A Cautionary Tale

A week or so ago I read a BBC blog post that I thought I should share on this blog.  Then a few days later I read the same story on Petapixel.com, a photography blog.  I have also found it on CNN.com,  Independent.ie, Metro.co.uk, and aplus.com. I’m sure there are more, but that’s enough to be going on with!

Here’s the story:  Shubnum Khan is a South African author (Onion Tears, Penguin), artist (IG: shubnumkhan), freelance writer (Huffpost SA, O magazine, Times, Marie Claire, Sunday Times etc.) (her Twitter page). On July 28 she shared this story on Twitter.  The story is in the form of  a very long series of tweets, which I urge to read.  It begins, “So today I’m going to tell you the story of How I Ended Up with my Face On a McDonald’s Advert in China – A Cautionary Tale. Six or so years ago, a friend in Canada posted a pic on my FB wall to say she found an advert of me promoting immigration in a Canadian newspaper. Naturally I was shocked and…confused. I studied the pic and agreed that it was me. Now I didn’t mind that I was promoting immigration in Canada but I couldn’t understand why my face was in a paper all the way on that side of the world.”

Screenshot of Shubnum Khan (@ShubnumKhan) July 28, 2018

In summary, several years ago she and some friends at university went to a free photo shoot, where they signed a photographer’s model release form which they didn’t read.  She wasn’t told verbally that the photos of her would be sold on a stock photo web site. She describes in her tweets how she discovered the variety of products her face has been used to sell, the unpleasant physical conditions that have been photoshopped onto her image, and how her picture has been used as the cover image on three books!

She contacted the photographer, who eventually took her image off his stock photo site. But she has no control over its use by those who had already purchased it.

“…now that I’m older and more assertive & aware of power plays and manipulation I can easily see how we were all used – a whole gallery of free photographs for this photographer to sell and we haven’t made a cent for all the things WE’VE advertised…Also this could have gone badly – my photo could have come up in a wrong place (I mean, the right to ‘distort photo and character!’) is scary af (sic) and so if anything, I hope my story is also a cautionary tale to be careful what you sign.”

“It’s also pretty telling of how easily you can be exploited in this new age & how startlingly deceptive everything is. Those testimonials are fake, those adverts are fake. Your holiday tour guide, your tutor or your future bride could just be some random uni student …Be clever. Be aware. Don’t get caught up. I’m sure I could have made some money out of this, but instead I’m out there promoting acne cream while someone else gets the profits. And now you know.” — Shubnum Khan (@ShubnumKhan) July 28, 2018

In the CNN story, Khan is quoted as saying she’s surprised at how big the story has become since sharing it on Twitter. “I didn’t expect that at all. I knew it was a strange story but I thought people wouldn’t get too surprised that things like this happen. I’m glad we can still feel surprised and compassionate about situations like this.”

For further reading, you might want to follow up on this extract from the Twitter Terms of Service:

“…By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed). This license authorizes us to make your Content available to the rest of the world and to let others do the same. You agree that this license includes the right for Twitter to provide, promote, and improve the Services and to make Content submitted to or through the Services available to other companies, organizations or individuals for the syndication, broadcast, distribution, promotion or publication of such Content on other media and services, subject to our terms and conditions for such Content use. Such additional uses by Twitter, or other companies, organizations or individuals, may be made with no compensation paid to you with respect to the Content that you submit, post, transmit or otherwise make available through the Services…”

From the Rules for use of IB Terms and Conditions web page:

License Grant to IB

“You retain full copyright ownership in any posting submitted on IB websites. By submitting or distributing your User Postings, you hereby grant to the IB a worldwide, non-exclusive, transferable, assignable, sub licensable, fully paid-up, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to host, transfer, display, perform, reproduce, modify, distribute, re-distribute, relicense and otherwise use, make available and exploit your User Postings in connection with the provision of My IB services and the IB’s activities, including for educational and promotional purposes.”

License Grant to My IB users

“You retain full copyright ownership in User Postings submitted on IB websites. By submitting or distributing your User Postings, you hereby grant to each user of the IB websites a non-exclusive license to access and use your User Postings in connection with their use of the IB websites for their own personal purposes.”

Extract of the Facebook Terms of Service 3. Your commitments to Facebook and our community, point 3, The permissions you give us:

“Specifically, when you share, post, or upload content that is covered by intellectual property rights (like photos or videos) 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, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate, and create derivative works of your content (consistent with your privacy and application settings). This means, for example, that if you share a photo on Facebook, you give us permission to store, copy, and share it with others (again, consistent with your settings) such as service providers that support our service or other Facebook Products you use.”

 

 

 

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