I thought I recognized one of the photos in one of the presentations at TEDxEQChCh, and I was right. It turns out that I recognized it because it was my image. Kind of.
That’s my original photo on the left, which I posted on Flickr. The modified image on the right was used in the talk Tragedy Plus Distance (the other TEDxEQChCh talks are up on YouTube now too, and you should watch them). I’ve looked on Google, Flickr and Facebook and can’t find the modified image anywhere (if you see it let me know). Unfortunately free reverse image search engines like TinEye only index a relatively small number of images.
I don’t know if the site the modified image is on is making money or provided attribution to me. I’m not having a dig at the TEDx speaker—few if any speakers attributed the images used in their presentations and any attribution would likely point to the modified image, not my original one.
The stolen scream
Unlike mine, this is an extreme and interesting case of image plagiarism: Noam Galai‘s photo of himself screaming made it into 30+ countries, on book covers, in magazines and on t-shirts.
Watermarking photographs is an option. But an ugly one. The lesser evil of watermarking on the edge of an image rather than in the middle presents the option to someone who is determined of just cropping it off. Is a casual sharer going to go out of their way to crop an image? Unlikely. Let’s assume they would provide attribution either way. Are they going to want to share the image at all? Unlikely. The comments on this post about watermarking are worthwhile reading.
In a survey of professional photo buyers, PhotoShelter found that “an overwhelming majority of them stated that an image with a prominent watermark is less likely to be licensed than an image without any watermark at all.” Co-founder Grover Sanschagrin agrees that watermarks result in people being less likely to pass your images on to others and says that prominent watermarks send a subtle signal to buyers that you’re a difficult person to work with.
The Internet copyright conundrum
I think the interesting thing for me is that the person who modified and posted the image is probably a content creator too. They likely have at least some content they place usage restrictions on.
What does All Rights Reserved mean to an Internet user? Is personal and noncommercial use (like blogging, Tumblring etc.) of a reasonable amount of a person’s content with attribution accepted practice? Some Flickr users don’t want their photographs being shared at all. I disagree—the more people who see my photos the better. A large side goal of that is to promote my other content, which requires attribution.
Should I put my photos under a Creative Commons licence then? I’m hesitant. Among other things: some of my photos have made me money—would buyers be put off if the same photo was available for ‘free’ under a noncommercial licence? Creative Commons is essentially irrevocable and the format of the original content can be changed under any licence—attribution is not linkable offline.
I think I’m happy with the status quo. All Rights Reserved with the knowledge that because of the nature of the Internet the image will be shared noncommercially no matter the licence, but that hopefully a link back will be shared too.
King & Spalding, the law firm hired by House Republican leaders to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) dropped the case. The U.S. Defense of Marriage Act aims to “define and protect the institution of marriage”. It says that no state etc. is required to recognize a relationship that is considered a same-sex marriage in another state.
It’s concerning when lawyers bow to pressure to not take a case on (or to drop one, in this case) because of public opinion. A similar argument could apply to people accused of rape, murder etc.—that lawyers are horrible people for representing them.
The Human Rights Campaign pressured K&S to drop the case. The cost is capped at $500k and a lot of Americans would rather the focus be on other issues—“when read statements for and against defending DOMA in court, 54 percent of voters oppose the House Republicans’ intervention, while only 32 percent support it.…”.
K&S has a high rating on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index, meaning they hire without discrimination. Just because they were going to defend this viewpoint doesn’t mean they supported it.
The pressure should be targeted at the House Republican leaders and not at the people doing their jobs.
Earthquake moon man silenced
Mr Ring said he also feared he would be prosecuted for inciting a riot following his quake prediction.
“I’ve been virtually told by [ACC minister] Dr Nick Smith and Sir Peter Gluckman [the prime minister’s scientific advisor] that I’m not qualified to put statements out about earthquakes. They will have me legally if I do that.
“Until they reverse that, I’m completely bound to silence. I don’t want to go to jail.
“They said it was like calling out fire in a crowded theatre and that’s against the law — it’s called the riot act, and inciting riot.” –Stuff.co.nz
The Crimes Act defines a riot as “…a group of 6 or more persons who, acting together, are using violence against persons or property…”. It also seems like the Riot Act (or at least the reading of the Riot Act?) was repealed.
To my unqualified eye this seems like a questionable interpretation of the law and a questionable use of status to silence someone.
Website blaming earthquake on gays taken down by host
A website was put up shortly after the Christchurch earthquake at christchurchquake.net (now suspended), blaming the quake on the gay community, and the people supporting it. It was widely covered, including by the Sydney Morning Herald. Bluehost received many complaints about it (in the thousands, according to a source) and said they’d only act if they received a court order to do so (I asked and they said they would accept a New Zealand one), but eventually pulled it down because of a copyright complaint.
