Copyright and fair use


Media must pay for South Carolina police shooting video

scouthcarolinashootingThe New York Times reports that an Australian based “publicity and celebrity management company” representing Feidin Santana, is sending cease-and-desist letters to media outlets demanding they pay for the use of the video Santana captured. That video shows a North Charleston police officer shooting an unarmed man, Walter Scott in the back as Scott ran away from the officer.

The letter from Markson Sparks demands media outlets pay $10,000 to run the video that has gathered millions of page views on multiple YouTube web pages.

The Times’ story quotes Santana’s attorney, Todd Rutherford:

The lawyer, Todd Rutherford, said it was only fair for Mr. Santana to start getting paid for something that news outlets benefited from.

“The search for justice is served by turning the video over to law enforcement,” Mr.

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Newspaper nabs website’s article, claims most of it is ‘public domain’


The Newnan (Georgia) Times-Herald reproduced an article Dan Whisenhunt wrote for the Atlanta-area news site Decaturish, which he also edits. After Whisenhunt complained, the Times-Herald removed his article.

Whisenhunt also noticed the paper had offered his article, which the Times-Herald ran with his byline, for sale in the archive, and sent an invoice for $1,000. “I do not think your staff would publish content from the New York Times or the Washington Post on your website without a prior content sharing agreement,” Whisenhunt wrote.

Times-Herald General Manager John Winters replied, saying “Most authors, including newspapers, seek to have as extensive circulation of their articles as possible so long as appropriate attribution is provided,” and that since it only got 30 pageviews on the Times-Herald’s site, “any damage to viewership on your site, as a result of our posting the article, would be miniscule.” In addition, he contended:

Also, any factual material in the article you posted is not covered by the copyright laws.

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News Genius editor explains annotating Newsweek’s entire Bitcoin article

As a startup devoted to reprinting and annotating lyrics, Rap Genius has an expansive view of fair use baked into its very being. Its News Genius project is no less aggressive when it comes to copyright: It has published an annotation of an entire Newsweek article that claims to identify Bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto.

Reached by phone, News Genius Executive Editor Liz Fosslien said using someone else’s article is somewhat unusual for News Genius, which prefers to annotate what she calls “primary source” documents, like Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech or U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s speech accusing the CIA of intruding on congressional computers. (It has, though, reprinted a New York Times op-ed and part of a Rolling Stone article.)

The Newsweek article “was an interesting case where they wanted to use and expose what they thought was incorrect reporting,” Fosslien said. Read more


Who owns Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscar selfie?

When Ellen DeGeneres granted the Associated Press a license to use the now famous selfie from the Oscars, a debate erupted in the Twitter community. Why did AP need a license for an image that had been retweeted a record-setting 3 million times?

The reason is the legal ownership of a tweeted photo isn’t cut and dried.

Who owns the copyright to this image?

Actually, Bradley Cooper has a strong case to claim he’s the copyright holder. Typically, the photographer owns the copyright to the image. However, DeGeneres could argue that since she uploaded the image to Twitter, she is the copyright owner. It would be interesting to see what would happen in a hypothetical Cooper v. DeGeneres case.

Who owns the copyright to social media content? Read more


In Pennsylvania and Alaska, a publisher takes infringement to another level

Near the end of last year, a small publishing company made a big bet: it purchased a a group of 19 regional papers servicing remote areas of Alaska. The purchase included a printing plant, but the plan at Allen Total Media was to transition to a digital-only company as a way to service remote villages near King Salmon.

“We will be working closely [with] local news providers to consolidate news from as many as 50 communities to facilitate ease of access, and to lower advertiser costs to reach larger numbers of people,” read the Allen Total Media announcement on Facebook. (The page is now unavailable.)

“Consolidate” was an interesting word choice.

The man behind Allen Total Media is A William “Bill” Allen, a would-be media mogul who has attracted scorn and ridicule from publishers in Pennsylvania for helping himself to other people’s reporting and and “consolidating” it under seemingly fake bylines on his websites. Read more


Novel legal theories mingle in BuzzFeed photo suit


Idaho photographer Kai Eiselein is suing BuzzFeed in U.S. District Court, claiming the site should pay not only for infringing his copyright when it ran his image but also for all the sites that subsequently posted it.

“Since BuzzFeed was the original poster of this set of images and provided them for distribution; the defendant is unequivocally responsible both directly and indirectly for all subsequent infringements,” Eiselein’s complaint reads.

That’s an admirably avant-garde legal theory, an area of scholarship in which BuzzFeed is already a thought leader: BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti has argued the site’s lists constitute a transformative use of others’ photos, and thus fall under fair use. Jeff John Roberts writes that it’s unlikely Eiselein’s “contributory infringement” can “succeed on a legal basis — if he does, the case would throw a large chill over the sharing culture that has become a fixture of the social web.” Read more

copyright symbol background

New fair use principles show how copyright can be journalism’s friend

Fair use is an area of copyright law that’s often misunderstood — and feared.

Some publishers think they have limitless rights to use any image they find on Google or social media as they wish. (They don’t.) Another common misconception is the oft-cited yet non-existent “30-second rule” — the idea that you can use up to 30 seconds of audio or video in your work without infringing on an original publisher’s copyright.

Such misconceptions about fair use are all too common — and many journalists fear delving into fair use’s complexities, just wanting to know enough to keep from getting sued.

Today, American University Center of Social Media is releasing a new set of tools that seek to help demystify fair use for journalists — and to help publishers see how this doctrine actually can help online reporting instead of hampering it. Read more


NYT: Scroll Kit developer ‘is bragging’ about copyright infringement

Cody Brown | TechCrunch

Cody Brown received a takedown request from The New York Times’ legal department after he posted a video showing how to replicate the “Snow Fall” experience using his tool Scroll Kit.

After he answered that request, Deborah Beshaw-Farrell of the legal department asked him to remove some crowing language from Scroll Kit’s site:

It took The New York Times hundreds of hours to hand code “Snow Fall.” …we made a replica in an hour.

Read more

Publications can no longer send photographers to Beyoncé shows

Fstoppers | Music Photographers

Beyoncé won’t allow publications to send their own photographers to concerts on her Mrs. Carter tour. Publications wishing to illustrate coverage of the tour will have to download photos from an approved site, Noam Galai reports.

Beyoncé’s publicist Yvette Noel-Schure emailed BuzzFeed after it ran photos of the singer at the Super Bowl halftime show that Noel-Schure called “unflattering.” BuzzFeed turned the email and photos into a piece called “The ‘Unflattering’ Photos Beyoncé’s Publicist Doesn’t Want You To See.”

The no-photographers edict represents an escalation in the struggle between music artists, photographers and the publications that employ the latter. Read more


U.K. court: Meltwater doesn’t violate copyright

The Guardian | Politico

The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom ruled Wednesday that the news aggregator Meltwater does not violate copyright laws by storing a cached page on app users’ mobile devices and laptops. The court sent the case to the European Court of Justice to ensure that subsequent rulings are consistent across European jurisdictions. Read more

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