Twitpic, the Twitter photo-sharing service, is facing backlash over a tweak to its terms of service that made it seem like users had lost the rights to their own images.

The site made the changes on May 10 and signed an agreement with the Wenn news group to syndicate images uploaded to the photo site, the BBC reported.

Twitpic founder Noah Everett clarified the new terms of service in a blog post on Tuesday, saying that customers definitely still own their content but that TwitPic has the rights to distribute it.

Flickr chimed in Friday to clarify its policies in a company blog post.

“Our Terms of Service clearly spell out that Flickr/Yahoo! doesn’t own the photos that you upload,” wrote Flickr’s senior community manager Zack Sheppard. “You, as a member, maintain all ownership rights to the photos that you upload to Flickr.”

He said Flickr also lets users choose the level of rights they hold over their pictures upon upload, and that the default is “All Rights Reserved.”

Sharing photos online has caused some legal headaches when news services and others pull images from public photo-sharing sites and use them without permission.

A photo of a hole that opened up in a Southwest Airlines flight taken by Twitpic user Shawna Malvini Redden in April found its way onto news sites without her permission. And Flickr user Noam Galai was surprised to find a self-portrait he’d posted and forgotten about popping up on T-shirts, graffiti, shoes and posters around the world. He started a blog tracking the places where his likeness has appeared in March.

Everett said TwitPic’s move to syndicate the photos is a step toward ending the illegal use of personal photos that Redden and Galai have faced. But the deal has left users questioning what, if any, compensation the photographers will see from the deal with Wenn.

What rights do you expect when you post pictures online?

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