Sunday, April 12, 2009

What rights do photographers grant C-Registry?

A photographer recently emailed to ask for an explanation of rights being granted by letting C-Registry link to her images online. In essence, she asks: Why are the terms so “awful” for photographers? (The short answer is that the terms are actually very good because photographers are granting ACCESS, NOT USE of their images … see full reply in comments.)

1 comment:

  1. It’s critically important to note that creators are merely granting ACCESS to their works with C-Registry, NOT USE of their works. For images, creators are ONLY permitting people to look at their images with a web browser, just like what happens everyday by default as people “surf” the Internet.

    What’s not being granted? Creators are NOT granting users or clients the right to use, modify, copy or distribute their work.

    Photographers and other creators are actually granting fewer rights via C-Registry to their images online than they are with big search engines and other big websites. C-Registry works to keep intellectual property safe, and to help photographers both leverage and defend their copyright. In fact, the level of respect and value that C-Registry pays creators is unprecedented. Here’s why.

    By limiting its Terms of Service to only “ACCESS” of image URLs rather than use of images, C-Registry is being extremely protective of the rights of creators. The Terms of other websites and search engines often ask for rights that far exceed mere access to URLs. In understanding what rights photographers (or other creators) are granting, there are three key things to note in the Terms for

    1) The rights granted are severely limited by a conditional statement that precedes each section that grants those rights.

    2) These rights granted are very specific to each authorized use, which is spelled out clearly.

    3) The definition for “information” is extremely different from that of “content”, such as images.

    As users surf the Internet, they find images everywhere, many of which the photographer didn’t authorize and didn’t know existed. (Some estimates say there are 20 unauthorized uses online for every approved use.) With new technologies, photographers can suddenly find uses of their images online, and users can use those same images to link back to the photographer’s contact information and website. The Terms control that process. Let’s take one part of our Terms and explain it with detail. C-Registry Terms of Service say:

    “For the purpose of providing global and universal ACCESS to view your CONTENT in digital form, [creator grants] A nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, and fully sublicensable right to access, view, host, cache, route, transmit, store, perform and/or display CONTENT …”

    First note the opening qualifier that the rights granted are limited to “ACCESS to view” images in digital form (not to “use” those images). Big difference. The photographer is primarily saying it’s OK to look at his or her images on the Internet with a web browser. This is the same right that is implied by everyone who posts their images to the Internet – that people can look at them at that website.

    Then note that this limitation is further reinforced in the grant. So, within this limited access, the photographer is granting the right to “access, view, host, cache, route, transmit, store, perform and/or display” the images (or music or video). Note what’s NOT included in those rights. There is no right to copy or modify or use or distribute the images. That’s an amazingly limited grant of rights.

    Additionally, there’s a big difference between “content” (such as images) and “information” (such as the phone number that a photographer enters into the database). The definition of “information” is the URLs, dates when images are found at websites, and things like who shot the picture. And, information is very much controlled by each photographer who decides what to include or exclude about their creative works. Like a phone book or directory, C-Registry allows people to use information, limited by our Privacy Policy.

    By now, it should be clear that photographers are granting few rights to users via C-Registry. But let’s take this a step further and compare the rights granted to, say, a big search engine like

    The Terms for Microsoft’s Live search and MSN services are at this URL: . In section 9. Your Materials, the Terms say:

    … with respect to content you post or provide you grant to those members of the public to whom you have granted access … free, unlimited, worldwide, nonexclusive and perpetual permission to:
    • use, modify, copy, distribute and display the content in connection with the service and other Microsoft products and services;
    • publish your name in connection with the content; and
    • grant these rights to others.

    To be clear, these are Microsoft’s Terms, not those of C-Registry. We’re just making a point by comparing their terms to ours. Nobody objects to Microsoft’s Terms. The Terms of C-Registry are more protective of photographer rights than the Terms of that are accepted every day by photographers by default. With C-Registry, only enough rights are granted to do what needs to be done to benefit participating creators.