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I need to correct a correction about whether and how news brands are allowed to post Associated Press photos on Facebook: You can’t.

My post last month about effective Facebook engagement originally said that you couldn’t post AP photos on Facebook. I should have nailed this down at the time and linked to a source, but I didn’t. This was something I had heard a few different times from different sources and I just mentioned it as a fact from my personal knowledge, but didn’t verify, as I should have.

Someone (I can’t recall who) challenged that in questioning in a webinar, so I checked with Tim Rasmussen, assistant managing editor of photography at the Denver Post, whom I considered our most knowledgeable person at Digital First Media on photography matters. Tim sent me this correction, (lightly edited) which I added to the blog:

If you have the rights to AP images you can use them on Facebook and Pinterest to promote your content. Always check the special instructions and to be safe use only their staff or STR images. But you can do it. You cannot publish any Getty images to external source, but if you do a Facebook update that pulls in a Getty image as a thumbnail, that is OK though.

At a subsequent webinar, Annette Arrigucci, Home Page Editor for the El Paso Times, said she had understood from the AP that we couldn’t use AP photos in social media.

I asked Tim to clarify, and Annette sent this email from Dale Leach, AP Regional Director — Central:

While the policy on social media is evolving, here is the relevant section from our current policy manual:

Promotional uses:

1. If the third-party entity makes claims to the content, i.e. Facebook or Twitter, then use is limited to linking back to a customer site — headline, summary and thumbnail.

2. Aggregation/ Social Networking News Feeds are limited to:

a. News story headlines up to 15 words. Use of summaries may be negotiated and would be no more than up to 30 words (each headline and summary together comprising a “Headline”).

b. Photos can be no more than one low resolution Image per headline. “Thumbnail” versions of such Images may not be displayed at dimensions greater than 1.8 inches by 1.2 inches, resolutions greater than 130 pixels by 84 pixels, and at files sizes greater than 50 kilobytes.

3. Social Networking News Feeds must include a hyperlink back to the full text of a corresponding AP news story on member’s mobile application.

Tim doublechecked with AP and confirmed the policy was as Dale stated:

I was misinformed of AP policy. I had been told by New York that we can use their images on FB, but that policy since has changed.

I asked Dale if it was OK to quote the email in my blog and he asked me to hold off until he could check again with AP headquarters in New York: “My information is barely a month old, but this as you might expect is evolving.”

Hurricane Sandy understandably caused some delays in Dale getting a response from New York. Dale replied Saturday with more clarification:

1) We do not allow posting of AP photos on Pinterest. They do not recognize our copyright. You can find AP images on Pinterest, but that is without AP permission.

2) On Facebook, current policy says photos can be used but only as thumbnails and must link back to the member site.

3) We are indeed working on more specific guidelines on photos, given the many uses members or customers have asked us about. We’ll be happy to share those with you when they are available.

So that’s the triple-checked, clarified, verified AP policy: Don’t post AP photos on Facebook, except the thumbnails that Facebook pulls in when you post a link in a status update.

If that changes, I’ll update. But for now, newsrooms should not post AP photos on Facebook or Pinterest.

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