I Learned It From Watching YOU, Big Content

from the bad-copyright,-bad dept

The Washington Post is running an article covering a bunch of cases where big companies have been using content from user-generated content sites, like Flickr, without permission -- upsetting the amateur content creators. Some of the cases we've talked about in the past, and a few others are pretty well known as well. Basically, they usually involve someone at a big company making use of an image he or she found on Flickr without getting permission and then using that on TV, in a magazine, in an advertisement or on the web. Quite often, the companies that are doing this are also known for their own overly-aggressive attempts to combat copyright infringement of their own works. What's unfortunate about these cases is that, rather than recognizing how silly copyright is no matter which direction it's going in, many of the people are reacting just like the big content companies themselves. This isn't surprising, but it is a little depressing. The Big Content companies only have themselves to blame, of course. Their "education" campaign has only alerted people to become more attuned to thinking of content as property, and more ready to sue over its use. This situation is only going to get worse, as more and more amateur content is out there, unless we start realizing that it's time to peel back copyright law, stop thinking of ideas as property that can be owned, and start recognizing there are ways to embrace the sharing of information and content that makes everyone better off. The Washington Post asks if that would be "total anarchy," which suggests little recognition of the history of content creation or free markets.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2008 @ 4:26pm

    Parallel doesn't exactly work....

    It's not really the same. Take TV shows/movies being uploaded to the net. Many of them still include the credits and logos etc... on them, and even if they don't, most people still know that, for example, Family Guy = Fox.

    It doesn't work the other way. If I see a piece of artwork or whatever that has been lifted from a site without permission or acknowledgement, I have no idea who made it or where to get more.

    The reaction of these people is far more justifiable than the reaction of the "big companies", since for the companies it's basically free advertising.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2008 @ 5:38pm

      Re: Parallel doesn't exactly work....

      You just described the difference between plagiarism and copyright. The thing is that plagiarism isn't particularly illegal, so content creators rely on copyright to protect them against plagiarism.

      Instead the solution would be to prohibit plagiarism - using someone's work without credit - instead of overly broad copyright protections.

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

  • identicon
    John, 9 Jan 2008 @ 5:12pm

    Big Company employees

    Big companies can't control all their employees all the time. So they can't possibly ensure that one well meaning marketing person isn't grabbing a copyrighted image by accident.

    This is why it's hypocritical to go after the little guy.
    BUT.. this won't stop them, because greed NOT fairness is at the root of all the DRM and copyright lawsuits.

    SO... all that will happen is that the CEOs will issue some overly reactive new policy to control their employees and give share holders, lawyers, and the media some false sense that this will never happen again.

    WOW! I surprised myself with how cynical I became 2 minutes after reading that article. hehehehehehe

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2008 @ 5:22pm

    It isn't proper to use "idea as property that can be own", but rather "ideas as monopoly that can be granted".

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

  • identicon
    glaurung, 9 Jan 2008 @ 5:26pm

    sorry, but plagarism and piracy are not the same t

    Copyright has several aspects to it. One aspect is the right to make money off the work by selling copies. As you have correctly pointed out, that aspect must change in the digital era because copies are no longer an object of value and it no longer costs anything to make them.

    Another aspect to copyright, however, is recognition and credit -- the right to be identified as the author of the work and not have other people appropriate your work and claim it to be their own. In a world where copies are worthless, recognition and credit is all the more important. The amateur content creators on Flickr have every right to be mad as hell that these marketing assholes are appropriating their work without permission or credit.

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

  • identicon
    Alfred E. Neuman, 9 Jan 2008 @ 7:35pm

    Now that is Funny

    "When his initial e-mails to the Microsoft blog asking it to remove links to his photo didn't immediately work, Kennedy replaced the image with one of a man engaging in an activity best described as "extreme mooning." Visitors to the Microsoft blog who clicked on the innocent-looking link were guided to the new photo."

    Ha Ha - that's gotta be goatse

    On a different note .. Surely the big corps can see their own hypocrisy, apparently they do not care.

    If they were not so outragous in their claims then maybe ... nah that will never happen.

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

  • identicon
    Enrico Suarve, 10 Jan 2008 @ 1:36am

    Good on em

    I don't honestly see the problem with the little guys sueing the big guys here - good on em, if they offer you $1000 go for $10,000 (well maybe not but you get the idea)

    The alternative is to just continue allowing big corporations to sue us when we use their content (and as the first poster states usually give due credit) then sit back and just act as a free bloodbank for resources when they want to do the same

    I know in a perfect world things would be saner but at least suing them is closer to fairness

    Does anyone have any suggestions for an alternative that would reduce the madness, or is the general idea that yet again the general public have to be more mature and just put up with childish corporations?

    I'll take bets on how long it is before one of them sues someone for using unlicensed images from them that they themselves swiped from youTube!

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

  • identicon
    Evostick, 10 Jan 2008 @ 2:35am

    Photos of photos

    I know that, to get around the copywrite laws, paparazzi agencies take a photo of any unowned photos they receive and sell those. Sort of an analogue hole.

    The original paparazzi photographer doesn't rely on copywrite laws either. Repeat business keeps them honest. Prisoners Dilema basically.

    Copywrite is big business, and avoiding copywrite is also big business.

    Only small people seem to suffer.

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

  • identicon
    Ferin, 10 Jan 2008 @ 5:11am

    Another way to attack the problem

    This could be looked at as a way to shift copyright law. Big companies more and more have to face the same ridiculuous penalties and lawsuits over accidentally using content. Perhaps this will give them a reason to stop pushing so hard for extending copyright protections and penalties. Since it seems one can't fight them in the legislature due to their consistently increasing hold on the government, it might be best to simply fight back by giving them a taste of their own medicine.

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

  • identicon
    editor-in-chief, 10 Jan 2008 @ 5:38am

    Take Care of that Timmy

    Ahhhh, I'm too busy to do my job today ...
    Timmy! take care of getting that published.
    I sure hope there aren't any more mistakes.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2008 @ 10:29am

    When you post material on Facebook, you give Facebook the right to do anything they want (well, not anything) with your content, so Facebook might have some say. Did they liscense out material to these companies?

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

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