Author Of Book About Android UI Told He Needs To Get Copyright Signoffs To Use Any App Screenshots

from the fair-use? dept

We've talked in the past about just how ridiculous publishers are when it comes to doing something like quoting a song in a book. The publishers apparently have no appetite for standing up for the fair use rights of their authors, so they just refuse unless you get a license for absolutely everything, even when it's clearly and obviously fair use. In the latest example of this kind of insanity, it appears that Wiley -- a publisher who already has a reputation as a maximalist -- is telling the author of a book about Android's UI, Juhani Lehitmaki, that he can't rely on fair use to post screenshots of any apps. Instead, it's requiring that he get approval from each and every app developer. Lehitmaki has gone on Google+ seeking permission from a long list of developers:
I need a little bit help with my book stuff and thought to ask it from all of you awesome people here at G+. I'm in a bit difficult situation in the finishing it. I have been in belief that using screenshots of apps as examples of the platform functionality is covered under fair use but apparently I was wrong.

So now I need to acquire permission to use screenshot of different apps I've used so I can keep them in. So if you or someone you know are the copyright holder of any of the following brands / apps or know who to contact please let me know.
He then lists out 22 apps (down to 21 once he got permission from one):
* Google android apps
* SPB Shell 3D (by SPB Software)
* SlideIT Keyboard (by DASUR LTD.)
* Siine Keyboard (by Siine Ltd)
* GO Launcher (by GO LAUNCHER DEV TEAM)
* Evernote android apps
* Twitter android app
* Gameloft android apps
* Tiny Flashlight + LED (by Nikolay Ananiev)
* Able Remote (by ENTERTAILION LLC)
* TED (by TED Conferences)
* Gigbeat - Concerts (by GIGBEAT, INC.)
* TouristEye - Travel Guide (by Tourist Eye)
* Winamp android app
* Pulse News (by ALPHONSO LABS)
* Songkick Concerts (by SONGKICK.COM, INC.)
* Prixing - Scanner & comparer (by PRIXING)
* Catch Notes Notepad (by Catch.com)
* Sony, Android skin
* Samsung, Android skin
* HTC, Android skin
[edit: removed the ones I'm already in contact with. Thank you!]
He notes that all of the screenshots are used as examples of good UI design and are clearly credited. In other words, in each case, the app is portrayed positively.

Here's the thing: he should be pissed off at Wiley for totally failing him as a publisher and being obnoxiously unwilling to stand up for their author. Using screenshots in this manner is fair use. No question. I can't see how any intellectually honest person could go through the four factor test and not find that using screenshots in a book like this are fair use. Wiley should back up their author, but they don't, because they're too scared of a lawsuit and apparently don't have the guts to stand up for fair use rights. It's shameful, and should be a warning to any author not to sign on with Wiley. Why bother signing on with a publisher who makes you go through a silly wasteful exercise like this?

In fact, I'd imagine that many of the app developers are similarly inconvenienced by this process of now having to give Juhani permission. Of course they want their apps featured, but now they have to fill out some sort of release or license just to make Wiley's lawyers happy. This process inconveniences absolutely everyone. Wiley should be ashamed.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    rw (profile), Jul 19th, 2012 @ 10:33am

    Kickstart

    He should move it to Kickstarter. I for one would support him.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2012 @ 10:39am

    Re: Kickstart

    I for one welcome our kickstarter overloards

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2012 @ 10:40am

    Re: Re: Kickstart

    Oh loard my spelling is arwful

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Karim, Jul 19th, 2012 @ 10:43am

    Re: Kickstart

    Oh, but then it will be stigmatised as "not a real works" by the asshat community. How can something worthy be created without the involvement of the greedy middlemen?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    ken (profile), Jul 19th, 2012 @ 10:44am

    Worse than Not Standing up to Fair Use

    It is worse than not standing up to fair use. This is a company that does not believe in fair use so they want to set standards that do not even acknowledge its existence.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Karim, Jul 19th, 2012 @ 10:50am

    Wait, I don't get it

    This part:

    Instead, it's requiring that he get approval from each and every app developer.

