Is Boots grabbing the rights to your photos?

Photographers are used to online services attempting to exploit their images. The instagram débâcle was just the latest in a long series of similar rights grabs.

Over the pond, Walmart Canada was recently busted for including a rights grab in the terms for its print service. Yes, you read that right. Not for a newfangled social media app given away for free but for old school ink on dead trees that you still have to pay for.

Unusually for me I recently had some prints made. So I thought I would check the terms of service of a few well know UK based photo printing firms. I was horrified by what I found from one of the best known high street photo printers: Boots Photo.Boots-photo-homepage

Everything was fine until I got to the very last sentence which simply reads:

Hewlett-Packard terms of use apply http://welcome.hp.com/country/uk/en/termsofuse.html

In legal parlance, this is known as incorporation by reference and the additional document is included in the original contract. Boots has outsourced its online photo printing service to Hewlett-Packard so it makes some sense but its unusual for a consumer contract like this.

After following the link you get this:

By submitting a User Submission, you grant to HP an irrevocable, perpetual, transferable, non-exclusive, fully-paid, worldwide, license (sublicensable through multiple tiers) to (a) use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, publicly perform, and publicly display your User Submissions (or any modification thereto), in whole or in part, in any format or medium now known or later developed and (b) use (and permit others to use) your User Submission in any manner and for any purpose (including, without limitation, commercial purposes) that HP deems appropriate in its sole discretion (including, without limitation, to incorporate your User Submission or any modification thereto, in whole or in part, into any technology, product, or service). HP reserves the right to display advertisements in connection with User Submissions and to use User Submissions for advertising and promotional purposes.

As rights grabs go this is as bad as it gets. It specifically mentions commercial exploitation in case there was any doubt. And for good measure they have a moral rights waiver as well:

By submitting any User Submission, you represent and warrant that … you voluntarily agree to waive all “moral rights” that you may have in your User Submission.

Put simply, it seems that every time you have something printed using Boots’ online photo service you are giving a giant US corporation the right to commercially exploit your images. No payment, no credit. Nothing.

HP also operate Snapfish (with a claimed 90 million worldwide users) and the same terms of service appear on its UK site.

It probably a good job Boots also sell painkillers.

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