500px Makes Some Controversial Updates to Their Terms of Service

500px Makes Some Controversial Updates to Their Terms of Service

If you have an account and have uploaded images to 500px, you may want to dust off your password and take a peek, as the photo-sharing and licensing site has made significant updates to their Terms of Service. The latest update since being acquired by Visual China Group in February 2018 is causing some controversy in the community.

Beno Saradzic did everyone a solid and actually read the updated Terms of Service to notice some really scary updates. In a Facebook post, he wrote: “…It seems they have made a full transition to the Dark Side… 500px, seriously, WTAF??”

Saradzic, photographer and Fujifilm ambassador, is also a popular member on the photo-sharing site with nearly 30,000 followers and 13 million views. He highlighted questionable pieces of the updated policies, which included the below:

By submitting Visual Content to the Site, you grant to 500px a non-exclusive or exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license to use, sublicense, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publicly perform and publicly display such Visual Content in connection with the Services. This license will exist for the period during which the Visual Content is posted on the Site and will automatically terminate upon the removal of the Visual Content from the Site, subject to the terms of any license granted by 500px or through our authorized distributors and these Terms;

As scary as the wording may be, however, it seems like this language is the norm with any photo-sharing and licensing website. There are pieces to the updated terms that require confirmation when uploading images to the site to allow 500px to license your images and become a Contributor. For comparison, check out Instagram’s policy below: 

We do not claim ownership of your content that you post on or through the Service. Instead, when you share, post, or upload content that is covered by intellectual property rights (like photos or videos) on or in connection with our Service, you hereby grant to us a non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate, and create derivative works of your content (consistent with your privacy and application settings). You can end this license anytime by deleting your content or account.

While the policies may not be as drastic of a change from the original policies and are similar to one in place on Instagram, there have been other updates 500px has made, including the removal of their Marketplace, which allowed licensing under Creative Commons, that have forced photographers to deactivate their accounts with the service.

Are you still using 500px despite these changes? Sound off in the comments below, and let us know your thoughts. 

Laura Ersoy's picture

Laura Ersoy is a portrait and music photographer based in the New York/New Jersey area. She currently works as a Digital Designer, while also serving as Editor-in-Chief for the independent music & culture publication, EUPHORIA. Magazine.

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Canceled that diseased brand long ago. It’s a socialist controlled platform. Work you ass off for us because,,, we’ll we don’t know why but give us free shit anyway...

You act as if companies in the US and other "capitalistic" nations haven't done the same. It's wrong no matter where this is done, not just in "socialist" nations. Oh, and China is Communist.

It is now Communist, you are right. He refers to the previous Canadian owners. Stupid comment on his part.


China is "communist" in name only. Despite what the Chinese claim, they are a capitalist economy with a socialist veneer and a "Communist Party" in sole control of the government.

So very true.

Had been three or four years with 500px. Went from pro to basic user level as there was no longer recognizable benefit to pay pro level (they took away the portfolios). Then the company was sold to VCG, a chinese group, compare it to Getty. That was the moment I took down half of my photos.
I had not that many followers, I never played the game "i like yours, you like mine", still there were around 100 and I followed about 60. Then one or the other person simply disappeared or did not post any longer to my regret, I liked their photos. Just recently I took the rest of my pictures down and changed the alias (path) of my account.
Funny thing is: I uploaded a white image 3000x2000px to replace my cover image. And that white image with absolutely nothing on it got about 10-20 likes.
Flickr was and is no alternative. It will probably be shut down in some months because they lose money. Where to go?

Flickr is the way to go. CEO sent a letter few days ago about the situation, telling users that they still loose money, but not as much as they were. Also they ask users to become PRO helping them support Flickr. I really trust them, having Smugmug taking care of the platform means A LOT.
This is what they said :

Dear Flickr Pros,
First, and above all else: thank you. Thank you for being a part of our community. Thank you for caring about Flickr. Thank you for supporting Flickr. Thank you for being a Flickr Pro.

Two years ago, Flickr was losing tens of millions of dollars a year. Our company, SmugMug, stepped in to rescue it from being shut down and to save tens of billions of your precious photos from being erased.

