Last week, I briefly touched on copyright – appropriately so it seems, as this week’s topic is about intellectual property. As a photographer with a historical interest in graphics design, copyright and fair use for my own purposes, the issues of copyright, fair use and intellectual property is somewhat relevant to me.
I personally have had to issue a few take-down notices myself; a few of my images have been taken without the watermark and redistributed on several websites without my permission for use as backgrounds. After the DMCA takedown through google, however, some websites clearly continued to ignore this and still post my work without consent. Unfortunately, there is little I can do – especially because many of the websites were foreign.
I am simply one person though – and I’ve always been terrified to use copyrighted material for fear of upsetting someone the same way I was upset to discover my work being used by others for profit. I am lucky that I am still studying – as I can use the excuse of the “Fair Use” clause in copyright law – claiming that the copyrighted materials I use are taken with the intention of using for purposes of education. I’m not profiting from this intellectual property so that’s okay, right?
The laws of Fair Use can get a bit hazy for those who do not specialise in copyright law – and with the advent of the digital world and globalised information – especially Google – there is a growing concern of individuals and companies taking images that do not belong to them that were published on Facebook or Instagram, or that show up in a Google image search, and used for profit without permission.
In this digital world, larger companies seem to have almost entirely given up on taking down those who appropriate their copyrighted content and instead are focussing on those who distribute it without their permission – namely, people who engage in online piracy. However there are instances of people being caught in the crossfire of these larger companies cracking down on content – for example, licensing company RumbleFish was thrown into rough waters time and time again for claiming copyright on Youtube videos they didn’t have the rights to, due to a series of “errors”. The most ludicrous being the case of a video about foraging being demonetised and ad revenue redirected to the company due to the bird calls in the background being picked up as a false flag as copyrighted material by one of their own musicians. Despite there being no music at all in the video. What.
Feel free to read the comments and description of this one. On the plus side – all the attention boosted the views by a huge amount.