Terms of use

Terms of use (last updated 11 October 2011)

By using iSpot, you agree to these Terms of Use. If you do not agree, do not use the site. We may need to change these Terms of Use from time to time. If you disagree with a change to the Terms of Use, do not use the site.

iSpot is provided by The Open University. iSpot is part of the OPAL project, which is funded by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund. In these Terms of Use, when it says 'we' or 'us', it means The Open University, which is incorporated by Royal Charter (RC 000391), an exempt charity in England and Wales and a charity registered in Scotland (SC 038302).

Acceptable use and behaviour

People learn best when they feel secure and supported. We want the site to feel like that. So please make every effort you can to be friendly and to help and support other people on the site. If you see people being less than helpful, encourage them gently to help out.

Photos of all types of wildlife, especially from Britain and Ireland, are very welcome on iSpot, with two exceptions:

(i) Nesting birds are protected by law and are vulnerable to disturbance if not approached with care. In order to avoid any possibility of potential disturbance, photos of nesting birds, or active nests, are not allowed on iSpot.

(ii) Bats are protected by law and are vulnerable to disturbance. In particular, it is illegal to intentionally or recklessly disturb a bat at a roost. Photographs of bats at a roost are not allowed on iSpot.

You may not use iSpot for any unlawful purpose, or to infringe the rights of others on the site. You may not use iSpot to harass, distress, or inconvenience anyone. You may not post information to iSpot that is abusive, defamatory, obscene, or otherwise offensive or objectionable. You may not use iSpot for advertising or for promotion.

We reserve the right to remove any material posted on iSpot that we consider unsuitable for any reason, at any time. We also reserve the right to exclude anyone from using iSpot if they have posted material contrary to these Terms of Use.

If you see something on iSpot that is not acceptable, please report it using the 'Report content as inappropriate' facility.

Your content and information

When you use iSpot, you create and upload content to the site - for instance, photos of wildlife, your descriptions of it, and messages to the forums. By putting this content on the site, you are saying that:
(a) the content is yours, or you have the permission of the owner to agree to this usage, and
(b) it's OK for us to use it to operate the site, and for our research, and
(c) it’s OK for us to use it to help research and conserve wildlife by passing on details of observations and identifications (but not photos) to others, such as the relevant recording schemes (e.g. National Recording Schemes and Local Records Centres.) We will only pass on your content to carefully vetted bona fide organisations, and will never pass on any personal information apart from your username.

Your content and information remains yours, including your photos and the text you type. You are free to make the information available to others at any time if you want to.

In legal terms, you are granting us a non-exclusive, transferable license to the material, and warranting that permission for this licence has been given by the copyright holder.

If you no longer want us to use your content, you should delete it from the site. It will stop being available to other users immediately. (It will remain in the site backups for a reasonable period of time, but will not be available to other users.)

Your personal information

All of the information you upload to the site, with three exceptions, is available to everyone who uses the site. By putting personal information on the site, you agree to it being available in this way. You can change or delete your personal information yourself at any time, by editing your profile.

The first exception is your email address. We store this so that we can operate the site and contact you when we need to about the site. We will never pass it on to anyone for marketing purposes.

The second exception is your IP address, a number which identifies the computer you use to access the site. We store this in order to track usage of the site, and monitor abuse of the site.

The third exception is your password. For security, we do not store your password, but instead store an encrypted version of it. (Every time you log in, we encrypt what you type and check this against the encrypted password we have stored for you.) This means that we cannot read your password, and cannot pass it on to other people.

We will not make your email address, IP address or password available to anyone outside the team operating the site, unless required to by law.

We use Google Analytics on the site, which captures information about the use of the site, to help us monitor and improve it. None of the information captured by Google Analytics is personally-identifiable information - that is, nothing that can identify you as an individual is stored.

Privacy and safety

We want iSpot to be an open and safe place. We want the site to be a safe and enjoyable place for people of all ages, including children. If you are under 16, you should have your parent or guardian's permission to use the site, and talk to them about staying safe online.

All activity on iSpot is viewable by all users. We do not provide any private spaces. This is for two reasons. Firstly, it can help people learn from each other: reading other people's queries and replies can be a great way of learning things. Secondly, it helps us make sure that any potentially unacceptable activity on the site can be spotted. If you see anything on the site that contravenes these Terms of Use, please report it as inappropriate.

We very strongly suggest that you do not post any information that would identify you personally to the site, including your full name, your home address, telephone number (landline or mobile), email address, or school. If you are under 16, you may not post this information to the site at all.

Using information on the site

The rights in material uploaded by users to the site are owned by those users. You may use their material on iSpot, but may not use it for any other purpose unless the owner of the material grants you that right.

For all other material, including the content and design of the site other than user-contributed material, all rights are owned or controlled for these purposes by The Open University. You may use this material on the site, but only for your own, personal, non-commercial use.

Our responsibility to you

We will do our best to continue to provide the site, to make sure that all users abide by these terms, and to make sure that the site is safe to use. However, we can't guarantee this.

In particular, identifications and other information are provided by us and by other members of the iSpot community in good faith, but we can’t guarantee their accuracy.

In legal terms, we exclude any warranty, express or implied, as to the quality, accuracy, timeliness, completeness, performance, fitness for a particular purpose of the web site or any of its contents. We will not be liable for any damages (including without limitation damages for loss of profit, revenue or anticipated savings) arising in contract, tort or otherwise from the use of or inability to use the web site or any of its contents or from any action taken (or refrained from being taken) as a result of using the web site or any such contents. We make no warranty that the contents of the web site are free from infection by viruses or anything else which has contaminating or destructive properties.