Recently, it’s come to light that Flickr’s API allows companies to get ready access to your Copyrighted images for the purpose of redistribution. Many blogs have already commented on this, generating much discussion. To put my post into context, please go read those posts/comments and then return to hear my take.

Jim Goldstein on How Every Flickr Photo Ended up On Sale This Weekend.

Phototrade Blog with It Is Your Fault I steal Your Photos. Accept it. Please.

FocalPower wrote Who Controls Your Photos Online.

Plagiarism Today’s Is Flickr Letting Down its Users?

and finally

Myxer (the company which published all the photos in question here responds)

Now after you’ve read all this, (or even if you haven’t) you probably have some idea that people are not happy about someone trying to profit from their work without permission. And in my opinion, that’s valid.
What happened here in my opinion is that Myxer infringed on lots of photographer’s rights. It seems clear to me that Myxer didn’t intend to do this malicious manner. I do believe they were careless. And I do believe they violated my Copyrights since one (or more) of my Copyrighted (and registered) photos was used. (I have a tracking service that helps me protect my Copyrights and I immediately found out about this infringement via that service.)

Now my normal standard operating procedure is to have my attorney send a Cease & Desist letter asking that the infringer stop using my photo without permission. If the image is online, we also send a DMCA takedown notice to the host.

The letter we send to the infringer usually also asks for a licensing fee equal to whatever use was allowed by the infringement. Failure to immediately act by the infringer leads to the next step, which is filing suit in United States District Court for damages.

In this case, Myxer took the images out of play before we could even notify them. And they would probably not have the financial ability to compensate every photographer in question since they are a startup, so I won’t pursue them any further. That doesn’t mean someone else won’t.

What’s surprising to me in this case is the reaction from both sides to this issue.

The “Ethos of the Internet is free” crowd doesn’t believe in DRM or Copyright or any sort of restrictions on content. They of course DO believe in getting paid for THEIR work so to the degree that they are hypocrites, I ignore them. But a large number of that crowd simply don’t appear to understand the law or the position held by the content creators. If the Copyright holders WANT to give their stuff away for free, that’s up to THEM, not some third party. And saying that if you put something on the Internet you should expect it to get stolen is stupid and even silly. That’s like saying putting your car in a mall parking lot is begging someone to steal IT!

Photographers have a reasonable expectation that their Copyrights will be respected. Content users have a reasonable responsibility to enjoy the content within the realm of the content creator’s wishes. And companies like Myxer have an obligation to exercise care when using content that belongs to someone else. Period.

I do applaud Myxer for their openness, their swift action to disable the technology that led to this incident and their appropriate apology. What I do want to point out to them (and everyone else) that they undermined all that to some degree by saying they didn’t actually sell any of the photos, so it’s okay. IT’S NOT OKAY!

While I am not a practicing attorney and cannot give legal advice, I can re-state the advice I have received from MY attorney on this issue. It forms my opinion and how I respond to such things.

Title 17 of the United States Code governs Copyrights. Nowhere in that code does it say that infringement is limited to cases where someone sells your images. While that may impact the damage award you receive, all that’s required is a redistribution or “publishing” of those images without your WRITTEN consent. Whether or not the images were sold is irrelevant. Myxer should stop saying that there was no harm because no images were sold. The harm in my case happened when they re-distributed my photos without my written permission, even though I had clearly marked them as rights protected in Flickr. (Again with the mall analogy – I didn’t leave my car in the parking lot with the engine running, the doors unlocked, the keys in the ignition and a sign on the car that said “take me.” I left the car locked with the reasonable expectation that nobody else would try to drive off with it.)

Additionally – I would argue that Myxer DID profit, if they sold advertisements that surrounded my content, that’s the same as selling my image. In fact, I don’t ever “sell” my images. I license their use. And I have frequently licensed images for advertising-driven content. I get paid of course. Here, I didn’t get paid.

So to sum up on Myxer – in my opinion, they infringed on my Copyrights whether or not they “profited” from my images. Only I can give the permission necessary to publish those images and anyone who usurps that is in my opinion, liable. But they acted appropriately once they were informed of the infringement, so I think they showed respect (albeit after the fact.)

While most of the attention in this matter has been focused on Flickr, since it was their API that allowed this infringement, I think Myxer needs to think about this a little harder and the photo community needs to educate itself a little better about what is legal and what is not.

As for Flickr, I am very disappointed in their lack of response to this issue. We’ve had Heather Champ from Flickr on the This Week in Photography podcast as a guest. We reached out to her and informed her that we were going to write about this subject and asked her for comments or an interview. We waited four full days for a response. She didn’t respond. In my opinion, this shows a complete lack of regard for the photographers who have been harmed here. It shows a lack of respect and a lack of understanding as well.

I think Flickr should bend over backwards to make sure it doesn’t in any way help third parties infringe on Copyrights. Flickr is a big name and a big company and unlike Myxer, does have resources that might make it a target for a lawsuit.

In my case, my damages here are so insignificant that I have decided not to pursue legal action against anyone. I don’t even know if Flickr could be held liable here, although I am sure that if this had gone further, they would have at least been sued. Whether or not such suits would have been successful is anyone’s guess.

But why not address the issue head-on? Is it indifference or arrogance or simply bad business judgment? It’s not ignorance. Flickr is hearing plenty from its users about this.

I love Flickr and the potential it represents. I do not intend to stop using Flickr or call for a Flickr boycott. But I DO intend to start using it differently. I won’t be placing any of my serious work on Flickr. In fact, I have removed dozens of images from Flickr because I don’t want to see them published somewhere else without my permission.

When it comes to sharing product shots, or shots of me and my pals at a tradeshow or snapshots of a dog on a beach – Flickr is still valuable and fun for me. But this incident has reminded me that many people still don’t understand or respect Copyrights, and I want to take every step I can to protect my valuable property from infringement.

I hope Flickr eventually addresses this issue. I also hope that companies like Myxer pay more attention and care to Copyrights as they go forward trying to innovate in the photo-sharing space.

I hope that my position is cogent and well thought-out. I look forward to seeing what the rest of the TWIP community thinks about this.

NOTE: I will not allow any comments that appear to contain legal advice unless the commenter can prove to me that they are a licensed attorney practicing within the US. Also note that this issue is being covered from a USA resident’s point of view. Those in our international audience may or may not be covered by US Copyright law, depending on whether or not their country is a full signatory to the US Copyright Act.

Join the conversation! 177 Comments

  1. I have a big urge to pull all my photos off flickr. At least I didn’t upload full rez images to flickr and stuck with web quality…

  2. I have a big urge to pull all my photos off flickr. At least I didn’t upload full rez images to flickr and stuck with web quality…

  3. This is certainly disappointing. I’m not a professional, but a sympathize with those who are. Most of the snapshots I post to Flickr aren’t worth stealing. But, It’s sad that people can’t promote their craft without fear of it being misused. It would have been easy for Myxer to check the license tags of the images they were pulling out. I guess it’s easier (and less expensive) to apologize than ask permission. I take about two pictures a year that are worth selling. I may not be posting them to Flickr.

  4. This is certainly disappointing. I’m not a professional, but a sympathize with those who are. Most of the snapshots I post to Flickr aren’t worth stealing. But, It’s sad that people can’t promote their craft without fear of it being misused. It would have been easy for Myxer to check the license tags of the images they were pulling out. I guess it’s easier (and less expensive) to apologize than ask permission. I take about two pictures a year that are worth selling. I may not be posting them to Flickr.

  5. I myself have removed all of my images from Flikr, I have only uploaded for use of the Twip critique forum, but it would be interesting to see how sharp a drop flikr would have suffered in images stored etc…

  6. I myself have removed all of my images from Flikr, I have only uploaded for use of the Twip critique forum, but it would be interesting to see how sharp a drop flikr would have suffered in images stored etc…

  7. The following sentence needs to be fixed…

    “this shows a complete lack of disregard for the photographers who have been harmed here.”

    Just an FYI…those pesky spell checkers…who knew.

  8. The following sentence needs to be fixed…

    “this shows a complete lack of disregard for the photographers who have been harmed here.”

    Just an FYI…those pesky spell checkers…who knew.

  9. I agree with you that there is not enough awareness and respect for photography copyright. In this digital age, copyright on work Flickr can be reproduced very easily. The whole point of stating your work is copyrighted is for potential users of your work to seek your permission and be GRANTED permission before using them. I feel Flickr has failed it’s users in this aspect and their apparently lack of response and playing down of the issue will erode the trust users have of them. I have removed all my photos from Flickr and would think twice about every image I put back on Flickr from now on.

  10. I agree with you that there is not enough awareness and respect for photography copyright. In this digital age, copyright on work Flickr can be reproduced very easily. The whole point of stating your work is copyrighted is for potential users of your work to seek your permission and be GRANTED permission before using them. I feel Flickr has failed it’s users in this aspect and their apparently lack of response and playing down of the issue will erode the trust users have of them. I have removed all my photos from Flickr and would think twice about every image I put back on Flickr from now on.

  11. @Delos thanks fixed.

  12. @Delos thanks fixed.

  13. is there a way on flickr to make your photos private?? i know there is but to make it private where only members of groups you participate in can see it, cause only friends limits it too much but if we could do that then i would still feel safe uploading to post in the critique forum etc…

  14. is there a way on flickr to make your photos private?? i know there is but to make it private where only members of groups you participate in can see it, cause only friends limits it too much but if we could do that then i would still feel safe uploading to post in the critique forum etc…

  15. Scott this is an incredibly well written piece and encapsulates the Flickr / Myxr news well. I applaud your explanation and view on copyright infringement as it is one of the few I’ve seen to date that is both logical and in line with the law. To date few have understood why I chose to use the term “Sold” in my write up. You nailed this on the head along with the distribution aspect of copyrighted work. At the core of my article is the disappointment that Flickr has not taken this issue more seriously. Given that their has been lack of response to your inquiry over the past week or several of mine over the past 7 months is alarming and I’m glad that the photography community has taken note. There is a lot of mis-information online that because a photo is online the submitter has for all intents and purposes forfeited their rights to it… after all it is the Internet. I’ll have more to say about this shortly so stay tuned. In the meantime thanks for your contribution to this discussion and informing your readers about it.

  16. Scott this is an incredibly well written piece and encapsulates the Flickr / Myxr news well. I applaud your explanation and view on copyright infringement as it is one of the few I’ve seen to date that is both logical and in line with the law. To date few have understood why I chose to use the term “Sold” in my write up. You nailed this on the head along with the distribution aspect of copyrighted work. At the core of my article is the disappointment that Flickr has not taken this issue more seriously. Given that their has been lack of response to your inquiry over the past week or several of mine over the past 7 months is alarming and I’m glad that the photography community has taken note. There is a lot of mis-information online that because a photo is online the submitter has for all intents and purposes forfeited their rights to it… after all it is the Internet. I’ll have more to say about this shortly so stay tuned. In the meantime thanks for your contribution to this discussion and informing your readers about it.

  17. Scott:

    Grrrr, b******s. I think I shall hold off on posting anything to Flickr for a while longer and see what changes, if any, this brings about.

    As one of your international audience, is there any chance that in a furure edition of TWiP you could cover, in general terms, how the copyright laws apply to international users and what level of protection they can expect.

    It really gets my goat when people/organizations rip off the work of others for their own gain. (I’ve had it happen to me but not with photography — not that I know of anyway!)

    ^-.-^ John

  18. Scott:

    Grrrr, b******s. I think I shall hold off on posting anything to Flickr for a while longer and see what changes, if any, this brings about.

    As one of your international audience, is there any chance that in a furure edition of TWiP you could cover, in general terms, how the copyright laws apply to international users and what level of protection they can expect.

    It really gets my goat when people/organizations rip off the work of others for their own gain. (I’ve had it happen to me but not with photography — not that I know of anyway!)

    ^-.-^ John

  19. Well said, Scott. Understanding copyright is a difficult thing for most people and it shouldn’t be. Having said that I cheerfully disregard copyright for anything I have purchased – I make dupes of any music or movies I have purchased, for use in alternative formats, such as my iPod or laptop. I still believe in the concept of fair use and I do not share those dupes.

    My personal experience is that the average person has the same attitude that Myxar has. If it doesn’t sell it’s not an infringement. I recently had an incident where I discovered one of my photos (one of the few I’ve posted on the web) showed up on a blog without my permission. When this has happened in the past I have simply contacted the owners, explained the situation and they have either aid me or removed the photograph. Since I was opposed to the content and editorial slant of the site in question I asked them to remove the photo. They refused stating that it was placed there by a user, posting, and as such it was not their responsibility to ensure it was legal, they were simply the intermediary. I actually had to go to court, and was unable to recover court costs as the site folded after they were ruled against. Couple of more instances like that and I’ll be out of money. :-( (you don’t need a second shooter at any of your $25K weddings do you? I work for cheap. )

    Seriously, this whole topic of theft is why I rarely put anything on the net, even though it puts me at a disadvantage to my competitors.

    I sometimes get the impression that photographers are held in the same regard by most people as writers are by the movie industry – that is to say, very little.

    After all it is the camera that takes the picture, right?

  20. Well said, Scott. Understanding copyright is a difficult thing for most people and it shouldn’t be. Having said that I cheerfully disregard copyright for anything I have purchased – I make dupes of any music or movies I have purchased, for use in alternative formats, such as my iPod or laptop. I still believe in the concept of fair use and I do not share those dupes.

    My personal experience is that the average person has the same attitude that Myxar has. If it doesn’t sell it’s not an infringement. I recently had an incident where I discovered one of my photos (one of the few I’ve posted on the web) showed up on a blog without my permission. When this has happened in the past I have simply contacted the owners, explained the situation and they have either aid me or removed the photograph. Since I was opposed to the content and editorial slant of the site in question I asked them to remove the photo. They refused stating that it was placed there by a user, posting, and as such it was not their responsibility to ensure it was legal, they were simply the intermediary. I actually had to go to court, and was unable to recover court costs as the site folded after they were ruled against. Couple of more instances like that and I’ll be out of money. :-( (you don’t need a second shooter at any of your $25K weddings do you? I work for cheap. )

    Seriously, this whole topic of theft is why I rarely put anything on the net, even though it puts me at a disadvantage to my competitors.

    I sometimes get the impression that photographers are held in the same regard by most people as writers are by the movie industry – that is to say, very little.

    After all it is the camera that takes the picture, right?

  21. While I agree that there are things Flickr can and should do to help protect user work that is sent out over the API, including license clarification and doing a better job of meshing how a work is distributed with the stated license (one idea that came out in comments on my site was making the default user setting on the API for it to be off, not on, since the default setting is the most conservative with licensing, all rights reserved), I simply think that the primary focus should be on those who abuse the API.

    Flickr has a great deal of room to improve in this area, but they are not the bad guys. Like you though, I also have to applaud Myxer for their openness and swift response on this issue. It seems that they made a mistake, albeit a serious one, and fixed it as soon as they could. After getting a comment about the API and how difficult licensing through it can be, I understand a bit better how that can happen.

    On that note, that is yet something else Flickr could do to help with this issue, simplify licensing via the API. If they can’t/won’t enforce it, they can make it harder to ignore…

  22. While I agree that there are things Flickr can and should do to help protect user work that is sent out over the API, including license clarification and doing a better job of meshing how a work is distributed with the stated license (one idea that came out in comments on my site was making the default user setting on the API for it to be off, not on, since the default setting is the most conservative with licensing, all rights reserved), I simply think that the primary focus should be on those who abuse the API.

