Monday, February 09, 2009

Blogging & Giving Credit Where It's Due

The old media Associated Press is again pissing off the new media by asking for credit and compensation for use of the iconic Barack Obama HOPE poster by Shepard Fairey, which is based on a photograph of the president taken in 2006 for the news service.

The street artist's image has resulted in the sale of hundreds of thousands of posters and stickers, while copies signed by Fairey have been sold for big bucks on eBay.

Fairey acknowledges that his poster is based on an AP photo taken in April 2006 by Manny Garcia at the National Press Club in Washington, but disagrees that he should provide credit and pay compensation.

Fairey's attorney argues that fair use protects his right to use the image in any way he wants. Fair use is a legal concept that allows exceptions to copyright law based on, among other factors, how much of the original is used, what the new work is used for and how the original is affected by the new work.

Fairey (right), who carefully cultivates his guerrilla image and has a knack for getting in trouble that is quite intentional, has said he found the Obama photograph using Google Images. That is exactly how I found the image atop this post that I have used to illustrate several articles on post traumatic stree disorder.

I was unable to find the provenance of the image, which I stumbled on quite by accident, but it is now credited to Kiko's House on Google Images and I recently received a request from a psychiatrict practice in Southern California for permission to reproduce it.

As Fairey has shown, that someone would bother to ask to use an image, let alone credit it, seems to be the exception and not the rule.

In fact, many bloggers are blithely disinterested in giving credit where it's due, especially when it comes to images, and the lead writer of one of the better political blogs had the temerity to tell me when I asked him why he didn't use photo credits that he sees no reason to credit the shooters because they got credit when their work was originally published.

This is utter flapdoodle, and if I do not run a credit with large images (as opposed to medium and thumbnail-sized images) it is because I have been unable to determine their source after due diligence.

The AP ruffled delicate online sensibilities last year when it attempted to define standards as to how much of its articles and broadcasts bloggers and Web sites could excerpt without infringing on its copyright.

I happen to come by my view honestly.

That is to say that I have a pretty damned good understanding of copyright law and know a thing or three about libel, as well, after a 35-year newspaper career that included quality time spent in the offices of high-paid newspaper lawyers who were trying to extricate my paper and myself from one legal fix or another.

As it is, the blogosphere is a marvelous work in progress that can resemble the Wild West, and issues such as copyright and libel are only beginning to be acknowledged, let alone ironed out.

So the people who take offense at The AP and even proposed boycotting it after last year's copyright imbroglio need to chill. As well as understand that reaching an accommodation with news organizations that appropriately get huffy about the unauthorized use of their content is in their best long-term interests.

As well as if they insist of throwing temper tantrums they'll get squashed like bugs. And deservedly so.

No comments: