Does The White House Have Any Legal Right To Demand No Modifications To Its Photos?

from the doesn't-appear-that-way dept

You may recall earlier this year that there was a fair bit of controversy when the White House started putting photos up on Flickr. Or, rather, there was controversy over the licensing. Everyone thought it was great that the White House would have its own Flickr channel and constantly post photos -- but since Flickr only had certain licensing options that you could put on a photo, there was a problem. Even though the White House chose a Creative Commons Attribution license at the time, that was still too much. Government documents are not covered by copyright, and the photos clearly should be public domain. After a bit of back-and-forth, Flickr created a special public domain license so the White House could properly designate the photos.

And yet... it appears that the White House is now trying to claw back some rights over these photos that it just doesn't have. Tim Lee points out that along with these officials photos is a licensing claim that goes well beyond the public domain, stating:
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.
The problem is the White House has no right to say that you can't manipulate the photo, since the photo is public domain. It's really unfortunate that, once again, we're seeing how little people seem to understand (or value) the public domain.

Filed Under: obama, photos, public domain, white house

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. icon
    Brendan (profile), 6 Nov 2009 @ 12:44pm

    Re: I disagree.

    But they shouldn't be making such claims to rights they don't hold.

    1) It's wrong. They don't have the right to prevent such activity. (And any lawsuit would find the same.)
    2) It only further complicates the issues of Copyright and Public Domain to a public which already has enough trouble in that area.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown for basic formatting. (HTML is not supported.)
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Show Now: Takedown
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.