    Flickr has a great deal of room to improve in this area, but they are not the bad guys. Like you though, I also have to applaud Myxer for their openness and swift response on this issue. It seems that they made a mistake, albeit a serious one, and fixed it as soon as they could. After getting a comment about the API and how difficult licensing through it can be, I understand a bit better how that can happen.

    On that note, that is yet something else Flickr could do to help with this issue, simplify licensing via the API. If they can’t/won’t enforce it, they can make it harder to ignore…

  23. Hey Scott – thanks for the reasoned & balanced thoughts on the mess that Myxer created. I’m always amazed at how a large segment of the internet population blithely trounces on the legal rights of others thinking the explanation that “Well, _you_ posted it, of _course_ you knew someone would steal it,” pretty much absolves them of any legal/ethical/moral responsibility.

    I’ll be using Flickr differently in the future – I’ll be posting much lower res things that I have in the past. Family & friends who want bigger file sizes know where to find me.

    I’m sad for what Flickr seems to be becoming – I was an early user of Flickr and the last 12 months or so has been disappointing.

    Myxer’s response that you linked to above is naive (or disingenuous, take your pick) & lame. There simply isn’t any question that they were making money from their use of the photos.

  24. Hey Scott – thanks for the reasoned & balanced thoughts on the mess that Myxer created. I’m always amazed at how a large segment of the internet population blithely trounces on the legal rights of others thinking the explanation that “Well, _you_ posted it, of _course_ you knew someone would steal it,” pretty much absolves them of any legal/ethical/moral responsibility.

    I’ll be using Flickr differently in the future – I’ll be posting much lower res things that I have in the past. Family & friends who want bigger file sizes know where to find me.

    I’m sad for what Flickr seems to be becoming – I was an early user of Flickr and the last 12 months or so has been disappointing.

    Myxer’s response that you linked to above is naive (or disingenuous, take your pick) & lame. There simply isn’t any question that they were making money from their use of the photos.

  25. I never put full res photos on flickr. 72dpi at 800 x X is as good as they are going to get.

  26. I never put full res photos on flickr. 72dpi at 800 x X is as good as they are going to get.

  27. @Kent Goldings, just because you feel that your pictures ‘aren’t worth stealing’ doesn’t give anyone the right to publish them without your permission unless you have explicitly posted them that way. I think the issue, as Scott points out, is not that Myxr took the pictures and posted them, but that they feel they didn’t infringe and that Flickr doesn’t seem to care that their API allowed this.

    On the Internet, it is imperative that we respect the rights of content owners and the licenses under which they publish. That is the only way that the Internet can continue to flourish as a medium to share music, art, ideas, etc.

  28. @Kent Goldings, just because you feel that your pictures ‘aren’t worth stealing’ doesn’t give anyone the right to publish them without your permission unless you have explicitly posted them that way. I think the issue, as Scott points out, is not that Myxr took the pictures and posted them, but that they feel they didn’t infringe and that Flickr doesn’t seem to care that their API allowed this.

    On the Internet, it is imperative that we respect the rights of content owners and the licenses under which they publish. That is the only way that the Internet can continue to flourish as a medium to share music, art, ideas, etc.

  29. @Michael, you increase the scope of my statements. Please, allow me be more specific.

    I have been granting a CC non-commercial license with my photos until now. As someone who does not derive a livelihood from my pictures, I don’t fear a loss from infringement. My pictures are just not for sale. However, that doesn’t mean I’m giving them away.

    My concern is out of respect for people who earn a living from photography. I’ll defend my copyright, just to reduce the expectation that such infringing behavior is acceptable. Indeed, the very reason I don’t offer my pictures completely to the public domain is to avoid diluting the market for those photographers who make a living selling their photos.

  30. @Michael, you increase the scope of my statements. Please, allow me be more specific.

    I have been granting a CC non-commercial license with my photos until now. As someone who does not derive a livelihood from my pictures, I don’t fear a loss from infringement. My pictures are just not for sale. However, that doesn’t mean I’m giving them away.

    My concern is out of respect for people who earn a living from photography. I’ll defend my copyright, just to reduce the expectation that such infringing behavior is acceptable. Indeed, the very reason I don’t offer my pictures completely to the public domain is to avoid diluting the market for those photographers who make a living selling their photos.

  31. Has anyone ever read through the Flickr terms of service? And how has it changed since Yahoo bought them. I recall an incident way back in the early days of the web and Yahoo. The company I work for was using some of the Yahoo features to create virtual teaming rooms, where they were placing company material and making comments and such. Sounded like a great idea to them.
    However the Terms of service for Yahoo made all that published content Yahoo’s property and they reserved the right to do any thing they wanted. I can’t recall the exact wording, it might have been a license that you granted them or maybe it was an actual transfer of ownership.

    Anyhow I wonder what rights we are giving up with flickr, anyone, anyone, anyone?

  32. Has anyone ever read through the Flickr terms of service? And how has it changed since Yahoo bought them. I recall an incident way back in the early days of the web and Yahoo. The company I work for was using some of the Yahoo features to create virtual teaming rooms, where they were placing company material and making comments and such. Sounded like a great idea to them.
    However the Terms of service for Yahoo made all that published content Yahoo’s property and they reserved the right to do any thing they wanted. I can’t recall the exact wording, it might have been a license that you granted them or maybe it was an actual transfer of ownership.

    Anyhow I wonder what rights we are giving up with flickr, anyone, anyone, anyone?

  33. Is there some middle ground here, where we could opt in for sharing, but it not be foisted on others in the process ?

    Personally I’d be happy if somoone used a picture of mine, but then again, I don’t put food on the table with photography either.

  34. Is there some middle ground here, where we could opt in for sharing, but it not be foisted on others in the process ?

    Personally I’d be happy if somoone used a picture of mine, but then again, I don’t put food on the table with photography either.

  35. This is incredibly disappointing. And kuddos to you, Scott for bringing this to light.
    While I am no pro, my photographs are MY WORK! If I choose to allow MY work to be used somewhere other then where I put them, its MY choice, not that of someone else.

    People need to understand that photographs are just like any other form of property that someone possesses. It is NOT OK to steal them whether or not profit is sought, or made on them. Stealing IS stealing no matter what it is!

  36. This is incredibly disappointing. And kuddos to you, Scott for bringing this to light.
    While I am no pro, my photographs are MY WORK! If I choose to allow MY work to be used somewhere other then where I put them, its MY choice, not that of someone else.

    People need to understand that photographs are just like any other form of property that someone possesses. It is NOT OK to steal them whether or not profit is sought, or made on them. Stealing IS stealing no matter what it is!

  37. Scott, you mentioned a service that helps you track where photos are used. Would you mind sharing the name of the service. Given this Flickr situation, I think more people would be interested in it. Thanks for the great insight.

  38. Scott, you mentioned a service that helps you track where photos are used. Would you mind sharing the name of the service. Given this Flickr situation, I think more people would be interested in it. Thanks for the great insight.

  39. Sometimes the lame excuses put forward by individuals or organization when they get caught with their hands in the cookie jar crack me up and remind me of a moral lesson I first heard when I was a kid (which means it’s a concept that has been around for a LONG time).

    Someone is seen to pick up and walk away with something that doesn’t belong to him and is asked why he did that. His response is “Well, it was just lying there and I didn’t know whose it was.”

    To which the questioner replies, “Yes, but you knew that it WASN’T yours.”

    Honor – you either have it or you don’t. But then I guess if everyone had it we wouldn’t need things like copyright laws.

    Voodoo Bob

  40. Sometimes the lame excuses put forward by individuals or organization when they get caught with their hands in the cookie jar crack me up and remind me of a moral lesson I first heard when I was a kid (which means it’s a concept that has been around for a LONG time).

    Someone is seen to pick up and walk away with something that doesn’t belong to him and is asked why he did that. His response is “Well, it was just lying there and I didn’t know whose it was.”

    To which the questioner replies, “Yes, but you knew that it WASN’T yours.”

    Honor – you either have it or you don’t. But then I guess if everyone had it we wouldn’t need things like copyright laws.

    Voodoo Bob

  41. I’ve got too much to say on this general theft topic and will be blogging about it. People hate when I point out to them that they are stealing; this includes supposedly professional sites to which I used to belong, who actually set up a gallery for its users to post images they found on the web. And yes they make money based on hits and people who come to your site. Just a gallery, not a critique area.

    People in one breath will run photos or entire articles on their Web site and in the next complain that some of their posts have been stolen.

    Your piece is the common sense approach, the moral approach even.

    I’ve been delaying getting a Flickr Pro account – and now I don’t think I will. !@#$ em and I’ve been worried that it’ll become a Microsoft product in any case. Flickr HAS to understand the laws and they clearly just don’t give a flying fig. I’d be embarrassed to work for that company, and perhaps that’s just one reason its creators recently left the company.

    Etc. Etc. Temple

  42. I’ve got too much to say on this general theft topic and will be blogging about it. People hate when I point out to them that they are stealing; this includes supposedly professional sites to which I used to belong, who actually set up a gallery for its users to post images they found on the web. And yes they make money based on hits and people who come to your site. Just a gallery, not a critique area.

    People in one breath will run photos or entire articles on their Web site and in the next complain that some of their posts have been stolen.

    Your piece is the common sense approach, the moral approach even.

    I’ve been delaying getting a Flickr Pro account – and now I don’t think I will. !@#$ em and I’ve been worried that it’ll become a Microsoft product in any case. Flickr HAS to understand the laws and they clearly just don’t give a flying fig. I’d be embarrassed to work for that company, and perhaps that’s just one reason its creators recently left the company.

    Etc. Etc. Temple

  43. I was impressed by how quickly Myxer sorted the issue. People make mistakes and it’s nice to see it acknowledged and fixed.

    I never put any high rez images up on any web site though. Flickr’s API makes it easy, but it’s really not hard to scrape any image from any website – just look at Google’s image search feature.

    Regards,

    Rob…

  44. I was impressed by how quickly Myxer sorted the issue. People make mistakes and it’s nice to see it acknowledged and fixed.

    I never put any high rez images up on any web site though. Flickr’s API makes it easy, but it’s really not hard to scrape any image from any website – just look at Google’s image search feature.

    Regards,

    Rob…

  45. I think you have the making of a new TWiP episode…if not 2 or 3.

    “Mine, All Mine – How to Assert and Protect Your Photo Copyrights”

    ~~~~~

    “I Know What You Did With My Images Last Summer – Photo Tracking Services And Watermarking”
    ~~~~~

    “Dewey, Burnham & Howe – A Detailed Inside Look at Copyright Legal Proceedings”

    ~~~~~

    “Wrotsa Wruck, Mistah – International Copyright Enforcement”
    :D

  46. I think you have the making of a new TWiP episode…if not 2 or 3.

    “Mine, All Mine – How to Assert and Protect Your Photo Copyrights”

    ~~~~~

    “I Know What You Did With My Images Last Summer – Photo Tracking Services And Watermarking”
    ~~~~~

    “Dewey, Burnham & Howe – A Detailed Inside Look at Copyright Legal Proceedings”

    ~~~~~

    “Wrotsa Wruck, Mistah – International Copyright Enforcement”
    :D

  47. To begin I am not a professional photographer.

    I don’t believe that it was explained in any of the posting above, why access to copyrighted photos is supported in the Flickr API. Fundamentally, an API is a powerful tool, but those merits only come when you have permission to access/use the content.

    In my opinion, Flickr needs to recognize the importance that professional participants brings to the Flickr community. Their work and commentary has been a large contributor to the success of Flickr. Flickr needs to protect photographers copyrighting their work.

    Suggestion to Flickr: implement a proper entitlements framework is needed and will bring peace of mind to all

  48. To begin I am not a professional photographer.

    I don’t believe that it was explained in any of the posting above, why access to copyrighted photos is supported in the Flickr API. Fundamentally, an API is a powerful tool, but those merits only come when you have permission to access/use the content.

    In my opinion, Flickr needs to recognize the importance that professional participants brings to the Flickr community. Their work and commentary has been a large contributor to the success of Flickr. Flickr needs to protect photographers copyrighting their work.

    Suggestion to Flickr: implement a proper entitlements framework is needed and will bring peace of mind to all

  49. This is terribly disappointing to me as a self-confessed Flickr addict. I do not make my primary income from photography but I do sell a few photos here and there, so this certainly does affect me. Plus, I paid for a pro account, so besides that, I’m disappointed that I dropped however much it was ($30 or something?) only to possibly have my photos stolen in this manner. Are there any alternatives out there to flickr that offer a similar experience? I’d hate to leave flickr behind but I think we should all keep our options open.

    Also, is there any way to determine if your images were taken (now, after the fact)?

  50. This is terribly disappointing to me as a self-confessed Flickr addict. I do not make my primary income from photography but I do sell a few photos here and there, so this certainly does affect me. Plus, I paid for a pro account, so besides that, I’m disappointed that I dropped however much it was ($30 or something?) only to possibly have my photos stolen in this manner. Are there any alternatives out there to flickr that offer a similar experience? I’d hate to leave flickr behind but I think we should all keep our options open.

    Also, is there any way to determine if your images were taken (now, after the fact)?

  51. I hope everyone here who’s read Jim Goldstein’s post has also read Thomas Hawk’s:

    http://thomashawk.com/2008/07/how-every-flickr-photo-ended-up-on-sale.html

    I don’t have an answer that will make everyone happy. However, I *would* like to find out if everyone has the same expectations of sites like Flickr. I think that we can all agree on at least these following features for a photo sharing site:

    1. A place to store your images in various resolutions.
    2. A way for you to access your own images for downloading, printing, etc.
    3. A place to allow other users to see your images in various resolutions.
    4. A way to limit the viewership of the images.
    5. Public tagging, forums, private groups.

    Above and beyond these, there are expectations from some photographers that these sites should also keep unauthorized third parties from unlicensed use of any image so marked.

    Now my question is: how can anyone or anything anticipate unlicensed use? If you allow me to look at your pictures, what control do you have over what I do with it after looking at it? As has been pointed out by Thomas Hawk himself, one of the basic functions of any computing device is to make a copy of anything it receives. What happens to that copy is determined by a person, either directly or through more computer code.

    So just as a person can choose to ignore a prominently displayed “All Rights Reserved” sign and illegally use an image they see on Flickr, so can a piece of software ignore any sort of “No Commercial Use” tagging when it pulls images, either through a formal API or a search engine style scraping.

    Having said all that, it is certainly incumbent on sites like Flickr to monitor the use of their API, and I am very disappointed at Flickr’s lack of forthright and clear response to the current round of criticism, justified or otherwise. And Myxer has not yet properly responded to why they failed to use the documented Flickr API function to identify “licensed” content. At the minimum, Flickr should withhold Myxer’s access to the Flickr data stream until Myxer can demonstrate to rights holders that their code will not violate copyright.

    However, we can’t blame Flickr for not preventing something in the API that any person can do manually. To do that is to fundamentally not understand computers, the internet, and photo sharing sites.

  52. I hope everyone here who’s read Jim Goldstein’s post has also read Thomas Hawk’s:

    http://thomashawk.com/2008/07/how-every-flickr-photo-ended-up-on-sale.html

    I don’t have an answer that will make everyone happy. However, I *would* like to find out if everyone has the same expectations of sites like Flickr. I think that we can all agree on at least these following features for a photo sharing site:

    1. A place to store your images in various resolutions.
    2. A way for you to access your own images for downloading, printing, etc.
    3. A place to allow other users to see your images in various resolutions.
    4. A way to limit the viewership of the images.
    5. Public tagging, forums, private groups.

    Above and beyond these, there are expectations from some photographers that these sites should also keep unauthorized third parties from unlicensed use of any image so marked.

