Citizen Journalism’s Terms of Use: A First Look

Reuters has put forth its terms for submissions to You Witness News. Here are a few tidbits, and my thoughts:


Ok, so that’s fair.

Reuters may change these terms at any time by posting changes online. You must review these terms regularly to ensure you are aware of any changes made by Reuters.

Say what? I gotta check this page regularly? That’s starting to sound like a job.

grant to Reuters and its affiliates a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, transferable and non-revocable right and license to use, reproduce, display publicly, modify, adapt, edit, publish, translate, distribute, perform, play, create derivative works from, exercise and sub-license all associated and relevant rights (including intellectual property rights and publicity rights) with respect to your Material in any media whatsoever, whether now known, or developed in the future (the foregoing license is granted for the entire respective terms of the relevant rights);

What part of lunacy does this fall into? It must be the “I just wanna see my camera phone picture on CNN because I think it’s just sooo cool” factor.

is accurate, genuine and does not depict any event staged for the purpose of making the submission;

The image we at Black Star Rising showed of the Toledo Blade manipulation of a sports photo could be considered a valid image under this clause, because the event wasn’t staged, is accurate and genuine to the extent that it did happen like that, but the camera just didn’t capture it at that millisecond, so there was a time shift. Why doesn’t this clause include “is not digitally altered or manipulated in any way”? I suppose if the folks at Reuters read this blog entry, they’ll add it, and thus, you’ll have to look for it on one of your regular checks.

where it includes images of children under age 16, the images have been obtained with the consent of a relevant parent or responsible adult;

This clause is flawed, at best. A news image of a child being carried from a disaster or a 10-year-old carrying a gun on city streets would be precluded from being submitted, because it falls into this prohibition.

You agree to indemnify and hold Reuters harmless against any costs, damages and expenses (including legal expenses) it may incur or suffer as a result of a breach of the above warranties

You agree to indemnify a multibillion-dollar, multinational corporation, and pay all of the legal bills incurred by its counsel at what is an hourly wage probably nearing $300 an hour, and pay whatever settlement agreement they work out when there is a problem. Note, I didn’t say “if,” I said “when.” Hasn’t anyone ever heard of the phrase “judgement proof”?

You retain ownership of the copyright in the Material you submitted to Reuters.

Oh, how generous. It’s nearly worthless after all the rights you granted to them above.

Additionally, you agree that Reuters may contact you and ask you questions regarding the Material or inquire about obtaining additional rights to the Material.

What additional rights? Why not just say “you agree to grant Reuters additional rights for fees which Reuters shall stipulate, and which are non-negotiable.”

No doubt, people will agree to this, in droves. I await these terms, or some variation thereof, to become a standard, and then for the multinational corporations to fall prey to altered images, spoofs and pranks by highly talented Photoshoppers, and then the inevitable suits by people in the photos.

In the quest to beat others, Reuters (and the others that follow) are sacrificing much integrity.

[tags]citizen journalism, Reuters[/tags]

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