    If they are so insistent on the need to "license" all those app screenshots, why can't they do it themselves? Dicks, I say.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    fogbugzd (profile), Jul 19th, 2012 @ 10:54am

    This is not uncommon, and the practice is not limited to Wiley. That is the problem with publishing any kind of academic book now. You must get sign-offs on every single quote. Every. Single. Quote.

    Even public domain quotes are a problem with some publishers. Some require specific evidence of public domain. But I understand that one of my English Department colleges was given a list of required sign-offs that included William Shakespeare. That is going to be a tough one.

    I know of at least one person who went the self-publishing route in part because of the impossibility of getting all of the clearances needed for his text. With tools like lulu.com self-publishing is becoming a very viable option. Publishers in some fields need to get over their insane fear of fair-use lawsuits if they want to hold onto the academic publishing market.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), Jul 19th, 2012 @ 10:57am

    Re: Kickstart

    Aside from that, isn't there some electronic self-publishing option he could have pursued?

    Given the new publicity he's received, he could likely give the finger (see: Galileo) to his publishers and just announce he's publishing via "x"...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    sehlat (profile), Jul 19th, 2012 @ 10:57am

    From the "law of unintended consequences" department

    Wiley is also giving people an excuse to avoid buying the book, lest they support such asshattery.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    fogbugzd (profile), Jul 19th, 2012 @ 10:59am

    Re: Wait, I don't get it

    >>why can't they do it themselves?

    Ahh. I see you don't understand how publishers work now. For really huge authors the publishers actually provide that type of service. But for 99% of the authors, the publisher does very little except for physically printing and distributing the books. Authors generally have to do all of their own legwork and most likely do most of their own marketing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Karim, Jul 19th, 2012 @ 11:01am

    Re: Re: Wait, I don't get it

    You're right, I really don't understand how they work. I just think it's a real shame that they can't be, you know, more supportive.

    Like the record labels.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    fogbugzd (profile), Jul 19th, 2012 @ 11:03am

    Re: Re: Kickstart

    >>it will be stigmatised as "not a real works"

    This is not as true as it used to be. At most schools there is a trend to give more weight to the impact of a book than its publisher.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    GMacGuffin (profile), Jul 19th, 2012 @ 11:17am

    Re:

    I was involved in licensing a song by a "famous dead musician" for a documentary about his backup singers. The paralegal for the film's producer was concerned because the bass line was similar to another 45-year-old song. Asked if there were any issues related to that, past or now.

    I'm all, look lady, are you seriously going to worry about the possibility of being sued over similarities between two 45-year-old songs? You don't think Sly might have noticed the similarities in, say, 1966? Or that he'd be barred from suing now? We're talking about two fairly big hits, by musicians who likely knew each other ...

    ... And they never got back, even though we were perfectly willing to give them the license.

    FUD

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    2012 Calling, Jul 19th, 2012 @ 11:19am

    It's 20-effing-12 fcs!

    The 21ST CENTURY is already more than 1/10th over!.

    Someone please kill of the previous 3 centuries (with their idiotic made-up "laws" [I mean come one - you couldn't even walk on a street without being knee-deep in road-apples waaaaaaaay back then], plus all the evil money-grubbers and their lawyers) once and for all so we can get on with the modern age!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    mikey4001 (profile), Jul 19th, 2012 @ 11:37am

    Knowing what little I do about companies like Wiley, I can't help but wonder if they are not so much afraid of being sued, but rather they are fearful that any active support of fair use on their part would weaken Wiley's own position when they choose to be the copyright aggressor.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Jul 19th, 2012 @ 11:40am

    Re: Wait, I don't get it

    Well, i suppose he could Open Source - oh, wait...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Juhani Lehtimäki, Jul 19th, 2012 @ 11:50am

    Thanks

    Hey guys,
    Thanks for picking up the topic and all the support. I'm pretty stumped by the issue. As an author there's not much I can do. Everyone I've been in contact from Wiley have been great and very helpful. I've got all the support I've needed. This issue seems to be just a stupid corporate policy and I hope they would change it but the people I'm working with to get the book published doesn't have a word in this issue and they must follow it. I would also like to point out that I do get support from the Wiley folks with this issue and they have not left me alone even though it is contractually my responsibility.