    Now my question is: how can anyone or anything anticipate unlicensed use? If you allow me to look at your pictures, what control do you have over what I do with it after looking at it? As has been pointed out by Thomas Hawk himself, one of the basic functions of any computing device is to make a copy of anything it receives. What happens to that copy is determined by a person, either directly or through more computer code.

    So just as a person can choose to ignore a prominently displayed “All Rights Reserved” sign and illegally use an image they see on Flickr, so can a piece of software ignore any sort of “No Commercial Use” tagging when it pulls images, either through a formal API or a search engine style scraping.

    Having said all that, it is certainly incumbent on sites like Flickr to monitor the use of their API, and I am very disappointed at Flickr’s lack of forthright and clear response to the current round of criticism, justified or otherwise. And Myxer has not yet properly responded to why they failed to use the documented Flickr API function to identify “licensed” content. At the minimum, Flickr should withhold Myxer’s access to the Flickr data stream until Myxer can demonstrate to rights holders that their code will not violate copyright.

    However, we can’t blame Flickr for not preventing something in the API that any person can do manually. To do that is to fundamentally not understand computers, the internet, and photo sharing sites.

  53. Hello SmugMug!

  54. Hello SmugMug!

  55. I think people are way too forgiving of Myxer. To think they didn’t know exactly what they were doing is very naive. Just because they throw up their hands and claim they didn’t know better infuriates me.

    I wish flickr would implement a watermarking feature. Imagine if we could upload a watermark image once, and then we could decide which photos to have it overlaid, or we could choose to have the water mark added to every photo exposed via the API. As a former web developer and IT person, this is the only solution I have heard that would solve the problem, short of deleting all our photos from flickr.

  56. I think people are way too forgiving of Myxer. To think they didn’t know exactly what they were doing is very naive. Just because they throw up their hands and claim they didn’t know better infuriates me.

    I wish flickr would implement a watermarking feature. Imagine if we could upload a watermark image once, and then we could decide which photos to have it overlaid, or we could choose to have the water mark added to every photo exposed via the API. As a former web developer and IT person, this is the only solution I have heard that would solve the problem, short of deleting all our photos from flickr.

  57. When I started on Flickr I made it a point of not putting any of my serious stuff on there, and – like others – only upload small files. But I guess if you are going to put your photos *anywhere* on the internets, someone’s going to find them and use them.

    For all the times you might find one of your images on a website, there are probably many other instances where someone has downloaded your image and has it on their desktop (or something else) and possibly showing it off as their own. And I don’t think (since I’m not 100% sure) but there’s no way to find every one of those people, regardless of your copyright holdings or fancy tracking software that “finds” your images.

    In one respect, “don’t put anything online you don’t want stolen” is the right way to think. Unfortunately.

  58. When I started on Flickr I made it a point of not putting any of my serious stuff on there, and – like others – only upload small files. But I guess if you are going to put your photos *anywhere* on the internets, someone’s going to find them and use them.

    For all the times you might find one of your images on a website, there are probably many other instances where someone has downloaded your image and has it on their desktop (or something else) and possibly showing it off as their own. And I don’t think (since I’m not 100% sure) but there’s no way to find every one of those people, regardless of your copyright holdings or fancy tracking software that “finds” your images.

    In one respect, “don’t put anything online you don’t want stolen” is the right way to think. Unfortunately.

  59. This goes under the category good idea, BAD IDEA.
    Myxer maybe covered legally by the API but not Morally. Lets be a little blunt here, Myxer can try and hid behind the fact they were not selling images directly,but morally Myxer was still using the image as a way to promote their services. Myxer should not try and hide behind semantics.

    Do I think this was intentional, no. A second time around, yes. My suggestion is that Myxer should contact flickr and see if there is a practical way to make this an opt in service. If not stick a fork in this idea and call it done.

  60. This goes under the category good idea, BAD IDEA.
    Myxer maybe covered legally by the API but not Morally. Lets be a little blunt here, Myxer can try and hid behind the fact they were not selling images directly,but morally Myxer was still using the image as a way to promote their services. Myxer should not try and hide behind semantics.

    Do I think this was intentional, no. A second time around, yes. My suggestion is that Myxer should contact flickr and see if there is a practical way to make this an opt in service. If not stick a fork in this idea and call it done.

  61. Wow. Thanks so much for the article Scott. As a complete amateur, I have a very limited insight into the world of professional photography, and the struggle to maintain complete control over images isn’t something I ever deal with.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

  62. Wow. Thanks so much for the article Scott. As a complete amateur, I have a very limited insight into the world of professional photography, and the struggle to maintain complete control over images isn’t something I ever deal with.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

  63. Thanks, Scott, for this well written piece. I’m an amateur photographer making a tiny bit of money from this hobby-turned-passion. It’s not my day job, and I still have a whole lot to learn. I recently switched from a Creative Commons non-commercial license to a copyright/all rights reserved setting on flickr, and got a lot of flack about that decision. Some people thought I was being arrogant to imply that my work is good enough to copyright. Others consider everything on the internet to be free. At any rate, my decision to retain copyright wasn’t because I thought I was “too good” to share my work freely, but more because I’d like to know who is using my work and how. I’d likely grant most requests to use my photos (and have, to several for-profit web sites, in exchange for nothing more than a photo credit) – but I feel that I’d like to be the one to decide. It’s MY work – good or bad. I’m highly disturbed about the wide open hole in Flickr’s API, because unlike some commenters here, I do upload full rez images (mostly for my own backup, as I only make them available to family). My copyright marking obviously means nothing and is useless. I really wish Flickr would respond to this issue, as I enjoy their service and pay for the pro membership – but if I can’t choose how my photos are protected, I’m really considering moving them elsewhere. I also pay for a Zenfolio account, but I’ve had my Flickr account for years and would be quite disappointed to leave them. I will, though, if this does not get addressed – and fast. Not because my photos are that good – but because they are MY photos and it is MY RIGHT in this country to choose who can use them and how.

  64. Thanks, Scott, for this well written piece. I’m an amateur photographer making a tiny bit of money from this hobby-turned-passion. It’s not my day job, and I still have a whole lot to learn. I recently switched from a Creative Commons non-commercial license to a copyright/all rights reserved setting on flickr, and got a lot of flack about that decision. Some people thought I was being arrogant to imply that my work is good enough to copyright. Others consider everything on the internet to be free. At any rate, my decision to retain copyright wasn’t because I thought I was “too good” to share my work freely, but more because I’d like to know who is using my work and how. I’d likely grant most requests to use my photos (and have, to several for-profit web sites, in exchange for nothing more than a photo credit) – but I feel that I’d like to be the one to decide. It’s MY work – good or bad. I’m highly disturbed about the wide open hole in Flickr’s API, because unlike some commenters here, I do upload full rez images (mostly for my own backup, as I only make them available to family). My copyright marking obviously means nothing and is useless. I really wish Flickr would respond to this issue, as I enjoy their service and pay for the pro membership – but if I can’t choose how my photos are protected, I’m really considering moving them elsewhere. I also pay for a Zenfolio account, but I’ve had my Flickr account for years and would be quite disappointed to leave them. I will, though, if this does not get addressed – and fast. Not because my photos are that good – but because they are MY photos and it is MY RIGHT in this country to choose who can use them and how.

  65. I have used yahoo for many things from email to flickr, and yahoo groups. One of my main reasons was to avoid Microsoft and its history. However, lately I have been more and more disappointed with them. Due to all this I have been gradually pulling my email and information off yahoo, and if Microsoft manages to buy out yahoo I will pull everything out of yahoo. If I keep my flickr account after the buyout every photo will have a massive “WATERMARKED FOR FLICKR VISIT http://WWW.NMHOMEVIEW.COM FOR ORIGINAL” watermark on it. On top of all photos there being only 800px. Sorry that’s just my rant.

  66. I have used yahoo for many things from email to flickr, and yahoo groups. One of my main reasons was to avoid Microsoft and its history. However, lately I have been more and more disappointed with them. Due to all this I have been gradually pulling my email and information off yahoo, and if Microsoft manages to buy out yahoo I will pull everything out of yahoo. If I keep my flickr account after the buyout every photo will have a massive “WATERMARKED FOR FLICKR VISIT http://WWW.NMHOMEVIEW.COM FOR ORIGINAL” watermark on it. On top of all photos there being only 800px. Sorry that’s just my rant.

  67. Scott – I think this is a really valid discussion to be taking place in the professional photographer community. I am not a professional photographer, though I have certainly learned a lot about what’s important to this community since Myxer inadvertently set this train in motion by launching our flickr integration feature last weekend (and then, of course, pulling the plug a couple of days later).

    I don’t want to distract from the natural flow of the conversation, but I did just want to expand on one point that, to me, seems pretty important.

    There are a lot of people who post photos to photo-sharing websites. With the proliferation of camera phones and cheap digital cameras, a very large percentage of these people are just posting snaps of friends or places that they want to put out there to the world, to share with friends, and so forth.

    I believe that it is these amateurs for whom the flickr API holds the most promise, because it enables a whole host of imaginative mash-ups that take advantage of the social web to create new and interesting ways to communicate via photography. For many of the people in this crowd (I am one of them), the act of posting a photo to a photo-sharing website is a way of releasing an image into the wild, letting it fly out to flock with who-U-know-not.

    Unfortunately for the API/mash-up crowd, many professional photographers expect a far more precise level of control over the use of their art. Uploading an image to a website is no more ‘releasing into the wild’ as placing a print in a frame. And so there is bound to be friction when a site so heavily populated by a professional photographer community also happens to have one of the best APIs on the web for enabling mash-ups by third parties.

    It seems to me that the friction we’re all feeling ultimately leads to this question: how do we reconcile the desire to make life-enriching applications that rely on sharing photos in ever new ways (as faciliated by the flickr APIs), with the need to respect the copyrights of professional photographers and others who wish to more closely control their distribution?

    I don’t know the answer to that question, but I think that the discussion generated by your post and others on the topic can lead us collectively to a better understanding of how that reconciliation might look.

    Myk Willis
    Founder & CEO, Myxer

  68. Scott – I think this is a really valid discussion to be taking place in the professional photographer community. I am not a professional photographer, though I have certainly learned a lot about what’s important to this community since Myxer inadvertently set this train in motion by launching our flickr integration feature last weekend (and then, of course, pulling the plug a couple of days later).

    I don’t want to distract from the natural flow of the conversation, but I did just want to expand on one point that, to me, seems pretty important.

    There are a lot of people who post photos to photo-sharing websites. With the proliferation of camera phones and cheap digital cameras, a very large percentage of these people are just posting snaps of friends or places that they want to put out there to the world, to share with friends, and so forth.

    I believe that it is these amateurs for whom the flickr API holds the most promise, because it enables a whole host of imaginative mash-ups that take advantage of the social web to create new and interesting ways to communicate via photography. For many of the people in this crowd (I am one of them), the act of posting a photo to a photo-sharing website is a way of releasing an image into the wild, letting it fly out to flock with who-U-know-not.

    Unfortunately for the API/mash-up crowd, many professional photographers expect a far more precise level of control over the use of their art. Uploading an image to a website is no more ‘releasing into the wild’ as placing a print in a frame. And so there is bound to be friction when a site so heavily populated by a professional photographer community also happens to have one of the best APIs on the web for enabling mash-ups by third parties.

    It seems to me that the friction we’re all feeling ultimately leads to this question: how do we reconcile the desire to make life-enriching applications that rely on sharing photos in ever new ways (as faciliated by the flickr APIs), with the need to respect the copyrights of professional photographers and others who wish to more closely control their distribution?

    I don’t know the answer to that question, but I think that the discussion generated by your post and others on the topic can lead us collectively to a better understanding of how that reconciliation might look.

    Myk Willis
    Founder & CEO, Myxer

  69. I’ve been a Flickr hold-out since I started in photography. I’m slow to adapt social networks (Hi5, MySpace, Facebook) and have only really begun to consider Flickr because of it’s promise for helping me with my own quest to better my photography.

    TWIP, has been a catalyst for my interest in Flickr, and have been all but a bit too lazy to actually “sign up” – I’m glad now that I haven’t. Theft of photography is one thing, but blatant violation of an artists rights are another altogether. If I want people to know about my photos, I want to be the one to distribute them – faceless recognition through a Flickr Bot – their API – doesn’t seem to be a mode to get my photography seen in a way that I can benefit from.

    I’m a non pro with some close to pro gear – this stuff’s not cheap – I don’t ask for much; recognition and respecting our requests as artists is the least others can do.

  70. I’ve been a Flickr hold-out since I started in photography. I’m slow to adapt social networks (Hi5, MySpace, Facebook) and have only really begun to consider Flickr because of it’s promise for helping me with my own quest to better my photography.

    TWIP, has been a catalyst for my interest in Flickr, and have been all but a bit too lazy to actually “sign up” – I’m glad now that I haven’t. Theft of photography is one thing, but blatant violation of an artists rights are another altogether. If I want people to know about my photos, I want to be the one to distribute them – faceless recognition through a Flickr Bot – their API – doesn’t seem to be a mode to get my photography seen in a way that I can benefit from.

    I’m a non pro with some close to pro gear – this stuff’s not cheap – I don’t ask for much; recognition and respecting our requests as artists is the least others can do.

  71. I believe that Myxer is ultimately responsible for their actions and should have done more due diligence and more piloting of service before going mass market.

    The ultimate debate is what is Flickr’s goal? If they want to be “all things to all men” they need to better control the content they store. If Flickr was a free service I could see where they could easily default to ignorance is bliss, but a number of us are PRO members and pay an annual fee for the service.

    In other industries, like financial service which I work in, we provide our clients and 3rd party vendors API. However, entitlements, data segregation, extensive testing ensures that the API behaves properly and data is protected.

  72. I believe that Myxer is ultimately responsible for their actions and should have done more due diligence and more piloting of service before going mass market.

    The ultimate debate is what is Flickr’s goal? If they want to be “all things to all men” they need to better control the content they store. If Flickr was a free service I could see where they could easily default to ignorance is bliss, but a number of us are PRO members and pay an annual fee for the service.

    In other industries, like financial service which I work in, we provide our clients and 3rd party vendors API. However, entitlements, data segregation, extensive testing ensures that the API behaves properly and data is protected.

  73. @Paul T.S. Lee it’s late and I am tired so I won’t go through your response line by line but I think your logic is flawed, both legally and morally.

    Flickr and sharing sites like Zoomer which Mr. Hawk is invested in, do have a responsibility here. And if Thomas doesn’t want to worry about his Copyrights, that’s up to him. But nobody; you, him, Zoomer, Myxer, etc., has the right to make that decision for me or anyone else.

    I will probably take my images off Zoomer given Mr. Hawk’s stance here. If Flickr were found liable, I assume he’d be concerned about his own company’s liability, and that makes it easier for him to come around to the position he’s taking.

    But AGAIN this notion that there’s no duty to protect or that we should all just be so happy that folks are seeing our images misses the point.

    If you go to a hotel and I happen upon you in the lobby and decide to assault you, for whatever reason, I guarantee you that your lawyer will sue the hotel for failure to provide basic security. This is the same legal theory that someone is going to eventually use against sites like Flickr.

    On the moral side, Flickr has the moral duty and the ability to work harder to protect Copyrighted work. Mr. Hawk’s Zoomer has the same moral duty. If for no other reason than to honor and respect their customers.

    Thomas doesn’t want to live in a world where Copyrights are so restrictive. That’s his choice. I do want to live in a world where my rights are protected. If I spend $70,000 to go make wolf pictures and sell them in a book, I want to know that there’s a reasonable expectation that my investment will be protected. It should be up to me (and is under the US Copyright Act) to decide how those pictures are used and distributed.

