Olympics Clarifies Problems With Flickr Photos... But Still Doesn't Make Sense

from the you-don't-own-the-photos dept

Last week, we wrote about the International Olympic Committee's complaints concerning a guy, Richard Giles, who had posted some images he took at the Beijing Olympics on Flickr under a Creative Commons license. At the time, it wasn't entirely clear if the complaint was the license or that the photos were up, at all, but as we noted, either way, it didn't make sense. The IOC has responded and said the main complaint is with the Creative Commons license, but, again, it's difficult to see how the IOC has any argument at all. The photos were taken by Giles, and thus he has every right to license them as he sees fit -- including under CC licenses. Furthermore, as Thomas Hawk points out in the link above, once you license something CC, you can't go back on it. It's still not clear why the IOC sees this as a bad thing. Giles is helping to promote their event. For free. Next time, maybe he should just send them a bill.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2009 @ 1:33pm

    1) While he owns the images, he doesn't own the rights of everything in the image. Thus, the IOC is well within their rights,

    2) Not everyone want or needs your oh-so valuable free advertising.

    Basically, the IOC are the ones who get to decided, not you and not Giles.

     

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      A Dan (profile), Oct 12th, 2009 @ 1:37pm

      Re:

      But how can you say you have to own the rights of everything in your image in order to publish it? That would make it impossible to publish any photo taken in the real world. I question the "well within their rights" part of your statement.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2009 @ 1:41pm

        Re: Re:

        Quite simply: model releases, location releases, etc.

        Example, even with the IOC's permission, you can sell images of the Olypmics, but if you use them to endorse a product and there is an athlete identifiable in the image, then you also need their release.

        The laws for such things are actually fairly clear. Why do you think that images used in advertising are often so clearly generic?

         

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          Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 12th, 2009 @ 2:01pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Quite simply: model releases, location releases, etc."

          Ok, here's an area where I need some edumacation on the law. It sounds like what you're saying is that there are things in the pictures that are covered by other's copyright and/or licensing agreements, e.g. locations during the olympic events are basially licensed to the olympics and they control depictions of those locations. Is that correct? Because if it is, I'm going to have some issues with that type of thing ocurring on ANY land in any part funded publically. Or am I not understanding to what you're referring?

          "Example, even with the IOC's permission, you can sell images of the Olypmics, but if you use them to endorse a product and there is an athlete identifiable in the image, then you also need their release."

          That sounds like a trademark issue. What does that have to do w/a DMCA, which I thought was copyright only?

          "The laws for such things are actually fairly clear."

          Clear to the average Joe snapping photos while enjoying the olympics he ostensibly paid a ticket to see?

           

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          Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 12th, 2009 @ 2:07pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Quite simply: model releases, location releases, etc.

          Those would be issues (if there were any issue -- and in most cases there would not be) between the athlete/location and the photographer, not the IOC.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2009 @ 2:30pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Except that during the olympics, the IOC has the rights on the location, and to some extent, also have rights on the images of the athletes in the events.

             

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              DocMenach (profile), Oct 12th, 2009 @ 2:37pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              But as you stated above, that only becomes an issue if the photos are being used for commercial purposes, which they are not.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2009 @ 2:42pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                ever look at a flickr page? That is pretty commercial.

                 

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                  Marcel de Jong (profile), Oct 12th, 2009 @ 2:51pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  I have aa flickr account, and so far I have yet to make ANY money on that page. In fact, my flickr account COSTS me money. That commercial is it.

                  You can't sell pics through Flickr, it's only a gallery.

                   

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                  DocMenach (profile), Oct 12th, 2009 @ 3:01pm

                  Re: So what isn;t commercial by your definition

                  Yes I have seen a Flickr page, a so it seems that you are saying that the ad (it's about 100x300 pixels) that Flickr embeds on pages makes it commercial use, even though the photos are on the person's personal Flickr page? Then I suppose by your logic any page that has even a tiny AdSense ad is also a commercial use.

                  So then my question to you is: Do you view any on-line presentation of the photos as non-commercial? An actual example (as opposed to a hypothetical that you are so fond of) would be nice.

                  It sounds to me like you pretty much defining any and all on-line use as commercial, which is completely ridiculous.

                   

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                    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2009 @ 6:24pm

                    Re: Re: So what isn;t commercial by your definition

                    "I suppose by your logic any page that has even a tiny AdSense ad is also a commercial use. "

                    You are correct. Someone is making money off the use of the image. It doesn't matter if it is the photographer or someone else. By putting images on Flickr, you are putting them into a commercial domain, even if you don't profit from them.