Why? We’ve spent 17 years lovingly building our company into a thriving, family-owned and -operated business that cares deeply about photographers. SmugMug has always been the place for photographers to showcase their photography, and we’ve long admired how Flickr has been the community where they connect with each other. We couldn’t stand by and watch Flickr vanish.

So we took a big risk, stepped in, and saved Flickr. Together, we created the world’s largest photographer-focused community: a place where photographers can stand out and fit in.

And yet, Flickr—the world’s most-beloved, money-losing business—still needs your help.

We’ve been hard at work improving Flickr. We hired an excellent, large staff of Support Heroes who now deliver support with an average customer satisfaction rating of above 90%. We got rid of Yahoo’s login. We moved the platform and every photo to Amazon Web Services (AWS), the industry leader in cloud computing, and modernized its technology along the way. As a result, pages are already 20% faster and photos load 30% more quickly. Platform outages, including Pandas, are way down. Flickr continues to get faster and more stable, and important new features are being built once again.

Our work is never done, but we’ve made tremendous progress.

Flickr still needs your help. It’s still losing money. You, and hundreds of thousands of loyal Flickr members stepped up and joined Flickr Pro, for which we are eternally grateful. It’s losing a lot less money than it was. But it’s not yet making enough.

We need more Flickr Pro members if we want to keep the Flickr dream alive, and we need your help to share the story of Flickr.

We didn’t buy Flickr because we thought it was a cash cow. Unlike platforms like Facebook, we also didn’t buy it to invade your privacy and sell your data. We bought it because we love photographers, we love photography, and we believe Flickr deserves not only to live on but thrive. We think the world agrees; and we think the Flickr community does, too. But we cannot continue to operate it at a loss as we’ve been doing.

Flickr is the world’s largest photographer-focused community. It’s the world’s best way to find great photography and connect with amazing photographers. Flickr hosts some of the world’s most iconic, most priceless photos, freely available to the entire world. This community is home to more than 100 million accounts and tens of billions of photos. It serves billions of photos every single day. It’s huge. It’s a priceless treasure for the whole world. And it costs money to operate. Lots of money.

As you know, Flickr is the best value in photo sharing anywhere in the world. Flickr Pro members get ad-free browsing for themselves and their visitors, advanced stats, unlimited full-quality storage for all their photos, plus premium features and access to the world’s largest photographer-focused community.

Please, help us spread the word. Help us make Flickr thrive. Help us ensure Flickr has a bright future. Every Flickr Pro subscription goes directly to keeping Flickr alive and creating great new experiences for photographers like you. We are building lots of great things for the Flickr community, but we need your help. We can do this together.

We’re launching our end-of-year Pro subscription campaign on Thursday, December 26, but I want to give you a coupon code to share with friends, family, or anyone who shares your love of photography and community so they can enjoy the same 25% discount before the campaign starts.

We’ve gone to great lengths to optimize Flickr for cost savings wherever possible, but the increasing cost of operating this enormous community and continuing to invest in its future will require a small price increase early in the new year, so this is truly the very best time to help everyone upgrade to a Pro membership.

If you value Flickr finally being independent, built for photographers and by photographers, we need your help.

With gratitude,

Don MacAskill
Co-Founder, CEO & Chief Geek
SmugMug + Flickr

Please share coupon code 25in2019 or link below to give the gift of 25% off Flickr Pro now.


This did not come as a surprise to me, and thousand others. We all knew this was coming sooner or later, that's why a huge userbase deleted all their content and their accounts.

I already deleted most of my shots some time ago, when they changed another policy. Today I'm deleting everything, can't trust them...
Flickr, thanks for being there

Did the same right now and deactivated my account. I don't trust them anymore.

500px owned by a Chinese entity is just a state-controlled version of Google, Facebook, YouTube, etc. What could possibly go wrong?

I’ve use 500px for 5 years, mostly as a sort of personal portfolio. But changes they made and the fewer and fewer photos being posted made me feel uncomfortable. This was the last straw, so deleted my images and deactivated the account. A pity, but such is life.
I’ll look at Flickr again, but are worried for them long term.

I'm not suprised this is happening. And my reaction is the same as when Microsoft tried this with onedrive. I put 'm on a blacklist - and they'll never get off again! I'm pretty tough on these matters.