Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Fox Appropriates Family Dog, Cultural and Economic Debate Ensues

A family in Baltimore spotted a familiar face during a Fox football broadcast last month. It was their family dog, Truman, in a photo they had posted to Flickr that was apparently harvested by the television network and used to "holiday-up" their broadcast of a game between the Saints and the Eagles.

This prompted a blog post by dog-owner Tracey Gaughran-Perez and, many comments later, a call from the Washington Post which led to 1) some (moderately) contrite reaction from Fox, and, 2) a story in the paper (Hey, Isn't That . . .).

The Post story takes a larger look at the growing issue of copyright infringement in a culture that is on-line and connected and very, very open. People are starting to point to a basic hypocrisy in large corporations on the one hand zealously enforcing copyright against individuals while on the other hand violating individual copyrights with seeming impunity.

The story also makes an interesting point about how the culture of on-line, personal and real is leading advertisers and corporations away from the traditionally false and contrived material they have long used in advertising and corporate communications.
It's a byproduct of the user-generated world: the trustworthiness of YouTube, the realness of Facebook. Above all else, we believe ourselves. "People don't want to buy the fake from the phony anymore," Pine says. "They want to buy the real from the genuine."
This story caught my eye in part because I am an active flickr-er. I place a Creative Commons "Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative" copyright on my photos, which, in theory, protects them from unauthorized commercial use. I do the same, by the way, with content on this blog.

I have found unauthorized use of content from Mike's Musings in the past. I found a post from this blog pasted into an ad-spam blog. These are blogs that scrape content from bloggers to give their ad-sites something for google and other search sites to find. In that case, when I e-mailed the site's owners they apologized and took my content off their site.

I have not yet found any of my photos taken without permission. That doesn't mean it hasn't happened, though. There have been several cases where I have been asked for permission to use photos. I have given the travel guides site Schmap permission to use shots I have taken in the Florida Keys and at the Statue of Liberty. I have granted permission to the Cape Gazette to use a few shots in backgrounds on their site as well. And I have given permission for their use in a few publications; there was an economic development brochure for a small city in New York, and a set of state-themed poems published as postcards.

I have not yet tried to make any money of my work; I'm usually happy to help out local institutions or non-profit groups. That doesn't mean I wouldn't be interested in making some small amount of cash, however, if Fox or CNN or MSNBC or someone wanted to use a photo of mine in their election coverage.

1 comment:

hobo joe said...

There's a reason you don't try to make any money from your "work." It stinks

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