A Million Views of The Moment

CNN and Microsoft have teamed up for a very interesting experiment that everyone can participate in tomorrow.  The Moment is a Photosynth of user submitted photos all taken at the moment that Barack Obama takes the oath of office as the 44th President of the United States.


The instructions for participating in the moment are simple (as seen in the screenshot above).  And I have to admit that this is a perfect use of the Microsoft’s Photosynth technology (see my original posting on this technology).  While it may take a day or even two for users to upload their photos and for a complete photosynth to be created, I can’t wait to see the end result.  (Thankfully I have a copy of VMware Fusion to view this in, as Photosynth still doesn’t support MacOS!)

As is my default behavior now, I had to view the Terms of Service that govern The Moment.  As partnerships are created to enable the unique ways to capture and share a moment in time like this, it makes it even more difficult for photographers to understand and ensure they don’t give away all the rights to their work.  Since the content is submitted via CNN’s iReport and the photos will be archived on Microsoft’s Photosynch service, both companies terms of user are applicable and need to be considered.

iReports Terms of Use states (emphasis added):

5. Submissions

By submitting your material, for good and valuable consideration, the sufficiency and receipt of which you hereby acknowledge, you hereby grant to CNN and its affiliates a non-exclusive, perpetual, worldwide license to edit, telecast, rerun, reproduce, use, create derivative works from, syndicate, license, print, sublicense, distribute and otherwise exhibit the materials you submit, or any portion thereof in any manner and in any medium or forum, whether now known or hereafter devised, without payment to you or any third party. Notwithstanding the foregoing, in the event CNN licenses your material as stand-alone content outside of CNN’s programming to third parties unaffiliated with CNN, CNN will pay you a percentage of the license fees it actually receives according to rates determined by CNN’s licensing division, ImageSource.

Photosynth Terms of Use states (emphasis added):

6. Your Materials.

… Except for material that we license to you, we do not claim ownership of the materials you post or provide on the service, and you reserve all other rights (including copyrights) in your materials. However, with respect to content you post or provide you grant to those members of the public to whom you have granted access (for content posted on shared and private areas of the service) or to the public (for content posted on public areas of the service) free, unlimited, worldwide, and nonexclusive permission to:

  • use, modify, copy, distribute and display the content solely in connection with the service;
  • publish your name in connection with the content; and
  • grant these rights to others.

These rights do not allow Microsoft or anyone else to use your materials separate from the service. The service may enable you to include licenses that allow Microsoft or third parties to use your materials separate from the service, but such licenses are not applicable to use of your materials in connection with the service.  Microsoft is not responsible for third parties violating the license you provide.

Comparing the two Terms of Use, I have to admit that I’m a bit surprised that Photosynth’s are somewhat reasonable.  No rights grab my Microsoft, yeah!  In order to make the Photosynth service work, those submitting their images have to agree to allow others to view those images.  When considering what actually happens at a technical level when you access teh Photosynth service over the Internet, the first bullet item of the Terms of Use makes sense and doesn’t take away of your rights.

Too bad CNN’s iReports Terms of Use are so blatantly one sided (and unfortunately common in today’s world).  You give all your rights away to CNN to do anything they want with the photos you submit.  (It should be noted that this applies to all content you submit, not just photos)  However, it’s nice that CNN is will to share some percentage of any additional revenue that they make off your images should the decide to peddle it themselves.

The real question is, how does this partnership between the two organizations balance out these two conflicting Terms of Use?  Because you submit your images via iReports to the Photosynth service, you give up your rights.  But, can you submit your images directly to Photosynth for The Moment?  At this time, apparently not.  So, you loose all your right by participating according to iReports Terms of Use.

By no means am I a lawyer, but this is my layman’s interpretation of how these two Terms of Use interact with each other. Any lawyers out there that want to chime in with their own interpretation?

Regardless of the rights abuse by CNN, I’m sure there will be a lot of people who submit their photos. And even thought I never would because of those those rights abuses, it won’t stop me from checking the site out over the next few days.

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