Couple Claims That Merely Talking About A Photo Is Copyright Infringement

from the good-luck-with-that-theory dept

Bert Reyntjens writes “Some time ago, the (nude) photograph of the wife of Helmut Lotti, a Belgian singer, was used in a famous Flemish quiz ‘de slimste mens ter wereld’ (or in English ‘the smartest man in the world’). Several newspapers and magazines reported on this, some displayed the photograph, others didn’t. Now Lotti and his wife are suing several of these publishers for copyright infringement because they didn’t have the permission to show this picture.

Everything so far seems more-or-less normal, except that one magazine (Story) was also sued even though it didn’t publish the photograph (that link is in Dutch — here is the Google translation), it only mentioned it. According to the lawyer for Lotti — ‘a mere reference to an image should be considered a reproduction of the image’!”

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Comments on “Couple Claims That Merely Talking About A Photo Is Copyright Infringement”

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30 Comments
Todd Howe (user link) says:

Exactly what I was worried about

That’s exactly the philosophical problem I was trying to get across about in my submission to the Ecopyright Consultation. http://tehowe.blogspot.com/2009/09/cost-copyright-and-embodiment.html

We used to tell each other stories – the bardic or minstrel tradition was all about mix and match, roll your own, mashup etc. It’s not as though Homer actually wrote the Odyssey. And we need the story to know what’s going on around us in the world, or over in the next village.

So where does modern copyright get off on telling us that we can’t trade descriptions of things. Which, on the internet, is all we’re doing. When you divorce a work from some physical media in which it’s been instatiated, it’s just a number. And *nobody* owns numbers. Yet. (Counterfeit is an entirely different matter IMHO)

Information wants to be free. /rant

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Exactly what I was worried about

“Information wants to be free. Information also wants to be expensive. Information wants to be free because it has become so cheap to distribute, copy, and recombine — too cheap to meter. It wants to be expensive because it can be immeasurably valuable to the recipient. That tension will not go away. It leads to endless wrenching debate about price, copyright, ‘intellectual property’, the moral rightness of casual distribution, because each round of new devices makes the tension worse, not better.” – Stewart Brand, 1984

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Exactly what I was worried about

“It wants to be expensive because it can be immeasurably valuable to the recipient. That tension will not go away”

It wants to be expensive because selfish evil people, the top one percent who are too lazy to compete in the free market and thus must rely on government intervention, want to charge for it.

DB (profile) says:

Interesting Theory, Bad Example

With defenses like merger of idea and expression, it’s hard to imaging that describing a photograph verbally, in a newspaper, rises to making an infringing expression.
But — suppose one described it with symbols for 0 and 1, going line-by-line, or pixel by pixel, until the entire content is reduced in writing to a series of 0s and 1s? That could be seen as a “written” “derivative work”?

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