Twitpic, the popular Twitter app that allows you to share photos in your status updates, announced changes to their Terms of Service today which highlight what they’re allowed to do with pictures you upload.
Essentially, the Terms of Service have been altered to state that you own any pictures you upload to the service, but Twitpic can do as they please with your pictures as long as they are still hosting them.
If you delete your pictures from Twitpic, however, they can still use your pictures until a “commercially reasonable” timeframe is over.
What does “commercially reasonible” mean? Twitpic just cut a deal with WENN, a news agency that wants to sell pictures celebrities post using Twitpic.
If you’re a celebrity, or if you’re posting pictures that could be considered valuable, then “commercially reasonible” could be a very long time.
Furthermore, the new terms of service agreement states that Twitpic retains the right to keep copies of your images on their servers, even if you delete them.
They can’t do anything with the pictures, but they can keep them.
The Terms read:
By uploading content to Twitpic you give Twitpic permission to use or distribute your content on Twitpic.com or affiliated sites…
…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 licence 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.
But is this really anything different than the Facebook Terms of Service we know and love? Facebook’s Terms read, regarding pictures:
For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (“IP content”), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide licence to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (“IP licence”). This IP licence ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.
The last sentence in Facebook’s Terms says they will delete your data if you can manage to extinguish it from the profiles of your friends as well. But then, it reads:
…you understand that removed content may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time (but will not be available to others).
You still own your content, but Twitpic and Facebook might have copies of your data on their servers. TNW did some more research and found the Terms to be almost identical for every other Twitter app for image sharing, except MobyPicture, which states that pictures users post is their property only.