The Intercept Releases Photos To The Public Domain... But Unfortunately Locks Up Text Content With Copyfraud Claims

from the kudos-and-boos dept

We already wrote about the launch of The Intercept, the first new publication from Pierre Omidyar's First Look Media, helmed by Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill, and about its first big article about the NSA's use of questionable metadata in telling the CIA where to drop bombs from drones. However, the other article that the publication launches with is also worth noting. It's by photographer Trevor Paglen, who rented a helicopter and took aerial photographs of the headquarters of the NSA, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) which builds spy satellites, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), which maps and analyzes imagery caught from those spy satellites. As Paglen notes:
My intention is to expand the visual vocabulary we use to “see” the U.S. intelligence community. Although the organizing logic of our nation’s surveillance apparatus is invisibility and secrecy, its operations occupy the physical world. Digital surveillance programs require concrete data centers; intelligence agencies are based in real buildings; surveillance systems ultimately consist of technologies, people, and the vast network of material resources that supports them. If we look in the right places at the right times, we can begin to glimpse America’s vast intelligence infrastructure.
But here's the part that caught my eye:

These new images of the NSA, NRO, and NGA are being placed in the public domain without restriction, to be used by anyone for any purpose whatsoever, with or without attribution. They can be found on Creative Time Reports, which commissioned this piece, as well as on Flickr, Wikimedia Commons and The Intercept.

Download high resolution images of these photos: NSA, NRO, NGA

Here are the three images:


Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that First Look/The Intercept is nearly as open about the text of its articles. They have a big copyright symbol on the bottom and no Creative Commons or other permissive license. In fact, their copyright statement appears to go to the other extreme, pretending that fair use and other user rights can be ignored -- and seems to go beyond what copyright allows, moving into the territory of copyfraud.
The Intercept is made available for your personal, noncommercial use only. All content and other material on this Service is the property of First Look Productions or its licensors and is protected by U.S. copyright laws, other copyright laws, and international conventions. Except as explicitly provided in these Terms of Use, you may not reproduce, distribute, display, perform, create derivative works from, or otherwise exploit any of the content or other material on this Service. You may display and occasionally print or store single copies of individual pages of the Service for your personal use, provided that you keep intact all credits and copyright and other proprietary notices, but you may not otherwise reproduce, store, or distribute copies of any content or other material found on this Service, in any form (including electronic form), or exploit any of the content you find here for any commercial purpose, without prior written permission from the copyright owner.
That statement above ignores even the possibility of fair use, which you can't do. I'm sure it's just boilerplate that First Look got from some lawyer, but for a publication with such lofty goals, and which used one of its first articles to release images into the public domain, you'd hope they wouldn't have started out with such a bogus copyright statement.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    BentFranklin (profile), Feb 10th, 2014 @ 12:45pm

    Creative Commons is voluntary.

    Overreaching copyright statements are commonplace.

    Greenwald isn't fighting every battle that TechDirt is fighting.

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2014 @ 2:31pm


    1) Thanks, Captain Obvious! How would we have figured that out without you?

    2) And? Does commonality invalidate all criticism? Are you truly that dense or do you just suffer from hyper-apathy?

    3) Thanks again, Captain Obvious! Good thing you were here to point out something that everyone already knows and no one is asserting otherwise.

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

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2014 @ 2:39pm

    Last week was 10 to 1.

    NSA got 10 front page stories, Bieber just 1.

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

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2014 @ 4:23pm

    What copyright text?

    Maybe I'm missing something here, but I can't find anywhere the copyright text you note attached to the 3 photos in question. On wikimedia I find a declaration of the photos are in the public domain, on theintercept I can't find the copyright text at all. Can you post the link where the copyright text is found related to the 3 photos.


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

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 10th, 2014 @ 6:53pm

    If this is the way they start with $200M budget, then Mr Omidyar should ask for his money back.

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

  6. icon
    Ninja (profile), Feb 11th, 2014 @ 2:16am

    A pity. The material will be used anyway. The reaction to such fair use events is what will give us any weapons for criticism (or not).

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

  7. icon
    btrussell (profile), Feb 11th, 2014 @ 3:59am

    Quite the shopping mall

    NSA has there. They have ensured parking for all visitors as if they expect the world to shop there. Wait, that is exactly what I think of the data they are storing except the shoppers won't be driving their cars there.

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

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 4:33am

    re: What copyright text?

    from the article above:

    "Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that First Look/The Intercept is nearly as open about the text of its articles."

    the copyright applies to the words, not the images*

    (*if i understood everything correctly)

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

  9. identicon
    Pragmatic, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 5:27am


    I wish he was, BentFranklin. This matter should be brought to Greenwald's attention so he can raise it with the proprietors. It's not right.

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

  10. identicon
    Pragmatic, Feb 11th, 2014 @ 5:29am

    Re: re: What copyright text?

    "Text" = "Words."

    The photos are free, the words (text) is not, apparently. Cue copyfraud allegations from us and cries of "I made it, I own it!" from every maximalist ever.

    Their work is subject to the laws of the land, etc., which means we shouldn't tolerate the overreach.

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

  11. icon
    WysiWyg (profile), Feb 11th, 2014 @ 6:17am

    Re: What copyright text?

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

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