To wrap up Saturday's "P*ss Me Off" post, I'll refer you to an article Royce Howland wrote about the entanglement. Royce correctly observes that
Many comments [at NO2's site] contribute to a blizzard of incorrect or inconsistent information masquerading as facts. These sorts of comments demonstrate, in part, why it is a challenge to legitimately protect intellectual property rights in the internet age.
Many (most?) people, including industry professionals such as NO2, apparently don’t understand the law. Probably a certain percentage in fact don’t care whether they understand or not, they’re just going to do whatever they want to do.
...And he goes on to discuss the balancing of the DMCA with Fair Use, which is always going to be a tricky subject.
I just have two more small points to highlight. The first is something one of our commenters said, which is that the public is coming to think that anything that's on the web is free. Don't miss a chance to educate! The fact that it's an uphill battle doesn't mean it shouldn't be fought.
The other person's shoes
But what about the issue from the other way around? As a "content provider," I use other peoples' pictures all the time. The first line of defense from this perspective is that I'm reasonably well versed about the law. That's my first responsibility.
But beyond that, I think the best defense is just to do whatever you can to avoid complaints. If nobody complains, then you don't have a problem. Give credit, ask permission, and inform people when you use their picture.
Beyond that, try to put yourself in other person's shoes: consider the rights owner's interests. Figure out why their picture is on the web and see if you can do them a favor to help further their agenda, whatever it might be. Ninety-nine times out of 100, the best way to do this is just to give a link. It doesn't hurt, and then the rights holder is grateful rather than angry.
And, of course, on the rare occasions that someone does complain, you need to respond appropriately. That's not just the law. It's also good form.
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.