I have been noticing for some time a double standard where copyright is concerned. Earlier, it was how those lobbying for the Orphan Works law to be passed to allow them easier access to images and little to no penalty if they get caught taking an image without due diligence to find and pay the copyright holder for the use were the same corporations who depend so much on their own copyright being protected and enforced.
More recently, I have noticed a trend for media and others to simply help themselves to the images on social media without even so much as proper credit given to the creator of the image. During the Colorado floods, I looked at an article on USA Today and found they had build in an app to pull images off of Twitter and FB and use them for their photos. The photographers were not credited or paid and USA Today profited.
One is left to wonder if they would feel the same should someone copy in entirety one of their articles and post it on their own blog or Facebook page and not even credit USA Today as the source. Can you spell L A W S U I T ?
A short while later I saw an article in Photo District News about the lawsuit against Getty Images that resulted when they helped themselves to Daniel Morel’s images on TwitPics of the Haiti Earthquakes…. which they licensed to media for their monetary gain. Getty has made headlines numerous times for filing suit against anyone who uses one of their images without licensing it through them, yet in their defense when they do it, they see it differently.
In their defense, Getty said “they believed they had the right to do so and were acting within industry norms, customs, and practice.” Read the article on PDN here.
Really? If that is true, it then means the industry standard is that when Getty or another large corporation needs an image, it is free for the taking. But when and individual photographer has his image stolen by the same it is “industry norms, customs and practice.”
The truly sad thing here is that it is true. It is completely inverted that the person who produces the work seems to be the only one who is not allowed to profit from it. We need to turn it around. Copyright law was enacted to protect the ability of the creator of the work to profit from it, and to be able to fund the cost of producing more work. Unless we defend that right for ALL creators – not just big media outlets and stock photo agencies – everyone loses. Even those who are currently seeking a one sided advantage – for when copyright no longer applies to the individual creator, it will no longer be held valid for the large corporations.