Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Social Media & ­­­­­Copyright

By Jim Goldstein Published in The Business of Photography
How do you balance the loss of control of your images on sites like Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and others while still leveraging the benefits of the exposure? Very carefully. Part of the answer may be learning to just let some violations go.
How do you balance the loss of control of your images on sites like Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and others while still leveraging the benefits of the exposure? Very carefully. Part of the answer may be learning to just let some violations go.
These are two critically important facts to note as many of today's best-known Internet services were founded in or after 1998, including Google (1998), Wikipedia (2001), LinkedIn (2003), MySpace (2003), the iTunes store (2003), Facebook (2004), Flickr (2004), YouTube (2005), Twitter (2006) and Google+ (2011). For better or worse, much of the current culture clashes between classic copyright law and the Internet have been settled in the courts versus outlined concretely in federal law. Creative Commons (2001), a solution for creatives to take a proactive stance at a grassroots level, hasn't proven to be a robust official solution adopted at a federal level yet.

[See "Creative Commons" by Jim Goldstein on the DPP website at www.digitalphotopro.com/business/creative-commons.html]. As Internet businesses evolve so, too, does the online culture that powers them. It's this dynamic evolution that makes it a challenge for any official legislation to keep pace.

Anatomy Of Copyright Concerns

Given the heightened concern about copyright infringement online, in particular, via social-media websites, let's take a step back to look at the general types of infringement that are most often cited. At a high level, there are six ways copyrighted material is used or abused online in relation to blogs and social-media websites:

Blatant Infringement
1. Misuse of copyrighted material by individuals
2. Misuse of copyrighted material by companies

Permission Granted Unknowingly And Rights Grabs
3. Permission granted unknowingly for copyrighted material to be used by companies in exchange for access to social-media functionality and/or data
4. Permission granted unknowingly for copyrighted material to be used by individuals in exchange for testimonials and/or exposure

Authorized, But Potentially Debated Use
5. Permission granted knowingly for copyrighted material to be used by companies in exchange for access to social-media functionality and/or data
6. Permission granted knowingly for copyrighted material to be used by individuals in exchange for testimonials and/or exposure

Depending on your personal philosophy, one may have grave concern about all of these types of use or none. Scenarios #1 and #2 are often the most common types of copyright infringement cited as they're the most blatant. Scenarios #3 and #4 are often cited as website-based rights grabs—general image lifting—the result of a photographer not understanding website terms of use or the share settings of a website. Scenarios #5 and 6 are active decisions to grant permissions in exchange for access to websites, information and/or exposure.
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