You Don’t Own Anything Anymore: Copyright Law in an Internet Age

John Herrman over at BuzzFeed has written up an interesting piece on how and why “grabby” terms of service have become ubiquitous in the online world of social media:

In a world where sharing a photo is strictly a matter of getting another copy made and mailing it, or getting it published, copyrights are pretty easy to keep track of and these laws hold up pretty well. Sending a physical photo to your grandmother goes like this: you either put the picture in an envelope and send it, or you get a copy made yourself and send that.

Sending your grandmother an email photo, though, might involve copying your photo five or six times; first to Google’s servers, then to another server, then to an ISP’s CDN, then to AOL’s servers, then to your grandmother’s computer. As far as you’re concerned, this feels exactly like dropping an envelope in the mail. As far as copyright is concerned, it’s a choreographed legal dance.

And so these sites have to get your permission — a license — to copy and distribute the things you post. Just to function as advertised, they need your permission to “use” and to “host,” to “store” and “reproduce.” What they don’t necessarily need is the right to “modify” and “create derivative works,” or to “publicly perform.” That is, unless they need to make money. Which of course they do.

You Don’t Own Anything Anymore (via APhotoEditor)

Image credit: Large copyright graffiti sign on cream colored wall by Horia Varlan

  • WittWendy84

    what Stanley responded I’m startled that anyone can make $6520 in 4 weeks on the internet. did you see this page==>> Sure2Go.Blogspot.Com 

  • derekdj

    This is why Creative Commons licensing should be refined and embraced, it is designed for the digital age. Not to mention, professionals who care about social exploitation of their images should never post hi-res images to “sharing networks”, get over their images going viral around networks and use them for promotional purposes (unless they’re being used outright commercially). 

    Photography like music can be viewed like actors and celebrities, it’s all about visibility and accessibility.

  • Dick Clark

    “What they don’t necessarily need is the right to ‘modify’ and ‘create derivative works’…”
    Yeah, because generating thumbnails is never a useful thing for these providers to do to enhance their interface. Never.  

  • Kunvay

    We are big fans of Creative Commons licensing and use this all the time when gathering images from Flickr for our blog. Photography is a tough business – particularly as more an more people have better access to tools that improve photo outputs. We’re trying to do our best to make the world safe for creativity. Photographers may have to explore different business models for benefiting from their professional expertise.