Tag Archives: copyright

Update: Creative Commons issue resolutions

Rather than appending to my previous post I thought I’d add this update as a separate entry.

Following my discovery that the Daily Mail had used one of my images without permission, a number of threads kicked off. I asked folks via my blog, on Flickr and on Twitter, what their recommendations were – and I was overwhelmed by the response.

My initial response was to contact the Mail and ask for attribution, but I received no response to my email. I then decided to contact the picture desk, and ended up invoicing them for use of the image based on breach of license terms. I was prepared to take the matter further had the attribution (at minimum) not been provided. They finally added an attribution yesterday – although that’s via an overlay on the image, so it’s not ideal as it’s not searchable, and there’s no link back to my original content.

It has been pointed out to me that simply retrospectively billing them may lend some legitimacy to what they have done here… and let’s be honest, unless someone had spotted the reuse of my image I wouldn’t have known about it. They hadn’t linked to my Flickr page so I wouldn’t have found it via search. I suppose one answer would be the use of a tool like Tineye. More importantly though, I think it’s completely unacceptable to use CC-licensed (or even fully rights-reserved) material in this way and news sites and other services need to learn to respect these licenses. As a result, I’ve had some other friends make contact with the Mail at a high level to make this point.

On Sunday I became aware that another site had reprinted the Mail’s story, and included my image. This time, it was a news site in Brazil. My initial approach to this was to use Google Translate to try to find contact details, and I ended up filling in a form in English. I then asked for assistance on Twitter, and @mauricioswg was able to put me in touch with a Brazilian friend of his who also contacted the site on my behalf. At first they took the image down, but they still wanted to use it and after some discussion they now have the “correct” unmodified version of the image with attribution by agreement, thus fulfilling the terms of the license.

The upshot of all this? Whilst it can sometimes be hard to locate sites that are using your images – be vigilant as far as possible, and insist on your license. It’s your material.

I’d like to thank everyone who has offered support and provided help. My Twitter and other online and offline contacts have been invaluable. Social networks FTW!

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Facebook – crowdsourcing a new ToS?

Well the furore over Facebook’s attempt to update / “clarify” their Terms of Service continues.

facebook terms

I’m actually very interested in the whole issue. For a long time now I’ve pointed people at the offending paragraph in the Facebook ToS which has potentially claimed usage rights to what you upload to their servers, and I’ve fought shy of putting a lot of my own photo or video content on the site for that very reason. Those of you who have heard me speak about social media in public may well have heard me point it out in the past. Based on the current wording I still wouldn’t share my family photos on Facebook.

Anyway, the recent amendment to the ToS and the apparent continued claim to retain and use content even after a profile is deleted caused Facebook to rapidly change tack. People are hailing the reversal to the previous ToS as a victory… all I’d say to that is that I was concerned enough about the previous wording. The relevant wording is below, although it’s important to note that the same paragraph goes on to state that Facebook does NOT claim OWNERSHIP of the material, but the wording is pretty clear about usage rights, in my opinion:

By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide licence (with the right to sublicence) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise, on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorise sublicences of the foregoing.

(excerpted from http://www.facebook.com/terms.php as they stood at 14:00 GMT 18th Feb 2009)

In response to the noisy reaction to the aborted change, Mark Zuckerberg posted on the Facebook blog talking about taking a new approach to crafting and communicating the TOS. I find this particularly interesting, as it suggests that Facebook wants to take a more collective or even potentially a crowdsourced approach to the whole area.

Now, I’ve been through this kind of experience, myself, professionally – IBM has been through the process of creating blogging, virtual worlds, and now social software usage guidelines, and we’ve done so transparently, collaboratively, and with a pleasantly light touch. I’m not yet convinced that Facebook will take such an open and collaborative approach to revising their service guidelines… and as Rooney tweeted earlier, this does present a challenge for a company but as we know it’s not the first time that the socially-networked masses have forced a change in policy, and not even the first time Facebook has been affected. Interesting times, and I will continue to follow this area with interest.

Update: some nice thoughts on the issue here, too.