, your warning message about being prepared for anything stands.

Jack Booth said...

Didn't the origination photographer only use Twitter as a last resort means of wire service, as he was in a location that meant he couldn't use normal means of distribution. Arguably then, despite Twitters terms of service, should he not have been free to to retain copyright, as it was more important to release the images for publication than the means of doing so?

Jukka said...

To the best of my knowledge the images were uploaded onto twitpic, NOT twitter. Check their terms and conditions.

pixelmixture said...

i'm french and i am ashamed by the attitude of the AFP ... they should have found an friendly agreement with the photographer

Anonymous said...

John, the only problem is that you physically can NOT post photos on Twitter, it is a text only service.

What this photographer did was post the photos on Twitpic, a separate service, and then used Twitter to post a link to the photos on Twitpic. As far as Twitter is concerned this would be the same as posting a link to an newspaper photo gallery.

The terms of Twitpic state:

"By uploading your photos to Twitpic you give Twitpic permission to use or distribute your photos on Twitpic.com or affiliated sites

All images uploaded are copyright © their respective owners"

Miikka said...

I do not see any way using twitter or twitpic in this case could invalidate the copyright of the photographer.

Twitter may have been used to distribute information about the images. Even though twitter has to get the (copy)right from the users for their tweets in order to copy and re-distribute it to any user, that doesn't mean the target of any links or other pointers would be now copyrighted by twitter. For example: I tweet a link to http://www.cnn.com doesn't mean twitter owns the content of cnn.com from now on.

As stated earlier, Twitpic terms state that the content shall be copyrighted by the original copyright owners: "All images uploaded are copyright © their respective owners". This is also Twitpics way of protecting themselves against any lawsuits about the content itself (porn etc.)

Now someone needs to help this poor photographer sue the S*%T out of AFP. EFF?

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