Spitzer Call Girl Threatens News Outlets Over Copyright

from the it-all-comes-back-to-copyright dept

Well, it had to happen sooner or later. With the press going nuts printing photos of the call girl at the center of the Eliot Spitzer affair, her lawyers are suddenly making some noise about how using these photos violates her copyrights on them. Most of the photos were taken from her MySpace page, which ties back to a recent story here about how the press is trying to determine what’s fair game in a social networking profile when the subject becomes newsworthy. While some think that a fair use claim by the newspapers is weak, US laws on copyright do allow a fair use defense in news reporting, which would seem to apply to the photos. They’re certainly not printing these photos for their artistic value.

The Associated Press, who has syndicated many of the photos in question has defended its use of the photos saying: “The Associated Press discussed the photos obtained from the MySpace page in great detail and found that they were newsworthy. We distributed the photos that were relevant to the story.” Of course, as the What’s Fair Use? blog points out, there’s a bit of irony here. Just a few weeks ago, the AP used legal threats to get a photo-journalism criticism blog to stop using AP photos, claiming that it was copyright infringement. Apparently, the AP has different rules for itself than it has for others.

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Comments on “Spitzer Call Girl Threatens News Outlets Over Copyright”

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yo ho ho.... says:

At the very least...

… maybe now that the media is getting caught in the copyright nonsense, this issue will finally receive the public attention it deserves.

For too long have we all been reading about total crap copyright and patent issues that have received no coverage in the mainstream news outlets. Now maybe this will get enough attention that the archaic system in the US will finally be overhauled in a congressional / judicial action.

Yeah, I guess there is also a chance that Cindy Crawford will call me and ask me out…

Anne (profile) says:

Education for Ms. Ho's Lawyers

News flash:

1: Once you decide to f–k a Governor for $5000 an hour, then you have made yourself into a public figure.

2: If you agree to become a witness in a criminal case in exchange for immunity from prosecution, you are now a public figure. Your name and photo, if the case is interesting enough, will show up in newspapers in the US and perhaps around the world.

3. She’s worried about the unauthorized use of her photo, and yet she had no trouble taking off her clothes for pay? Maybe she should go to law school. What a loser.

Noah Callaway says:

Education for Ms. Ho's Lawyers

She’s not claiming copyright on her image. She’s claiming copyright on the photos on her myspace page. The ones the media is using without her permission.

Yes, even public figures can hold a copyright on photos of themselves. In fact, if they were the one to take the picture, then they *do* hold the copyright on the photos.

So I think we should stick to the fair use argument, rather than getting sidetracked into whether or not she is a “public figure.” That has no bearing on the copyright issue.

ehrichweiss says:

Re: what do you mean "no artistic value"

“and i would give up the loser talk, that girl is now a millionaire.”

Unfortunately that does not make one less of a loser, it simply gives them more friends who are willing to put up with their bullshit. Besides, most who come into money are broke(and in debt) in under 10 years.

Chris says:

You know it used to be that one hack would distract the chump while the other one nicked any framed photos lying around. Plus ca change, eh?

Two things – one is that people are so used to taking stuff from Flickr et al that they don’t even consider copyright any more. That should be fine if you’re a blogger or looking for a new desktop background, not so much if you’re a large rich multinational media corporation using it in a commercial manner. And t’other is that fair use gets dodgy for pictures because at least with text, music, video etc. a small extract is possible. But what are you gojng do in this case, only show her left boob?

Anonymous Coward says:

As much as I hate corporate news, I can’t seem to condemn them for taking pictures off her site. Everything you put on my space or face book is meant for public consumption. Thats the whole point of the site. At the same time I would have no trouble taking pictures off the AP site and using them for my own purposes either. Once more the law sets different standards for individuals compared to multi-billion dollar corporations.

Little pro-tip about the internet, if it goes up, it gets out, and if it gets out, it never goes away.

Never had much sympathy for whiners when they had fair warning.

suckerpunch-tm says:

re: Spitzer Call Girl Threatens News Outlets Over

I would think that as long as there isn’t an attempt at some sort of commercial gain, that news organizations would be protected by the ‘fair use’ argument?
Is that not the case?

And what’s more, I don’t know about today, but at least 4 days after this story broke, I was able toaccess the young woman’s mySpace page.

Seems as though perhaps her lawyers are looking for just another angle to work some cash.

Chris says:

Re: Re: Nope, commercial gain has NOTHING to do with f


US Copyright law § 107 (look at number 1)

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—
(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
[(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copy-righted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copy-righted work.]

Although I suppose it is pretty educational.

Bimbolina says:

High Class?

This girl is the bottom of the barrel when it comes to high class. A high class call girl is someone you can take to an event, someone with a good education, someone who speaks 2-5 languages. All of that wrapped up in a great body.

This girl is cute, yes…but 4,300 dollars worth? No way.

Girls like this are a dime a dozen in any college bar.

As far as the photos go….fine, let her be a chud about it. Take unflattering photos of her and use those instead.

Anonymous Coward says:

Who cares who/ what the photo is of. The fact is that the photos they’re using are copyrighted. Whether or not they’re fair use is the real question.

I don’t care if it’s a two dollar whore, copyright is copyright. They took them from her myspace, which is a place where she has put them up for her own use (advertising).

Honestly though, if I were her, I’d be thanking them for the “Streisand Effect” instead of complaining about it.

Wolf says:

In this day of corporate news, profit is the bottom line, and I would think that the “fair use as news” angle is significantly weaker than it used to be. In the old days, news was a freebie from the networks. They made their money on other programming. These days, it’s a bit different, with news only channels, they have a harder time saying it’s a not-for-profit use.

Dragoon says:

Wait for Playboy Pics

Well, I am sure we can all see her, all of her, soon in Playboy or Penthouse. Do you think for one minute that they are not in a bidding war for her little booty? Does a cool $1 million plus some promotional work and maybe a spot on a Playboy music special sound right (if Playboy did music)? Give them another month to announce and another couple to have her baring it all.

Gary says:

She has copyright wrong, here

The copyright belongs to the person who TOOK the photograph, not to the person pictured in it. So she has no legal basis in copyright law to demand that they be taken down. Of course, if she can get the photographer to assign the copyrights, that would be a different story (ignoring, of course, that their use is legal anyhow under the fair use doctrine).

The RIAA says:

Okay, we are the experts in how to handle copyright. Tell this chick to do this:

1. Get the IP addresses of all who viewed your photos.

2. Send a letter to the owners demanding $2999 (sorry, the $3k number is copyrighted by us the RIAA and may not be used in letters unless you license the term “$3000” from us).

3. Collect from the people who are your fans.

It works for us, it can work for you.

Brought to you as a public service announcement from the friendly folks at the RIAA.

Spike says:

Gary is right

She has no rights in this case unless she took the photos herself or has a copyright assignment. I seriously doubt she has any copyright assignment for photos she posted on myspace.

The net net is that she has no case. There may be copyright violation if it can’t pass the fair use test, but it’s a violation of the photographer’s copyright.

BTW, like most myspace users, what has really happened is that she has violated the copyright of the photographers and violated the Terms of Use on myspace.

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