While social media sites provide a vast network of marketing opportunities with little or no outlay of cash from users, as you'll see from our Social Media White Paper they are not without costs of a different kind. Consequently, APA recommends that if you choose to post images to social media sites, you do so with full awareness of the potential consequences:
- Terms of Service (ToS) and User Agreements are binding legal documents that apply to you whether you read and fully understand them, or not.
- Most of these documents dictate ways in which the services can use, share, even sell your images without any further permission from you.
- Images you post may escape your control and may not ever be completely removable from the internet, even in cases where you may be legally liable.
- Even if your images never leave the site, you may forfeit future licensing opportunities because clients may want exclusivity that you cannot guarantee.
- You may be liable for others' use, or misuse, of your own images that you post.
If you choose to post images to social media sites:
- Consider limiting your postings to a small, finite group of images you're willing to devote to a marketing or business plan.
- Consider watermarking your images to limit their commercial viability and to prevent your images from becoming separated, or "orphaned" from you, their creator.
- Consider linking to your images from your blog or website, rather than posting new files.
- Check your insurance policy to be sure you're covered for the potential liabilities you assume when posting to social media.
Know your rights. Take a few minutes to read the ToS for wherever you choose to post your work, then decide. And if you don't understand or you're unsure, don't rely on readings on the internet. Consult your own attorney for legal advice.