Photo-sharing site Pinterest, the new darling of social media, has a copyright infringement cloud hanging over its head. The fact that anyone can upload and share copyrighted photographs through the site has prompted many sites — most notably Flickr — to ban “pinning” for copyrighted works. Up to this point, Pinterest has tried to avoid legal trouble by having a Terms of Service that places all the blame for copyright infringement on its users, but a new solution may be on the horizon: mandatory captions. Requiring users to comment on pinned photos may cause the sharing to be protected under “fair use” because it becomes the subject of “commentary”.
This looks like a screenshot of a satirical article by The Onion, but it’s actually an actual story over on the Salt Lake Tribune. Turns out Utah is the latest state to introduce Florida-esque legislation that would make it a crime to photograph or videotape agricultural operations without permission from owners. Like in Florida, the bill’s intent is to stop activist groups such as PETA from capturing covert imagery that allegedly show animal abuse.
It wasn’t too long ago that Kodak filed multiple patent infringement lawsuits against Apple in a scramble for life-giving cash, but now the tables have turned. Less than a month after Kodak filed for bankruptcy and announced the end of its camera business, Apple is reportedly in the process of asking the court for permission to sue bankrupt Kodak for infringing on Apple’s patents in its printers, digital cameras, and digital picture frames. This back and forth IP fight is one that Kodak might not be in for long: the company is still trying to sell off its portfolio of roughly 1,100 imaging patents.
Here’s a disturbing video called “If You See Something, Film Something” that shows why it’s important that citizens have the right to turn cameras on the activities of police officers without being stopped or harassed:
The United States has growing problem with police abuse, brutality, and corruption. It is essential for civilians to document their encounters with police officers to ensure transparency, accountability, and safety to all of those involved.
Police departments have, for too long, tried to bully, intimidate, threaten, arrest, or otherwise harass law abiding citizens from recording the activities of law enforcement in public. Enough is enough! It is time for all of us to take a stand and expose police brutality when we witness it.
Be warned: the video contains many graphic scenes of police brutality…
A UK photographer who goes by the moniker Hamstify was documenting his town Scunthorpe late last year when he was confronted by security personel outside a Golden Wonder plant and ordered to stop photographing. He was shooting from a public location, so he decided to stand up for his rights and film the argument that transpired. On VisitScunthorpe.com, he writes,
What also aggrieves me is that someone in a uniform representing a company in an apparent position of authority can try and intimidate members of the public by making up laws that don’t exist. This seemed to be an attempt to subjugate a member of the public into accepting what was being told was to be true. Further more hurling offensive insults and puerile slander, like seen at the end of the video, surely isn’t something that someone in that position should resort to.
In general, for UK residents, photography from public places is perfectly legal. There are some exceptions (e.g. buildings critical to national security), but the general rule of thumb is that if you’re shooting from public property police and security guards don’t have the power to stop you.
Kodak might be on its deathbed, but that’s not stopping the company from launching a new volley of lawsuits over patent infringements. Already trying to milk $1 billion from Apple, the company has filed new lawsuits against smartphone makers Apple and HTC, alleging that Apple violated four of its patents and HTC five. The lawsuits center around technology for transferring photos on and off devices. While today’s lawsuits might simply be a creative marketing effort in Kodak’s attempt to sell off its patent portfolio, the market seems pleased with it: the stock price jumped nearly 40% today.
“It’s nearly impossible and I’ve never heard of a wedding photographer successfully being able to license a mainstream song for synchronized use,” [wedding photographer David Jay] says. “I’ve spent a long time trying to make it possible. Photographers want to pay a reasonable fee to use the music so when they can’t they’ll just do it anyway.”
The problem, Jay explains, is that you have to get a license from three or four different people, including the lyricist, the composer, and the recording artist and/or their record company. While rights licensing organizations such as ASCAP and BMI make it easy to license music for broadcast, they don’t offer synchronization licenses for “small” users like wedding photographers.
16-year-old photographer Jules Mattsson has won a settlement from the London Metropolitan Police after being stopped and detained last year while photographing the Armed Forces Day parade. Here’s Mattsson’s account of what happened:
I was detained by Police in Romford after taking an image of a cadet unit who were about to march in a massive parade in front of thousands of people with cameras. I was told it was an offence to photograph a child, then an offence to photograph the military, then an offence to photograph the police then that I was a threat under the terrorism act. I was frog marched with my arm painfully twisted away from the public eye and any witnesses and pushed down a set of stairs. The police illegally tried to take my details on several occasions also. [#]
In addition to the financial settlement paid to Mattsson early last week, the police department has also apologized for its actions.
Three years ago, an Illinois man named Michael Allison was arrested for videotaping police in public in accordance with the state’s extremely strict wiretapping laws. He faced up to 75 years in prison for his crime, but a few months ago an Illinois judge ruled that the laws were unconstitutional and threw out the case. However, the State of Illinois is now appealing to the Supreme Court to have the dismissal overturned.
It’s not just big tech companies engaged in patent wars: Luma Labs has discontinued their Luma Loop and Luma LoopIt camera straps after Black Rapid was awarded a patent for camera slings with sliding connections on November 1st. In an open letter to customers, the company writes,
We did our research, consulted our lawyers, and found more than enough prior art related to this concept.
[...] the idea of a sliding camera sling isn’t an amazing new invention. It’s just a really good idea that’s been around for a while and which has been iteratively developed. Neither we nor our lawyers believed that the USPTO would grant a patent for the claims related to this concept. It was a surprise, then, when our competitor was granted a patent covering the concept on November 1st, 2011. To say that we’re disappointed that the USPTO couldn’t find the prior art around the idea is an understatement.
Not wanting to engage in a costly legal battle, Luma Labs has decided to killed off their main products. Despite this setback, the company is planning on sticking around: it’s working on a new strap concept that will be released in December.