People or corporations using copyright complaints to get content taken down that they don’t agree with or would rather not have up isn’t uncommon. In this case a whole site was taken down because of one image.
Obscene, Defamatory, Abusive or Threatening Language. Use of the Services to store, post, transmit, display or otherwise make available obscene, defamatory, harassing, abusive or threatening language is prohibited.
Several people have pointed out that web hosts shouldn’t have to decide whether something is legal or not. Bluehost refused to decide and asked for a court order. This reasoning would have been better received by complainers if Bluehost didn’t include clauses in their terms of service that say they will take down a site if it contains x. However I am sure Bluehost isn’t the only host that does this.
The site reportedly suffered a DDoS attack as well, which affected other customers on the same server.
This is a change of tune from what I said immediately after I heard about the website, but I support this decision by Bluehost. The site was in bad taste, however should still be protected as free speech until potentially being deemed illegal by a court. If this had been a pro-gay website and anti-gay people had pressured the host to take it down then succeeded because of a copyright complaint, these same people against this site would be angered.
Bluehost let themselves down by taking down the website because of one copyrighted image. I am curious as to whether the customer behind the website was given a chance to respond to the copyright complaint. They received lots of complaints and bad press about this. This would’ve been a perfect topic for the CEO’s blog on why they weren’t going to take action without a court order.
However this event brings up an interesting idea: that the Internet has unwritten rules and if something or someone goes against those rules, people come together over forums or social media etc. to try fight it. This has happened before with child and animal abuse (the perpetrators tracked down), fights for democracy (help with the spread of information to citizens) and corporations with questionable business practices (unfortunate documents released) and because of the nature of the Internet will continue to happen.
Watching the session was frustrating as few contributors truly understood file sharing and the Internet. Gareth Hughes is one of the few who actually gets it. See him talking here, here and here. He brought up a number of good points including:
Access to the Internet is vital.
Termination not being enacted straight away is just a delay.
Many downloads are because content is not even available legally in New Zealand.
The Green Party opposed the Bill because the disconnection provision was still included. Labour didn’t like the disconnection provision either, however still supported the Bill. As Labour MP Clare Curran explains on the Red Alert blog:
Account suspension remains in the bill and could theoretically be used in the future, but any Minister who implements termination will have to wear the consequences. It won’t be a Labour Minister.
This happened many times throughout the night: great points against this Bill were brought up (like disconnection; the fact it’s being rushed; that the MPs themselves don’t know what their children are downloading from the Internet, keep in mind that the MP as the probable account holder will be responsible for their children’s downloading), but then the person finished with their overall support of the Bill. Someone (I think on Twitter, sorry I lost the source) summed it up nicely: “they’re fundamentally opposed to something, yet they vote for it”.
Without this legislation copyright holders could still send warning notices, but this legislation is intended to make the process faster and cheaper. Another side effect is that the process will favor copyright holders. After receiving a warning notice from a copyright holder, it is up to the Internet account customer to prove their innocence (reversing the usual burden of proof). This basically assumes that users who have been sent notices are infringers. It is unclear (to me at least) how someone will prove that they haven’t downloaded or uploaded a file. This is concerning because copyright owners seem to get it wrong regularly. For example a University Of Washington study found they could get a copyright warning sent to a printer that wasn’t uploading or downloading copyrighted files. They say:
Q: I’m a network operator working at an ISP. Should I be suspicious of DMCA takedown notices?
Yes. Our results show that some methods used to generate DMCA takedown notices in BitTorrent are not conclusive and may misidentify users. This may also be true for other P2P networks.
A U.S. study found 57% of DMCA notices sent to Google for removal of material were sent by business targeting competitors and 37% of notices were not valid copyright claims. (Source: J Urban & L Quilter, ‘Efficient Process or “Chilling Effects”? Takedown Notices Under Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’, http://static.chillingeffects.org/Urban-Quilter-512-summary.pdf (mirror))
In addition to the maximum $15k fine that the Copyright Tribunal can impose on someone who has received three warnings, there is a provision in the legislation to allow the Commerce Minister to introduce a six month Internet account suspension penalty applied by a District Court. In the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Information Economy Report, UNCTAD/SDTE/ECB/2006/1, Nov 2006, broadband is recognized as an essential utility for individuals. Disconnection from the internet is a disproportional punishment compared with the effects of illegal file sharing.
The legislation makes the Internet account holder responsible for all Internet use through that connection, treating all content downloaded/uploaded by different people through a connection as one. This may mean that a family member, flatmate or landlord is responsible for other people’s illegal file sharing. This also means that account holders could get the blame for things that people they don’t even live in the house do. The account holders would be responsible for random people accessing poorly protected wireless networks, for example.
Is pirating content really that bad?
