Delta #SkyMilesLife Hashtag Campaign Attempts to Grant Company Extensive Rights to Tagged Photos


Have you ever participated in a corporate marketing hashtag campaign on Instagram or other social media platforms?

white and gray plane
Photo by Amarnath Tade

You might want to read the fine print the next time before you do.

That’s because a report from PetaPixel shows that Delta Airlines #SkyMilesLife is the latest culprit in an attempt at a blatant rights grab that gives the company pretty extensive ownership over tagged photos.

“By tagging photos using #SkyMilesLife and/or #DeltaMedallionLife, user grants Delta Air Lines (and those they authorize) a royalty-free, world-wide, perpetual, non-exclusive license to publicly display, distribute, reproduce and create derivative works of the submissions.”

PetaPixel further explains that this is often an attempt by companies to gain access to thousands of user-submitted images for free, thus avoiding having to license professionally made marketing images. In other words, photographers potentially miss out on making money off of their work in addition to signing over rights to it by using a hashtag.

And, to be fair, Delta isn’t the only company that has attempted this kind of thing. That said, people on the other side of the argument have pointed out that these hashtag campaigns grant artists behind the images selected that oh-so-precious thing known as “exposure.” Plus, using the hashtag is a voluntary act, they point out. While we’re going to leave the whole “exposure” argument for another day, there’s no denying that you can simply opt-out of this thing by not using a corporate hashtag.

Still, it’s kind of scary that companies would attempt to get such extensive rights over a photo just because of a hashtag. Further, as people who use Instagram are well aware, the platform often suggests popular hashtags. Perhaps the platform could exclude corporate hashtags from this feature in the future so users don’t “accidentally” give someone like Delta all of the rights to their vacation photos.

What do you think of Delta’s #SkyMilesLife hashtag rights grab? Have you seen similar campaigns? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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About Author

Kehl is our staff photography news writer since 2017 and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing and you can get to know him better here and follow him on Insta.

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