Merry Christmas! FOX has Stolen Your Photo!

Merry Christmas! FOX has Stolen Your Photo!

“Mommy-blogger” Tracey Gaughran-Perez received an early holiday gift from FOX during an NFL game when they stole a photo she had taken of her little pug, Truman, and photoshopped a santa hat on him.

Transformative? Derivative? Potentially harmful to her economic potential?

Law Geek raised legitimate points regarding “fair use” in his Lane Hartwell entry, but he also points out that fair use aside, there is an issue of ethics. I don’t have high hopes for FOX to trailblaze an ethical path, but seriously, when they are getting massive advertising dollars for running their NFL broadcasts, the photo is most certainly being used for commercial purposes, therefore Tracey should be compensated. Chances that she will be? 0% Chances that the image is registered with the US Copyright Office? -4%. (I hope I’m wrong).

The issue of ethics does become increasingly important as we look at the issue of “infringement” because litigation alone won’t create the disincentive for people to stop misappropriating photos. And even if everyone registered their photos with the US Copyright Office, there would be too many infractions to realistically prosecute. So we need an attitude change.

When I was in college, I got an earful about plagiarism and photocopying copyrighted works from the school. The local copyshops wouldn’t allow you to xerox more than a few pages because they got the message that it wasn’t in anyone’s economic interest (except the student) to illegally duplicate copyrighted materials. But for whatever reason, we haven’t adopted the same attitude towards music and photos. Technological solutions can make it easier for consumers to legally procure copyrighted materials (think iTunes), but it’s not a panacea. We have to accept as a society that creative works are entitled to protections, and that we shouldn’t arbitrarily rip them off from others.

I’ve heard the argument that if we don’t compensate artists, that we will end up with a sea of mediocre art because no one will be able to afford being an artist. I don’t buy that argument because art will be created as an extension of self, and people with create amazing art whether they are compensated or not. However, a cultured society’s existence isn’t predicated on legality alone. Ethics and morality do play a part in shaping and preserving a community, and therefore we have to continue to push for an ethical approach to “sharing” art.

Update: David Pogue wrote about The Generational Divide in Copyright Morality. Interesting, but not surprising. But college students generally don’t have a care in the world (relatively speaking). Minds change when they are in the “real world.”

Stepping off the soap box….

A Photo Editor Outs Himself

The highly entertaining aphotoeditor has revealed his identity. If you haven’t had an opportunity to read his blog, check out some of his “tell it like it is” attitude that won over so many fans over the past few months.

Christmas Movie Marathon

I completed my 4th, not so annual, Christmas movie marathon — The 4th in 11 years. The movie list?

1. Alien vs. Predator — Requiem (terrible)
2. I am Legend. Incredible NY-city effects. Do it.
3. Walk Hard. Funny. Very funny. I’m surprised it hasn’t done better at the box office, but I’m sure it’ll kick it on DVD, and a cult favorite.
4. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. This little french gem is about former French Elle editor, Jean-Dominique Bauby who suffered a stroke and ended up with “Locked-In Syndrome” which rendered him a quadriplegic. Nevertheless, he ended up writing a book by “blinking” each letter of every word.
5. Juno. Really phenomenal acting, and funny. Not “Walk Hard” funny, but still very enjoyable.

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Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter.

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