Google+ doesn’t own me

Update, Monday 18th July, 2011:

Keep shopping, everything is ok!
It seems like G+ TOS are OK. They are not stealing your copyrights like I thought they do.
After publishing this blog post I received various responses. Two interesting ones were on my G+ wall by David Schlesinger and Chris Zissiadis. They both disagreed with my claim and David refereed me to this PetaPixel post explaining how legally, the G+ TOS actually makes sense and does NOT “take our copyrights from us”, but rather just borrowing a variation of it to be permitted to have whatever it is on their services. The PetaPixel post also had a link to this post by photographer Jim Goldstein who explains it even more.

I also asked my friend who studied Copyright Law for her opinion, and later on I received her reply supporting the above as well.

To sum up, it seems to have been an unjustified FUD this time. All Social Media use similar TOS which in short, insures them it’s ok to post our work on their websites. In other words, we maintain all of our copyrights, and agree to publish it on their website (be it G+, FB, Twitter etc).

I am going to put my work back on G+ now, but I am happy I raised this issue and made people aware. Until next time, stay alert!

PS, The only true advice both David, Chris …and myself can give you is: ALWAYS upload LOW RESOLUTION. And if still in doubt, don’t upload at all.


Original post, Sunday 17th July, 2011:

If you’re a creative of any kind who has visual content, this post is related to YOU. Please share this post every way you can.

Many of you who recently joined Google+ didn’t actually realise Google+ have a very interesting paragraph on their Term of Service titled “Content license from you“:

11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. 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. This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.

11.2 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.

11.3 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.

I, as a photographer, was terrified when I saw this. It reminded me of how Twitter pictures host company TwitPic tried to “cash” on its users on May 2011 – causing me to immediately stop using TwitPic and start using yfrog instead. TwitPic did change their TOS after a wave of anger and account cancellations but it is still claiming pretty much the same.

Following all of the above, I’ve decided to take action and remove all of my photography from my Google+.

Instead, I have re-uploaded all of my pictures with the following text on them:

Please join my fight against Google+ TOS and force them to change it. Please delete all of your work from Google+ and instead upload this text on your images (click here to download zip with PSDs) or just this image:


More info about this issue can be found on this Washington Post article.

PS While I was writing this post I received this tweet from @jlego: “Have those people looked at the FB TOS? It’s worse! It’s got the word “sub-licencable” in there to describe the licence you give.”

– Seems like we have an even bigger struggle. Ben x

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