    But I that techdirt is 100% right about the core issue. Screenshots should definitely be covered by fair use. If they weren't there would not be tech blogs & computer magazines etc. This discussion is good. I hope publishers would change their policies.

    Thanks!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2012 @ 11:54am

    Re: Re: Kickstart

    True enough, anyone reading a book on android UI is probably more than comfortable with a digital version.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Ed C., Jul 19th, 2012 @ 12:00pm

    Re:

    Yep! Don't complain about others abusing you when you want the right to abuse others.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    fogbugzd (profile), Jul 19th, 2012 @ 12:06pm

    Re:

    Hypocrisy has never been a problem for IP maximalists when it comes to protecting their own interests.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), Jul 19th, 2012 @ 12:13pm

    Re: Thanks

    Thank you for your response.

    I hope that TechDirt will be interested in hearing the details of how easy or difficult this whole process is for you once the book is finally published, and if there's any reaction from Wiley or the people you're working with.

    "Stupid corporate policies" like this will only scare away future authors.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    New Mexico Mark, Jul 19th, 2012 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Thanks

    In my opinion, the issue is not whether a publisher is helpful about a stupid policy or not. If they lack the intelligence or the courage to do the right thing, they are part of the problem.

    Imagine a publisher that had a policy requiring you fly at your own expense to their office and do the hokey pokey before they could publish your book.

    Okay...
    Put your right hand in
    Take your right hand out
    Put your right hand in...

    "Here, we'll help you move your hand. Sorry about all this, but we just don't have better way to do publishing."

    Makes about as much sense, huh?

    And I submit that there is something creative people can do. They can kick lickspittle middlemen to the curb, stand on their own two feet, and show spineless bureaucrats how life should be lived.

    I'm not saying choices like that are easy, painless, or cheap. Freedom never is. But until more people say "enough is enough" it will only get worse.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2012 @ 12:30pm

    Um, Mike, it feels like you are taking this isue a little to personally. I should know I have been there.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Pat Aufderheide, Jul 19th, 2012 @ 12:36pm

    publishers have changed their position, given information

    He might be helped by the example of communication scholars, who have been able to educate publishers and get them to change their position by using their code of best practices, at centerforsocialmedia.org/ica.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2012 @ 12:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Kickstart

    Your, punctuation; is, pretty. Awful! to-

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 19th, 2012 @ 12:57pm

    Message recieved

    I won't be purchasing any more Wiley books.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2012 @ 1:15pm

    Someone will make a better app. And allow them to use its images/screenshots. And get more money. I'm not worried.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Jul 19th, 2012 @ 1:16pm

    Re: Thanks

    Not to mention the OS is open source. I wonder if you could get someone to grab the source code, and have Wiley accept the fair use when you prove you built the program from freely accessible materials (assuming the apps are also FOSS)? Possibly not, but good luck whatever your result in the case.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2012 @ 1:25pm

    Re: From the "law of unintended consequences" department

    Wiley is trying to take over the world with evil robots

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2012 @ 1:26pm

    Re: Message recieved

    Or robots

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    icon
    TaCktiX (profile), Jul 19th, 2012 @ 2:04pm

    Re: Re: From the "law of unintended consequences" department

    But robots are expensive to manufacture, even if you have Mad Scientist Tech on your side. Without revenue they can't do it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2012 @ 2:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Kickstart

    ... the impact of a book ...
    Do you mean like this face-book?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    icon
    RyanNerd (profile), Jul 19th, 2012 @ 2:26pm

    Re: Thanks

    Wishing you the best in your efforts to cut through the corporate red tape. This stupidity happens in all industries not just publishing. We're rooting for you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Jul 19th, 2012 @ 3:35pm

    "This process inconveniences absolutely everyone except copyright maximalists, all of whom are stroking off right now."

