EyeEm, the stock photo marketplace, has updated its terms and conditions to specify that the company, which was acquired by Spain-based Freepik in 2023, can use content uploaded to the platform for artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning learning (ML) models. The platform also told its users that if they do not agree with this, they should not add photos to the EyeEm community and delete all existing images. However, another section of the terms and conditions emphasizes that if an account is deleted, the company will not pay the accumulated share to the photographers.

According to a report from TechCrunch, the company notified its users of the change via email. The email reportedly highlights that EyeEm is adding a new clause to its terms and conditions that will grant it the rights to use user content to train AI. The email also specifies that users have 30 days to opt out by removing all their content. Notably, the publication also reported that EyeEm’s photo library contained 160 million photos and had 1.5 lakh users at the time of acquisition.

Section 8.1 of the Terms and Conditions page of EyeEm contains “Grant of Rights” information for its community, including obtaining a non-exclusive, worldwide, transferable and sublicensable right to its commercial activities. It now includes a new paragraph that reads: “This specifically includes the sublicensable and transferable right to use your Content to train, develop and improve machine learning software, algorithms and models. In the event that you do not agree with this, you should not add your content to the EyeEm community.”

While the company refuses, it requires them to delete all content on the platform. It should be noted that many users struggle to find an option to delete images in bulk, so these users are stuck deleting images one by one. However, even if they delete the images at their end, the images that are already available on the market or shared with its distribution platforms will not disappear immediately. In Section 13, the company states: “Full deletion from EyeEm Market and partner distribution platforms may take up to 180 days from the date of your deletion request.”

But there is more. In the same section, the company also adds: “All license agreements entered into before complete deletion and the usage rights granted by them remain unaffected by the request for deletion or the deletion.” This means that even deleting the content does not confirm the revocation of the license , provided to the platform if the user has entered any license agreements.

Finally, there is one more caveat. In Section 10.3 regarding License Sharing and Payouts, EyeEm states: “If your account is deleted, you lose the right to payouts for all accrued and future License Shares. So please make sure you submit a payment request before deleting your account.”

Based on the highlighted sections above, it can be seen that the company has set numerous conditions for users who do not want to consent to their images being used by AI. The email notification, short 30-day period and multiple hurdles, including difficulties in the deletion process, such as the requirement to send a form to the company to remove from the market and the risk of a payout if the account is deleted, will certainly create confusion and difficulty for users to opt out.

In particular, the European Union, in its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). description of consent it is mentioned, “Consent must be unequivocal, meaning that it requires either a statement or a clear affirmative act. Consent cannot be implied and must always be given by inclusion, declaration or active offer so that there is no misunderstanding that the data subject has consented to the particular processing.’

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