Hudson Yards Is Tweaking Its Controversial Photo Policy Following Public Backlash
At the center of New York City's newest neighborhood, Hudson Yards, the interactive public sculpture known as the Vessel has had its controversial photo policy revised.
The policy was originally buried in Hudson Yards' terms and conditions. It stated that any photograph, video or social media post taken of or inside the Vessel can be used by the company for whatever purpose they choose. That meant anyone who reserved a free timed entry ticket to enter the Vessel had also inadvertently granted Hudson Yards rights to use any and all media they created (including their likeness), without compensation.
Already the subject of some shawarma jokes, the discovery of the tourist attraction's terms and conditions stirred discord in the city.
"Anyone planning to go to the Vessel at Hudson Yards, please click on the link and read clause nine of the terms and conditions," photojournalist Gary Hershorn warned readers via Twitter. "They are doing an unbelievable rights grab on all social media posts. They shouldn't be allowed to steal and own your work."
In response to the public outcry, Hudson Yards adjusted its policy. Bloomberg reported that the "updated language" of the terms and conditions would clarify that the licensing only applies to photos taken in and on the Vessel. So now, if you were to take a photo in the vicinity of the Vessel and it just-so-happened to be lingering in the background, Hudson Yards does not have any rights to use it without your consent.
Despite the small tweak in wording, however, the policy still permits Hudson Yards to use any content you post to social media as their own.
"The terms and conditions for visiting Vessel have been modeled after those used at similar local and national attractions," a spokesperson for Hudson Yards told TPG. "As we are a new destination, we wanted to over-communicate, be transparent and disclose to all users that we may reshare select social posts on our social channels and website that visitors have already shared publicly on their social channels. This is a process undertaken at major attractions around the city and country."
Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association told Gothamist clauses such as this one have been growing in popularity with the advent of social media.
"Normally, if you took a picture and you didn't post it anywhere and they wanted to get those images from you, the burden would be on them to find those images and get them," said Osterreicher. "But because so many share things on social media, this pretty much gives them the right to say that if they see an image, they can take it and use it in any way they see fit, and then it would be your burden to go after them and say, 'Hey wait a minute, you used my image without credit, compensation or permission.' And they'll come back and say, 'Oh but you did give us permission. Not only permission to use your image, but you gave us permission to use your name and likeness.'"
According to The Real Deal, New York City council member Ben Kallos has said he may introduce legislation that would prevent companies in the city from claiming "wholesale ownership" of content created at tourist attractions.