    There, FTFY.

    Sounds to me like the real solution is to drop-kick Wiley and find a real publisher.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    icon
    Dave (profile), Jul 19th, 2012 @ 4:32pm

    Doomed, I tell ya!

    We're in a race between those who would eat away our civil rights a little at a time, and those who would obliterate the Constitution wholesale. The only remaining question is how long it will take before the police state becomes official.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Elmer, Jul 19th, 2012 @ 5:29pm

    Re: Re: Message recieved

    ... or Wabbits.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2012 @ 7:39pm

    "Using screenshots in this manner is fair use. No question."

    Actually, his publisher is doing him a huge favor by not letting him try to stand on this legal head of a pin.

    They may be fair use (and probably are), but any one NOT signed off on is a potential lawsuit, as someone decides to argue the fair use of it. Win or lose, the publisher understands that it's much better to get permission than it is to pay to prove your rights. Worst of all, on a bad day, a judge might actually rule against them, leaving them holding the bag.

    You need to understand that in the real world, sometimes it's better to err on the side of caution than it is to be a trailblazer who gets eaten by a bear.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    icon
    Riggs (profile), Jul 19th, 2012 @ 10:21pm

    ....I'm probably too cynical

    but I can't help wondering (and Juhani, since I see you watched this thread I'm not actually asking you, that would be far too intrusive), if this is actually structured like music contracts. Do any lawyer fees the publisher pays have to be repaid out of any advance he was given? If so, this only gives those representing the publisher every incentive to to find every reason to bill a few more hours here and there. It doesn't come out of their clients pockets ultimately...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2012 @ 10:39pm

    Re:

    Yeah, it's not like the entire news industry relies on fair use each and every day without cowering in fear of frivolous lawsuits.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2012 @ 10:39pm

    His name is Lehtimäki not Lehitmaki

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    icon
    techflaws (profile), Jul 20th, 2012 @ 2:31am

    Re: Thanks

    Screenshots are definitely covered by fair use.

    FTFY. Hopefully the next publisher you choose are less clueless about the law.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    icon
    techflaws (profile), Jul 20th, 2012 @ 2:33am

    Re:

    Whatever.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    relghuar, Jul 20th, 2012 @ 2:59am

    "don't have the guts to stand up for fair use rights"

    I'd say they're more afraid of the potential of someone else using fair use aginst them, so they push very hard to discourage everyone from any fair use claims.
    It also serves as pretty effective disinformation campaign - when even their own authors now think "they are apparently wrong" trying to rely on fair use.....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2012 @ 9:07am

    Re: Wait, I don't get it

    They are requiring him to get the approvals because they probably can't.

    It's hard to find the right person to get that kind of approval from - I suspect most of those companies don't yet have the right person to get that approval from.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Richard, Jul 20th, 2012 @ 8:38pm

    Codes of fair use "best practices"

    Publishing books may not be the only situation in which third parties are risk adverse or maybe uncertain over fair use. In the case of documentary filmmaking, substantial public distribution of a film may mean taking issues such as errors and omissions insurers into account. The Center for Social Media has produced a number of fair use "best practices" guides, and there have been attempts to clarify fair use. The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) mentioned that various parties have benefited from the "best practices" guides; for example, US film insurers now allow reliance on fair use to a certain extent. For the situation of incorporating third party material into educational books, it might be worth considering as to whether one or more "best practices" guide(s) might be useful for authors and also publishers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    Jim, Jul 23rd, 2012 @ 5:59am

    If I were writing that book, I would just skip the screenshots, and use a big image with text. Something like:

    "I'd like to include
    a screen shot of the
    ____ app here, but
    opinions on what is
    fair use vary. The
    possibility of a law
    suit is not worth it.
    So Google it yourself."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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