Wednesday, January 09, 2008

copyright and images online

There was an interesting article today in the Washington Post about folks who have posted images on flickr and in blogs, only to discover their images co-opted for commercial use. (I don't know how long the article will be publicly available)

Cases included a woman who found an image of her pub in a Santa suit used on a Fox NFL broadcast, and a Dallas teenager who found an image of herself used in a commercial ad campaign for Virgin Mobile in Australia. There have apparently been a number of cases involving the online parenting magazine Babble, which they repeatedly blame on inexperienced staff. In one case, a man who asked a Microsoft blog to remove a link to his image and got no response then replaced the image with a famous pornographic image, which got immediate action.

The article briefly describes fair use, and rightly mentions that a rights holder can give away or assign rights use. But there's this quote from the article: "Clearly, the only way to really make sure your photos on the Internet don't get splashed around is not to put them up there to begin with." (their emphasis.) And there's this description of creative Commons: "... Creative Commons, a nonprofit that licenses photos for Flickr."

Given that they spoke with Larry Lessig and quoted him in the article, could they have done the five minutes of research needed to correctly characterize CC? Could they have bothered to describe how best to declare one's rights? Advising folks to be vigilant about their rights is a good thing, but let's not advise withholding content for fear of misuse.

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