The most recent example of a shared photo that made its way around the web and into the paid news is Stefanie Gordon's shuttle launch photo. MSNBC tells the full story in : That famous space shuttle photo: When is sharing stealing?
Gordon's photo has been viewed nearly 1 million times, and shown by media TV, Web and print news outlets around the world. She was paid by precisely five news organizations.
In a world where social media users, bloggers and even some professional journalists are increasingly comfortable simply copying the work of others and republishing it, can intellectual property rights survive? Can original content survive? And what should the world do when an amateur photographer takes a newsworthy photo and shares it on a social network?
The article notes how impossible it is to put the toothpaste back in the tube as everyone now shares with ease, not giving it a second thought. There's another warning in the article, twitpic is not the place to store the images you want to keep exclusive right to any more.
Meanwhile, retaining copyright doesn't mean retaining all rights. A particularly vexing problem facing users of services like Twitpic involves the ever-changing fine print in the sites' terms of service agreements. Both Gordon and Krum used Twitpic to share their photos. Currently, Twitpics' terms of service informs users that the firm has the right to resell any images loaded by original rights holders onto its servers. In other words, Gordon has the right to sell her Space Shuttle picture, but TwitPic does now, too.
"They take a non-exclusive license when you upload the image," Wright said. "Just by using the outlet, you give them that right."
In a related story, The Oatmeal, home of funny cartoons about stuff that bugs us all, is being bugged by content scraper sites that take his images and re-host them with ads all around it. When I've complained of mirror-sites that host everything I post on adland, but elsewhere people have responded "If you don't want people to use the full RSS feed, don't use RSS" and "Sharing will get adland more fame" and similar. Like Matthew Inman, my main beef is with the sites whose business model is "scrape and add ads". The irony that google banned us and these places aren't banned in a heartbeat is not lost on me. Matthew also knows full well that there's no point in wasting time asking people politely to adhere to the actual, written law as it stands today:
I realize that trying to police copyright infringement on the internet is like strolling into the Vietnamese jungle circa 1964 and politely asking everyone to use squirt guns. I know that if FunnyJunk disappeared fifty other clones would pop up to take its place overnight, but I felt I had to say something about what they're doing.
We all know that people can't eat credit or pay their bills with links. So we do we not care when this goes on? The man who filmed the Tsunami hitting Khao Lak in 2004 bankrupted after his café suffered damages and no customers, while his film enjoyed worldwide fame on all TV networks without him getting paid for it. As evident in the comments at MSNBC, people are very confused about the law even after (supposedly) reading the article. Example:
The photo belongs to the photographer- unless, of course, the photographer does something stupid like tweet it or post it on the Internet. Then it has just been voluntary put in the public domain.
Why, I think we've found a graduate from the copyright for dummies, real dummies school. MarketingSherpa did a series on faux scraper blogs and the economics that fuel them a few years back as it was already evident these types of sites weren't going away any time soon. Advertising supports this practice, by advertising on the sites that create no original content of their own.