    If this protection did not exist, there would be much less incentive for people like me to invest in such projects.

    That said, even the casual hobbyist has the same rights when it comes to Copyright and what I detest most about this situation is that other people seem to think they should have a say in how these images are used. That’s about the same as me telling you who should be able to drive your car.

    If people don’t like the Copyright laws then change them. As they stand now, they should be respected.

    While Mr. Hawk may not worry about Copyrights, I bet his company has SOME sort of intellectial property. I believe that Mr. Hawk’s company Zoomer as well as companies like Flickr would sue in a heartbeat to protect THEIR intellectual property. As a photographer I will take the same sorts of actions to protect mine.

  74. @Paul T.S. Lee it’s late and I am tired so I won’t go through your response line by line but I think your logic is flawed, both legally and morally.

    Flickr and sharing sites like Zoomer which Mr. Hawk is invested in, do have a responsibility here. And if Thomas doesn’t want to worry about his Copyrights, that’s up to him. But nobody; you, him, Zoomer, Myxer, etc., has the right to make that decision for me or anyone else.

    I will probably take my images off Zoomer given Mr. Hawk’s stance here. If Flickr were found liable, I assume he’d be concerned about his own company’s liability, and that makes it easier for him to come around to the position he’s taking.

    But AGAIN this notion that there’s no duty to protect or that we should all just be so happy that folks are seeing our images misses the point.

    If you go to a hotel and I happen upon you in the lobby and decide to assault you, for whatever reason, I guarantee you that your lawyer will sue the hotel for failure to provide basic security. This is the same legal theory that someone is going to eventually use against sites like Flickr.

    On the moral side, Flickr has the moral duty and the ability to work harder to protect Copyrighted work. Mr. Hawk’s Zoomer has the same moral duty. If for no other reason than to honor and respect their customers.

    Thomas doesn’t want to live in a world where Copyrights are so restrictive. That’s his choice. I do want to live in a world where my rights are protected. If I spend $70,000 to go make wolf pictures and sell them in a book, I want to know that there’s a reasonable expectation that my investment will be protected. It should be up to me (and is under the US Copyright Act) to decide how those pictures are used and distributed.

    If this protection did not exist, there would be much less incentive for people like me to invest in such projects.

    That said, even the casual hobbyist has the same rights when it comes to Copyright and what I detest most about this situation is that other people seem to think they should have a say in how these images are used. That’s about the same as me telling you who should be able to drive your car.

    If people don’t like the Copyright laws then change them. As they stand now, they should be respected.

    While Mr. Hawk may not worry about Copyrights, I bet his company has SOME sort of intellectial property. I believe that Mr. Hawk’s company Zoomer as well as companies like Flickr would sue in a heartbeat to protect THEIR intellectual property. As a photographer I will take the same sorts of actions to protect mine.

  75. I think Flickr has only one real thing going for it IMO – community. And for casual users, this has greater appeal than for professionals. Therefore, another site like Zenfolio or SmugMug would be more appropriate for professional work. Why? For one thing, they actually have a nice presentation, logical UI, and great Admin features. More importantly, they offer watermarking for their pro users, among other things. I know this doesn’t negate image stealers, but I thought I would mention it. OK, so I got distracted.

    Back to the original issue, I think it is funny how Flickr doesn’t consider these inherint issues very serious, yet will shut someone like Flickery down (who makes a much needed alternate front-end to Flickr), while continuing to do silly things like add video, and a whole laundry list of things that need updating (including better controls as it relates to the public API).

  76. Scott,

    Thanks for adding your years of professional experience into this online conversation. I’m glad that this topic is getting as much attention as it has if only to help educate the growing field of photographers (both new professionals and enthusiasts) that their work has value and if they choose to protect that value through legal means it’s a continual process.

    The openness of the web2.0 world is what helped make services like Flickr attract such a large community and grow to be what they are today. However, I am still surprised at how arrogant they can be with regards to helping that same community. This is yet another reason why we all have to be very cognizant of the Terms of Service agreement we accept when we sign up for a service. Especially in the evolving cloud-centric world where all of our valuable information will be in the hands of a others.

    I personally feel that a better job can be done of implementing technological solutions that help empower the photographer versus empowering the ‘social website’ that is trying to capture our attention. This is what has been driving me since I founded FocalPower.

    Keep up the great discussions!

  77. Scott,

    Thanks for adding your years of professional experience into this online conversation. I’m glad that this topic is getting as much attention as it has if only to help educate the growing field of photographers (both new professionals and enthusiasts) that their work has value and if they choose to protect that value through legal means it’s a continual process.

    The openness of the web2.0 world is what helped make services like Flickr attract such a large community and grow to be what they are today. However, I am still surprised at how arrogant they can be with regards to helping that same community. This is yet another reason why we all have to be very cognizant of the Terms of Service agreement we accept when we sign up for a service. Especially in the evolving cloud-centric world where all of our valuable information will be in the hands of a others.

    I personally feel that a better job can be done of implementing technological solutions that help empower the photographer versus empowering the ‘social website’ that is trying to capture our attention. This is what has been driving me since I founded FocalPower.

    Keep up the great discussions!

  78. [...] Scott Bourne has a wonderful post on this topic over at the TWIP Blog. A great view of this topic from a long time professional [...]

  79. [...] Scott Bourne has a wonderful post on this topic over at the TWIP Blog. A great view of this topic from a long time professional [...]

  80. how disappointing. I thought flickr was my friend! I’ll stick to photrade even thoguh it doesnt have as great networking potential as flickr does. As a super amateur fool, I don’t really care much about making profit so photrade isn’t really my thing. Just being able to take pictures and let people see it is awesome.

    I mean, if myxer got my picture and put it up for sale, sure i’d be happy! people get to see my work and like it enough to buy the darned thing! I just wish that if they did, that theyd at least credit me…

    Jk about sticking to photrade. I still like flickr a LOT!

  81. how disappointing. I thought flickr was my friend! I’ll stick to photrade even thoguh it doesnt have as great networking potential as flickr does. As a super amateur fool, I don’t really care much about making profit so photrade isn’t really my thing. Just being able to take pictures and let people see it is awesome.

    I mean, if myxer got my picture and put it up for sale, sure i’d be happy! people get to see my work and like it enough to buy the darned thing! I just wish that if they did, that theyd at least credit me…

    Jk about sticking to photrade. I still like flickr a LOT!

  82. actually i change my mind. photrade has great potential and better security with the ability to watermark.

    but still, if someone used my photography, i’d just like my name to be placed next to it (unless its one of the horrible ones i took, then by all means they can say they took it)

  83. actually i change my mind. photrade has great potential and better security with the ability to watermark.

    but still, if someone used my photography, i’d just like my name to be placed next to it (unless its one of the horrible ones i took, then by all means they can say they took it)

  84. This is a very interesting discussion, thanks Scott.

    I’ll contribute my opinion to the mix, but I wonder if there may be a cultural difference in understanding here, as well as the conflicts other users have observed:
    > If you go to a hotel and I happen upon you in the lobby and decide to assault you,
    > for whatever reason, I guarantee you that your lawyer will sue the hotel for failure
    > to provide basic security.
    To me it seems unconscionable that the owner of “Jim’s juice bar” would be responsible for the actions of customers when they move across his threshold. It’s a mind-set which causes many outside of the US to comment on the “litigiousness” of the country, although it is probably more a cultural difference of understanding of responsibility. Perhaps it’s just very unlikely that everyone will agree.

    With that said, I have posted this comment to your blog. I hereby claim ‘all rights reserved’ to my prose, with the express exception of you displaying my content on your website. I notice you have an API to the comment data on your website in the form of a comments RSS feed. What assurances can you give me that no-one will take this comment from your website, or RSS feed, and use it in a way not consistent with my rights?

    I believe that the correct and reasonable answer is for you to say… You can’t. I have chosen to allow you to transmit the data of my comment to anyone who asks ( by requesting the document http://twipphoto.com/index.php/archives/609 ). You have done that, and if other people use my comment outside of fair use, then I believe I have to take it up with the party responsible. (In this case, Myxer).

    Although, if you have an answer for how you could put technical controls on the use of my comment, I would love to hear them. I think that would make you a genius! (Well, in addition to your current photographic genius, of course).

  85. This is a very interesting discussion, thanks Scott.

    I’ll contribute my opinion to the mix, but I wonder if there may be a cultural difference in understanding here, as well as the conflicts other users have observed:
    > If you go to a hotel and I happen upon you in the lobby and decide to assault you,
    > for whatever reason, I guarantee you that your lawyer will sue the hotel for failure
    > to provide basic security.
    To me it seems unconscionable that the owner of “Jim’s juice bar” would be responsible for the actions of customers when they move across his threshold. It’s a mind-set which causes many outside of the US to comment on the “litigiousness” of the country, although it is probably more a cultural difference of understanding of responsibility. Perhaps it’s just very unlikely that everyone will agree.

    With that said, I have posted this comment to your blog. I hereby claim ‘all rights reserved’ to my prose, with the express exception of you displaying my content on your website. I notice you have an API to the comment data on your website in the form of a comments RSS feed. What assurances can you give me that no-one will take this comment from your website, or RSS feed, and use it in a way not consistent with my rights?

    I believe that the correct and reasonable answer is for you to say… You can’t. I have chosen to allow you to transmit the data of my comment to anyone who asks ( by requesting the document http://twipphoto.com/index.php/archives/609 ). You have done that, and if other people use my comment outside of fair use, then I believe I have to take it up with the party responsible. (In this case, Myxer).

    Although, if you have an answer for how you could put technical controls on the use of my comment, I would love to hear them. I think that would make you a genius! (Well, in addition to your current photographic genius, of course).

  86. Thomas Hawk can look at _his_ photographs like birds, or for that matter, puppies, kittens, Hello Kitty dolls, little Catholic schoolgirls or any darn thing that floats his boat. He does not have the right to think of _my_ photographs as being unprotected when I’ve got an “all rights reserved” notice on them.

  87. Thomas Hawk can look at _his_ photographs like birds, or for that matter, puppies, kittens, Hello Kitty dolls, little Catholic schoolgirls or any darn thing that floats his boat. He does not have the right to think of _my_ photographs as being unprotected when I’ve got an “all rights reserved” notice on them.

  88. @Tobin Jones

    Your comments simply don’t have any merit because as you state – you have cultural differences. Your laws are different and since we’re in the US, dealing with a US company, it is simply different.

    If I were in a place where it’s forbidden for my female relatives to wear certain clothing, I’d think that was horrible. But customs differ.

    In fact, in the US, most courts would hold that a business is liable to protect its patrons.

    As for your comment on my blog – well here it’s very easy for me to defeat your argument – which I believe you have made for argument’s sake by the way, but I will play along.

    You should read our comments policy. By posting your comment you licensed your comment to me and agreed with the policy. I can do with it as I wish. I can edit it or delete it or not post it at all or repost it.

    And this is illustrative of how Flickr might simply solve this problem. They can change their policies regarding their API.

    Sorry, you simply don’t know what you’re talking about and frankly, it’s a bit arrogant to comment on US policy, custom and law when you are not familiar with it and when you are a guest on a US web site.

    If I were to visit a web site run by someone with major cultural differences from me, I’d consider myself a guest there and refrain from telling them their customs are silly just because they differ from my own. But hey, that’s just me.

  89. @Tobin Jones

    Your comments simply don’t have any merit because as you state – you have cultural differences. Your laws are different and since we’re in the US, dealing with a US company, it is simply different.

    If I were in a place where it’s forbidden for my female relatives to wear certain clothing, I’d think that was horrible. But customs differ.

    In fact, in the US, most courts would hold that a business is liable to protect its patrons.

    As for your comment on my blog – well here it’s very easy for me to defeat your argument – which I believe you have made for argument’s sake by the way, but I will play along.

    You should read our comments policy. By posting your comment you licensed your comment to me and agreed with the policy. I can do with it as I wish. I can edit it or delete it or not post it at all or repost it.

    And this is illustrative of how Flickr might simply solve this problem. They can change their policies regarding their API.

    Sorry, you simply don’t know what you’re talking about and frankly, it’s a bit arrogant to comment on US policy, custom and law when you are not familiar with it and when you are a guest on a US web site.

    If I were to visit a web site run by someone with major cultural differences from me, I’d consider myself a guest there and refrain from telling them their customs are silly just because they differ from my own. But hey, that’s just me.

  90. @Myk thanks for your comments. I want to make sure you are aware that Copyright protection attaches to every photograph made in the USA regardless of who makes it – amateur or pro. Yes pros will be more aware and more concerned, but it would be a further mistake on your part to assume you have no duty to honor the Copyrights of amateurs – under the law you do. Now if they want to waive their rights and grant you permission, and do so knowingly, I have no problem with it.

    The “friction” you speak of will always be there when there is a violation of law.

    Whatever the answer, it has to include honoring people’s Copyrights and recognizing that these are in fact RIGHTS, that belong to the photographer under US law.

    Violating someone’s Copyright is very simply stealing. Not one bit different than walking into someone’s home and stealing their TV. And any attempt to minimize this fact by the thief, will always be met with very vocal disapproval.

    I hope that Myxer continues to be responsible in how it addresses this issue going forward, making sure to protect ALL photographer’s rights.

  91. @Myk thanks for your comments. I want to make sure you are aware that Copyright protection attaches to every photograph made in the USA regardless of who makes it – amateur or pro. Yes pros will be more aware and more concerned, but it would be a further mistake on your part to assume you have no duty to honor the Copyrights of amateurs – under the law you do. Now if they want to waive their rights and grant you permission, and do so knowingly, I have no problem with it.

    The “friction” you speak of will always be there when there is a violation of law.

    Whatever the answer, it has to include honoring people’s Copyrights and recognizing that these are in fact RIGHTS, that belong to the photographer under US law.

    Violating someone’s Copyright is very simply stealing. Not one bit different than walking into someone’s home and stealing their TV. And any attempt to minimize this fact by the thief, will always be met with very vocal disapproval.

    I hope that Myxer continues to be responsible in how it addresses this issue going forward, making sure to protect ALL photographer’s rights.

  92. Myxer made a mistake, was caught and made a correction. Whether or not you trust either their motives or sincerity is a sidebar. They have taken action and are no longer taking images. Flickr, disappointingly, has not. Regardless of their culpability in this issue, they have knowingly created a loophole that is being exploited and that is a violation of trust.

    I am not a professional photographer, but you MUST respect the rights of those people who have made this their career. Many have made an investment in education, top-end equipment, time, travel, and sweat to make the highest quality images. That investment has to be protected, or else there is no point in being a professional photographer.

    Does that make the pros different from me? Where I take a photo simply to please myself or those close to me, and have no expectation of ever selling an image, I would hate to see a picture I took used in a manner that I found intellectually, personally, or morally offensive. How would you feel if an image that you made at your child’s birthday party was found on a brochure promoting the rights of sex offenders or child pornographers? Unfortunately, the internet makes this type of abuse not only possible but quite easy. I would hope that groups like Flickr would do everything in their power to assure their users that their images and rights are preserved and not exploited. It seems that this is not the case.

    Many of you are voicing your displeasure with your feet and removing your images. I applaud you for your convictions. I hope that Flickr takes notice and quickly takes steps to correct this and that the community that we participate in can be preserved and not fragmented. Even so I am looking at my options and paying closer attention to alternatives to Flickr. I would appreciate whatever insights the TWiP’ers may have in that regard.

    In the meantime, everyone needs to make their voices heard on this issue, because the answer to my previous question is: No. Amateur photographers, casual “snappers”, and the Pro’s all deserve to know that their property is being preserved and protected.

