Google’s terms of service
We recently reported on Google’s rebranding of photo sharing site Picasa to Google Photos which has come with much fanfare. Photographers, hobbyists and laypeople alike are excited that Google+ offers unlimited storage for photos which is a tremendous draw for photographers and people with a high volume of pictures (like hundreds of photos per listing).
Who has rights to your photos?
With unlimited storage as a draw (or fish hook, if you will), in Section 11 of Google’s Terms of Service, you can feel safe when you upload images because “You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.”
So why are we warning you to read the entire terms of service? Because the very next sentence after the feel good line above directly contradicts, “By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.”
Further, the terms note that “You agree that this license includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services.”
Also, “You understand that Google, in performing the required technical steps to provide the Services to our users, may (a) transmit or distribute your Content over various public networks and in various media; and (b) make such changes to your Content as are necessary to conform and adapt that Content to the technical requirements of connecting networks, devices, services or media. You agree that this license shall permit Google to take these actions.”
Forfeiting photo rights?
Photographers seeking to sell their images or to retain rights are forced to forfeit those rights when uploading images into the Google system, as are Realtors who upload their images.
When a Realtor uploads a file with a family at the closing table (ragged and worn out from packing, but excited to get the keys), that tired makeupless mom may appear in a Google ad because the Realtor gave up rights to the image, or in any of Google’s “related” companies’ (is that any company they’ve invested in? There are hundreds, if not thousands) sites or ads.
We are not offering any legal advice, rather noting that with any technology, the terms of service should be carefully considered before use of said technology.