The Internet just devolved a little

Update 2: One additional theme which I did not cover that has been coming up in many of the comments to these posts is the concept of, well if the photographers are getting paid, then why am "I" not getting paid.

An interesting concept, but lets think through the scenarios a bit:

1. Firstly, they get paid to license their creative work. If you could take the same picture of yourself, or get someone else to take the same picture of yourself for free...then do so. :P If someone is willing to pay the photographer, that is between the client and the photographer.

2. If you REALLY care, then just don't get into a situation where they can take your picture in the first place. A. When you are in public, all bets are off, there is no expectation of privacy and anyone can take your picture and use it up to the line of the use being slanderous. (and even then how can a "unaltered" picture be slander anyways? Usually the accompanying words are or are not.) B. When you are in your own home (own business / etc), baring other possible laws (gender, racial equality, etc) you can control who have access to that space, so by allowing someone to take pictures on your property is inherently granting permission. Its up to YOU to say BEFOREHAND whether you want an agreement with photographers regarding any possible royalties which come out of a specific event. {Though honestly, I don't predicting such discussions going well. Not sure of many photographers willing to share royalties for their work with the client. Not saying it doesn't happen, just that I don't know, and can't imagine it.} C. When going to someone else's property (or someone else's event), really its up to them to control who else gets admitted to the event. If they allow media (meaning people with either video or still cameras) to show up, then that is there call, and while its in your rights to leave (they are not going to hold you there), its not within your rights to control who does or does not get admitted, therefore your staying around is inherently giving permission to use your likeness. In MANY cases that I am aware of photographers go above and BEYOND these basic rules to actually ensure that people do not mind their picture being taken, since obviously there is an issue of trust involved as well.

3. I mentioned it in the above point, but if you have HIRED said photographer for a specific reason, then I am sure you can work out the specific terms of the copyrights involved in advance. If you are THAT concerned of the resulting pictures. However, as I stated, I don't know specifically whether you will find photographers open to such negotiations. Maybe its common, I have no idea.

Really what it comes down to though is that models get paid to be in pictures because there is a specific demand for models so with out that agreement, you may have a hard time finding people who fit the goal of what you are trying to photograph. NORMAL people get paid (or have to sign release forms) in many cases because they are found in impromptu locations or situations and fit the immediate need of the pictures. However given what I said about being in public, many release forms are really just a CYA tactic since in the end you can expect no privacy for anything done while in public.

So in closing...please, don't bring the argument about mocking photographers that ask for compensation just because you happen to be IN a photo. You had your chance.

- If it was taken of you on private property (and there are some allowances here as well regarding "in plain view" etc) and against your will, well then sue for damages siting the resulting gross product of said picture

- If you gave permission for the photo to be taken (either explicitly via direct answer, or implicitly by not leaving some location) and then only LATER found out that there was a resulting gross product from said picture, then well tough, you should have negotiated something while you had control of the situation.

- If you were in public, then you are generally SOL. You can probably TRY and sue for damages, and the suit would probably GREATLY depend on specific circumstances, but in general you were out in public, so there is not much you can expect.

That's it. Those are your options. You "can" complain later of course...which is what many people are doing now, but really such actions are in poor taste and are often just made in frustration / sarcasm. {Yes, you Robert. :P}



Update 1: Interesting. I just got a response from Lane actually with a new link to another interesting twist to the story that I was not aware of when I wrote this. Apparently now that the "credits" have been made available. Other photographers are being contacted, some of which are also not happy about their work being stolen. This should make for an even more interesting case to watch going forward. Thanks for the heads up Lane.

- PDN Pulse



Remember the issue I commented on just a few days ago? Well, it seems to now be getting even more attention:

The Richter Scales

Lane Hartwell

Tech Crunch



Well, The Richter Scales have posted a new version without her image in it.

Its still a pretty funny video. I really like it a lot actually. You should follow the link and watch it.

HOWEVER, the REAL story here has nothing to do with the video anymore. Personally I also think it has nothing to do with the disagreement between Lane and The Richter Scales either.


The issue (outlined in many of the comments in the articles linked above) is the fact that on the whole it seems is that the general public seems to have NO grasp whatsoever on the concept of Intellectual Property, copyright, and fair use.

SO, lets start with a reminder that I am not a lawyer. The following statements are all my opinion, what I feel about the situation, and likely wrong in some cases.

But, lets start with what copyright is. Copyright in the US is a legal concept which stems from the protection of a creative body of work (can be ANYTHING creative). (Note that this is how it has been explained to me in the past by people more savvy with the law. The official text from reads: "Copyright protects “original works of authorship” that are fixed in a tangible form of expression".) The creator of that item unless revoked has full rights to control uses however they see fit. That is the law, plain and simple. Yes, as I said before I also believe that technology is racing ahead of the legal system and it could use to be updated. But that does not mean people can start deciding that for themselves. There is a system for doing this. Call your congress representative and senator if you really feel strongly about the situation. What this means is that regardless of means, availability, or the appearance of (note not presence of though) permission, no one is allowed to use a creative body of work without the expressed consent of the copyright holder. When you post online to photo sites like flikr, you are giving your consent to them to display the items. You are NOT (of course again, unless you explicitly do) giving permission for everyone else to use those creative works. If you want to know more, here is the government definitions of and answers to frequent questions on copyright.