                    Remember, it wouldn't be any different from publishing them in a magazine or selling them on the street corner. There isn't a magic amount of money that makes something commercial, just intent.

                     

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          DocMenach (profile), Oct 12th, 2009 @ 2:29pm

          Re: Re: Re: Sounds like no problem then

          Example, even with the IOC's permission, you can sell images of the Olypmics, but if you use them to endorse a product and there is an athlete identifiable in the image, then you also need their release.

          Sounds like there shouldn't be any problem with the images or the fact that Giles made them CCL. Creative Commons License has a specific clause saying that the images can only be used for non-commercial purposes unless additional permission is obtained from the original rights holder (person who took the photograph).

           

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          Richard (profile), Oct 12th, 2009 @ 3:12pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Quite simply: model releases, location releases, etc.

          Pure fiction, invented by entertainment companies and advertisers for their own convenience with no legal standing whatsover.

           

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          Matt (profile), Oct 12th, 2009 @ 4:34pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The clear law is that, as a rule, model releases and location releases are unnecessary. They protect a (largely mythical) right of publicity or privacy, which simply is not recognized in many jurisdictions. Where it is recognized, it generally only extends to celebrities, and then only to a limited extent. There is no right of privacy to protect one's publicly available image acquired in public. That is, preserving with a camera what one appropriately saw with one's eyes is not tortious.

          It may be a breach of contract. The back of the ticket to an Olympic event might well say that the IOC reserves any right to commercial use of any photographs.

           

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      Marcel de Jong (profile), Oct 12th, 2009 @ 2:49pm

      Re:

      You don't have to own the rights of the Eiffel tower to take and publish pictures of it.
      You don't have to own the rights to the Washington monument to take and publish pictures of that.

      What business in their right mind would object to free advertising? That's just bad business.

      If I take a picture of a building or a sporting event or a crowd of people that are/happens in a PUBLIC space, it should be public property and I don't need rights to publish the pictures.

       

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        Richard (profile), Oct 12th, 2009 @ 3:10pm

        Re: Re:

        Yes these "sporting rights" are a pure invention.

        They have elided together contract law (which governs TV coverage and possibly ticket sales), copyright law (which controls the TV coverage once it has been created) and trademark law to construct a legal Frankenstein monster which really doesn't exist.

        For clarity if I fly over the stadium in a hot air balloon I can photograph what I like. I own the copyright and I can release the result under any license I like.

        If I entered the stadium with a ticket I might be bound by the conditions on the back - but the legal status of this is unclear. For a regular event the sports authorities could probably ban me in future but for a one off event they would have to sue me for breach of contract before they could do anything else.

        As far as trademarks are concerned, unless I am competing directly with one of the trademark holders there is no case regardless of what I do.

        That is the law - everything else is pure wishful invention.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2009 @ 6:22pm

        Re: Re:

        You don't have to own the rights, you just have to have been granted the rights.

        The items you listed (Eiffel tower, Washington Monument) are public areas, and thus you don't need a release. However, if you used either of them to sell soap, example, you actually might need a use of image release.

        Sporting events, the Olympics, whatever... they are not "public" events. They are private events. It's a whole different legal world.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2009 @ 5:59pm

      Re:

      If I take a picture of your house, I don't own your house. I can't sell your house, or move in with my luggage and get installed in your house. I can do whatever the hell I want with the picture tho.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2009 @ 3:07pm

    releases

    I can claim the right to all pictures of my home which sits on private property. I can send DCMA notices to any site that hosts the images. The sites will probably take it down without question because copyfraud is not a crime. The IOC and most athletic organizations claim a lot of rights that would not hold up in court. However, they have deeper pockets than your average flickr poster, so $$$ makes right in modern courts of law.

    There are also a lot of things like "location releases" that people get signed in an abundance of caution to avoid lawsuits, but which are probably not needed in most cases if something is normally visible to the public. People participating in public events also have a weak case for the need of model releases. Some of this dispute would come down to whether the Olympic event is considered a public event.

    Basically we need a law that says anyone making a false assertion of copyright may be held liable for the defendant's court costs, plus additional punitive damages if the claimant took action knowing that the claim had no merit. This would put the burden of proof back on the copyright holder.

     

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    taoareyou (profile), Oct 12th, 2009 @ 4:08pm

    I'm Just Curious

    Do the celebrities in gossip mags all sign releases to the paparazzi who incessantly snap their photos so they can be paid thousands of dollars for those embarrassing photos they snap?