  93. Myxer made a mistake, was caught and made a correction. Whether or not you trust either their motives or sincerity is a sidebar. They have taken action and are no longer taking images. Flickr, disappointingly, has not. Regardless of their culpability in this issue, they have knowingly created a loophole that is being exploited and that is a violation of trust.

    I am not a professional photographer, but you MUST respect the rights of those people who have made this their career. Many have made an investment in education, top-end equipment, time, travel, and sweat to make the highest quality images. That investment has to be protected, or else there is no point in being a professional photographer.

    Does that make the pros different from me? Where I take a photo simply to please myself or those close to me, and have no expectation of ever selling an image, I would hate to see a picture I took used in a manner that I found intellectually, personally, or morally offensive. How would you feel if an image that you made at your child’s birthday party was found on a brochure promoting the rights of sex offenders or child pornographers? Unfortunately, the internet makes this type of abuse not only possible but quite easy. I would hope that groups like Flickr would do everything in their power to assure their users that their images and rights are preserved and not exploited. It seems that this is not the case.

    Many of you are voicing your displeasure with your feet and removing your images. I applaud you for your convictions. I hope that Flickr takes notice and quickly takes steps to correct this and that the community that we participate in can be preserved and not fragmented. Even so I am looking at my options and paying closer attention to alternatives to Flickr. I would appreciate whatever insights the TWiP’ers may have in that regard.

    In the meantime, everyone needs to make their voices heard on this issue, because the answer to my previous question is: No. Amateur photographers, casual “snappers”, and the Pro’s all deserve to know that their property is being preserved and protected.

  94. @Tobin

    “To me it seems unconscionable that the owner of “Jim’s juice bar” would be responsible for the actions of customers when they move across his threshold. It’s a mind-set which causes many outside of the US to comment on the “litigiousness” of the country, although it is probably more a cultural difference of understanding of responsibility. Perhaps it’s just very unlikely that everyone will agree.”

    This is a good point and in the context of this debate it raises another debate on the whole nanny state vs nothing is my responsibility state (hot coffee at McDonalds) vs the common sense state.

    In that debate like all things nothing is black and white. And to apply that debate to this one, it has to be seen in the context of greys too.

    – Do people use common sense when uploading and take responsibility for their actions or own stupidity?

    – Do people blindly go about with gay abandon and then cry blue murder when something catches them out (most naive westerners that come to do business in China) and isn’t fair?

    – Do people have an expectation that others can and will look out for them?

    The answer is with all of them. People have a valid expectation to be protected by others. People have a valid expectation to be able to not bear all of the risk in their life when a member of a mutually respectful society and people also have the responsibility to be on the look out and admit fault when it is their own.

    I learned a lesson here. I was an idiot for putting up full res images and not low res one. That is my fault – regardless of what Flicjr say or don’t. I should have been less naive.

    I also went and deleted all my images because I am frigged off at Flickr’s lack of duty of care for my property.

    I am really thankful for people like Jim and Scott for bringing this issue to light and spreading the world and help his fellow man.

    Cheers,
    RF.

  95. This has been a really interesting discussion, and it does raise some questions.

    I noticed in my flickr logs some hits from this URL: http://fiveprime.org/hivemind/User/sdowen

    They don’t seem, at least on the surface, to be doing anything nefarious. I guess this is just another use of the flickr API. They’re posting just thumbnails… pretty big thumbnails (240 pixels at max). It’s not clear to me what the law allows for thumbnail size. When does size cross the line from “fair use”. There’s some interesting info here:

    http://www.iplawobserver.com/2007/05/googles-thumbnail-copies-of-nude-photos.html

    What Myxer did certain strayed outside of what most reasonable people would call “fair use” and they did use the images to drive traffic to their “for profit” site. Search engines use our images to drive traffic to their sites, but at least the ones I’ve seen walk the line of “for profit”. Google and Yahoo, for example, don’t show ad links on their image search pages, but on the one I checked, they do on their main page.

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=off&rls=ig&q=nature+images&btnG=Search

    Google is clearly using those images that don’t belong to them on a page in which they are selling advertising, though they’re “only” using thumbnails.

    Where to draw the line…?

    -Steve

  96. This has been a really interesting discussion, and it does raise some questions.

    I noticed in my flickr logs some hits from this URL: http://fiveprime.org/hivemind/User/sdowen

    They don’t seem, at least on the surface, to be doing anything nefarious. I guess this is just another use of the flickr API. They’re posting just thumbnails… pretty big thumbnails (240 pixels at max). It’s not clear to me what the law allows for thumbnail size. When does size cross the line from “fair use”. There’s some interesting info here:

    http://www.iplawobserver.com/2007/05/googles-thumbnail-copies-of-nude-photos.html

    What Myxer did certain strayed outside of what most reasonable people would call “fair use” and they did use the images to drive traffic to their “for profit” site. Search engines use our images to drive traffic to their sites, but at least the ones I’ve seen walk the line of “for profit”. Google and Yahoo, for example, don’t show ad links on their image search pages, but on the one I checked, they do on their main page.

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=off&rls=ig&q=nature+images&btnG=Search

    Google is clearly using those images that don’t belong to them on a page in which they are selling advertising, though they’re “only” using thumbnails.

    Where to draw the line…?

    -Steve

  97. The only to be sure is to watermark, or just assume it will be used. Today’s kids think that everything on the net is free, and I fugure if they use it, then it will be an advertisement for me. Unless something allows embedding, like vimeo etc, I always ask. If you allow embedding, then you must assume it will be embedded. Otherwise my rule is that if I put it on the net, it will be used somewhere, and if you can live with that, then fine. I happen to be in the middle of removing my flickr stuff right now because of all this

  98. The only to be sure is to watermark, or just assume it will be used. Today’s kids think that everything on the net is free, and I fugure if they use it, then it will be an advertisement for me. Unless something allows embedding, like vimeo etc, I always ask. If you allow embedding, then you must assume it will be embedded. Otherwise my rule is that if I put it on the net, it will be used somewhere, and if you can live with that, then fine. I happen to be in the middle of removing my flickr stuff right now because of all this

  99. First of all, I find it ridiculous to blame Flickr for this. Myxer could have just as easily used a screenscraper to get the images. Flickr has no fault in this. If you don’t want people to use your images, don’t put them on the web. Even viewing an image is a copyright infrigement as you’re making several copies of it (to RAM, disk, etc). What about Google and its image search (not to mention Yahoo, Microsoft, etc)?

    What about posting the images of the contest winners? Maybe TWIP gets permission from the authors, but nothing is mentioned in the post so maybe you don’t. What about when you post images of Nikon and Canon cameras and their logos? By the way, I didn’t even see any notices that those logos and names are trademarks of their respective companies. Did you get special permission not to say that? Are you going to argue fair use (be careful it goes both ways, someone else could argue fair use on your images)?

    It seems way exaggerated to me. That’s my opinion.

  100. First of all, I find it ridiculous to blame Flickr for this. Myxer could have just as easily used a screenscraper to get the images. Flickr has no fault in this. If you don’t want people to use your images, don’t put them on the web. Even viewing an image is a copyright infrigement as you’re making several copies of it (to RAM, disk, etc). What about Google and its image search (not to mention Yahoo, Microsoft, etc)?

    What about posting the images of the contest winners? Maybe TWIP gets permission from the authors, but nothing is mentioned in the post so maybe you don’t. What about when you post images of Nikon and Canon cameras and their logos? By the way, I didn’t even see any notices that those logos and names are trademarks of their respective companies. Did you get special permission not to say that? Are you going to argue fair use (be careful it goes both ways, someone else could argue fair use on your images)?

    It seems way exaggerated to me. That’s my opinion.

  101. @Myxer:

    Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy! That’s become the best descriptor of how coding is done today.

    The word that stood out the most in your original post was “assume” (and all its variations). Assuming doesn’t get you out from in front of a judge, my friend! Ever hear that little ditty about ignorance not being a very good legal defense?

    I would have thought that if you were serious about doing business you would have an attorney on retainer…and if you were going to be doing anything with something that might possibly violate copyrights that you would have retained a copyright attorney. (If you did do that, I’d start finding another attorney to go after your copyright attorney…)

    Sucks to be you and Flickr right now……

  102. @Myxer:

    Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy! That’s become the best descriptor of how coding is done today.

    The word that stood out the most in your original post was “assume” (and all its variations). Assuming doesn’t get you out from in front of a judge, my friend! Ever hear that little ditty about ignorance not being a very good legal defense?

    I would have thought that if you were serious about doing business you would have an attorney on retainer…and if you were going to be doing anything with something that might possibly violate copyrights that you would have retained a copyright attorney. (If you did do that, I’d start finding another attorney to go after your copyright attorney…)

    Sucks to be you and Flickr right now……

  103. Just a follow up, to be clear:

    1. I agree with scott on the issue, and am removing, and watermarking today. (I had already started before this article)

    2. It is still a bit naive on our part to really think that nobody will steal it if is in the clear. It is a bit like leaving the keys in the ignition of a running car, then claiming it was your car after it gets stolen.

    3. I support fully the idea of copyright, and the pursuit of enforcement of such

  104. Just a follow up, to be clear:

    1. I agree with scott on the issue, and am removing, and watermarking today. (I had already started before this article)

    2. It is still a bit naive on our part to really think that nobody will steal it if is in the clear. It is a bit like leaving the keys in the ignition of a running car, then claiming it was your car after it gets stolen.

    3. I support fully the idea of copyright, and the pursuit of enforcement of such

  105. Well, I wrote up a long old thing then went to read the Hawk article got through a paragraph and well, lost the harangue.

    The photography industry has problems with perception, laws and practice. The practice has been common where one person can sell the photo and profit from it without owning the right. I am not saying that this is right nor have I ever understood or condoned the practice. It is perceived that something being on the internet automatically belongs in the public domain and people act accordingly on their ignorance. And rarely are the laws enforced, unless you have a big enough name and the damage is enough to cause you to pursue it. Bottom line since these issues are not settled in court there is no education of the right and wrong and offenders know they can get away with it or get off the hook with a minimal settlement. Companies are loyal to profit, the cost of business changes the way business are run and these are the simple rules.

    Now we all have opinions, right or wrong, and I think most people see this issue and they want content for free and justify it this way and the source of their arguments are obviously self serving.

    I think Flikr needs to protect their community they serve. Doing the right thing is hard and uncommon. So who is the community they serve? Obviously not the one we all perceived it to be. Lack of respect for what is morally important will cause me to cancel my own account.

    The industry has a lot of perception issues. Is Flikr responsible, yes, they are leveraging free content provided by their community to sell other products. They hide beyond EULA’s that they know their community will not read. They owe at the minimum disclosure of how the content the community provides of how the content will be used. Their arrogance of not understanding this is enough for anyone using this site to break their loyalty and go else where. And let that be a lesson for us all. We need to know the mission of the company providing the service and what their intentions are. We need to know who are they loyal to.

    This said there are a lot of issues here and these have been outstanding and need resolution. It starts with education first. There needs to be a place that simply explains the actual realities of the laws and rights. There needs to be active tracking of precedence where these laws are enforced so that there are real world examples so that lessons can be learned (publish law suites). I would venture to say most of these are settled out of court.

    The music industry has RIAA, the photography industry has very little. The music industry has common publishing rates, the photography industry has millions of individuals thinking their work is worth $50K per image. I am half has good as Scott and I am sure Scott has a photo worth a $100K. Now many of us look at RIAA and say how evil they are and they sued some 80 year old grandmother. Guess what? No matter what the perception is…they were right. They lost the public battle of perception but guess what she was stealing.

    Scott in regards to your analogy of some one stealing your TV from your house. Let me correct that. Lets say you go to your neighbor and you ask her to let you use a corner of her lot to display your new TV and then some one takes it. Is that stealing? Since it was not on your property, it was left at the perceived curb and weren’t you intending to give it away. Explain this scenario in front of a judge. What I mean to say here is your analogy is too simple as there are other issues that complicate the matter and these issues are not easily understood.

    When I signed up for Flikr was my intention to enter my image into the public domain, sell it, or to share it with private friends?

    Anyway I think the issue is very simple and complicated. Simple from the stand point that wrong was done complicated because there are too many personal opinions and not much fact to set the precedence and we all to often use personal opinion to judge write and wrong.

    I have an interest in this because the industry I am in is going through the same issue. Music, Movies, video games, photography, writing, animation, software etc… all have the same issues, except that it just seems that in the photography industry that it is ok to sell something you do not own, and for the life of me I do not understand this failure of moral common sense.

  106. Well, I wrote up a long old thing then went to read the Hawk article got through a paragraph and well, lost the harangue.

    The photography industry has problems with perception, laws and practice. The practice has been common where one person can sell the photo and profit from it without owning the right. I am not saying that this is right nor have I ever understood or condoned the practice. It is perceived that something being on the internet automatically belongs in the public domain and people act accordingly on their ignorance. And rarely are the laws enforced, unless you have a big enough name and the damage is enough to cause you to pursue it. Bottom line since these issues are not settled in court there is no education of the right and wrong and offenders know they can get away with it or get off the hook with a minimal settlement. Companies are loyal to profit, the cost of business changes the way business are run and these are the simple rules.

    Now we all have opinions, right or wrong, and I think most people see this issue and they want content for free and justify it this way and the source of their arguments are obviously self serving.

    I think Flikr needs to protect their community they serve. Doing the right thing is hard and uncommon. So who is the community they serve? Obviously not the one we all perceived it to be. Lack of respect for what is morally important will cause me to cancel my own account.

    The industry has a lot of perception issues. Is Flikr responsible, yes, they are leveraging free content provided by their community to sell other products. They hide beyond EULA’s that they know their community will not read. They owe at the minimum disclosure of how the content the community provides of how the content will be used. Their arrogance of not understanding this is enough for anyone using this site to break their loyalty and go else where. And let that be a lesson for us all. We need to know the mission of the company providing the service and what their intentions are. We need to know who are they loyal to.

    This said there are a lot of issues here and these have been outstanding and need resolution. It starts with education first. There needs to be a place that simply explains the actual realities of the laws and rights. There needs to be active tracking of precedence where these laws are enforced so that there are real world examples so that lessons can be learned (publish law suites). I would venture to say most of these are settled out of court.

    The music industry has RIAA, the photography industry has very little. The music industry has common publishing rates, the photography industry has millions of individuals thinking their work is worth $50K per image. I am half has good as Scott and I am sure Scott has a photo worth a $100K. Now many of us look at RIAA and say how evil they are and they sued some 80 year old grandmother. Guess what? No matter what the perception is…they were right. They lost the public battle of perception but guess what she was stealing.

    Scott in regards to your analogy of some one stealing your TV from your house. Let me correct that. Lets say you go to your neighbor and you ask her to let you use a corner of her lot to display your new TV and then some one takes it. Is that stealing? Since it was not on your property, it was left at the perceived curb and weren’t you intending to give it away. Explain this scenario in front of a judge. What I mean to say here is your analogy is too simple as there are other issues that complicate the matter and these issues are not easily understood.

    When I signed up for Flikr was my intention to enter my image into the public domain, sell it, or to share it with private friends?

    Anyway I think the issue is very simple and complicated. Simple from the stand point that wrong was done complicated because there are too many personal opinions and not much fact to set the precedence and we all to often use personal opinion to judge write and wrong.

    I have an interest in this because the industry I am in is going through the same issue. Music, Movies, video games, photography, writing, animation, software etc… all have the same issues, except that it just seems that in the photography industry that it is ok to sell something you do not own, and for the life of me I do not understand this failure of moral common sense.

