Twitpic Says Sorry for Copyright Confusion

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Twitter image service Twitpic today apologized after an update to its terms and conditions implied that it claimed ownership of all images uploaded to its servers, and could sell them on without the original photographer’s permission.

After a day of protest online, Twitpic rushed to amend its terms page, and said sorry to users on its blog. Company founder Noah Everett wrote:

“First off I want to apologize for that confusion and our lack of clarity. We’ve updated our terms again to be more clear and to also show that you still own your content.”

So what do Twitpic’s terms say now?

“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…”

Everett says that’s standard website legalease, a clause essential for any service that’s distributing your stuff across the web on your behalf. It’s also there to protect Twitpic users, some of whom have found their photos used by media organizations without permission.

The speed that news spreads via Twitter is also one of its greatest flaws, and Twitpic’s biggest challenge now is ensuring that its blogged apology gets re-tweeted and linked as much as the problem terms and conditions page did in the first place.