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User-Generated Content Rights: Top FAQs From Marketers


“How do user-generated content rights work?”

It’s a question we’ve heard a lot.

When it comes to using social photos and videos in marketing, it can be tricky trying to figure out what’s “ok” to do and what’s not. After all, different regions have different laws, and different social networks have different terms.

While this post is definitely not a substitute for professional legal advice, we’ll try our best here to help demystify the questions you might have around user-generated content rights.

Q: Do I need to ask permission to post user-generated photos on my website?

A: Yes. You should get explicit permission from the creator before using UGC in any channel. This includes all user-generated photos and videos on your website. 

Recently, Instagram has made a statement to clarify its position around this, recommending that people get rights to visuals before embedding them:

"While our terms allow us to grant a sub-license, we do not grant one for our embeds API. Our platform policies require third parties to have the necessary rights from applicable rights holders. This includes ensuring they have a license to share this content, if a license is required by law."

This includes:

  • UGC in CrowdRiff galleries 
  • UGC embeds 
  • Photos or videos in your CrowdRiff Media Hub

It is at your, and your organization’s discretion to determine the level of risk you are willing to take on.

Q: How do I get rights to user-generated content?

Here are 2 ways DMOs are getting rights to user-generated photos.

Ask for permission explicitly in a comment

When you ask nicely, people are generally very happy to let you feature their visual.

Here’s a fantastic example from Tourism Toronto:

see toronto now ugc rights

If you ever need a script, follow theirs:

  1. Show that you appreciate their work with a compliment
  2. Tell them how you’d like to use their photo
  3. Give them a way to explicitly say “yes”  

Invite users to agree to specific Terms & Conditions

For DMOs that have more rigorous requirements and want to be extra clear when it comes to user-generated content rights, you can invite users to agree to legal Terms & Conditions before they grant you permission to use their content.

You can choose to link your Terms & Conditions in your profile, and direct people to that link when asking for rights before they agree.

Louisiana Tourism ARM

Here, Louisiana Travel uses CrowdRiff’s Advanced Rights Management feature to show people (from whom they’ve requested photos) a seamless experience from agreeing to terms to granting permission for Louisiana Travel to use their content.

Q: How does CrowdRiff manage user-generated content rights?

DMOs use CrowdRiff to automate the entire rights request process, shaving hours of manual searching of the work week.

  1. We keep track of your requests. When you’re manually requesting rights to UGC, it’s extraordinarily hard to keep a record of which photos you’ve requested and who’s responded. CrowdRiff automates all of that.
  2. We retrieve the high-resolution version of any photo immediately after someone gives you rights. No more emailing back and forth — when they approve, you get the photo instantly.
  3. We log each time someone responds with “yes”, and archive it so that you can have a record of that interaction.

Quick Links

Every social network has explicit Terms & Conditions about user-generated content rights. Here are some quick links:

Instagram Terms of Service

Facebook Terms of Service

Twitter Terms & Conditions

*Post updated on July 7, 2020 for accuracy 

Download-Guide UGC-Travel and Tourism Brands