    Unless I have explicitly agreed to take no photos, and cameras are explicitly forbidden for everyone (inside the Biltmore House for example) then I own my pictures and will do whatever I want with them.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2009 @ 4:09pm

    re:re:re

    this is just the IOC being greedy totalitarian pricks. just like the NCAA is. if there is a buck that they are NOT getting, they send their lairs into the fray to try to scare everybody away.

    nothing more, nothing less.

     

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    Gracey, Oct 12th, 2009 @ 4:11pm

    Model releases being required is not fiction, not according to copyright law at any rate.

    Model releases are required to "sell" or "license" any image of an identifiable person, whether it's an athlete or some person on the beach. There are exceptions, though, like editorial use.

    As for buildings, there are some that you may not sell or license images of as well, according to the owners, but the actual laws on this are unclear.

    You may, actually, take a photo of and sell this photo of a person's home without breaking copyright laws, as long as the street name and street number is not in the image, and as long as you are not on the person's property when you take the image and as long as you aren't invading their privacy by shooting in through windows and so on.

    Copyright law is too big a discussion for this, but in the OP, if there are signs with the Olympic Symbol or athletes in the photos wearing the official olympic symbol on clothing, then it's possible that a trademark complaint might come into play, though give the image wasn't being sold, they might have a difficult time with that. If the olympic symbols are both copyright protected and trademarked, then you may not use the symbol in images without permission for licensing or selling.

    The Creative Commons is a form of licensing, which might be what they are trying to hang their hat on.

     

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      The Infamous Joe (profile), Oct 12th, 2009 @ 4:41pm

      Re:

      then it's possible that a trademark complaint might come into play

      So, by posting images of the Olympics that include the Olympic symbol, he might confuse someone into believing that those pictures were of the Olympics?

      I'm so confused.

       

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      The Baker, Oct 12th, 2009 @ 5:57pm

      Clueless

      "You may, actually, take a photo of and sell this photo of a person's home without breaking copyright laws, as long as the street name and street number is not in the image, and as long as you are not on the person's property when you take the image and as long as you aren't invading their privacy by shooting in through windows and so on."

      What laws and facts do you base this statement on?

      If i take a picture from the street of your house with the number showing and a street sign off to the side and a caption "A pretty house in YourTown USA" you say I'm violating the law, a copyright or a trademark? NOT!!!

      This thread and subject in general has many partial facts interspersed with myth interspersed with self interest interspersed with laziness. There are many GOOD resources that cite law and fact. Go find them before stating how it is.

      Soon no one will be able to do anything without paying for the right our forefathers created and our fathers fought to keep.

       

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      alligator, Oct 12th, 2009 @ 7:20pm

      Re:

      Model releases being required is not fiction, not according to copyright law at any rate. blockquote Citation needed.
      Model releases are required to "sell" or "license" any image of an identifiable person, whether it's an athlete or some person on the beach.
      What cause of action would a random guy in my photo of the beach and rough surf have if I were to sell my photo to Getty Images, which then licensed it to various media outlets?
      If the olympic symbols are both copyright protected and trademarked, then you may not use the symbol in images without permission for licensing or selling.
      I take it you're unfamiliar with the doctrine of fair use in copyright law, and the "use in commerce" requirement that is the foundation of trademark law.

       

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    Drew T, Oct 12th, 2009 @ 5:15pm

    Google Maps

    If one is not allowed to publish pictures of your house/property with the address/location etc... how has Google Maps not lost their ass on lawsuits. Considering just about every property in the US is there.

     

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    RoyalWitCheese (profile), Oct 12th, 2009 @ 8:26pm

    The Olympics are a "Newsworthy Event" and as such model/location releases are not required.

    Model releases are required by a publisher (not nessesarily the photographer) when the images suggest a model is endorsing an ideal that may not actually be one the model holds. Portaying someone in a way that's not who they really are is a form of slander which can result in a civil lawsuit. A model release is for releasing liability against the publisher, it clearly states in what manner the photographs taken are to be used.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2009 @ 8:37pm

      Re:

      Again, it is a "newsworthy event" if the images are for news purposes. Putting the images on a service that profits from their display (but isn't news), and putting them out with a creative commons license pretty much negates that idea.

       

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    mike allen (profile), Oct 13th, 2009 @ 2:42am

    if i take a picture

    i will do what i want with it no mater what any one says IT IS MY PICTURE not theirs.

     

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