President Obama Is Not Impressed With Your Right To Modify His Photos
from the copyfraud dept
You may have heard that, over the weekend, President Obama released a photo taken late last week with him and Olympic medal winning gymnast McKayla Maroney, doing the “not impressed” pose:
Cute. And, of course, nice to have a President not so out of touch that he’s unaware of internet memes.
Except… as lawyer Venkat Balasubramani quickly noted, the restrictions on use are somewhat questionable. Beneath the photo on the Flickr account, it states:
This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.
This is, of course, not a new thing. In fact, we reported on this exact phrase on the White House Flickr feeds three years ago. As we noted at the time, there had been some controversy when the White House first started using Flickr in the early days of the Obama administration, as any Federal US government created work is automatically public domain. Yet, Flickr did not have a “public domain” license option. In response, Flickr actually created a special license to indicate that the work was a US government work. That license explicitly states that “anyone may, without restriction under U.S. copyright laws… create derivative works.”
And yet, the White House is ignoring what that license says in claiming that the photograph “may not be manipulated in any way.” That’s clearly untrue under the law and a form of copyfraud, in that they are overclaiming rights.
But, in this case, it’s especially ridiculous, since the entire reason the “McKayla is not impressed” meme became so popular was the memegeneration of putting her displeased face into various other images.