Indignation spread through the Twittersphere when it was discovered that popular photo sharing service Twitpic was seemingly forbidding users from selling or distributing their own pictures. But Twitpic is not alone. Other photo services also exercise surprising controls over pictures uploaded by users, and most sites claim the right to use or distribute pictures without consent.
The Twitpic Terms of Service at that time (now changed) read:
You may not grant permission to photographic agencies, photographic libraries, media organizations, news organizations, entertainment organizations, media libraries, or media agencies to retrieve from Twitpic for distribution, license, or any other use, content you have uploaded to Twitpic.
After an uproar, Twitpic changed the conditions to clarify that users retain ownership of pictures they upload, but that Twitpic retains the right to use and distribute the content as the company sees fit.
The Terms of Service were updated thus:
You retain all ownership rights to Content uploaded to Twitpic. However, by submitting Content to Twitpic, you hereby grant Twitpic a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content in connection with the Service and Twitpic’s (and its successors’ and affiliates’) business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the Service (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels.
This is why I don’t share photos on Facebook anymore. Looks like I’ll have to be even more careful around the services whose ethos I would assume prevent from these kind of underhanded manipulations, like Flickr.