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Vessel at Hudson Yards updates photo policy after online criticism

The company previously said it had the right to use any pictures taken at the structure.

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Abrar Al-Heeti Video producer / CNET
Abrar Al-Heeti is a video host and producer for CNET, with an interest in internet trends, entertainment, pop culture and digital accessibility. Before joining the video team, she was a writer for CNET's culture team. She graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Though Illinois is home, she now loves San Francisco -- steep inclines and all.
Expertise Abrar has spent her career at CNET breaking down the latest trends on TikTok, Twitter and Instagram, while also reporting on diversity and inclusion initiatives in Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Credentials
  • Named a Tech Media Trailblazer by the Consumer Technology Association in 2019, a winner of SPJ NorCal's Excellence in Journalism Awards in 2022 and has three times been a finalist in the LA Press Club's National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.
Abrar Al-Heeti
2 min read
Hudson Yards

The Vessel at Hudson Yards drew online criticism for its photo policy.

Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

The Vessel in New York's Hudson Yards says you can keep ownership of the pictures you take at the art installation, following an outcry over its photo policy

The structure, which opened late last week, consists of 154 interconnecting staircases. It stands in Hudson Yards, Manhattan's new development featuring shopping, dining and outdoor areas. The Vessel's terms and conditions previously said Hudson Yards could use any pictures, audio or video visitors create or upload to social media showing the structure. 

The company has since updated that policy, noting that visitors "retain ownership of any photographs, text, audio recordings or video footage depicting or relating to the Vessel" that they may create. The Vessel can repost or share content visitors post to social media.

The company's old photo policy hadn't sat well with many people on Twitter. 

"The Vessel at Hudson Yards is a strong hustle. 'Stairs to nowhere' that are Instagram-ready and own the rights to any photos you take of it. Bag secured," one user wrote.

"Anyone planning to go to the Vessel at Hudson Yards, please click on the link and read clause 9 of the terms and conditions," photojournalist Gary Hershorn wrote on Twitter. "They are doing an unbelievable rights grab on all social media posts. They shouldn't be allowed to steal and own your work."

Hershorn also posted a warning on Reddit, cautioning visitors from posting on social media.  

"Heck, if I'm reading that correctly if you walk by and some random stranger snaps a photo of you, that gives the company rights to use your likeness," one user responded.

"I'm not sure of the legality of what they're saying, but apparently if you post a photo you took of the Vessel ... or including the vessel ... you give what essentially is potentially every company ever the right to use your name / likeness / whatever for any purpose," another Redditor wrote.

On Monday, a representative for Related, the real estate company that developed Hudson Yards, said: "The intent of the policy is to allow Hudson Yards to amplify and reshare photos already shared on individual social channels through our website and social channels. This is a practice utilized at nearly all major attractions and we wanted to over communicate, be transparent and disclose to all users. We are refining the language to be more clear."

Visitors still have to agree that they may be filmed or photographed by Hudson Yards, and that media taken of them at the Vessel become the company's property. Hudson Yards can use those recordings for advertising, marketing and promotional purposes.

Originally published March 18, 3:37 p.m. PT.
Update, March 21: Recasts story in light of updated photo policy.