DPP Home Business Naked In The Courtroom - The Web And Copyright

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Naked In The Courtroom - The Web And Copyright

The Internet has opened a can of worms for photographers struggling to keep control over images while also seeking to get their work seen by the public and image buyers

So What About Lane Hartwell And The Video?
When I first heard about the Lane Hartwell story, I wasn't on her side. If that happened to me, I'd go for a PR angle to bring notice to my work. I became even more entrenched in my opinion the more I read about the story.

I interviewed representatives from the Richter Scales and Miss Hartwell, both exceedingly nice people, though, understandably, the Richter Scales were more reticent about the issue. And after wading through all the opinions and blog posts, I was shocked to find out how much misinformation was being circulated. But one fact that emerged as true struck me. The Richter Scales gave attribution to Billy Joel for his song, but neglected to give attribution to Miss Hartwell and the other photographers.
That indicates at least an awareness about copyright and attribution.

Ultimately, Miss Hartwell's image of Owen Thomas was replaced by an image of Kara Swisher, the BoomTown writer who had, by a significant margin, the most accurate reporting about the story. Version two of the video had attribution for every photograph. As to the legal ramifications, it appears cooler heads have prevailed, and the legal dogs have been called into the house.

To me, Miss Hartwell overreacted, and the Richter Scales were negligent in assuming Billy Joel was the only artist worthy of attribution at the end of the video. If you want to argue that the Richter Scales knew they would benefit from the video, I disagree. There are millions of amateur videos on YouTube, many of them bad. A group like the Richter Scales never could have had advance knowledge of the scope of the popularity of their project. That's what makes the Internet so great; you never know what will catch on.

Miss Hartwell's courageous actions, however, amidst a torrent of excoriating and sometimes sexist opinions of her, illuminated an issue that the photography industry was at a loss to understand. For her part in starting a dialogue that may be the catalyst for the photography industry's future on the Internet, she has my sincerest respect. DPP

Louis Lesko is a fashion photographer based in Los Angeles. The author of Advertising Photography: A Straightforward Guide to a Complex Industry, he also owns Blinkbid, business software for photographers.



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