A photographer can find many good things on social media. Fame, for example. A place to exhibit and sell his/her photos. Feedback from the general public. Advises and tips from the community. These are just some of the real facts that surround the enthusiasm generated by social media in the last years. Social media was made for everyone to share content and what better content can be than photography.
Facebook: “For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.”
The keywords here are royalty-free. What does it mean? According to Wikipedia, royalty-free means you grant the right to use your pictures without any restrictions and for as many times as the buyer wants. In this case, the buyer (the social media platform) receives the photos for free. You still own the pictures. You can sell them to somebody else as well. But it’s hard to believe that anyone will buy it when it can be downloaded for free.
It’s true that if nobody knows who you are nobody will buy your photos. But, there are some easy ways to be sure you are not giving everything for free. The first step is to sign all your pictures with your real name or your artistic pseudonym. Pictures can be cropped, but the deliberate removal of your name is a malicious action and can be judged differently by the law.
Then, make sure you publish photos with a small resolution and reduced sizes. Use a strong compression. You can even use a visible watermark. It will affect the visual impact much less than it will affect how you to see your image published by another author.