Thursday, February 28, 2019

What You're Really Signing Up For with Digital Photo Storage

A couple of years ago, a woman came to me wanting to know more about all this photo privacy stuff I've been talking about.  She said she had just learned that the online photobook company she'd been using for a couple of years reserves rights to all the photos uploaded to their site!  This means they could use pictures of this woman's baby in their advertising if they want.  Or sell them.  She was very concerned about photo privacy and dropped that company like a hot potato when she found out Heritage Makers does not reserve rights to your photos--they are completely private and solely yours.

The company this woman was dropping is, I believe, the most popular online photobook company out there.  Because of that (and probably because I'm a 14-year user of Heritage Makers and am quite accustomed to how they do things), I will admit that in the back of my mind I kind of didn't believe this gal.

I thought:  A company using your photos without your permission?!  How can that possibly be?!?

Guess what.  It's true.  

This scary article, {Those Cloud Photo Services... What's the Risk?} confirms it, along with several others linked there.  According to Darla at HeartWork Organizing, many public services take the rights to your photos when you upload them to their site.  This includes Google Photos, Facebook, iCloud, Flickr, and really any social media platform.  Once you upload your photos to their site, you are giving them your photosThey own them.

As just one example, Darla quotes the Google terms of use--what you are signing up for when you click "I accept."
"When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display, and distribute such content."
 "This license continues even if you stop using our service."
"Google may also stop providing Services to you, or add or create new limits to our services at any time." 
Okay, then.  Are your eyes as wide as mine are right now?

Darla's article also includes four links to stories of people's photos being used without their knowledge, including one where a family in Pennsylvania finds out that their picture had been used on a political ad flyer.

In talking with Caren Osborne, a {professional photo organizer at Memory Lane Photo Solutions}, I learned a few more things that I didn't know about Google and iCloud.  Many people sync their phones to one of these "photo storage" methods, so they think their photos are safe up there in the cloud.  However, what most people don't know is that once you delete a photo from your phone, it's deleted from Google or from iCloud, too.  That's what syncing with your phone does--it connects the two, so whatever happens on your phone happens in the cloud, too.  

And I can't even tell you how many people have told me that they can't ever find their photos when they use iPhoto.  But that's another story.

Let me give you a way to avoid this, a way to keep your photos private!  

2022 UPDATE:  Heritage Makers will soon be retired and photo storage will not be a part of the new website.  In 2021,  I was introduced to Forever which also offers private, full-resolution photo storage.  Forever goes a step further to offer permanent photo storage, meaning Forever guarantees your photos for your lifetime plus 100 years.  They do this by offering ownership of your storage--you buy it and therefore own it.  You don't rent it or pay a maintenance fee.  Your photos are even triple-backed-up with Forever Storage. There are lots more perks with Forever Photo Storage (which includes the ability to store video and audio files as well) which you can find at this informational webinar I taught in February:

In this webinar we talked about the fine print in many more photo cloud storage companies, too.

And here's how you can organize your photos well (and tag them, too!) in your Forever account:

If you do a web search for the best ways to store your digital photos, you'll find suggestions to store them two ways digitally and one way in print.  

Have you ever thought of having your photos in a book or album as photo storage?  Well, it is!

Print continues to be a largely overlooked and much more useful and satisfying form of photo storage.  You're still storing (preserving, really) your photos when you print them in a book or scrap page, and it's better than digital storage because photos are usually easier to find and easier to enjoy.  A page provides a place to record memories that belong to those photos, too, which is what makes the photo worth anything at all!

Forever allows you to store photos digitally and "store" (preserve!) them in print.

Forever also offers media conversion (digitizing VHS, slides, etc.).

Here's where it gets better.  Not only are your digital photos stored privately at full resolution, but the projects you create and print are, too.  That means it's not just your photos that are safely stored--it's your precious memories, too.  

Memories are what make photos mean something.  

So if this isn't what you currently get with your digital photo storage, you may want to drop your current choice like a hot potato.  

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  1. Great article and to support what you shared..... my friend’s cousin was horrified to find her child’s picture on the side bar of her computer for some well known digital company’s advertising.. so all of this true story! Yep, HM is the best. :) -Denise

  2. Denise, photo security (or lack thereof) is indeed the real deal! Thank you for sharing that.
    Finding your picture like that would be horrifying. Thanks so much for reading my post and for the great comment. I'm SO glad we use Heritage Makers!

  3. I just discovered your site, because you commented on my blog. This is an eye-opener. I have wanted to do digital scrapbooking, but am so overwhelmed. However, we just took a trip and I'd like to put it in a book, so I will be looking into this further. It looks great, I just hope it is as easy as it appears! Thanks, Janine

  4. I'm so glad you found me, Janine! Yes, this information about digital photo storage was really eye-opening to me also. It's a big deal, and I don't think many people really realize it. Overwhelm is a very common reason for not doing anything with photos, but I hope that Heritage Makers will help you do it. The quality is a big deal to me, but the flexibility is, too (being able to put anything anywhere I want on a page, no limits on the amount of photos or text). If you don't find it as easy as it appears, let me know because I've made lots of tutorial videos that you can follow, showing you where the buttons are, how to do shortcuts, etc. :) Thanks so much for reading and for the comment. I'm happy to help you if you need it, so don't hesitate to ask. :)

  5. I don't like storing family photos online, I don't even use iCloud with my iPhone. Thanks so much for linking up at the #UnlimitedMonthlyLinkParty 6. Shared.

    1. I'm so glad! It's not only a hassle but has so many risks. Thanks for reading and commenting and sharing, too. :)


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