Over at the online photography magazine, Photofocus, Scott Bourne warns photographers of the terms of service they may unwittingly agree to by posting a picture on Twitter. From the article:
Ask a real lawyer (not some guy named Larry who plays one on your local camera club forum) what this means. I did. My lawyer says it means that Twitter can do pretty much anything it wants with my photos (other than claim actual Copyright to them) and there’s nothing I can do about that. Is that an issue for you personally? Maybe not. It’s unlikely it will impact you if you aren’t trying to sell your photos. But if you are, read on.
As a professional photographer, I can’t sell “exclusive” rights to any image I decide to publish on Twitter. The reason is that once it is published on Twitter, there is no exclusivity left. That could be expensive. As professionals, we need to decide whether the exposure we get via Twitter is worth that trade off. For some of us the answer is yes – for others the answer is no. The purpose of this post is to get you to understand that you will have to make some hard choices. I am hoping they are informed choices, no matter what you decide.
In the case of the Twitter TOS, it seems that the terms Twitter stipulates are exactly the pro-freedom position: you can do whatever you want with the stuff you own (stuff, not ideas) unless you have contracted some other arrangement. Twitter owns the servers. You own the photo, sure, but you still have the photo after you uploaded it. What the uploader is actually doing is using Twitter’s stuff to create a copy on Twitter’s servers. For the photographer to then claim that he has the right to determine what Twitter does with it is like going to someone’s house and using a dollar bill left on a counter to make origami, then demanding the right to determine what happens to it as a result of your pattern rearrangement. It is nonsense from the start.
One of the hot button issues in recent years has been gay marriage. Socially conservative people may well object to calling a gay union “marriage. That is, of course, completely understandable. Marriage and religion have been closely intertwined, and the most popular religions in the world today do not generally regard a same sex union as a marriage. I was considering the various positions taken by libertarians on gay marriage. I have seen opinions from libertarians that marriage licenses should not be issued to gays because a state marriage license enables aggression against third parties. That is true. Also, some, such as Stephan Kinsella, argue that it is a good that gays get the legal protections which come with a marriage license.
Second bests are divisive issues for libertarians. We all wish for the state to leave people alone, but we are all too painfully aware that it frequently does not, and that there are political debates raging around us where policies are promoted which have real world consequences for us all. Many of us seek to minimize the harmful effects of these policies by stating a preference of one over the other. Such is the case with gay marriage. Libertarians of varying stripes, mutualists, paleolibertarians, anarcho-capitalists, all agree that the state should get out of the way and not interfere with free interactions among people. Yet different ideologies among libertarians often cause us to differ wildly on what state policy we would prefer, from the likely choices being supported by the public.
I have long been of the opinion that state licensing should be extended to the point that it is meaningless. However, a license which allows aggression against others should give any libertarian pause. In order to consider the problem more effectively, I did a thought experiment involving a much more severe form of aggression than those normally associated with a marriage license: murder.