A cybersecurity software company claims that photo-sharing app BeReal owns the rights to users’ photos for “30 years.”
After combing through the app’s terms of service, Avast claims that by using the service people grant BeReal “30 years in which they can reuse user photos in any form.”
PetaPixel couldn’t confirm the 30-year license but can verify that in the Terms section of its website, BeReal says that it can use users’ photos for pretty much anything it wants.
Designed to be the “anti-Instagram,” BeReal alerts users with a notification to post a picture in their current surroundings within a two-minute window. The app uses both front and rear-facing cameras simultaneously to capture the daily shot so users can’t hide behind their main camera
The Global Head of Security for Avast Jeff Williams says BeReal gets 30 years to use photos in ad campaigns, promotional materials, videos, compilations, billboards, and more.
Williams goes on to say that because of the nature of the app, which prompts users to take a photo within a short timeframe, there is a potential of sharing information that users would want out in the wider world.
“Imagine your most compromising and embarrassing moment being attached to an ad campaign to your friends or to content which goes viral and garners millions of viewers,” Williams says.
“Thirty years is largely forever in internet time and potentially covers 60+% of someone’s career years. This seems to be a particularly long grant of rights with exceptionally broad permissions for use.”
BeReal’s terms of service say clearly that any content shared publically on BeReal grants “a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicensable license to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute the content you share.”
And even content that is marked as “friends only” can be used by BeReal but only if the user grants it “on a voluntary basis.”
“The app uses both the forward and reverse facing cameras as a way of capturing the activity of the moment- regardless of what it is or who is in the background,” Williams adds.
“This model can result in sharing sensitive information such as the contents of a computer screen or on a company whiteboard, or privacy-invasive photos of people who have not opted-in to the service and who may have a right to an expectation of privacy. The time pressure can also result in sharing a personal moment which brings negative impacts in the future or where metadata exposes exact location.”
While there are obvious privacy concerns, photographers using the app as a creative outlet may find their work being used in a way they did not expect or even knowingly consent to given how many people skip reading an app’s terms and conditions.
Update 4/28: After publication, a BeReal spokesperson reached out to PetaPixel to state that it does not own users photos for 30 years and will ask photographers’ permission before using their photos.
“With any leading content-sharing (photos, videos, text, etc.) platform, when a user posts that platform has a license to use the content until it’s deleted. We would encourage you to take a look at the Terms of other leading platforms to see this,” a spokesperson says.
Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.