Any time you have someone who is vehemently copyright maximalist, it's really only a matter of time until someone discovers that they, too, violate copyrights. There had been some questions asked a few months ago about whether or not SOPA sponsor Lamar Smith had licenses to put up videos of news reports on his site, but that didn't seem like a huge deal (and was likely fair use anyway). However, the latest, as a ton of you are sending in, is that some enterprising folks at Vice discovered that Lamar Smith's campaign site was making use of a photograph
in violation of its Creative Commons license. It seems this was what Lamar Smith's campaign website recently looked like:
That background image? Turns out it's this (quite nice) image from DJ Schulte
Take it away, Vice folks:
And whaddya know? Looks like someone forgot to credit him.
I contacted DJ, to find out if Lamar had asked permission to use the image and he told me that he had no record of Lamar, or anyone from his organization, requesting permission to use it: "I switched my images from traditional copyright protection to be protected under the Creative Commons license a few years ago, which simply states that they can use my images as long as they attribute the image to me and do not use it for commercial purposes.
"I do not see anywhere on the screen capture that you have provided that the image was attributed to the source (me). So my conclusion would be that Lamar Smith's organization did improperly use my image.
Ooops. And this is a big part of the problem that we're talking about. Thanks to the ridiculousness of today's copyright laws, it's pretty much guaranteed that everyone infringes, whether you intend to or not. Which is why we ought to be exceptionally careful about doling out quick and powerful punishment for those involved in infringement. After all, the supporters of these things never know when it might just come back to bite them directly...