When is permission to repost images needed?

All you illustrators and photographers and reps who know a thing or two about copyrights might be interested to read Calacanis : Dealing with the photo copyright issue on blogs, where it seems there's a new idea forming - posting images without permission is OK as long as they are small?? Please help me out here, am I reading this right? Fair use? Has the world gone mad!? Is this the guy Denton thought should be the one to look up to when it comes to blogger ethics?
The web does cause trouble in this area, but would this new 'rule' hold water in court, or work in the long run - in a fair way? I don't think so.

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Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
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caffeinegoddess's picture

That would not hold up in court. It has to be the stupidiest thing I've heard in a long time. A judge would just laugh at that defense- "your honor, we figured making it only 15% of the actual size would make it 85% more legal." please.

LeslieBAP's picture

Like I said before, only a guy could come up with the idea that size matters.

Seriously, though, it's bogus info like this that makes it harder and harder for *all*independent creative professionals to make a living.

Dabitch's picture

I was about to post a response there to a fella named Jake who had posted something like (paraphrasing here) "A small webpublisher can't (won't?) pay $250 for a thumbnail. J is only tryng to work out a way that is fair to everyone..."
I had to change my reply a little, deleteing a few cuss-words, and while I reloaded I saw that Leslie had replied to that, much better than I ever could, explaining in a few words that theft is still theft, and "fair" is to not steal. Then I changed what I was writing again to work better with that, and at yet another reload - I find three comments (the two mentioned included) have been deleted.The comments weren't particularly inflammatory, just the normal misconceptions that I wanted to adress, so I don't know why they were deleted, but I see now that you've already posed that question directly in the comments Leslie.

andromeda's picture


I read the comments there on Calacanis blog. It seems he's not understanding your rebuttal about Google images Dabitch, if I've understood his reply to that correctly. I've also checked the trackbacks here and on Threadwatch to poster "Nick W" says: "But then the idea of images as fair use doesn't sound all that crazy does it?" Well, it does. Fair use has nothing to do with it in this case (of reposting images on blogs).
Creative Commons is a nice idea, if a photographer decides to put his images up on the web under such a licence that's his/her perogative. The point is, most of the images on the web are not public domain or creative comons licenced. In these cases you simply have to ask the copyright holder - which in 90% of the cases is the photographer for the permission to post. You might have to pay for it, you might not, you'll never know until you try.

This thread really brought out the ladies, coincidence?

Dabitch's picture

I think the creative commons is a great idea for everyone who wishes to use it - but I have also seen is abused. I've had to point out the errors of bloggers who have reposted images without asking for permission - which were not under any public domain/CC license. By re-posting the images they had no right to, under the CC license , they made the images available under the CC license. Clearly, not the right thing to do [tm] as only the photographer of said images has the right to change the image license, and it undermines (or sabotages) the effort of the Creative Commons.

kamari's picture

*Raises hat to the ladies present*

Looks like I'm late to the party, there are now 26 comments trying to explain to Calacanis (?) that "fair use" does not apply the way he thinks it does. My biggest pet peeve is how people have misunderstood fair use on the web, I'm glad to see that I'm not alone in actually knowing what it means, and when it applies. Clearly it does not apply to using some image just because you think it's "hard work" to make a blog and you don't have time to get permission to use an image.

AnonymousCoward's picture

There is clearly a case for fair use in the United States:

Fair use was established to create public discourse, and public discourse occurs today--in large part--online, and on blogs.

There is a test for fair use, and that test is based on four things. One of the things is "Amount and substantiality," so the world has not gone mad, this has been the case for a long time.

It makes perfect sense in fact. If you want to make comments about a story you've read on my blog you have the right to quote (aka copy) sections of my blog and put them on your site. You can also do this with the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. This makes society better, because we have an open discourse of ideas.

Now, if you take the entire story from my blog, the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal you are now making it harder for me to make a living. That is another part of the four part test which discusses the "Effect upon work's value" of fair use.

