Wednesday, 16 April 2014

First Litigation Threat


I was wondering when the day would come, the day I will receive some legal threat over something I wrote on my blog.
That particular threat arrived two days ago, when I received a request by the photographer of a photo I embedded into a post to remove the photo. Sadly, that request came attached with a "or I will take legal actions" threat. You can read it for yourself in this post's comments.
First, I would like to clarify that in this particular case there is no legal grounds for the threat. Although the photographer has changed the licence on his photo from Creative Commons to a full Copyright one, at the time I have embedded the photo into my post it bore a Creative Commons licence. As explained by Prof Michael Fraser, a firm copyright supporter, during the event discussed at this post, once a creator gave up on their copyright monopoly privileges and gone Creative Commons, there is no going back. Fraser was saying this in order to deter the crowd from choosing Creative Commons, but his inputs clearly put me in the clear.
However, although I am in the right, this does not mean that I have much of a choice on the matter. Yes, I suspect it would have been very hard for the photographer to file a lawsuit against me; in all likelihood we live at different parts of the world. But do I have the resources to take part in a proper legal fight, even when it is clear I am on the right side? No; I have neither the time nor the money to wage in legal warfare. Which, by the way, happens to be one of my main criticism towards contemporary matters of copyright: can any normal person fight back when a corporation such as Disney takes down their YouTube video under copyright claims? Obviously, not. [Note I mention Disney in particular because they did take down a private YouTube video of mine, featuring my baby son, under a copyright claim claim. They did so some 5 years after the video was posted. The reason? Star Wars music playing in the background.]

Legal deliberations aside, I did not hesitate and removed the embedded photo. I did so because I know fully well how annoying it is to have a photo of mine misrepresented. Take, for example, how my PZ Myers photo is used in an unfavourable Conservapedia entry. I accept that and others as the price I have to pay for standing upright and publishing my photos under a Creative Commons licence. I believe that overall, the world is a better place when knowledge and culture is spread unhindered.
While I accept misrepresentation as part of the deal, but I can understand other that don't. Think about it before you stick a Creative Commons licence on your stuff; I know I did, and I do not regret it when I see my photos getting used for creative causes all over the Internet.


Image by A. Diez Herrero, Creative Commons licence

7 comments:

wile.e.coyote said...

Can you share with us a link to Ronen's original image (on his repository, not your).
If I will use it now after he changed his license type from CC to something else, is it still allowed?

Moshe Reuveni said...

The link to the image is still there at the original post; all I did was remove the embedded image. To date, there has been no court ruling I am aware of against linking to a site, although some websites have it in their user terms that you are not allowed to link to them. I will not express my opinion on that, but I will gladly link to them.

As for your question, I am obviously unable to provide a professional answer. What I can say is that Michael Fraser is the ex CEO of Copyright Agency and happens to be one of the main advocates of copyright in Australia (and thus my ideological enemy), and he clearly stated that once you allow Creative Commons there is no going back. I think the reasons are obvious, although a court case could be interesting: which side has to prove they're right? Do you need to prove the photo had a Creative Commons licence or does Ronen need to prove he never changed his licence?

I don't know why you are asking your question, but since many people confuse copyright with privacy I will state the two are different concepts. That embarrassing photo of yours can still be used under fair use terms (which vary per country) without breaching copyrights. However, it cannot be used if you kept the photo to yourself.
Also note that according to Facebook and Google, at least as per the last time I read their user conditions, they acquire rights over the photos you publish with them.
Another thing: I know of many cases where a photo was published without permission, made a lot of money, and the photographer was unable to get anything. Even in cases where it was clear who the copyright infringer was. It's far from simple; if you worry about your photos getting abused, do not publish them online.

wile.e.coyote said...

The only link I was able to find is the link on the photographer name that links to 3 images, not sure which of the 3 was in the post header.

You might want to give a link on the old post to this post, so Ronen can enjoy the impact he have done.

I find the original post very interesting although I'm not sure I agree with its opening about "he seems totally ill prepared for parenthood"

Moshe Reuveni said...

Those three photos are "the photo".
As for the guy in question, he's full of surprises.

Moshe Reuveni said...

To answer your first question: have a look at-
http://www.labnol.org/internet/creative-commons-license-rules/14208/

wile.e.coyote said...

Currently in my Flicker drop down, I see the values as in your reference.
Which one was used by Ronen?

-All rights reserved
-Attribution
-Attribution-ShareAlike
-Attribution-NoDerivs
-Attribution-NonCommercial
-Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
-Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs

Moshe Reuveni said...

Obviously, the top option is your normal copyright. Ronen had one of the other options, I don't remember which. It doesn't matter; I comply with all of them.