Author Of Book About Android UI Told He Needs To Get Copyright Signoffs To Use Any App Screenshots

from the fair-use? dept

We've talked in the past about just how ridiculous publishers are when it comes to doing something like quoting a song in a book. The publishers apparently have no appetite for standing up for the fair use rights of their authors, so they just refuse unless you get a license for absolutely everything, even when it's clearly and obviously fair use. In the latest example of this kind of insanity, it appears that Wiley -- a publisher who already has a reputation as a maximalist -- is telling the author of a book about Android's UI, Juhani Lehitmaki, that he can't rely on fair use to post screenshots of any apps. Instead, it's requiring that he get approval from each and every app developer. Lehitmaki has gone on Google+ seeking permission from a long list of developers:
I need a little bit help with my book stuff and thought to ask it from all of you awesome people here at G+. I'm in a bit difficult situation in the finishing it. I have been in belief that using screenshots of apps as examples of the platform functionality is covered under fair use but apparently I was wrong.

So now I need to acquire permission to use screenshot of different apps I've used so I can keep them in. So if you or someone you know are the copyright holder of any of the following brands / apps or know who to contact please let me know.
He then lists out 22 apps (down to 21 once he got permission from one):
* Google android apps
* SPB Shell 3D (by SPB Software)
* SlideIT Keyboard (by DASUR LTD.)
* Siine Keyboard (by Siine Ltd)
* GO Launcher (by GO LAUNCHER DEV TEAM)
* Evernote android apps
* Twitter android app
* Gameloft android apps
* Tiny Flashlight + LED (by Nikolay Ananiev)
* Able Remote (by ENTERTAILION LLC)
* TED (by TED Conferences)
* Gigbeat - Concerts (by GIGBEAT, INC.)
* TouristEye - Travel Guide (by Tourist Eye)
* Winamp android app
* Pulse News (by ALPHONSO LABS)
* Songkick Concerts (by SONGKICK.COM, INC.)
* Prixing - Scanner & comparer (by PRIXING)
* Catch Notes Notepad (by Catch.com)
* Sony, Android skin
* Samsung, Android skin
* HTC, Android skin
[edit: removed the ones I'm already in contact with. Thank you!]
He notes that all of the screenshots are used as examples of good UI design and are clearly credited. In other words, in each case, the app is portrayed positively.

Here's the thing: he should be pissed off at Wiley for totally failing him as a publisher and being obnoxiously unwilling to stand up for their author. Using screenshots in this manner is fair use. No question. I can't see how any intellectually honest person could go through the four factor test and not find that using screenshots in a book like this are fair use. Wiley should back up their author, but they don't, because they're too scared of a lawsuit and apparently don't have the guts to stand up for fair use rights. It's shameful, and should be a warning to any author not to sign on with Wiley. Why bother signing on with a publisher who makes you go through a silly wasteful exercise like this?

In fact, I'd imagine that many of the app developers are similarly inconvenienced by this process of now having to give Juhani permission. Of course they want their apps featured, but now they have to fill out some sort of release or license just to make Wiley's lawyers happy. This process inconveniences absolutely everyone. Wiley should be ashamed.

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  1. icon
    mikey4001 (profile), 19 Jul 2012 @ 11:37am

    Knowing what little I do about companies like Wiley, I can't help but wonder if they are not so much afraid of being sued, but rather they are fearful that any active support of fair use on their part would weaken Wiley's own position when they choose to be the copyright aggressor.

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