There has been quite a buzz about terms of service lately. Sometimes we (ok, I, I’ll speak for myself!) get so excited about some new technology online that we don’t take the time to read the service agreement and fully understand what we are agreeing to.  If you want to license your art, this can be especially important to you.

I’ve had a post-it on my computer for a few weeks now to blog / comment on this topic.  Today I decided it was high-time since there is quite an uproar about Facebook and how they have changed their terms.  Bottom Line: Don’t put your art on Facebook.  (That’s my understanding, anyway.)

Before Feb 4, 2009, you could cancel your Facebook account and the content is yours again.

“You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content.”

But now… they are singing a different tune.

You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof.

I wouldn’t sign a licensing agreement that looked like this so I have no plans to put any art I have created for my business on Facebook.

There are people who say those upset by this are panicking because it is simply a “license”… but it looks like a “license” (which is legal permission, remember) to do anything they want.  That could, worst case scenario, impact your ability to license the art to a manufacturer.

Click here for an article with more details.

UPDATE: After writing this post this morning, there was a response from Facebook saying they don’t want or claim ownership over content… click here for that article.  It’s all a bit gray to me… not sure WHY they would take content and use it but the language suggests they could if they wanted to down the road.  And my understanding of contracts is to be ok with the worst case scenario…

There is a group on Facebook called  People Against the new Terms of Service (TOS) if you are on Facebook and want to voice your concern.

But this isn’t just confined to Facebook… another that has been mentioned on the Art Licensing Forum is www.spoonflower.com.  It’s a great new site for having fabric printed with a 1 yard minimum.  The fabric looks great — I’ve seen samples.  And if I didn’t already have a fabric client, I’d consider having some samples made to show how my work would look on fabric.

But as one member posted as a comment to the “Custom Textiles” discussion on the Art Licensing Forum:

Spoonflower is a great resource. In digging through their site to find out more, I came across a bit of information “licensing artists” should take note of. It’s posted on http://blog.spoonflower.com/2008/07/can-i-sell-my-d.html . It gives them rights to your work via this lanquage “Spoonflower a nonexclusive, worldwide, transferable license to copy, crop, reproduce, publicly display, and distribute your Content. If your Content is uploaded as a design for fabric available on this Site, you grant to Spoonflower a nonexclusive, worldwide, transferable license to create derivative works of, modify, copy, sell, display and distribute the Content and fabrics created from or based on such Content.”

Again, it’s a great site, great idea and a perfect prototype resource, but make sure you are aware of what rights you may be giving away. (end of comment)

So… just be aware of what you are agreeing to when your excitement kicks in! There may be times you think the risk is low and worth the reward and others that you don’t.  But making an informed decision is better than kicking yourself later.

Have a great day!

Tara