Posting Online

Posting Online (FB, Pinterest)
16Rights GrabPinterest, Facebook, Photo Contests More
17LicenseAttribution, Creative Commons More

16. Rights Grab
Photo Contests

By Andrew Hudson Published: May 25, 2012 Updated: February 1, 2017

Be careful where you post your photos. If you’re uploading your images to sites other than your own, make sure to check the terms and conditions. Some less-than-honorable sites may commit you to a “rights grab” where their legal agreement gives them a non-exclusive free license to use and even resell your images.

Beware of terms such as “transfer” “license,” “sublicense,” “distribute,” and the audacious “sell.”

Photo Contests

One way companies can make a sneaky rights grab is through dubious photo contests. The website calculated that, in 2011, 82.7% of private photo competitions included some form of rights grabbing.

“When submitting a photo to a photo contest the entrant is in effect granting a license to the contest organiser, a license that enables the organiser to use the photograph.”

There are several red flags that can alert you to a suspicious photo contest. Beware of contests that:

  • are free to enter
  • have a website that are all about the contest
  • feature easy and emotional subjects such as cute babies or pets
  • require your to pay for a bio, and to buy a plaque, award, or book

Social Media

Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites have huge audiences and are a great way to market your work. But be aware of which photos you post. Once you’ve uploaded a photo, it can quickly go “viral” without your control, and then it can never be taken down. So exercise good judgement.


“How can I prevent people from downloading my photos on facebook?” Once pictures are on Facebook, other people can download them and you can’t directly prevent that. You can, however, choose who can view those photos. On Facebook, go to your Privacy Settings and see what are the current options. To prevent high-res images being downloaded, don’t upload high-res images, and leave the “high-res” checkbox unchecked. You can apply a visible watermark to your important images so that viewers know you own the copyright.


When it first launched, Pinterest, a social media site, was accused of a rights grab with their T&Cs.

“By making available any Member Content through the Site, Application or Services, you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services.”
Early Pinterest Terms of Service, since changed.

Any member could upload to their “pinboard” any image they found on the Internet, and Pinterest allowed themselves to sell posters and books of the pinboards, with those images. After complaints from photograph-rights-holders, Pinterest changed their terms.

“Our original Terms stated that by posting content to Pinterest you grant Pinterest the right for us to sell your content. Selling content was never our intention and we removed this from our updated Terms.”
— Pinterest Blog, March 23, 2012 (since removed?)

Now Pinterest offers an opt-out meta tag for photography sites that don’t want their photos to be “pinned.” The following code can be added to the <head> section of an HTML page:

<meta name="pinterest" content="nopin" />

Pinterest also offers a DMCA Copyright Infringement Notification page.


REWRITE: I set my Flickr account so that only my friends and family can print or download photos (or even see most of them) and set the CC license to all rights reserved.

17. License


Creative Commons

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