  107. [FOLLOW UP and CLARIFICATION] @Myxer: My comments regarding your use of “assume” is based upon your post on your blog and site. Either way, it applies for here since your comments were part of this article via the link Scott posted.

  108. [FOLLOW UP and CLARIFICATION] @Myxer: My comments regarding your use of “assume” is based upon your post on your blog and site. Either way, it applies for here since your comments were part of this article via the link Scott posted.

  109. @Frank stealing is stealing and those who steal are thieves – use any analogy you like but that’s what’s happening.

    @SP you are entitled to your opinion and you’re entitled to be wrong. And your comment shows how ignorant some people are about the Copyright law.

    We are an educational and news outlet for photography and in many cases what we do does fall under the fair use exemption of the US Copyright act. When people submit images to us their submission falls under a more complicated exemption that I don’t have time to go into here, but suffice it to say they grant a license to publish when they submit. As to your other questions yes we have standing agreements with most companies to use their logos and where we don’t we have fair use. And it’s frankly a clear indication of how weak your argument is that you’d compare what we do here with what Myxer did.

    And the stupidest thing you said was if you don’t want people to steal your photos don’t put them on the web. Tell you what – you better never park your car in front of my house then because I’ll assume it’s cool with you if I take it.

    By the way anyone who thinks I have violated their Copyrights should go after me. I’d sure go after them. If they come after me and TWIP we’ll win because we don’t violate Copyrights. It’s okay to argue fair use when it is fair. It’s not okay when it’s BS!

    @Tony same argument – if you put it on the Web you have the right to assume your Copyrights will be protected and if you register them there are legal remedies available to you including both civil and criminal remedies. I use those remedies all the time and encourage others who think they’ve been wronged to contact an attorney for assistance doing the same.

  110. @Frank stealing is stealing and those who steal are thieves – use any analogy you like but that’s what’s happening.

    @SP you are entitled to your opinion and you’re entitled to be wrong. And your comment shows how ignorant some people are about the Copyright law.

    We are an educational and news outlet for photography and in many cases what we do does fall under the fair use exemption of the US Copyright act. When people submit images to us their submission falls under a more complicated exemption that I don’t have time to go into here, but suffice it to say they grant a license to publish when they submit. As to your other questions yes we have standing agreements with most companies to use their logos and where we don’t we have fair use. And it’s frankly a clear indication of how weak your argument is that you’d compare what we do here with what Myxer did.

    And the stupidest thing you said was if you don’t want people to steal your photos don’t put them on the web. Tell you what – you better never park your car in front of my house then because I’ll assume it’s cool with you if I take it.

    By the way anyone who thinks I have violated their Copyrights should go after me. I’d sure go after them. If they come after me and TWIP we’ll win because we don’t violate Copyrights. It’s okay to argue fair use when it is fair. It’s not okay when it’s BS!

    @Tony same argument – if you put it on the Web you have the right to assume your Copyrights will be protected and if you register them there are legal remedies available to you including both civil and criminal remedies. I use those remedies all the time and encourage others who think they’ve been wronged to contact an attorney for assistance doing the same.

  111. Scott, I was merely trying to illustrate how obnoxious copyright law is. I probably am ignorant of copyright law, but so is the vast majority of people not just some. It’s complicated, unclear, outdated, etc., etc. I seriously doubt even you would know it all that well (taking the lawyers out of it that is). In fact, even lawyers don’t agree on what the copyright law means. There are plenty of lawsuits between big companies to prove that.

    I am really curious as to how people are granting you a license by posting to a Flickr group. No where in the group does it say that by posting an image to the Flickr group you are granting use to twipphoto.com. Someone could have wondered into the group, signed up for the group and posted images without ever visiting your site. There are plenty of groups in flickr that have contests. So submitting to the flickr group is in no way the same as “submitted” to TWIP. Unless they specifically granted you use all you got is fair use (which by the way I agree that it is fair use, and I think fair use is the only thing keeping the web alive in the US).

    Regarding your car analogy, as most car analogies, it’s blatantly incorrect. You need some pretty specialized skills to steal a car, you don’t need any skills to violate copyright. If stealing a car from a parking lot was as easy as violating copyright on the net and as difficult to track down, I can guarantee you no one would leave their cars alone (or they would also steal cars to get around).

  112. Scott, I was merely trying to illustrate how obnoxious copyright law is. I probably am ignorant of copyright law, but so is the vast majority of people not just some. It’s complicated, unclear, outdated, etc., etc. I seriously doubt even you would know it all that well (taking the lawyers out of it that is). In fact, even lawyers don’t agree on what the copyright law means. There are plenty of lawsuits between big companies to prove that.

    I am really curious as to how people are granting you a license by posting to a Flickr group. No where in the group does it say that by posting an image to the Flickr group you are granting use to twipphoto.com. Someone could have wondered into the group, signed up for the group and posted images without ever visiting your site. There are plenty of groups in flickr that have contests. So submitting to the flickr group is in no way the same as “submitted” to TWIP. Unless they specifically granted you use all you got is fair use (which by the way I agree that it is fair use, and I think fair use is the only thing keeping the web alive in the US).

    Regarding your car analogy, as most car analogies, it’s blatantly incorrect. You need some pretty specialized skills to steal a car, you don’t need any skills to violate copyright. If stealing a car from a parking lot was as easy as violating copyright on the net and as difficult to track down, I can guarantee you no one would leave their cars alone (or they would also steal cars to get around).

  113. Thanks scott for the push regarding this info. I have written an article, and linked back here to help this cause…rock on!!

  114. Thanks scott for the push regarding this info. I have written an article, and linked back here to help this cause…rock on!!

  115. I agree, and I Know the feeling of having your work stolen must be even worse when photography is your profession. For me its just a casual hobby, and I don’t really produce anything worth stealing, but I do a lot of web design and so I know how difficult it can be protecting work that is available to see on the net. People assume that because its there, they can take it, and I don’t think people are aware of or understand copyright, not just with photos, but with everything.

    The way I see it, the only solution to the problem is education, but instead of running campaigns to inform people, most copyright holders just try to sue everyone and anyone.

    I’m not saying people shouldn’t claim damages when their work has been misused, but at the same time, big businesses aren’t doing enough to help the situation.

    Flickr’s silence says to me that they don’t fully understand, or worse, can’t see a problem.

  116. I agree, and I Know the feeling of having your work stolen must be even worse when photography is your profession. For me its just a casual hobby, and I don’t really produce anything worth stealing, but I do a lot of web design and so I know how difficult it can be protecting work that is available to see on the net. People assume that because its there, they can take it, and I don’t think people are aware of or understand copyright, not just with photos, but with everything.

    The way I see it, the only solution to the problem is education, but instead of running campaigns to inform people, most copyright holders just try to sue everyone and anyone.

    I’m not saying people shouldn’t claim damages when their work has been misused, but at the same time, big businesses aren’t doing enough to help the situation.

    Flickr’s silence says to me that they don’t fully understand, or worse, can’t see a problem.

  117. @SP I understand that you don’t like Copyright law. So change it. Personally – I love it. I think we’d see the world change for the worse without it.

    And you’re right I don’t understand every aspect of it, but I know enough to know when I’ve been infringed.

    As for your silly deflection on the contest tell you what – test it. Post an image to the contest pool and I’ll publish it – then sue me. Watch what happens. When you post an image to a contest that lets you know the winner will be published on TWIP, you affirmatively say “I want to license my image for that purpose.” In addition, we do have the right under fair use since we are critiquing the image.

    Obviously we disagree – and I suspect we disagree because you’re one of those who wants the right to use any digital media you find without having to pay for it. When you cash your check from your boss every week for YOUR job, ask yourself how you’d feel if you had to work for free and tell me why that’s any different.

    Thankfully, Copyright law DOES exist, whether some people like it or not. I’ve successfully sued for money damages in US District Court 11 times to prove it works. And I assume I’ll have to do it again.

    I’ll say it one more time and then be done with this particular incident because I think I’ve said all I can say. Those with an ideology that stealing photos is okay will use any argument they can to justify the fact that they are thieves. I will counter that argument by calling a spade a spade and asking photographers to protect their work.

    Going back to the main point of this post, Flickr, Myxer and companies like them need to respect Copyrights. If they don’t, there will be business and legal consequences. It would be best if they just did the right thing up front. One of the reasons I wrote this post is that I am rooting for them to do the right thing up front. If they don’t, and I personally face real losses, I’ll be one of the photographers helping to educate them by taking them to court and applying the full force and effect of the law, swiftly, ruthlessly and without hesitation.

  118. I am not sure how relevant it is to this debate or on the laws in other countries. But going off common law which is the oldest and most prolific law system in the world, risk is often linked to ownership.

    I remember studying this at Uni (section 52 of the Australian Trade Practices Act) and one example of how cruel – yet logical – law can be (ignoring estoppel) was with ownership and risk.

    If I left my laptop at a mates house and it was stolen – even if he left the doors open and windows unlocked. It is not his fault or his liability – it is my possession and my risk. It (risk) is not transferable.

    Another example was that if I buy a bookcase from a store and pay for it in full. Then during the delivery of the book case the delivery guys drop it and scratch it – they have no legal obligation to fix it or repair it (obviously from a business and court of public opinion perspective a smart business would) as it is my property and it is my risk.

    The last example and this probably has some bearing on flickr, was that if I buy a lawn mower and at the time the last one left in stock had a broken starter cord. The vendor will fix it for me befor delivery to me.

    If the store burns down overnight before the new cord is installed then the vendor owes me a new mower or refund (insurance not withstanding) because our contract of sale was not finished so ownership was not mine and neither was the risk. If the cord was fixed – then like the busted book case on delivery, tough.

    There are many arguments about leaving cars about and what you upload is your fault, etc. At the end of the day isn’t the answer in the middle? You own something, so it is your risk – be more aggressive and informed and vigilant about it. And for businesses – you may well be legally in the clear – but to ignore the court of public opinion is also bad.

    The dirty reality of the world has come down to remind some of us otherwise insulated people what it is like out there in the “real world” – which is not all law suits and lawyers and justice for all and rostered days off each month and the right to do whatever one likes or have whatever one likes.

    I am not making a judgement on people’s desires or expectations or freedom and the right to respect and safety. More over I am judging the overly naive insulation to which some people have lived their lives and now the reality of the real world (technology and globalisation) is coming home to bear on them.

    Life isn’t fair – despite laws. It behoves all of us to be a little more “street smart” about things.

  119. I am not sure how relevant it is to this debate or on the laws in other countries. But going off common law which is the oldest and most prolific law system in the world, risk is often linked to ownership.

    I remember studying this at Uni (section 52 of the Australian Trade Practices Act) and one example of how cruel – yet logical – law can be (ignoring estoppel) was with ownership and risk.

    If I left my laptop at a mates house and it was stolen – even if he left the doors open and windows unlocked. It is not his fault or his liability – it is my possession and my risk. It (risk) is not transferable.

    Another example was that if I buy a bookcase from a store and pay for it in full. Then during the delivery of the book case the delivery guys drop it and scratch it – they have no legal obligation to fix it or repair it (obviously from a business and court of public opinion perspective a smart business would) as it is my property and it is my risk.

    The last example and this probably has some bearing on flickr, was that if I buy a lawn mower and at the time the last one left in stock had a broken starter cord. The vendor will fix it for me befor delivery to me.

    If the store burns down overnight before the new cord is installed then the vendor owes me a new mower or refund (insurance not withstanding) because our contract of sale was not finished so ownership was not mine and neither was the risk. If the cord was fixed – then like the busted book case on delivery, tough.

    There are many arguments about leaving cars about and what you upload is your fault, etc. At the end of the day isn’t the answer in the middle? You own something, so it is your risk – be more aggressive and informed and vigilant about it. And for businesses – you may well be legally in the clear – but to ignore the court of public opinion is also bad.

    The dirty reality of the world has come down to remind some of us otherwise insulated people what it is like out there in the “real world” – which is not all law suits and lawyers and justice for all and rostered days off each month and the right to do whatever one likes or have whatever one likes.

    I am not making a judgement on people’s desires or expectations or freedom and the right to respect and safety. More over I am judging the overly naive insulation to which some people have lived their lives and now the reality of the real world (technology and globalisation) is coming home to bear on them.

    Life isn’t fair – despite laws. It behoves all of us to be a little more “street smart” about things.

  120. Scott, thank you for a well written article and references to an important issue. My primary living is as a musician. Copyright needs to be taught in the schools. Children need to understand how honoring copyright provides us all with better access to more music, software, photos, and all forms of intellectual property. Many of the tools we have, the music, movies, photos, computer programs, etc., would not even be made if the creators could not make a living doing it. Push your schools to teach copyright.

    I for one will no longer be putting high res images on flickr.

  121. Scott, thank you for a well written article and references to an important issue. My primary living is as a musician. Copyright needs to be taught in the schools. Children need to understand how honoring copyright provides us all with better access to more music, software, photos, and all forms of intellectual property. Many of the tools we have, the music, movies, photos, computer programs, etc., would not even be made if the creators could not make a living doing it. Push your schools to teach copyright.

    I for one will no longer be putting high res images on flickr.

  122. I’m a very casual photographer who would probably like more of my photos on flickr viewed by others, so far my top hit picture is the one of my macbook with a crack in the case.

    That being said though.

    Flickr probably needs to change the way it works. While I really like to be able to go to a page and pull down one of my images by just clicking on it and dragging it to the desktop it really offers no copyright protection for people that have reserved their copyrights. The images are as easy to copy as dragging them too your desktop, well at least with Firefox it is.

    Here are some other things to consider about the use of any photos on flickr. Do any of the photo’s have model releases? Probably only those from professional photographers.

    How about the laws regarding photos of trademarked or otherwise protected buildings, statues, artwork etc? Side note, ever wonder why you see so many pictures of the Glade Creek Grist Mill? It is in a state park and the rights to use it are open, or so the folks at the Park told me.

    The bottom line in my opinion is that any business that is trying to be legitimate should never consider pulling photos off of flickr for any use other than the private owners, own use. Otherwise there are going to be issues.

    Discuss amongst yourselves…

    Oh yeah and has anyone read through the flickr terms of service yet?

  123. I’m a very casual photographer who would probably like more of my photos on flickr viewed by others, so far my top hit picture is the one of my macbook with a crack in the case.

    That being said though.

    Flickr probably needs to change the way it works. While I really like to be able to go to a page and pull down one of my images by just clicking on it and dragging it to the desktop it really offers no copyright protection for people that have reserved their copyrights. The images are as easy to copy as dragging them too your desktop, well at least with Firefox it is.

    Here are some other things to consider about the use of any photos on flickr. Do any of the photo’s have model releases? Probably only those from professional photographers.

    How about the laws regarding photos of trademarked or otherwise protected buildings, statues, artwork etc? Side note, ever wonder why you see so many pictures of the Glade Creek Grist Mill? It is in a state park and the rights to use it are open, or so the folks at the Park told me.

    The bottom line in my opinion is that any business that is trying to be legitimate should never consider pulling photos off of flickr for any use other than the private owners, own use. Otherwise there are going to be issues.

    Discuss amongst yourselves…

    Oh yeah and has anyone read through the flickr terms of service yet?

  124. If you put out something that’s good, people will want to share it. And other people will want to make profit off of that as was the case with Myxer and will be the case with others. Legalities aside… Think of the thousands of russian operated mp3 audio and video ‘stores’ that don’t pay the artists whose work is being stolen and sold.

    Recording artists that understand the web learned to deal with that and accept it as promotional cost.

    Photographers can do the same.
    – Add watermarks that contain your url and logo. Digimarc never worked, forget it, it’s done, dead never protected anyone.