From WikiPedia:

"This fourth factor considers the effect that the use of the copyrighted material has upon the copyright owner's ability to exploit the original work."

The spirt of this is what is important, because the copyright and fair use laws are not defined clearly by design. These rules are too be applied to situations by the parties involved, and if they can't work it out, then by the courts.

Wikipedia talk about the benifits of fair use in fact: "Fair use can even aid the copyright owner, by helping people to decide in purchasing a work, by including a portion of the work in a description; online retailers such as Amazon.com frequently resort to fair use to display cover art or portions of a work."

Now, I'm no attorney but I've been dealing with issues like this for over 10 years as a publisher, and I've been on both sides of the table. At the end of the day what matters most is respect, discourse and intent.

IMO If you don't respect the copyright holders, if you don't engage in constructive discourse on the subject, and your intent is not pure you will wind up in a bad place with regard to fair use.

However, again IMO, if you respect others, talk to them, and have good intentions (i.e. you don't try to impeed someone's ability to make a living, and you do try to be reasonable in using only the images you need), then you will be OK.

Consult your lawyer if you have questions.

caffeinegoddess's picture

I'd like to know how taking a whole image and reducing the size 15% is the same as taking 15% of a total article and quoting it. It's not. If perhaps people were talking about showing only 15% of the total image than I could see a possible corrolation...but they're not and I don't. It's the same thing as taking the entire article and just putting it in a really small point.

So yes, the world is going mad. Then again there have been signs this was a-comin' for a while. ;)

Robbotman's picture

My last comment on Jason Calacanis weblog was neither aggressive nor abusive but it was deleted still. I honestly wanted to know where Calacanis got the idea that fair use applies to images and showed him the fair use FAQ so that he may point it out to me. This was my comment:-------
...where have you gotten the idea that "fair use" applies to images when they are used as "decoration" to a post, rather than say, being the object of a debate/class/critique?
See more about fair use: http://www.cetus.org/fairindex.html
in particular, the slide collection example here might interest you:http://www.cetus.org/fair6.html----------
Our IP lawyers here say matter of factly that there are no questions in this case, you simply have the wrong idea.

LeslieBAP's picture

wikipedia is not a valid source as it is written by non-professionals and non-lawyers! I love wikipedia, but people forget that you have to confirm everything you read on there as it is open to editing by anyone.

amoeba's picture

What I find most interesting here is to watch how it all evolved. Calacanis makes a post to start a discussion. He gets it, but then more than one person has said they have their comments deleted. Robbotman posted his deleted very relevant comment here. I can only guess as to why it was delleted, perhaps it proved JC wrong to well?
Then Calacanis runs around all blogs that picked this up (Look at the trackbacks) to quote bits from the Wikipedia Fair use page as if this is in any way relevant to posting full (but small) images without permission on a blog.
Then he closes comments on his blog, so clearly he didn't really want a discussion that tells him straight out he has gotten it all wrong. I suppose he'd rather have cheers and kudos for ripping off photographers rights.

Listen carefully to your own words you don't try to impeed someone's ability to make a living - the photograph reproduction rights IS the photographers living. By not getting permission you are quite frankly, stealing. USofA Federal law agrees.

And no, you can't say it's the same as a search engine that indexes images, no matter how hard you try. Apples and Bananas my friend.

Robbotman's picture

Calacanis states here that "The only comments I remove are ones that are profane". I fail to see any profanity in offering link to a fair use FAQ as I did, my censored comment reads exactly as I have posted it here, I was only trying to be helpful, as I stated. Perhaps "might interest you" is a profanity on some other blogplanet paralell universe?
I did not have a high opinion of the self proclaimed blogger king before, now even less so.

Dabitch's picture
Robbotman's picture

Thanks for the update, I've commented. There is a difference between what fair use actually is and what people think it ought to be. The latter needs a legal chance to actually become so. It's also important to remind people that the law is not the same all over the world, even though this is the world wide web, but I saw that you had already done that.