Who owns the photos or videos you upload to social media like Facebook or cloud services like OneDrive? Who can use it?
When you upload a photo or video to the internet, it's natural not to think about where that photo is going and whose hands it is in now.
It only takes a few seconds to upload a photo online, but who has real authority over that content? Who owns the photos and videos you upload online?
And can anyone use them?
Where are your online photos stored?
There are many websites and applications that can store your photos, such as social media, image hosting websites, photo editing services, Cloud storage, etc.
There are also thousands of websites that will occasionally ask for a photo of you, a product you're selling, or some form of identification like a driver's license or ID.
Many of you don't really realize how and where your photos and videos are stored online. For example, when you upload a photo to Instagram, it will be saved to your account so your followers can see your profile uploads from anywhere. But where are these photos stored to make this possible?
Instagram uses cloud servers to store such data, as do most services. Most platforms use servers to store photos, videos, and a variety of other types of data, such as names, addresses, and contact information. These servers are usually kept in data centers, the location of which varies depending on the company in question. They may be in your country or anywhere in the world.
Facebook also uses data centers to store user photos. In Sweden, Facebook has a large facility known as Luleå Data Center, which maintains vast amounts of social media information, including photos and videos uploaded by users. This isn't the only data center Facebook has, but it's an example of how the company handles data.
But it's not just social media to consider here. There are many other platforms that handle your photos and videos, including cloud storage services like Google Drive. Cloud storage services usually also store your data on remote servers in data centers.
Dropbox, for example, hosts data on secure storage servers located in the US, UK, Japan, EU and Australia. So, it's obvious that secure servers are the most common practice for storing user data, whether it's social media platforms or cloud storage services.
So, once those photos are uploaded and stored, do you still own them or does someone else have rights to them?
Who owns your uploaded photos and videos?
Generally, whoever created an image or video you uploaded is also the official owner. For example, if you take a picture on your smartphone and then upload it to Twitter, Google Drive, Facebook, or any other website, that picture belongs to you. No website can claim ownership of the content you upload if you are the creator.
On the other hand, if you choose to upload someone else's photo to social media, cloud storage, or another platform, it is not your property. The person who took the photo, or the person who bought the rights to it, still owns that content.
For example, if you upload a digital graphic created by someone else to social media, you have no say in who uses it. Instead, permission should be sought from the creator or its legal owner.
The same goes for cloud storage platforms such as OneDrive or Google Drive. These platforms may store your data, but acknowledge that they do not own it.
Google Drive, for example, reports on additional Terms of Service page that "your content remains yours" when you upload it for storage.
“As described in Google's Terms of Service, your content remains yours. We do not claim ownership of any part of your content, including any text, data, information and files that you upload, share or store in your Drive account.”
But there is another element to consider here, and that is the use of your photos.
Note the difference in conditions: Another to whom belongs something else who can do use.
Who can use the photos you upload?
Even if you own the photos you upload, can websites and apps use them?
Some photographers upload their images for free use on stock image websites such as Pixabay and the Unsplash. On such sites, you can use a given image or video in any way you want without having to credit the creator.
But if you upload photos to cloud storage platforms, social media and similar platforms, you usually don't want your photo to be used by others.
Each platform has its own policy regarding the use of photos by and by users, but the general consensus is that your permission is required before another entity can use anything you upload.
Instagram, for example, has stated in the Help Center that, if an advertiser wants to use your photos, they must get your express permission. Otherwise, your media is off limits.
However, the Facebook has an additional caveat here: if your profile or featured photos are listed as “Public” in your privacy settings, then the platform can use them, essentially seeing your privacy settings as having your permission.
“When you share, post or upload copyrighted content on or in connection with our Products, you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free and worldwide license to host, use, distribute, modify , perform, copy, publicly perform or display and translate your content, and to create derivative works from that content (subject to your privacy and application settings). "
How to keep your photos and videos safe
Εάν ανησυχείτε για τις εταιρείες ή τα άτομα που χρησιμοποιούν τις φωτογραφίες που ανεβάζετε, είναι καλύτερο να μην ανεβάζετε τίποτα και να διατηρήσετε αυτό το μέσο στη δική σας device αποθήκευσης, εκτός σύνδεσης.
You can also prevent other users from downloading the photos and videos you've uploaded to social media by keeping your accounts private.
Some social media sites allow you to choose between public and private only, while others allow you to further personalize your privacy settings.
Also, if you regularly upload photos or artwork online, you may also want to use watermarks or state in the caption that the content is not intended for reuse. This can reduce the likelihood that your content will be republished or used for other purposes without your consent.
Finally, it is important to control the storage policy and privacy of the platforms you upload photos to so you know how your content will be handled by a particular company.
You own the uploaded content if you created it yourself
In short, the photos and videos you take and upload online are yours, as long as you don't sell the rights to someone else.
The right to use them, however, depends on the policy of each platform that hosts you.
If someone claims to own your content or uses it without your permission, it's most likely copyright infringement.