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Hudson Yards Changes Photo Ownership Policy After Backlash

By Victoria M. Walker

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New York City’s newest luxury shopping mall is turning heads with millions of square footage of retail, office buildings, and more. Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Rolex, and other luxury shops have set up camp at the development, which reportedly cost New York taxpayers billions of dollars.

The Instagram opportunities at the midtown Manhattan development are endless, with a search of #hudsonyards producing over 93,000 photos and videos, some with thousands of “likes.

But perhaps the most Instagrammable feature of the mall is the “Vessel,” which consists of 154 flights of stairs, almost 2,500 individual steps and 80 landings. Photos on social media depict a glossy structure that strongly resembles a hollowed-out beehive.

But are the photos you take at the site yours? According to a Gothamist report, the original terms and conditions from Hudson Yards stated that photos, audio, and video taken at the Vessel were subject to “the irrevocable, unrestricted, worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferable right and license to use, display, reproduce, perform, modify, transmit, publish and distribute such photographs, audio recordings or video footage for any purpose whatsoever in any and all media.”

Or, at least it did. After some backlash, Hudson Yards changed the policy, which now says that visitors “retain ownership of any photographs, text, audio recordings or video footage depicting or relating to the Vessel.”

“Pretty much the only thing they didn’t ask for was the copyright to the material,” Mickey H. Osterreicher, the General Counsel for the National Press Photographers Association told Gothamist. He went on to say that while the Vessel doesn’t own the content you produce, the language gives them broad oversight over what they can do with that content.

Reaction to the Vessel and Hudson Yards has been mixed, with some on social media calling it a waste of money, while one Twitter user put it more bluntly: “Hudson Yards will end up like Fyre Festival.”

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Victoria M. Walker

Victoria M. Walker is an award-winning multimedia journalist and full-time lecturer in the Department of Media, Journalism, and Film at her alma mater, Howard University. She was previously the breaking news and viral content video editor at The Washington Post.

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