It is time to talk about Smugmugs Terms of Service
I love Smugmug – and just renewed for my 8th year there, but I have a problem. I can post nude, fine art nude, and other pictures just about everywhere else than Smugmug. Section 13 of the Terms of Service at Smugmug specifically forbids nudes; unfortunately I take them from time to time. I am also getting feedback from people who look at my Smugmug account that the pass wording system in place is tedious – they want instant gratification. Some professional photographers and many amateurs make their money off nude pictures. Tasteful or not, this is one of the ways of making money as a photographer.
I really want my Smugmug viewers to be happy – and while I post the password to certain galleries right in the description – many users do not read, so I get e-mails, which I have to answer and shoot them the password along the way. Tedious, boring, no instant gratification. The user sometimes is the lowest common denominator. We all have to live with with that.
However there is also a solution that other photo hosting companies have in place, one that would be good for Smugmug to emulate. Flickr, Deviant Art, 500PX, Instagram, and many other photo sites have provisions for adult, fine art nude, or other works that could be offensive to some, but make money for the photographer. On all these systems you merely mark that they are restricted for nudity or whatever reason, then continue on with your upload.
It is well past time for Smugmug to fix this problem and open up a whole new avenue for photographers. While in private correspondence with Smugmug Support Heroes they said that as part of the discretionary portion of the policy they only enforce it when someone complains. That is a tenuous process; no one who is taking fine art nudes or fetish work knows when someone is going to complain.
This is one of the very few ways that Smugmug could be more competitive in the market. And it is a simple fix – new column in the database with 1, 2, 3 good, hot, oh my god this is nude, and then let the photographers simply mark their pictures as to if they are safe for work or not.
I’ll still stay with Smugmug for as long as they exist, but I would really like to see this small simple change be moved right into the board room for discussion. There are already fine art nudes and other works throughout the system. It is time to help photographers out on this one, people who take fetish, nude, fine art, and in some cases controversial works could benefit from this change to the system.
What say you Smugmug?