Twipic, the interesting and useful Twitter-based photo sharing platform, has a wild Terms-Of-Service document on its website that brings up more questions than answers.
The basic question is, can a blogger use a Twitpic photo as the basis for a blog post or video blog post? The answer seems to be yes, but if you credit Twitpic as the source. Here’s the part of the Twitpic TOS which sort of states this:
To publish another Twitpic user’s content for any commercial purpose or for distribution beyond the acceptable Twitter “retweet” which links back to the original user’s content page on Twitpic, whether online, in print publication, television, or any other format, you are required to obtain permission from Twitpic in advance of said usage and attribute credit to Twitpic as the source where you have obtained the content.
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.
You also hereby grant each user of the Service a non-exclusive license to access your Content through the Service, and to use, reproduce, distribute, display and perform such Content as permitted through the functionality of the Service and under these Terms of Service. The above licenses granted by you in media Content you submit to the Service terminate within a commercially reasonable time after you remove or delete your media from the Service provided that any sub-license by Twitpic to use, reproduce or distribute the Content prior to such termination may be perpetual and irrevocable.
Here’s where Twitpic’s playing with fire:
You also hereby grant each user of the Service a non-exclusive license to access your Content through the Service, and to use, reproduce, distribute, display and perform such Content as permitted through the functionality of the Service and under these Terms of Service.
See, here’s the issue folks. Celebrity PR people use services like Twitpic to distribute images they hope will be picked up by bloggers and essentially redistributed as part of news commentary and reporting. This is done so often, that it represents an addition to Twitpic’s TOS. The problem is that by not expressly mentioning news organizations, Twitpic gives a celebrity PR rep the ability to put a photo out there, then pull it back, using the Twitpic TOS as a weapon, albeit a weak one.
It gives Twitpic the right to use your photo, and distribute it. And Twitpic says that you as a Blogger must say “I got it from Twitpic.” So, all anyone has to do is say “I got the photo from Twitpic,” and that’s it.
That the way it works for the moment.