You can't use AP's photos without permission, but they can use yours?

PDN online reports that the "Press Taps MySpace For Photos Of Spitzer Call Girl "

When a prostitute hired by former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer was identified Wednesday, news outlets eagerly published photos grabbed from her MySpace profile.

Can they get away with that?

Three attorneys who specialize in copyright law say media organisations are sailing in dangerous waters if they publish a personal snapshot without permission.

"Whoever took that picture owns that picture," says New York attorney Nancy Wolff. "It's either an infringement or they [the news outlets] have to make a fair use argument

...The AP noted that the images were “obtained from a MySpace webpage” and specified that they were to be used, “only to illustrate news reporting or commentary on the facts or events surrounding the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal.” Reuters identified the images similarly, and flagged them as available only for editorial use.
Associated Press director of photography Santiago Lyon says AP consulted with its legal department before deciding to use the photos.

"Given the news value of the photographs, we decided that these were images that the public needed to see," Lyon says.

Related is a story here on PDNPulse about Snapped Shot - a blog that has the habit of digging up wire photographs and writing commentary about said photographs - who went into into text-only mode after getting a letter from the Associated Press threatening legal action.

Hmmm.. There's a bit of double-standard somewhere here....

Kudos to European Pressphoto Agency (epa), Getty Images and its subsidiary WireImage who didn't use the images.

"AP and Reuters could score today in the Spitzer scandal story mainly by using pictures of the alleged prostitute. They obtained these pictures via her myspace website. We refused to use these photos for legal and ethical reasons. It could have some repercussions for those who were using these images as several US attorneys labeled this proceeding as dangerous."

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More logs on the fire - the blog En sur karamell did a quick check at Scanpix and notes that they too distribute the photographs of the "spitzer call girl" despite not having the rights.