On Image Use and Death of the Mouse Plus 70

I was involved in an email discussion this morning and once again I realized that I’ve transferred my creative energies from writing new and interesting blog articles over to email discussions and forum posts.  So I’m sharing this with you and will hit post instead of send.  (Oh and btw make sure to save as a draft in Windows Live Writer before pasting from an HTML email.  Some formatting causes WLW to go into an infinite loop.  As a result you have to rewrite your brilliant and concisely worded opening paragraphs again.  And they are just never as good the second or third time through and your daughter will get upset because you told her you would do her swimming lesson at 11am and that is already well passed.)

At b5media, Inc. we no longer allow the use of copyrighted images unless the blogger has obtained permission from the copyright owner or a representative thereof.  The use of copyright images is not something that most Bloggers bother to think about.  If you see a neat wilderness photo you want to share, you post it.  If you see a picture of an actor doing something… unusual, you might just toss it up on your blog.  If you write an article about Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, of course you’ll want a head shot above their name.  If an image is used on another website, it is considered polite to copy the image locally to your account so that you are not stealing bandwidth.  Most people certainly want to respect the rights of a photographer and want photographers to be paid, but those thoughts usually don’t enter our mindset.

Well for a blogging network of well over 300 blogs, image concerns are amplified.  Respecting creative rights and intellectual property is extremely important to us.  Heck, we make our living from IP too.  OK and yes, admittedly the $20K fine for each image in violation of the law could add up to a sum that would leave anyone weak at the knees.  So, liability is of course a concern.  If b5 takes a hit, that could affect the livelihood of hundreds of Bloggers.   So this is matter we take very seriously.  We have to. 

There’s been some discussion by our Bloggers and Channel Editors this morning on the subject of image use and here is my contribution:

COMMON SENSE DISCAIMER: Everything in this email/post is only the personal opinion of a geek and is not said in my capacity as a b5media employee. It may or may not be the opinion of the powers that be in b5media, inc. Therefore, nothing in this email has any relation to b5media, Inc. policies. Anything that you believe says or implies otherwise should be ignored. 

“creator’s date of death plus 70 years”

BTW you can thank Disney for that stupid law. It irks me because it means that rare recordings of things like the Danny Kaye performances I like cannot legally be shared and so they become rarer and rarer parts of collections and eventually parts of our culture are lost. Why should a 65 year old scratchy recording of someone reading a story about an inchworm be unsharable? It’s all so that we don’t send around copies of a horrible black and white cartoon of a poorly drawn mouse driving a steam boat and so that stores on the beachfront in Miami can’t airbrush said mouse onto a shirt (or wait does that happen already?). The law in Austrailia is a generous 50 years and the US is trying to push the Ozz to move to 70 years as well.  We have made other countries do this already. And 70 is just a “Magic Number” anyway and one should always avoid “Magic Numbers”.  (A principle I was taught early on in my coding carreer.) 

Yes this is a hot-button issue for me J


An interesting article on the 2002 case that extended this law.

WikiPedia’s discussion on the various “free license” differences out there. It will be helpful for those put their own pictures on the various hosting services out there. 

The relevant part is here:

For image creators:

If you are the creator of an image, you can choose any acceptable free license. You can multi-license your image under different licenses, if you prefer. The license must not prevent commercial reuse or derivative works.

clip_image001 GNU Free Documentation LicenseGFDL-self – Written by the Free Software Foundation. People are required to attribute the work to you, and if they make changes or incorporate your work in their work, they are required to share their changes or work under the same license.

clip_image001[1] Creative Commons: Attribution-ShareAlike – cc-by-sa-3.0|Attribution details – This is one of several CC licenses. This version permits free use, including commercial use; requires that you be attributed as the creator; and requires that any derivative creator or redistributor of your work use the same license. The desired attribution text should be included as a parameter in the template.

clip_image001[2] Creative Commons: Attribution – cc-by-3.0|Attribution details – Similar to the above, but does not require that derivative works use the same license.

clip_image001[3] Free Art licenseFAL – A copyleft license for artwork; modification and commercial use are allowed, provided derivative works carry the same license.

clip_image001[4] AttributionAttribution – The copyright holder allows anyone to use it for any purpose, provided that the copyright holder is properly attributed.

clip_image001[5] Copyrighted Free Use – CopyrightedFreeUse-Link|[http://www.yourwebsite.com/ Your website] – Same as above, but attribution is not required. However, as a courtesy, you would appreciate a link back to Your website.

clip_image001[6] Public domainPD-self – The creator permanently relinquishes all rights to the work.


NOTE (TO B5 READERS): b5media does not fall into the same business category as Wikipedia. Should you see “fair use” stuff on various Wikipedia pages, just be aware that various points may directly contradict our policy. I personally wouldn’t try to argue using Wikipedia’s “fair use” policy after violating b5media’s image use policies.  That’s why I didn’t like to their policy. ‘nuff said. 😉

Also the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) http://www.eff.org/ always has interesting reads (like this http://w2.eff.org/bloggers/ ) and advocate changing the laws rather than breaking them. I don’t always agree with what I read there, but it is always interesting.


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