Adobe Photoshop Express Online – Rights Grab

Adobe announced it’s online beta version of Photoshop Express, which provides limited image processing online for photo sharing, etc. You can check it out at www.photoshop.com/express.

HOWEVER, it’s highly recommended you read the terms of service VERY carefully. And be advised, there are 3 linked documents of terms you need to read, not just the summary page that the initial link brings up. Here’s the gist through excerpts (remember my recent post about contests?):

“You agree to use the Services and the Materials only for purposes that are permitted by the Terms and any applicable law, regulation, or generally accepted practices or guidelines in any applicable jurisdiction (including any laws regarding the export of data or software to and from the United States or other applicable countries) (“Law”). ”

and

“Except as indicated to the contrary in any applicable Additional Terms, Adobe hereby grants you a license to view, download and print Materials provided by Adobe (“Adobe Materials”) and any Materials provided by Users (“User Content”), except for Shared Group Content, subject to the following conditions:

  1. You may access and use the Adobe Materials and User Content solely for personal, informational, non-commercial and internal purposes, in accordance with the Terms;
  2. You may not modify or alter the Adobe Materials or User Content;
  3. You may not distribute or sell, rent, lease, license or otherwise make the Adobe Materials or the User Content available to others;
  4. You may not remove any copyright or other proprietary notices contained in the Adobe Materials or User Content; and
  5. You may not copy or distribute any photos, graphics, audio or video (“Images”) in the Adobe Materials or User Content apart from their accompanying text. “

BUT (and this is a very large BUT – my bold emphasis):

“Adobe does not claim ownership of Your Content. However, with respect to Your Content that you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the Services, you grant Adobe a worldwide, royalty-free, nonexclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, and fully sublicensable license to use, distribute, derive revenue or other remuneration from, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, publicly perform and publicly display such Content (in whole or in part) and to incorporate such Content into other Materials or works in any format or medium now known or later developed.”

What does this mean? You can upload your photos to process, store and share. You cannot use any other content other than your own (unless the other users specifically state their photos are in the public domain, you can’t use any of Adobe’s content. But, by uploading your photos you grant Adobe permission and license to use your photos in any way they please, which means to license them to others (without payment to you), use them on their (Adobe’s) packaging, advertising, website, magazines, whatever they choose (without payment to you), FOREVER and ever.

These terms are similar to a neighborhood covenant stating if you park your car on the street or in your driveway you grant your neighbors the right to drive your car whenever they want, wherever they want, to keep it for as long as they want, even to sell it or rent it out to someone outside the neighborhood, repaint it, wreck it, return it with the tires or other accessories missing or with an empty gas tank, all without any compensation to you.

So, if you choose to use this service, be very careful what image files you upload. For the professional, this is very important (not likely that many pros will use this service, though), and even for the amateur this is a big deal. The wording in the terms of service (And Adobe here is not alone, you need to check other TOSs carefully as well; Facebook is another that has this wording, Flickr and MySpace as well). You can’t even watermark your images because the wording above gives Adobe (and whomever else displays this type of wording in their TOS) the right to remove it without penalty.

Amateur photographers, whether they care about making money from photography or not, should be aware that companies using their images for commercial purposes should pay for that use.

Reading reams of legal terminology is not an enjoyable task. But, doing so can save you a whole lot of grief down the road. Nobody is looking out for you but yourself. Pay attention.

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