Copyright and Terms of Service

Post pictures on Facebook? If so, you’re not alone, millions of us do. That includes me, but I’m rethinking that idea quite seriously.

The use of social media, notably Facebook and Instagram, has become ubiquitous in the daily lives of many people. For many, this is a way of keeping in touch, sharing snapshots, life events, and so much more. For the most part, this is a truly great thing, something I’m grateful to have available. There’s a side to this, though, that people who create need to be aware of and that’s intellectual property rights and, more importantly, what you’re giving up when you do post to one of these services.

For example, here’s Facebook’s terms of service for intellectual property you upload:

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 license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.

I’ve emphasized the part of this term that really, really, matters to you. Yes, you’ve granted Facebook the right to transfer and sub-license your creative work. Better yet, you’re doing it royalty free! This is not the first time I’ve commented on such a subject, the last time was about the Toronto Star and photo competitions getting you to submit photos. Now, some of you might suggest that your privacy settings effect this, but how? It’s not spelled out in the terms and just because you might choose to read into that statement, doesn’t mean that it would hold up in a legal challenge. You’re still sharing the photos and that means you’ve granted it. Even worse, if a friend shares it, it sticks around after you delete!

That’s not necessarily a big problem, right? After all, Facebook needs to be able to distribute your photos as a part of the actual service. This is true, but transfer or sub-license? Ah, not so much and that leads to services that will print your images for other Facebook users. Do you have the right to prevent? I don’t know, it’s murky. Did Facebook give them that right? They can and, well, you can’t actually stop them. In fact, if a “friend” wants to ensure that they can do this they just need to share your image! Now, that wouldn’t be much of a friend, but you see the problem?

Once again, it’s been driven home to me that copyright and licensing are real things that photographers, professional or amateur, need to be thinking about. Sure, share basic snapshots, these are not a big deal, so I’m not worried about that. Other types of images, that’s different, and now I need to think really long and hard about what gets to stay on Facebook going forward.

Call Me Crazy… A New Project 365 This Year

Back in 2010, I did a successful Project 365 and quite enjoyed it. In fact, I was kind of missing it. So, we’re here in a new year and I have a new camera, and so I decided I was going to try this again. For those not in the know, a Project 365 is a photography project where you take at least one photo a day and publish it. You don’t have to start this project on January 1 (though I tend to do that); some people start on their birthday, some significant holiday, or just when they happen to decide when to do it. If you do want to undertake one of these projects, here’s a few tips:

  1. Don’t try to take a masterpiece every day. If you try to do this, you’ll give up and not enjoy the experience and that’s a shame. The purpose of this exercise is to grow as a photographer, improve your eye, and have some fun. Don’t stress if your shot for the day ends up being a dusty, cob-webbed covered, lightbulb. As an aside, that happened for one of my shots and there’s not a lot you can do to make it more interesting.
  2. Use the web as inspiration. There are a ton of great images online now, an incredible wealth of visual stimulation, so borrow. I don’t mean steal the idea, get inspired by them.
  3. Use reading material or music as inspiration. Try creating an interpretation of a book or song title. Maybe do Aesop’s fables or Grimms Fairy Tales as subjects. Hmm… Maybe a good Project 52 that one.
  4. Family and friends can keep you going. Make sure they see your images, they’re much easier to please as an audience and can keep you motivated.
  5. Shoot early. Doesn’t matter what it is, just do it early and so you have something (see point 1 above) and aren’t scrambling with 3 minutes to go to midnight.
  6. Shoot it even if you can’t post it immediately. I went on vacation a few times the last time I did this and couldn’t always get online to post, but I had the shots ready to go when I finally did.
  7. Go out on a limb. Shoot yourself or do something fancy with lights. Just get out of the comfort zone.
  8. Lie down. Amazing things can be seen from the ground. Best way to shoot kids having fun, by the way.

If I think of some more, I’ll add them.

At any rate, today is day 6 of my new foray and, in the spirit of my first point above, I think most of my shots have been kind of dull. Day 1 was good, I was prepared for it. Day 6 wasn’t too bad,  I had an idea. Middle of the week? Hardest stretch for me because of my working hours. This time around, I’m not doing the shots day by day on my website, I’m using Flickr. If you’re (morbidly) curious, you can view them in my Flickr 2013 365 Set which is how I intend to organize them for now.

Portraits and Lenses and Bears (oh my!)

Now that I have three lenses for my Nikon D800, I decided it would be fun to try them out in a “portrait” setting. Now, since I didn’t have a readily available model that would hold the same pose for a number of shots and lens swaps, I decided to use a trusty articulated teddy bear.

For my, now, annual Niece and Nephew Christmas shoot I had my new camera and my new 24-120mm f/4 Nikkor lens. This lens is a really nice, all-around, lens for travel and fun photography, but it isn’t really suited for a portrait lens. Why? It’s too slow. The f/4 constant aperture is nice, but it means that the depth of field is larger, the lighting needs to be brighter, and so on. Nevertheless, it’s a very good lens and forms the basis of my playing with my new 85mm f/1.8 G and my 105mm f/2.8 G Micro lenses. The observant will note that these two lenses were, in fact, on my Wish List and are now in my hot little hands.

First, the 24-120mm shot at 85mm with an aperture of f/4:

24-120mm at 85mm and f/4

Compare the above to the 85mm f/1.8 shot at f/1.8:

85mm and f/1.8
85mm and f/1.8

Now compare with the 85mm f/1.8 shot at f/4:

85mm and f/4
85mm and f/4

Now, the 24-120mm shot at 105mm with an aperture of f/4:

24-120mm at 105mm and f/4
24-120mm at 105mm and f/4

Compare that with the 105mm f/2.8 shot at f/3 (the 105mm Micro’s maximum aperture depends on the focus distance. In this case, I was closer than 10 feet, so f/2.8 wasn’t available):

105mm and f/3
105mm and f/3

Now, the 105mm at f/4:

105mm and f/4
105mm and f/4

Now, for a slightly more useful side-by-side comparison of the above 85mm shots:

Compare at 85mm
Compare at 85mm

Unfortunately, I had a slight movement in the camera body when lens switching and the zoom focal length isn’t exact on 85mm (there’s some variance that the camera can report). At any rate, you can see the depth of field and bokeh characteristics of f/4 versus f/1.8 is dramatic. You can also see that the two lenses, at the same aperture of f/4 are pretty similar, but if you look closely at the bokeh circles, the 85mm lens is much nicer, as the 24-120mm has some fairly sharp halos in comparison, especially when scaled down as these shots are.

It’s pretty clear, to me at least, that the 85mm and 105mm prime lenses are going to produce nicer portrait shots. Perhaps I should be looking at the AF DC-Nikkor 135mm f/2D too…

Opinionated Photography