Careful with those hashtags

SquarePeg

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In what is becoming an increasingly common practice among commercial brands, Delta Airlines has begun trying to sneakily claim image rights to any photo posted on Instagram with the hashtag #SkyMilesLife.

Last year, we reported how UK food delivery company Deliveroo was encouraging users of the social media platform to use a hashtag as a means of gaining the rights to use people's photos for their commercial gain. Another culprit was Hilton Hotel in 2019, which would comment on a photographer’s post, attempting to have them give away the rights through flattery. Oftentimes, the small print is made difficult to access, with many photographers getting swept away in the compliment, not quite realizing the extent of what they’re signing away.

Now, Delta has been found to be encouraging customers to post photos of their experience and has even erected billboards in support of their campaign. Photographer David Bergman spotted one in an airport, posting details of it on his social media. What may seem innocent to the untrained eye, however, has deeper undertones. The fine print reads:

By tagging photos using #SkyMilesLife and/or #DeltaMedallionLife, user grants Delta Air Lines (and those they authorize) a royalty-free, world-wide, perpetual, non-exclusive license to publicly display, distribute, reproduce and create derivative works of the submissions (“Submissions”), in whole or in part, in any media now existing or later developed, for any purpose, including, but not limited to, advertising and promotion on Delta websites, commercial products and any other Delta channels, including but not limited to #SkyMilesLife or #DeltaMedallionLife publications. Delta reserves the right to use or not use content tagged #Skymileslife and/or #DeltaMedallionLife and user will not be entitled to compensation if photo is used.
User grants to Delta (and those they authorize), the irrevocable and unrestricted right to use, re-use, publish and re-publish, and copyright his or her performance, likeness, picture, portrait, photograph, in any media format, in whole or part and/or composite representations, in conjunction with my name, including alterations, modifications, derivations and composites thereof, throughout the world and universe for advertising, promotion, trade, or any lawful purposes.
One read of the rules tells you that all rights are signed away, with the company allowed unlimited usage, indefinitely. And the sneaky inclusion of the fine print seems to be working, as more than 100,000 images have, likely unsuspectingly, been uploaded using the hashtag. Quite the result for Delta!

Lead image Jean Cont from Pexels.
 

Space Face

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I have no idea even what a hashtag is, what it means or what effect it has.
 

Overread

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I have no idea even what a hashtag is, what it means or what effect it has.
It's just a social media platform tagging system.
you just put the hashtag symbol and then the phrase to "tag" your image with the tag. Then when people search on that tag it shows your image. What the company is trying to do is say that they own the tag and then say that by you hashtagging your images with that tag, acts like a binding contract of agreement to claim rights.


Honestly I don't think it would stand up in court considering the nature of what hashtags are; but it requires someone to challenge it and there's always the risk that the court could go the other way.
 

Space Face

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It's just a social media platform tagging system.
you just put the hashtag symbol and then the phrase to "tag" your image with the tag. Then when people search on that tag it shows your image. What the company is trying to do is say that they own the tag and then say that by you hashtagging your images with that tag, acts like a binding contract of agreement to claim rights.


Honestly I don't think it would stand up in court considering the nature of what hashtags are; but it requires someone to challenge it and there's always the risk that the court could go the other way.
Thanks, appreciated but it's all Greek to me. I don't do FB, Instagram, Bebo (is that still a thing?), Twitter etc etc. Just a few common interest Forums (like this one) and some other clothes and sports stuff. I think in the hashtag scenario my ignorance is a bliss😁😉
 

snowbear

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In the Unix world (at least the old school UNIX), the shell prompt (like the command prompt on a Windows computer) is #. It was also called the "pound sign" in the US.
 

RacePhoto

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A little late to this party but lets say I post a photo and use a hashtag and then it shows on their website or somewhere else, then I come after them for the rights and the use? What I'm getting at, is, this isn't just a rights grab it's also CYA to prevent someone from allowing a use and then trying to claim that there's a fee for the use.

Many, if not all, contracts for agencies, have a promotional use clause in their submission terms. It will say something to the effect, that they can use the images for promotions, display or demonstration to potential buyers.