Next is the concept of "fair use." In simple terms, the concept of fair use states that there are certain cases where a creative ("original" if you will) body of work CAN legally be reproduced. Again, states that there are "various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered “fair,” such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research." However, one thing to keep in mind here is that the term "various" that you see is typically interpreted rather conservatively. This does not mean that you can just say that you are researching various types of movies, so you wanted to download all you could from bittorrent. In fact what has been the case for some time in copyright infringement cases is that "The distinction between “fair use” and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission." ( So just declaring "Fair Use!" is not equivalent to calling for "parlez." In general its uses are narrow and often in practice do not involve the entire body of work.

Ok, so now that these two concepts are out of the way, lets talk about why they exist. Well copyright exists because there are many people who make their living off of creative bodies of work. One could argue whether some are more creative than others (which is your right :P), but that would not change its protection under the copyright laws. There are also many arguments that in many cases, there is nothing special or of "worth" in the bodies of work, therefore licensing them seems ridiculous. Again, probably a valid opinion. Just that is has no effect on the laws. And if both of these were REALLY true, then just use another picture for which you DO have permission to use, BEFORE you steal a picture which you DON'T have permission to use...goodness. So, back to why these laws exist. There are some people who make their entire living off these pieces of work. The only way they earn an income is to charge for their use. In some cases such agreements involve relinquishing copyright to said work, in some cases they do not. There is nothing which says because you pay me for something I have produced that you have any more or less control over the copyright of that work than you did beforehand. Now of course is when there are people who come and say: "But what about the record companies and movie studios? They make boat loads off this and don't need anymore to make a living." Sigh. Ok, again, maybe true in some cases. (Maybe not in others.) But either way, this is not a valid portion to the argument as the person in THIS case is neither a movie studio nor record company. Nor has she gone after thousands of people with law suits (so far has just asked youtube to remove one video). C'mon people, no need to vilify someone for just trying to protect their livelihood. I think she as well as many others have started to see a general trend in society today to completely ignore the concept of copyright and somehow make it as a concept an enemy. Now, I won't argue that there are not issues. Again, today's world is a different place, and not only that, but there are some large entities not really behaving responsibly with the copyrights that they hold either, that does not give everyone the right to completely ignore the law. Some of us have to stand up and ask the question regarding what society will be like if we all start ignoring laws we feel are not accurate or flexible enough for today's technology. (Immediate thought to what will happen when we develop teleporters to other dimensions...."I did not kill that person...they are perfectly well in the 4th dimension....they just can't come back unfortunately.")

So next comes the topic regarding her placement of the picture on flickr. Yeah, there are lots of pictures online. On many different sites. Mine included. In fact, who knows, I don't claim to be a saint, maybe I do something I am not supposed to quite often as well, but I don't revolt back and say that copyright sucks and it was someone's fault for putting it online in the first place. I mean just because you make a picture (for example, audio works too) available for viewing on your site does not mean that you are releasing all rights to that picture. Sure you can get into an argument over whether local caching is considered copying or whether google caching is considered copying. Those are all issues not even thought about yet in regards to the law. In THIS case though it was much more blatent. They took the picture, and USED it in their OWN creative body of work. Personally, I would say that this hardly sounds of fair use already, but I don't really know. So again, just because IE/FF have the option to save a picture from a site does not mean that this feature gives one full license to use that work however they chose. Actually if they wanted to use that picture as their computer background, or even print it out and display it at home (for whatever reason) these are all "closer" to the definition of fair use (and within the spirit of past judgements regarding the concept). However using the entirety of a work within your own creative work just seems like stealing (credit or not). Giving credit is just civil and shows at least that there is no malice, but NEVER absolves one from ANY responsibility. Often times credit is given simply as an agreement out of the licensing terms for the body of work.

So if you EVER wonder why commercial solutions for online sales of audio / video use heavy DRM, the reason is because the people who work at record and movie companies read these same articles. They read the same comments where people talk about how stupid Lane was for posting her work online and then expecting that it would not get stolen. They read where people feel that because something is technically possible makes it legal and get upset where someone says otherwise. When they read these comments the reaction is going to be to the fullest extent which they can afford and for which is technically possible. (So far what we are seeing is the same reaction on the legal front as well, but I don't want to get into that since that is a whole different matter.)

So seriously people grow up a little bit. Learn how our society was built. Don't change how you feel. You can feel (and even say) whatever you want. But its your actions which can be judged in the U.S. by a court of law. If you are not happy about that get involved in being part of the solution rather than the problem.

Thanks. (Again, aside from all this, I love the video.)



(Note that in all cases, I italicized, cited, and linked to all text which was not my own. Thus I believe would constitute fair use. However, in these cases, they were government sites...which can not be copyrighted.....which is a story for another time. :))

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