The U.S. Government Accountability Office says in a report (via):
U.S. government and industry claims that piracy damages the economy to the tune of billions of dollars “cannot be substantiated due to the absence of underlying studies.”
“Some experts we interviewed and literature we reviewed identified potential positive economic effects of counterfeiting and piracy. Some consumers may knowingly purchase a counterfeit or pirated product because it is less expensive than the genuine good or because the genuine good is unavailable, and they may experience positive effects from such purchases. Consumers may use pirated goods to ‘sample’ music, movies, software, or electronic games before purchasing legitimate copies. (This) may lead to increased sales of legitimate goods.”
Although IFPI refused to share the entire research report with TorrentFreak, we can conclude the following from the two pages that were published online (pdf).
Compared to music buyers, music sharers (pirates) are…
* 31% more likely to buy single tracks online. * 33% more likely to buy music albums online. * 100% more likely to pay for music subscription services. * 60% more likely to pay for music on mobile phone.
[Mark Mulligan, Vice President and Research Director at Forrester Research who conducted the study for IFPI (who “represents the recording industry worldwide”] has his hands tied and couldn’t say much about the findings without IFPI’s approval, but we managed to get confirmation that paying file-sharers are the music industry’s best customers. “A significant share of music buyers are file sharers also. These music buyers tend to be higher spending music buyers,” Mulligan told TorrentFreak.
A study by Blackburn (2004), a PhD student from Harvard, found that the 75% of the [artists] actually profit from piracy. Blackburn reports that the most popular [artists] (top 25%) sell less records. However, the remaining 75% of all artists actually profit from [file sharing]. The same pattern was found by Pedersen (2006, see graph), who analyzed the change in royalties paid by the Nordisk Copyright Bureau between 2001 and 2005.
Michael Geist on a study of music purchasing habits commissioned by Industry Canada:
When assessing the P2P downloading population, there was “a strong positive relationship between P2P file sharing and CD purchasing. That is, among Canadians actually engaged in it, P2P file sharing increases CD purchases.” The study estimates that 12 additional P2P downloads per month increases music purchasing by 0.44 CDs per year.
When viewed in the [aggregate] (ie. the entire Canadian population), there is no direct relationship between P2P file sharing and CD purchases in Canada. According to the study authors, “the analysis of the entire Canadian population does not uncover either a positive or negative relationship between the number of files downloaded from P2P networks and CDs purchased. That is, we find no direct evidence to suggest that the net effect of P2P file sharing on CD purchasing is either positive or negative for Canada as a whole.”
Additionally, downloading doesn’t equal lost sales, some people are trying before they buy. And some people are downloading because they can’t get the content legally.
Labour MP Jacinda Ardern talked about illegal downloading of music hurting small artists, but it’s only the big record companies that you ever hear complaining. Big companies have bigger voices, but small artists are the ones embracing downloads by putting songs up for free on their websites.
A statistic was brought up last night that 90% of people say they will stop downloading illegally after two warnings. There’s a difference between saying and doing and I doubt there’ll be a change.
Will this make those pirates start buying again, or will they just go find the same stuff elsewhere? (via)
Generally no legal representation is allowed at the Copyright Tribunal. There will be mums and dads who have no idea what is going on, trying to prove their innocence. There will be ignoring of notices out of confusion.
This could end up costing IPAPs (defined in the Bill as traditional ISPs; not universities, libraries, and businesses) who estimate costs as $14 to $56 per notice. It is noted in the Bill “that the United Kingdom has recently decided on a cost-sharing approach between rights holders and Internet service providers, at a ratio of 75:25 respectively”. ISPs overseas receive a huge number of these notices each day.
If you have a business with 5000 employees, how do you track down whose actions resulted in a copyright warning being sent?
If an Internet account is suspended, is the suspension meant to apply to all ISPs? If yes, is there going to be a database of offenders (potential privacy concerns). If no, couldn’t someone call another ISP and sign up with them?
This is only targeting P2P file sharing. If someone illegally downloads directly from a website, they’re unlikely to be tracked down unless website logs are kept and are requested by rights holders through the courts.
The regime won’t apply to mobile networks until August 2013. It is even easier to “sign up” for a new account; go down to the supermarket and buy another SIM card.
49. …he is alarmed by proposals to disconnect users from Internet access if they violate intellectual property rights. This also includes legislation based on the concept of “graduated response”, which imposes a series of penalties on copyright infringers that could lead to suspension of Internet service, such as the so-called “three-strikes-law” in France34 and the Digital Economy Act 2010 of the United Kingdom.35
78. …cutting off users from Internet access, regardless of the justification provided, including on the grounds of violating intellectual property rights law, to be disproportionate and thus a violation of article 19, paragraph 3, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. 79. …the Special Rapporteur urges States to repeal or amend existing intellectual copyright laws which permit users to be disconnected from Internet access, and to refrain from adopting such laws.