    – On Flickr only allow higher resolution to ‘friends’ or ‘friends and family’

    – Never put up 100% best quality images. Can you trust friends and family? Maybe friends… Maybe family (if close to a divorce, reconsider rights).

    Once you put up something that anyone can technically take at the click of a button, you’re relying on the kindness of strangers. Think about that once you post anything.

    For writers this is even ‘worse’. Their words get ‘stolen’ all the time by search engine scraping to create spam blogs.

    I don’t know if a certain level of protection can be achieved by developing a unique style to make one immediately recognizable.

    My personal recommendation is: have your watermarked content in lower res out there for anyone to take, regard that as promotional cost. And be the only source to license the full res images.

    Licensing bodies? Back when I worked at ad agencies it was common practice to get about 200 slides per month and just scan them into the agency’s library to just have them ready when needed. Sometimes the image use was registered with the provider, sometimes not.

  125. If you put out something that’s good, people will want to share it. And other people will want to make profit off of that as was the case with Myxer and will be the case with others. Legalities aside… Think of the thousands of russian operated mp3 audio and video ‘stores’ that don’t pay the artists whose work is being stolen and sold.

    Recording artists that understand the web learned to deal with that and accept it as promotional cost.

    Photographers can do the same.
    – Add watermarks that contain your url and logo. Digimarc never worked, forget it, it’s done, dead never protected anyone.

    – On Flickr only allow higher resolution to ‘friends’ or ‘friends and family’

    – Never put up 100% best quality images. Can you trust friends and family? Maybe friends… Maybe family (if close to a divorce, reconsider rights).

    Once you put up something that anyone can technically take at the click of a button, you’re relying on the kindness of strangers. Think about that once you post anything.

    For writers this is even ‘worse’. Their words get ‘stolen’ all the time by search engine scraping to create spam blogs.

    I don’t know if a certain level of protection can be achieved by developing a unique style to make one immediately recognizable.

    My personal recommendation is: have your watermarked content in lower res out there for anyone to take, regard that as promotional cost. And be the only source to license the full res images.

    Licensing bodies? Back when I worked at ad agencies it was common practice to get about 200 slides per month and just scan them into the agency’s library to just have them ready when needed. Sometimes the image use was registered with the provider, sometimes not.

  126. A thought I’d like to add: It seems as photographers are one of the least affected by this with Music and Writing being about equal on ranks 1 and 2, photography would be in rank 3 with a distinct distance to both.

  127. A thought I’d like to add: It seems as photographers are one of the least affected by this with Music and Writing being about equal on ranks 1 and 2, photography would be in rank 3 with a distinct distance to both.

  128. Just a quick apology, I didn’t mean to imply anyone’s opinion was silly, or otherwise cause offence. Perhaps I also didn’t make it clear that I wholeheartedly agree that you deserve protection and compensation for your work.

  129. Just a quick apology, I didn’t mean to imply anyone’s opinion was silly, or otherwise cause offence. Perhaps I also didn’t make it clear that I wholeheartedly agree that you deserve protection and compensation for your work.

  130. Scott, you’re making some pretty big assumptions about me. First of all, I’m not that good to win a contest. Second, I publish all my media as CC so you don’t have to ask me to use them, and I wouldn’t be able to sue anyone as long as they respect the CC terms (basically crediting me). Third, I’m not against copyright at all. I just wish it were clearer and more confined (I don’t agree with the ever expanding copyright term for example, the Mickey Mouse strategy). I’m perfectly fine with photographers making money on their work by having exclusive control over a limited period of time.

    I’m arguing that in the ‘net it’s nearly impossible to have exclusivity and that you can actually infringe without even knowing it. And you threatening to sue everyone without even understanding circumstances is just going too far. Like I said, most people will infringe without even knowing it. And to claim damages based on what something would have cost had they purchased the right is ludicrous as people most likely wouldn’t license them if they knew the cost. Now when it’s a commercial entity that’s maliciously making use of your work without compensating you, I agree that you should sue them to recover your compensation and more.

    P.S. Since you asked, I get paid based on a service, all my creative work goes to my company, so I can’t really claim anything there. Sort of like if you did a wedding and got paid for it, but the photographs became property of the paying party (which I don’t think is such a bad idea as I wouldn’t want my wedding pictures to end up on some stock site).

  131. Scott, you’re making some pretty big assumptions about me. First of all, I’m not that good to win a contest. Second, I publish all my media as CC so you don’t have to ask me to use them, and I wouldn’t be able to sue anyone as long as they respect the CC terms (basically crediting me). Third, I’m not against copyright at all. I just wish it were clearer and more confined (I don’t agree with the ever expanding copyright term for example, the Mickey Mouse strategy). I’m perfectly fine with photographers making money on their work by having exclusive control over a limited period of time.

    I’m arguing that in the ‘net it’s nearly impossible to have exclusivity and that you can actually infringe without even knowing it. And you threatening to sue everyone without even understanding circumstances is just going too far. Like I said, most people will infringe without even knowing it. And to claim damages based on what something would have cost had they purchased the right is ludicrous as people most likely wouldn’t license them if they knew the cost. Now when it’s a commercial entity that’s maliciously making use of your work without compensating you, I agree that you should sue them to recover your compensation and more.

    P.S. Since you asked, I get paid based on a service, all my creative work goes to my company, so I can’t really claim anything there. Sort of like if you did a wedding and got paid for it, but the photographs became property of the paying party (which I don’t think is such a bad idea as I wouldn’t want my wedding pictures to end up on some stock site).

  132. I think people are being a bit quick to blame Flickr here. Firstly, you have the option to disable API access to your images. Secondly, as mentioned by Rob, the API just makes an easy job a little easier.

    Scraping websites for content programmatically is not at all difficult. Used PicLens? Given the amount of sites they support, I expect they’re doing at least some of that (not all the sites have an API that I’m aware of).

    The API isn’t evil – its misuse is. I do support the copyright holder’s right to their IP, but there is an inherent risk in publishing anything digitally because of the easy of exact replication.

    I’m not really a Flickr fan, but they’re not the bad guys here. They’re providing a way for third parties to enhance the experience of their users, and someone has chosen to misuse it. Shutting down the API would do much more harm that good IMO.

    Ben

  133. I think people are being a bit quick to blame Flickr here. Firstly, you have the option to disable API access to your images. Secondly, as mentioned by Rob, the API just makes an easy job a little easier.

    Scraping websites for content programmatically is not at all difficult. Used PicLens? Given the amount of sites they support, I expect they’re doing at least some of that (not all the sites have an API that I’m aware of).

    The API isn’t evil – its misuse is. I do support the copyright holder’s right to their IP, but there is an inherent risk in publishing anything digitally because of the easy of exact replication.

    I’m not really a Flickr fan, but they’re not the bad guys here. They’re providing a way for third parties to enhance the experience of their users, and someone has chosen to misuse it. Shutting down the API would do much more harm that good IMO.

    Ben

  134. I (like many others) did not pay close enough to all the setting Flickr does already have in place, many of which will, while not exonerate Flickr for their lack of response, does certainly support their argument (if they ever put one forth), that the tools are (somewhat) there to protect your photos from these types of nefarious API abusers.

    1. Don’t have “Who can download your photos” to Everyone (though this is the “recommended” setting from Flickr).

    2. “Hide your Stuff From Public Searches” Buried under this is also, “Hide your photostream from searches on 3rd party sites that use the API?” Obviously, if you want to protect your photos from things like that FlickrRSS for AppleTV that is still using the feed nefariously.

    Like I said, it is not complete, but it certainly is a start for those who are still using Flickr.

  135. I (like many others) did not pay close enough to all the setting Flickr does already have in place, many of which will, while not exonerate Flickr for their lack of response, does certainly support their argument (if they ever put one forth), that the tools are (somewhat) there to protect your photos from these types of nefarious API abusers.

    1. Don’t have “Who can download your photos” to Everyone (though this is the “recommended” setting from Flickr).

    2. “Hide your Stuff From Public Searches” Buried under this is also, “Hide your photostream from searches on 3rd party sites that use the API?” Obviously, if you want to protect your photos from things like that FlickrRSS for AppleTV that is still using the feed nefariously.

    Like I said, it is not complete, but it certainly is a start for those who are still using Flickr.

  136. Stop giving Scott a hard time – he’s here to educate his best – he doesn’t have to post stuff like this, he certainly doesn’t have to engage any of us in direct dialogue. Scott makes it very clear to take what he says as you will, and that he’s not a lawyer and can not offer legal advice.

    I don’t get pissed-off every time Scott Slams Steve for being Canadian (I laugh my ass off as any good Candian would), and I take this copyright commentary lightly, since Candian law is distinctly different on this matter (different yet based on the same principles).

    This discussion has gotten less civil than Scott’s switch to Nikon! Nobody knows my photos from my face, and I do want to share them and get them “out there”, but not at the compromise of mine, and more importantly, EVERYONE ELSES’ rights of ownership.

    As a Cannuck I’m likely more into sharing than others, but I’m not arrogant enough to propose that I have a better, or more informed, opinion on how someone else wants, needs, or would like their content to be provided to others – if at all. I’m all about teaching lessons, and if people will only learn their lesson when persued through litigation so be it – Scott gives one warning and one warning only – more than fair in my books – and Canadians are prided on being fair. And living in Igloo’s… and not pronouncing the letter U – if you know what I’m talking aboot.

  137. Stop giving Scott a hard time – he’s here to educate his best – he doesn’t have to post stuff like this, he certainly doesn’t have to engage any of us in direct dialogue. Scott makes it very clear to take what he says as you will, and that he’s not a lawyer and can not offer legal advice.

    I don’t get pissed-off every time Scott Slams Steve for being Canadian (I laugh my ass off as any good Candian would), and I take this copyright commentary lightly, since Candian law is distinctly different on this matter (different yet based on the same principles).

    This discussion has gotten less civil than Scott’s switch to Nikon! Nobody knows my photos from my face, and I do want to share them and get them “out there”, but not at the compromise of mine, and more importantly, EVERYONE ELSES’ rights of ownership.

    As a Cannuck I’m likely more into sharing than others, but I’m not arrogant enough to propose that I have a better, or more informed, opinion on how someone else wants, needs, or would like their content to be provided to others – if at all. I’m all about teaching lessons, and if people will only learn their lesson when persued through litigation so be it – Scott gives one warning and one warning only – more than fair in my books – and Canadians are prided on being fair. And living in Igloo’s… and not pronouncing the letter U – if you know what I’m talking aboot.

  138. @Jvl I LOVE Canadians! Heck I’d even move there if they’d let me:)

  139. @Jvl I LOVE Canadians! Heck I’d even move there if they’d let me:)

  140. @ Scott Anytime you’re in Ottawa you have a place to stay if you want! Though the only birds I see around here are guls and rock-doves…

  141. Scott

    Thank you for all your efforts to make those of us out here who don’t deal with copyrights everyday understand the situation. My day job is that of a family physician who sells his knowledge and time. People are always trying to get it for “free” so I understand. It is concerning to me that this could interfere with the TWIP postings and all of the information I learn from you and the others who participate. This is a very enlightened way for all of us to learn more about photography and everyone’s eye for it.

    Keep up the good work!

  142. Scott

    Thank you for all your efforts to make those of us out here who don’t deal with copyrights everyday understand the situation. My day job is that of a family physician who sells his knowledge and time. People are always trying to get it for “free” so I understand. It is concerning to me that this could interfere with the TWIP postings and all of the information I learn from you and the others who participate. This is a very enlightened way for all of us to learn more about photography and everyone’s eye for it.

    Keep up the good work!

  143. @SP Ignorance of the law is no defense for breaking that law. Just because Napster taught a generation that its alright to steal (i.e. infringe copyright) doesn’t mean that they get a free pass.

    @JVL Most Canadians that I’ve met and known have been stand-up folks. I’m glad to call y’all neighbors!

  144. @SP Ignorance of the law is no defense for breaking that law. Just because Napster taught a generation that its alright to steal (i.e. infringe copyright) doesn’t mean that they get a free pass.

    @JVL Most Canadians that I’ve met and known have been stand-up folks. I’m glad to call y’all neighbors!

  145. @JVL this is not a problem that can be addressed by country borders. If we try that, every country needs to have their little internet and we need to cut the links between the nations. That’s something that our legislators fail to understand. Holds true for every country under the sun sadly.

  146. @JVL this is not a problem that can be addressed by country borders. If we try that, every country needs to have their little internet and we need to cut the links between the nations. That’s something that our legislators fail to understand. Holds true for every country under the sun sadly.

  147. Bryant, that sounds great, except that I bet you even you would go broke or end up going to jail within a week of just Internet browsing if someone followed you and took note of the various IP “infringements” you made. And by the way, violating Copyright law is not the same as stealing, it’s a different law. And you could be guilty of slander if you call someone who has violated copyright law a thief. IANAL however.

  148. Bryant, that sounds great, except that I bet you even you would go broke or end up going to jail within a week of just Internet browsing if someone followed you and took note of the various IP “infringements” you made. And by the way, violating Copyright law is not the same as stealing, it’s a different law. And you could be guilty of slander if you call someone who has violated copyright law a thief. IANAL however.

  149. @SP I have been trying to ignore you but when you spew absolute garbage I can’t resist. You’re just throwing a red herring out there. Nobody is saying that browsing is violating Copyright. And the fact that you’re using such hyperbole shows how weak your argument is.

    And yes – violating Copyright IS stealing and if you violate my Copyright I WILL call you a thief. Everyone who violates the US Copyright Act in the manner we’ve discussed here is a flat out thief. I said that – Scott Bourne – 2331 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94107. Now serve me.

    You’re done here. You’ve injected false information into this discussion and that’s a violation of our comment policy.

  150. @SP I have been trying to ignore you but when you spew absolute garbage I can’t resist. You’re just throwing a red herring out there. Nobody is saying that browsing is violating Copyright. And the fact that you’re using such hyperbole shows how weak your argument is.

    And yes – violating Copyright IS stealing and if you violate my Copyright I WILL call you a thief. Everyone who violates the US Copyright Act in the manner we’ve discussed here is a flat out thief. I said that – Scott Bourne – 2331 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94107. Now serve me.

    You’re done here. You’ve injected false information into this discussion and that’s a violation of our comment policy.

  151. To quote Lawrence Lessig, who *is* a lawyer:

    But in ordinary language, to call a copyright a “property” right is a bit misleading, for the property of copyright is an odd kind of property. Indeed, the very idea of property in any idea or any expression is very odd. I understand what I am taking when I take the picnic table you put in your backyard. I am taking a thing, the picnic table, and after I take it, you don’t have it. But what am I taking when I take the good idea you had to put a picnic table in the backyard—by, for example, going to Sears, buying a table, and putting it in my backyard? What is the thing I am taking then?

    Free Culture (pdf edition), Penguin Press 2004

    @Scott:
    I don’t like the way you are treating @SP. If she or he was being hyperbolic, it is no more than parroting back the talking points of the RIAA, MPAA, and those other related organizations who would prefer that their customers pay a license fee for each and every “use” of copyrighted material. As for believing that copyright violation is not theft, I agree that it is legally incorrect. Though as Professor Lessig (and many other legal minds) points out, “intellectual” property is nothing like “real” property in the daily experiences of most people.