Example: By submitting any Content to Agency, you grant to Agency a worldwide, sublicensable, non-exclusive right and license to index, analyze, categorize, archive reproduce, prepare derivative works incorporating, publicly display, sell, advertise and market, any Content uploaded by you and accepted by Agency for any reasonable business purpose, including but not limited to the distribution of your Content to Agency customers, to optimize the performance and operation of Agency’s platform and services, and to develop new features and products. You also give permission to Agency to add, modify or remove information related to your Content in order to manage and license such Content.

Notable and why I won't enter "free" contests is they have similar terms, which allow them free rights, forever for anything entered. Similar pay to enter contests, which I personally think are a nothing but a way to make money off hopeful entrants, have the the same terms. Imagine that? Someone pays to enter a contest and the contest organization now owns the rights to use your image, forever, for free.
 

smoke665

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Wow, underhanded, sneaky, deceitful.......the list goes on. I've seen many putting hashtags on their posts. I have refrained, now I'm glad I did.
 

Soocom1

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This is akin to the various photo hosting sites that played the same game some time back, that by publishing the photo on thier site t became their property.
The clincher is that they did this through a contract with multiple links to show the disclaimer that no one would read.
As a result alot of people discovered that they no longer "owned" thier photos.

Nothing new, just a good point to avoid.

The irony is that anyone could post ANY image INCLUDING porn with the hashtag (pound sign) and have a goodly portion of those images pulled. Clogging up the system.
 
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SquarePeg

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It's funny that you should bring this thread back up this week. I posted a holiday photo from the lobby of the Peninsula Hotel in NYC and I tagged them in it. They added this comment:

peninsulahotels
Verified​

We love your photo and would like to feature it on our website, social channels, emails and/or advertising campaigns. Please reply to this comment with #YesPen to grant us permission to use the image and let us use and store the personal data connected to it. T&Cs: User Generated Content Usage Terms and Conditions | The Peninsula Hotels


The t&c are ridiculous. I plan to respond with: I loved your hotel and would love to stay there on a complimentary basis anytime I come to New York. Please reply to this note with a #YesSharoncatalano_photos to grant me permission to use your facilities and to store my preferences for early check-in, late check-out, and concierge service. Here are my T&Cs: #whateversharonwants
 

Braineack

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All images posted on this site without a hashtag are mine now. sorry guys, but I made made this claim up on a whim and now you all have to deal with it.
 

RacePhoto

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All images posted on this site without a hashtag are mine now. sorry guys, but I made made this claim up on a whim and now you all have to deal with it.
I think you need to have this in the fine print, (yes that's meant as humor) and there's probably some legal clause anyway that anything posted on any forum, belongs to the forum, and there's a right to distribute and reproduce the image, to the world, with implied rights, forever.

I know that sometimes the legalese looks like it's a rights grab, but I still believe it's protection for the intended situation and display permission, nothing more. For the contests, I'm not so sure that they aren't getting people to pay for the right to have their images used for free. I won't ever enter a photo contest.

No I don't really share images for free or pin them or give away free images for publicity or exposure. Things are bad enough with everything on the web being stolen or used without permission already. I did give an image to a friend of over 50 years, for his specialty book. I got photo credit. In the past, others who have published the same kind of historical books, have told me, it cost them more than they make for the effort. And these things sell for $50 a copy! So I'm a sap and I felt sorry for him... and I got exposure? :friendly_wink:

I've never had one person come up and say, "Hey I saw your photo in Bob's book." so much for exposure and recognition?
 

Braineack

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Not a great analogy.

Break down the essence of what these companies are doing here:

you post a photo to a public app/site, in this case Instagram. Instagram has explicit language in their terms-of-service that they do not claim copyright or ownership of images publishes on their app/site. They are just a platform in which you can share your own work.

Now companies also using the same service/platform/app/site are then making their own policies, published obscurely, that if you post your image and put text in the description along with your photo, that you forfeit all rights associated with the image.

This is no different than me making the claim that on this site, if you don't use a hashtag, you are releasing your rights to me.

This would never hold up in court.
 
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