NYC's New Tourist Trap Claims the Rights to Every Photo You Take Inside of It [Update: Not Anymore]

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New York City’s newest luxury neighborhood, Hudson Yards, officially opened on Friday and visitors are already scrambling to photograph or mock its gilded pinecone landmark structure dubbed the Vessel.

But, as Gothamist points out, Hudson Yards seemingly claims rights to all such photos of the $150-million giant honeycomb floating above an active train yard, so long as they’re taken in and around the Vessel.

The Gothamist highlights two clauses in the Hudson Yards Terms & Conditions, which state that Hudson Yards has the right and license to use any content related to the structure:

MY NAME AND LIKENESS. If I appear in, create, upload, post, or send any photographs, audio recordings, or video footage depicting or relating to the Vessel, I grant to Company the unrestricted, worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual right and license (with the right to transfer or sublicense) to use my name, likeness, voice, and all other aspects of my persona for the purpose of operating, developing, providing, promoting, advertising, and improving the Vessel or any other products or services provided by Company or its sublicensees (in either case, now known or later developed)....

MY CONTENT. If I create, upload, post or send any photographs, audio recordings, or video footage depicting or relating to the Vessel, I grant to Company and its affiliates the irrevocable, unrestricted, worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferable right and license to use, display, reproduce, perform, modify, transmit, publish, and distribute such photographs, audio recordings, or video footage for any purpose whatsoever in any and all media...


According to the terms and conditions, visitors agree to these clauses when they enter the Vessel.

Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association told Gothamist that these terms and conditions don’t mean that Hudson Yards owns visitors’ content, but the organization is allowed “broad license” to use the content how it would like without visitors’ consent. And it means visitors can’t use their Vessel content commercially, according to Osterreicher’s reading.


James Grimmelmann, a law professor at Cornell Law School and Cornel Tech, blasted the “content” clause on Twitter.


Hudson Yards did not immediately respond to a Gizmodo request for comment. After the Gothamist article was published, a spokesperson for the Vessel told Gothamist, “We are refining the language to be more clear.”


“The intent of the policy is to allow Hudson Yards to amplify and re-share photos already shared on individual social channels through our website and social channels,” the spokesperson told Gothamist. “This is a practice utilized at nearly all major attractions and we wanted to over communicate, be transparent and disclose to all users.”

Perhaps even more concerning is the clause posted above the two aforementioned clauses, relating to “filming or recording.” That clause states: “I further authorize Company to store the Recordings on a database and transfer the Recording to third parties in conjunction with security and marketing procedures undertaken by Company.”


This suggests that Hudson Valley can use images that visitors post for Hudson Yard’s security protocol, and store the photos in a database.

If you plan on visiting the new Hudson Yards, perhaps consider turning off your phone before you arrive.


Update March 21, 9:45 am EST: Bloomberg and New York Times report that Vessel has changed the language of its terms of service. Now Vessel visitors “retain ownership of any photographs, text, audio recordings or video footage depicting or relating to the Vessel.”

Visitors who post photos on social media now “grant to Company and its affiliates the right to repost, share, publish, promote and distribute the Vessel Media via such social media channel and via websites associated with the Vessel or Hudson Yards (including my name, voice and likeness and any other aspects of my persona as depicted in the Vessel Media), in perpetuity.”


As the New York Times points out, the changes essentially clarify that the company can use visitor-produced content, but doesn’t own the content,

Correction March 21, 9:45 am EST: The original version of this article stated that the Vessel cost $200 million. The public structure cost $150 million, whereas the $200 million figure includes the surrounding public square and gardens, according to a spokesperson for Hudson Yards.