Friday, 18 March 2011

Google, photo copyright and the promotion of confusion

Google has made its submission to the UK's "Independent Review of Intellectual Property and Growth". You can read Google's view on UK copyright law at the link.

Whatever happens to make the situation different, copyright is still for many going to remain a complicated issue. The review covers all sorts of content and of course Google's interests are served by changes which open the way for it to make money out of other people's innovations or creations.

Looking at photography, there is one simple change that would improve clarity for everyone. Google and other search engines should voluntarily, and if not voluntarily, be forced by law to present the truth about copyright in its search results.

Perform any search on Google's image search engine and you'll see the following statement should you click through to a larger version of the image:

"This image may be subject to copyright."

I originally made the point in my blog post The myth of the copyright free photo - "found it on the web" . This statement by Google introduces confusion in a world where the legal reality is:

"This image is almost certainly copyright and you should should contact the copyright owner before making use of the image."

Then Google should provide a link to information on how to find the copyright owner. Yes, there are ways, but I'll not go into that here.

This will make people think twice about using a photo - particularly commercial use which it the use which undermines my livelihood as a photographer. The words "may be subject to copyright" bring into play wishful thinking and the convenience of a "I thought it was copyright free" defence for those who wilfully want to make money for themselves out of other people's creative efforts.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

So "Catfish" was real

About 3 weeks ago I saw the DVD of "Catfish", an excellent moving account of Facebook identity fraud (oops, have I just spoilt it for you?).

Yesterday I had my own Catfish moment. I got an email from nowhere from someone who for some reason had done a "Tineye" search on a profile pic and come up with one of my images - a photo by me of a good friend of mine - being used on the profile of someone called "Leah xxxxxxxxxxxx" who lives in California.

"Fair warning: this person is kinda nuts, may have multiple personalities, and when people call her on her lies she tends to come out with guns blazing (in the past six months, she's accused at least three guys of psycho-stalking her."

Anyway, I filed an official DMCA copyright violation notice with Facebook and within 12 hours had a response that the account had been deactivated.

Now I've no idea whether Leah or one of her "friends" will turn up at my door in the next few days with an axe.....