    I also think that your car theft analogy is no analogy at all, unless you modify it to say the “thief” who “steals” the car has taken it apart, made an exact replica, put the original back as it was, and then drove off with the copy. Is the car owner hurt or inconvenienced? Practically speaking, only if the car was incorrectly restored or if it was unusable at any time during the duplication process. Legally, I’m not sure if anything more severe than trespassing has taken place, but I’m not a lawyer.[1]

    What does this have to do with copyright violations against photographers? Most studio and wedding photographers I know have a portfolio of their work to show clients. Let’s say this portfolio is a photo album that a client could take home at her leisure. What’s to prevent this client from scanning those photos in and sharing them with friends or even selling them as their own work? Fear of prosecution, probably, and public shame that comes with it. It’s certainly not the “All Rights Reserved” tag at the bottom of each page. And if the rights holder himself can’t effectively prevent illegal copying, how can a site like Flickr–which is first and foremost a photo *sharing* site–do so with either:

    A) Prevent access to the images entirely, or
    B) Send a lawyer with every batch of images being viewed

    Not so practical.

    Again, I would like to state that Flickr has some responsibility to check sites that use their API, especially since they issue API keys.[2] And Myk Willis did not state in his comment how they intend to use the Flickr API in the future while honoring the “all rights reserved” flag. Both Flickr and Myxer still need to be forthcoming about how they intend to help all users of their services to clearly identify the rights status of photos being shared and honor those rights.

    Also, I’m not hating on Scott for going to the Dark Side. (I mean, the D3’s are famous for their high-ISO images, right?)

    [1] Now, GM or Ford or Toyota might get very unhappy about anyone or anything that can make a perfect copy of a car in seconds, for almost no cost. But they wouldn’t be able to claim that the “thief” illegally removed a car from anyone’s possession. They *would* be able to claim copyright and patent violations. (And whoever issues VINs can probably bring charges for unlawful issuance/duplication of a VIN.)

    [2] I suppose that programmatically, Flickr can choose to return only publicly viewable photos to those third parties that’s passed certain tests of their trustworthiness, but that’s using someone’s past performance to predict their future behavior, which is not a reliable indicator by any means.

    The practice can also entrench incumbent businesses against newcomers, and leave out a lot of data points for those applications that may not primarily care about the images themselves, but are instead looking at tags, location, camera data, etc.

  152. To quote Lawrence Lessig, who *is* a lawyer:

    But in ordinary language, to call a copyright a “property” right is a bit misleading, for the property of copyright is an odd kind of property. Indeed, the very idea of property in any idea or any expression is very odd. I understand what I am taking when I take the picnic table you put in your backyard. I am taking a thing, the picnic table, and after I take it, you don’t have it. But what am I taking when I take the good idea you had to put a picnic table in the backyard—by, for example, going to Sears, buying a table, and putting it in my backyard? What is the thing I am taking then?

    Free Culture (pdf edition), Penguin Press 2004

    @Scott:
    I don’t like the way you are treating @SP. If she or he was being hyperbolic, it is no more than parroting back the talking points of the RIAA, MPAA, and those other related organizations who would prefer that their customers pay a license fee for each and every “use” of copyrighted material. As for believing that copyright violation is not theft, I agree that it is legally incorrect. Though as Professor Lessig (and many other legal minds) points out, “intellectual” property is nothing like “real” property in the daily experiences of most people.

    I also think that your car theft analogy is no analogy at all, unless you modify it to say the “thief” who “steals” the car has taken it apart, made an exact replica, put the original back as it was, and then drove off with the copy. Is the car owner hurt or inconvenienced? Practically speaking, only if the car was incorrectly restored or if it was unusable at any time during the duplication process. Legally, I’m not sure if anything more severe than trespassing has taken place, but I’m not a lawyer.[1]

    What does this have to do with copyright violations against photographers? Most studio and wedding photographers I know have a portfolio of their work to show clients. Let’s say this portfolio is a photo album that a client could take home at her leisure. What’s to prevent this client from scanning those photos in and sharing them with friends or even selling them as their own work? Fear of prosecution, probably, and public shame that comes with it. It’s certainly not the “All Rights Reserved” tag at the bottom of each page. And if the rights holder himself can’t effectively prevent illegal copying, how can a site like Flickr–which is first and foremost a photo *sharing* site–do so with either:

    A) Prevent access to the images entirely, or
    B) Send a lawyer with every batch of images being viewed

    Not so practical.

    Again, I would like to state that Flickr has some responsibility to check sites that use their API, especially since they issue API keys.[2] And Myk Willis did not state in his comment how they intend to use the Flickr API in the future while honoring the “all rights reserved” flag. Both Flickr and Myxer still need to be forthcoming about how they intend to help all users of their services to clearly identify the rights status of photos being shared and honor those rights.

    Also, I’m not hating on Scott for going to the Dark Side. (I mean, the D3’s are famous for their high-ISO images, right?)

    [1] Now, GM or Ford or Toyota might get very unhappy about anyone or anything that can make a perfect copy of a car in seconds, for almost no cost. But they wouldn’t be able to claim that the “thief” illegally removed a car from anyone’s possession. They *would* be able to claim copyright and patent violations. (And whoever issues VINs can probably bring charges for unlawful issuance/duplication of a VIN.)

    [2] I suppose that programmatically, Flickr can choose to return only publicly viewable photos to those third parties that’s passed certain tests of their trustworthiness, but that’s using someone’s past performance to predict their future behavior, which is not a reliable indicator by any means.

    The practice can also entrench incumbent businesses against newcomers, and leave out a lot of data points for those applications that may not primarily care about the images themselves, but are instead looking at tags, location, camera data, etc.

  153. [...] As a followup to last week’s links about Flickr and copyright, Plagiarism Today has a post on Why Flickr Licensing Fails. Scott Bourne at TWIP wrote about Flickr, Myxer, Copyright Infringement and Lack of Respect [...]

  154. [...] As a followup to last week’s links about Flickr and copyright, Plagiarism Today has a post on Why Flickr Licensing Fails. Scott Bourne at TWIP wrote about Flickr, Myxer, Copyright Infringement and Lack of Respect [...]

  155. [...] For the best overall reference for background and other links concerning this, see Scott Bourne’s article at TWIP. [...]

  156. [...] For the best overall reference for background and other links concerning this, see Scott Bourne’s article at TWIP. [...]

  157. Well, it seems that a lot of folks see the Internet as the wild and lawless West of the early 1800s and want to keep it that way. If they succeed, the Internet will become less and less useful for all of us. Just like it took law and order to allow the Old West to grow and prosper, we need respect for other peoples rights on the Internet to allow it to grow and prosper.

    Just giving up and saying that Scott, or anyone else, cannot use the Internet to make his work easy to access and purchase, unless they agree that anyone who doesn’t want to purchase it can use it freely, isn’t an answer. I enjoy viewing good photography in high res on the web. If the owners of these photos decide to only post low res copies, we all lose. Some photos (most I believe) just don’t do well in low res. There will be a definite lowering in the quality of what is available for viewing. Many posters will not want to show their best work in a low quality format but will fear losing control of their property if they post in high res.

    We need to be able to use the Internet to make our lives easier and better. This includes easy access to products of all kinds, including photographs. If we carry this “free use” to extremes, no one will want to offer anything for sale on the web. Using some of the logic posted here, I could sell something on Ebay and after receiving payment, refuse to ship it saying that the person buying it should have know better than to purchase something on the web. We could say that no one should believe anything they read on the web because it is posted on the web and anyone has a right to post whatever they want. Then want is left. A very expensive toy for sharing second rate crap with “friends”. What a waste that would be.

    The public Internet has great potential. Probably more than most of us can imagine. However, without some sense of respect for individual rights, common courtesy, morality and yes control, much of this potential will be lost.

    My point is that when we disrespect Scott’s rights he may be hurt, but in the long run we all suffer. I for one an selfish enough not to want that to happen.

  158. Well, it seems that a lot of folks see the Internet as the wild and lawless West of the early 1800s and want to keep it that way. If they succeed, the Internet will become less and less useful for all of us. Just like it took law and order to allow the Old West to grow and prosper, we need respect for other peoples rights on the Internet to allow it to grow and prosper.

    Just giving up and saying that Scott, or anyone else, cannot use the Internet to make his work easy to access and purchase, unless they agree that anyone who doesn’t want to purchase it can use it freely, isn’t an answer. I enjoy viewing good photography in high res on the web. If the owners of these photos decide to only post low res copies, we all lose. Some photos (most I believe) just don’t do well in low res. There will be a definite lowering in the quality of what is available for viewing. Many posters will not want to show their best work in a low quality format but will fear losing control of their property if they post in high res.

    We need to be able to use the Internet to make our lives easier and better. This includes easy access to products of all kinds, including photographs. If we carry this “free use” to extremes, no one will want to offer anything for sale on the web. Using some of the logic posted here, I could sell something on Ebay and after receiving payment, refuse to ship it saying that the person buying it should have know better than to purchase something on the web. We could say that no one should believe anything they read on the web because it is posted on the web and anyone has a right to post whatever they want. Then want is left. A very expensive toy for sharing second rate crap with “friends”. What a waste that would be.

    The public Internet has great potential. Probably more than most of us can imagine. However, without some sense of respect for individual rights, common courtesy, morality and yes control, much of this potential will be lost.

    My point is that when we disrespect Scott’s rights he may be hurt, but in the long run we all suffer. I for one an selfish enough not to want that to happen.

  159. Well I don’t know if I should bother to post this. There are a lot of responses to this article, as there should be with such an outrage.
    I was originally very reluctant to post any of my images on Flickr. As an artist every picture, good or bad, is an extension of myself. The good raise my confidence and the bad drive my learning and growth.
    I cannot know if my photos were taken, nor can I take that chance. It is unfortunate but I have pulled all my photos from Flickr. I thoroughly enjoyed participating in the TWIP contests, but I can no longer do this.
    With my initial reluctance I now feel violated, and cannot trust that any form of Internet community will ever be safe for my photos. My work means too much for me, even if it is just a hobby. Everyones art should be that important to them.

  160. Well I don’t know if I should bother to post this. There are a lot of responses to this article, as there should be with such an outrage.
    I was originally very reluctant to post any of my images on Flickr. As an artist every picture, good or bad, is an extension of myself. The good raise my confidence and the bad drive my learning and growth.
    I cannot know if my photos were taken, nor can I take that chance. It is unfortunate but I have pulled all my photos from Flickr. I thoroughly enjoyed participating in the TWIP contests, but I can no longer do this.
    With my initial reluctance I now feel violated, and cannot trust that any form of Internet community will ever be safe for my photos. My work means too much for me, even if it is just a hobby. Everyones art should be that important to them.

  161. Thanks for this information, I did not know that this was going on. I enjoy posting my pictures and getting criticism to be a better photographer, but i do not want my pictures to be used without being asked first.

    -Ben

  162. Thanks for this information, I did not know that this was going on. I enjoy posting my pictures and getting criticism to be a better photographer, but i do not want my pictures to be used without being asked first.

    -Ben

  163. It all seems so simple to me, don’t post to photo sharing sites. Then you won’t have to worry about your images being lifted. While you are at it return to film, don’t scan and only sell through a gallery – it might involve some legwork. Chances are you’ll never get enquires from people outside your hometown till you are famous or dead. flickr, redbubble, picasaweb etc are not the be all and end all of photography if your work is good enough try istock, alamy, getty etc

  164. It all seems so simple to me, don’t post to photo sharing sites. Then you won’t have to worry about your images being lifted. While you are at it return to film, don’t scan and only sell through a gallery – it might involve some legwork. Chances are you’ll never get enquires from people outside your hometown till you are famous or dead. flickr, redbubble, picasaweb etc are not the be all and end all of photography if your work is good enough try istock, alamy, getty etc

  165. @MArk I am sorry but that is just silly. Again – just because you put an image online – doesn’t mean someone else has the right to steal it. People are either born with an understanding of right or wrong or their not. If people are of low character and steal an image – they should be prosecuted. And the companies that enable this should be avoided. I agree that there are other choices besides Flickr and I have decided to avail myself of those images.

    But I can tell you’re a lot younger than me by your last sentence. LONG before there was an Internet or even a Flickr I sold images all over the world. It’s funny to see how younger people think the world works.

    I got a good chuckle out of that sentence I have to admit. Given that my images appeared in newspapers and magazines around the world in the 70s and 80s I think you might want to rethink your position :)

  166. @MArk I am sorry but that is just silly. Again – just because you put an image online – doesn’t mean someone else has the right to steal it. People are either born with an understanding of right or wrong or their not. If people are of low character and steal an image – they should be prosecuted. And the companies that enable this should be avoided. I agree that there are other choices besides Flickr and I have decided to avail myself of those images.

    But I can tell you’re a lot younger than me by your last sentence. LONG before there was an Internet or even a Flickr I sold images all over the world. It’s funny to see how younger people think the world works.

    I got a good chuckle out of that sentence I have to admit. Given that my images appeared in newspapers and magazines around the world in the 70s and 80s I think you might want to rethink your position :)

  167. [...] your high res files to Flickr because of some of the open API issues that have been exposed lately. This Week in Photography has a good post from earlier this month that includes several links to other articles explaining in more detail, [...]

  168. [...] your high res files to Flickr because of some of the open API issues that have been exposed lately. This Week in Photography has a good post from earlier this month that includes several links to other articles explaining in more detail, [...]

  169. [...] was offered up for sale from July 3rd – 5th is simply amazing to me.  It wasn’t until I spotted it on the This Week in Photography Blog that I really took [...]

  170. [...] was offered up for sale from July 3rd – 5th is simply amazing to me.  It wasn’t until I spotted it on the This Week in Photography Blog that I really took [...]

  171. [...] don’t want that other people (or companies) to (financially) benfit from your hard work (1, 2, 3), you may want to ‘tag’ your photo’s. Just to make sure who created the [...]

  172. [...] don’t want that other people (or companies) to (financially) benfit from your hard work (1, 2, 3), you may want to ‘tag’ your photo’s. Just to make sure who created the [...]

  173. I now this post is ‘old’ but I find interesting that Scott was right about being proactive about this thing (for example, not uploading full resolution images to sharing sites), following the comments from the Heineken post, there is a site with some other related issues, this time about a Microsoft competition in UK.

    Microsoft:”All images that feature on http://www.iconicbritain.co.uk are images from the internet that are already in the public domain.”

    But they based that competition in Live Search, Nikon was a sponsor, heard photographers pissed about it and then: “Nikon would like to confirm that it has withdrawn its support from Microsoft’s Iconic Britain competition. This is due to the feedback and concerns raised by photographers and entrants surrounding the competition mechanic that was developed and promoted by Microsoft.”

    Interesting times indeed.

    (http://www.pro-imaging.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=401&Itemid=195)

  174. I now this post is ‘old’ but I find interesting that Scott was right about being proactive about this thing (for example, not uploading full resolution images to sharing sites), following the comments from the Heineken post, there is a site with some other related issues, this time about a Microsoft competition in UK.

    Microsoft:”All images that feature on http://www.iconicbritain.co.uk are images from the internet that are already in the public domain.”

    But they based that competition in Live Search, Nikon was a sponsor, heard photographers pissed about it and then: “Nikon would like to confirm that it has withdrawn its support from Microsoft’s Iconic Britain competition. This is due to the feedback and concerns raised by photographers and entrants surrounding the competition mechanic that was developed and promoted by Microsoft.”

    Interesting times indeed.

    (http://www.pro-imaging.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=401&Itemid=195)

  175. [...] Some of you think this is no big deal, and I understand. I still plan on selling my images at some point in my life, and with my images out there running around, I was a bit nervous after reading this article. [...]

  176. [...] Some of you think this is no big deal, and I understand. I still plan on selling my images at some point in my life, and with my images out there running around, I was a bit nervous after reading this article. [...]

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About scottbourne

Founder of Photofocus.com. Retired traveling and unhooking from the Internet.

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