Many photographers and models are aware of the model/photographer website Modelmayhem (MM). MM has the largest community of photographers and models on the internet. Ranked 371 in traffic volume in the United States (10/14/2009 Alexa ranking), MM is also one of the most heavily used website in any category. One of the original members of MM, and a highly respected authority about the entire modeling industry and photographer rights, was kicked off MM in a dispute over MM’s rights to photos after the copyright holder deletes the images from their profile. Roger’s user name on MM was TXPhotog and recently changed to Emeritus. Roger Talley was a former owner of R&L Model Management in New York, a retired USAF Colonel, and an all around expert on the modeling industry and photographer rights issues. Roger posted the following notice after being removed from MM. The notice explains many of the issues.
Some months ago there was a large flap when Internet Brands (the new owners of MM) chose to impose a new Terms and Conditions, which caused something of a revolt among the membership. After a good deal of acrimonious discussion on the forums, it was changed to something that appeared to me to be acceptable.
It is not, and the other members now need to know why it is not.
One of the primary sticking points was the issue of a non-perpetual grant of rights. We all know that MM needs to be able to display content posted here, to archive it, and make other uses of it. That was understood and agreed to. But other sites had claimed a perpetual license, and the Terms IB tried to put in place also claimed a perpetual license. That was not agreed to. Finally, after a lot of negotiation, IB agreed that their usage license would terminate when the member removed their content from the site. Here is the wording of the Terms, which is still in effect:
“When you post content to the Site, you authorize and direct us to make such copies thereof as we deem necessary in order to facilitate the posting and storage of the content on the Site. Through the action of posting such content (images, text, video, etc) you are also granting the Site a non-exclusive worldwide license to use, copy, publicly display, publicly perform, reformat, translate such User content (in whole or in part) and distribute such content in connection with operation of the Site. This limited license does not grant Model Mayhem the right to sell or otherwise distribute your Content outside of the Model Mayhem Services without the express permission of the rights holder(s).
“You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content. This Site does not assert any ownership over your User Content; rather, as between us and you, subject to the rights granted to us in these Terms, you retain full ownership of all of your User Content and any intellectual property rights or other proprietary rights associated with your User Content.”
Clearly the site needs to be able to archive copies of the site and all the material on it. The place crashes often enough that we all understand the value of a backup archive copy. So that seemed reasonable.
However, it turns out that’s not what they meant. Now, if you post anything to the site and another member makes copies of it and puts in on the site, that copy becomes, in their interpretation, “an archive copy”. They will not remove it, and claim they have a continued right to display and use it, even though you remove your original and ask that the copy be removed.
How do I know this? It just happened to me. I removed some of my original content from this site, and sent a CAM asking for removal, providing URLs to the content to be removed. This is the answer I received from MiguelIB, speaking for the corporation:
“We provide each member the ability to edit and delete their own posts however once another member quotes such posts it is our belief that that quote becomes an archived version of that conversation which we maintain the right to utilize on the site.”
As a practical matter, this gives MM and Internet Brands the perpetual license we all agreed they would not have when we put material on the site.”
Modelmayhem retaliated by deleting Roger’s profile from the website. Roger wrote:
The material above was posted to the Model Mayhem Site Related forum and promptly locked and hidden by them.
It appears that their interpretation is that anything posted by another member on their site is a part of “their archive” and thus immune to deletion, even with a DMCA notice. When you state that you disagree, your profile is removed.
This information as written by Roger Talley is re-posted here with permission of Roger Talley.
After having his profile removed from MM, Roger proceeded to list all improper posting of his images on a competing website called Model Insider.