New York’s “Vessel” is under fire over rights-grab photo policy for tourists

Mar 21, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

New York’s “Vessel” is under fire over rights-grab photo policy for tourists

Mar 21, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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The Vessel, in New York City’s latest luxury neighbourhood, is Hudson Yards’ fancy tourist trap. But it’s also a rights grab when it comes to photography. Initially, spotted by Gothamist, two particular clauses in the Hudson Yard Terms & Conditions were extremely overbearing. Terms and conditions to which you agree as soon as you enter the place.

Those clauses have since been combined into a new “My social media posts” clause. The new clause is a little shorter and combines the two previous clauses together with a little more clarification. But it still looks like pretty rights grabby to me.

The two original clauses in the terms & conditions went a little something like this.

MY NAME AND LIKENESS. If I appear in, create, upload, post, or send any photographs, audio recordings, or video footage depicting or relating to the Vessel, I grant to Company the unrestricted, worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual right and license (with the right to transfer or sublicense) to use my name, likeness, voice, and all other aspects of my persona for the purpose of operating, developing, providing, promoting, advertising, and improving the Vessel or any other products or services provided by Company or its sublicensees (in either case, now known or later developed)….

MY CONTENT. If I create, upload, post or send any photographs, audio recordings, or video footage depicting or relating to the Vessel, I grant to Company and its affiliates the irrevocable, unrestricted, worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferable right and license to use, display, reproduce, perform, modify, transmit, publish, and distribute such photographs, audio recordings, or video footage for any purpose whatsoever in any and all media…

So, under the original T&Cs, you are essentially providing a model release as well as a license to use the images to do pretty much anything they want with the images for any purpose. Naturally, once the Internet caught wind of this, judgement was strong and swift.

Those two clauses have now been removed and merged into a single clause titled “My Social Media Posts”, which doesn’t really change much.

MY SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS. As between me and Company, I retain ownership of any photographs, text, audio recordings or video footage depicting or relating to the Vessel that I may create (the “Vessel Media”), unless otherwise agreed by me and Company. If I post any Vessel Content to any social media channel, I hereby grant to Company and its affiliates the right to re-post, share, publish, promote and distribute the Vessel Media via such social media channel and via websites associated with the Vessel or Hudson Yards (including my name, voice and likeness and any other aspects of my persona as depicted in the Vessel Media), in perpetuity. I understand that I will not be entitled to any compensation from the Company, its affiliates or their respective vendors in connection with the same.

So, it’s changed the language, it’s been toned down a little bit, and they’ve clarified that you do actually own the content you create. However, you’re still granting them a release to use the subject’s likeness, and you’re still granting them a license to use your work for their own promotion however and whenever they want, forever.

A spokesperson for Vessel told Gothamist that “the intent of the policy is to allow Hudson Yards to amplify and re-share photos already shared on individual social channels through our website and social channels. This is a practice utilized at nearly all major attractions and we wanted to over communicate, be transparent and disclose toa ll users”.

It’s not as all-encompassing as it was, and they no longer demand the ability to license your work to others, but I think if I ever visit this place, I’ll be leaving my camera at home and my phone in my pocket.

Whether or not the terms, even the new ones, are actually enforceable is another matter. You can read the complete terms and conditions for yourself here.

Do terms like this put you off visiting places? Does it stop you shooting photos of them? Or do you not even care?

[via Gizmodo / Lead image: CC by Rhododendrites]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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7 responses to “New York’s “Vessel” is under fire over rights-grab photo policy for tourists”

  1. Stefan R. Manzow Avatar
    Stefan R. Manzow

    Come on?! Is this really so important? There is sooo much more interesting stuff to capture out there…They played their marketing well. #Scarcity < There is no scarcity on this Planet, only uneven distribution of resources…This Stairway to nowhere isn‘t so valuable, innit?

  2. Richie Vela Avatar
    Richie Vela

    Communism of NYC…not a very good look

  3. Michael Purcell Avatar
    Michael Purcell

    I’m confused about this rights grab. Is this building visible from the public streets?

  4. Stéphane Paris Avatar
    Stéphane Paris

    This kind of terms should not be legal. Period. Are USA a free country ? Sometimes it’s not clear…

    1. Larry Templeton Avatar
      Larry Templeton

      You should read your next Apple terms of conditions if you want to know what’s really going in the Red States of ‘Murica. Just out aside eight to twelve hours, and prepare to be shocked and awed… ??

  5. Deacon Avatar
    Deacon

    Terms and conditions to which you agree as soon as you enter the place.

    How is that even remotely legal? Are there entry barriers with warning signs?

  6. Larry Templeton Avatar
    Larry Templeton

    I see this as a toilet bowl half full opportunity, really. Perfect excuse (finally!) to send someone an endless stream of dick pics and whatever I leave un-flushed in their public restroom. They can own it if they want, forget borrowing it. I’ll be the generous one here, and I’ll sleep better for it, knowing I took the hairier road. The rod less travelled. ?