Turns Out You Can't Sue Creative Commons Because You Didn't Understand The CC License
from the still-cost-$15k dept
A few months ago we wrote about a somewhat bizarre lawsuit where the family of a teenager sued Creative Commons after a photo of the girl was used in an ad campaign by Virgin Mobile Australia. The details were a bit strange, and it appeared that the family (and its lawyer) were a bit confused themselves, leading them to sue parties that were not responsible at all. What happened was that a youth group counselor had taken a photo of the girl and posted it to Flickr with a Attribution 2.0 license — meaning that anyone could use it, even for commercial purposes, so long as they gave credit for who took the photo. Virgin Mobile Australia then went and used the photo and others (with attribution) in a poster campaign for its mobile phone service. The girl later discovered all this when someone in Australia spotted the ad campaign with the Flickr URLs on the poster, and thought it was interesting enough to take a photo of the ad and put that up on Flickr. Her family then felt that she was being taken advantage of and found a lawyer who sued Virgin Mobile Australia, Virgin Mobile USA and Creative Commons. It’s a stretch to think that even Virgin Mobile Australia has done anything wrong here (it followed the terms of the CC license), but there is simply no rationale for suing Virgin Mobile USA (a totally unrelated company to VMA) or Creative Commons. After all, Creative Commons hadn’t done anything here other than exist.
If anything, the family could sue the photographer for posting the girl’s photo with a CC license without permission — but, instead, the family included the photographer as a plaintiff in the lawsuit. So, basically, they were suing CC because the photographer didn’t understand the license he had chosen and he felt he deserved some money for his own misunderstanding as well. Thankfully, the family and its lawyer seem to have finally (after the fact) taken the time to realize that Creative Commons and Virgin Mobile USA have nothing to do with this lawsuit and have withdrawn the suit on those two firms (I assume the case against Virgin Mobile Australia will still continue). Unfortunately, however, their inability to figure this out before the lawsuit ended up costing Creative Commons approximately $15,000.