We are all fast to click that pesky accept button when it comes to T’s and C’s of various apps. When agreeing to a social media websites’s terms and conditions, you are effectively confirming the terms of their licence. This licence is legally binding.You may come across any of the following words or phrases, and we want you to know what you are agreeing to:
‘Non-exclusive’: this means that you are free to upload or licence your work to other parties including websites. An exclusive licence would be highly restrictive in this context because you would be excluded from allowing any other party (including yourself) from making use of the work.
‘Royalty-free‘: this means that the service provider doesn’t need to pay you for the right to use your work, even if the service provider uses your content commercially. If the licence is non-exclusive you are of course free to licence the same work to others and ask them to pay for the usage.
‘Sub-licensable‘: this means that the licensing party can grant rights of use to other parties. This is essential for social media websites because users would not otherwise be able to share your content with other users or repost it.
‘Modification‘: websites request this right to adjust the size or display properties of the image for example. However this could potentially include other modifications you might not have approved of otherwise.
‘Incorporation into other works‘: this grants the right for your content to be used as part of other copyright works, for example, a photograph representing the website that includes your content. You would still retain the copyright in your content, however a separate copyright could also exist in the new work.
‘Perpetual‘: this does not necessarily mean “forever” if there are provisions made for termination. In such a situation the licence may continue indefinitely until it is terminated.
‘Irrevocable‘: this means you technically cannot terminate the licence. However other terms, such as a “specified termination condition”, may decide whether it really is non-terminable in all situations. For example Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Flickr currently require you to grant them a non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide licence to use your copyright protected works. These licences are therefore extremely wide, mainly because the model allows users to share and reproduce that content across the website. One of the key terms to look out for is the purpose for which a licence is granted.
This may be specified as “for the sole purpose of promoting the website” or, a purpose may not be specified at all. It is worth noting whether the purpose of a licence includes commercial use of copyright protected work.
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