Archive for July 9th, 2011

Google is the company that started out with a simple mission – don’t be evil. I think they meant it when they started. They have grown to be one of the biggest companies on the planet. I am not so sure they remember their original mission. Their image search feature allows them to profit from other people’s work without compensation. Their TOS (terms of service) allows them license to images — that I find concerning. Why am I bringing all this up now?

There’s lots of talk about Google+. It is Google’s answer to social networking. It will probably be successful because Google has their hooks into everything – and everybody.

One of the things that has photographers excited about Google+ is their implantation of photo sharing. They seem to have done a good job of making it easy to share photos. For amateurs with no desire to turn pro or to license their work, this will be attractive.

My post today is not in any way aimed at amateurs. I am writing to professional photographers and aspiring professional photographers who hope to or do make money licensing their photos.

You need to be aware of what you are giving up if you decide to use Google+ or any other Google service when it comes to your photography. Please read the information contained at this link.http://www.google.com/accounts/TOS

Then, please carefully note these sections…

“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.”

“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.”

“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 am not a licensed attorney and cannot give anyone legal advice. If you are concerned about making money with your photography, I urge you to seek legal council to get an interpretation of the passages I highlighted here.

As for me, there’s a reason I don’t have a Google Buzz account or a Google Picasa account. There’s a reason I won’t (at least while the TOS reads the way it does) be sharing any images on Google+. The reason is simple. If I do share images on Google services – under the current terms of service – I will risk genuine harm to my ability to earn income from those images. As a professional, I don’t see the reward of using the Google services as being worth more than the risk.

Oh and one more thing that is not photo related – the privacy issues services like these raise completely creep me out.

Your mileage may vary.



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