Here’s an update to the whole monkey copyright story that’s been swirling around the blogosphere as of late: TechDirt points out that works that aren’t the product of human authorship cannot support a copyright claim. Section 503.03 of Compendium II of Copyright Office Practices published by the US Copyright Office reads:
503.03 Works not capable of supporting a copyright claim.
Claims to copyright in the following works cannot be registered in the Copyright Office:
503.03(a) Works-not originated by a human author.
In order to be entitled to copyright registration, a work must be the product of human authorship. Works produced by mechanical processes or random selection without any contribution by a human author are not registrable. Thus, a linoleum floor covering featuring a multicolored pebble design which was produced by a mechanical process in unrepeatable, random patterns, is not registrable. Similarly, a work owing its form to the forces of nature and lacking human authorship is not registrable; thus, for example, a piece of driftwood even if polished and mounted is not registrable.
Is a photograph taken by a monkey the product of human authorship? On one hand, the monkey pressed the shutter, but you also can’t argue that a human author didn’t contribute, since they had to have provided the camera in the first place (unless the monkey stole it or something…). TechDirt believes the photos are in the public domain.
(via TechDirt via Boing Boing)
Image credit: Driftwood Eagle by Port of Tacoma
If your photographs ever include the faces of strangers, you might not want to move to Slovenia. Boštjan Burger, a Slovenian photographer that shoots immersive 360° panoramas, has been ordered by the government there to take down roughly 11,000 photo from his website and delete them from his backups because they violate privacy laws. His crime? Showing faces, street addresses, and license plates in his panoramas taken in public locations. Rather than face a year in jail and a €12,000 (~$20,000) fine, photo pages on his site now read “DISPLAY OF VIRTUAL REALITY PANORAMA IS DISABLED DUE THE SLOVENIAN GOVERNMENT INSPECTION”.
Turns out living in the European Union doesn’t automatically grant you basic photographers’ rights.
(via PanoToolsNG via Facebook )
Thanks for the tip, Mark!
A little update to the recent brouhaha over Google+’s Terms of Service: Tom W of Getty Images posted the above message to fellow Getty members on Flickr informing them that Getty’s lawyers have no problems with the ToS. He writes,
The important thing to watch out for in Terms of Service, and it’s the same as we’ve talked about for contests, is that whatever they do (or allow third parties to do) with the images should be in the context of the service itself, not to re-license or otherwise commercialize the images to other parties (or even the main company itself) outside of the context they’re posted for.
Certain people have argued that uploading your photos to Google+ may hurt your ability in the future to sell exclusive licenses to images. If that’s what you’re worried about, it’s probably safer to keep your photographs off the Internet completely, since every content sharing service on the Internet requires at least a license to display your photos using their service.
If ordinary citizens have the right to photograph police in public places, what about the other way around? That’s a question that’s sure to be asked often in the coming days, as 40 law enforcement agencies across the US are planning to use iPhones to photograph civilians for the purpose of identifying wanted perps. The system, called Mobile Offender Recognition and Information System (MORIS), costs $3,000 apiece and will be able to do facial recognition searches on a database of known criminals. Photographers’ rights will apply to cops too — police won’t be required to ask permission before snapping a photograph of your face!
(via Amateur Photographer and WSJ)
At what point does inspiration turn into plagiarism? That’s the question that popped up last year when Rhianna was sued by David LaChapelle over scenes found in one of her music videos, and it’s the same issue with a lawsuit recently filed by photographer Janine Gordon against photographer Ryan McGinley. Gordon claims that 150 of McGinley’s images — including some used for a Levi’s ad campaign — are “substantially based” on her photos. In the three pairs of disputed images shown above, the ones on the left are by Gordon and the ones on the right by McGinley.
Just as the monkey photography story was dying down, a new twist emerges: on Monday tech blog TechDirt received an email from Caters News, the agency representing wildlife photographer David Slater, whose camera was hijacked by a monkey and used to shoot a number of self-portraits.
Last year Scott Bourne caused some commotion among photo-enthusiasts by claiming that Twitter’s ToS forced photographers to give up rights to photos shared through the service. After Google launched their new Google+ social network, Bourne again wrote a very similar post warning his readers about the ToS. We weren’t planning on weighing in, but seeing that the FUD has spread to our comments and even The Washington Post, we’d like to clear some of it away for our readers.
When we shared the story of how monkeys hijacked photographer David Slater’s camera and unwittingly snapped some self-portraits, we asked the question “doesn’t the monkey technically own the rights to the images?” Techdirt, a blog that often highlights copyright issues, went one step further and dedicated a whole post to that question.
Update: We hear that all charges against Rhonda Hollander have been dropped after a judge found the testimony “not credible.”
In the United States, anyone can be photographed in most public places without their consent… as long as they don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy. A female traffic magistrate named Rhonda Hollander was arrested last week after following a man into a courthouse bathroom and photographing him as he used the urinal.
When Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Darlene Harden confronted Hollander a short time later, the magistrate admitted taking a picture but refused to turn over her phone, arguing that it was a public restroom and she was not violating any laws, according to the report. [#]
Other places where people have an expectation of privacy include homes, dressing rooms, medical facilities, and phone booths. Basically, it helps to have some common sense.
(via SunSentinel via Pixiq)
P.S. You can find a list of photographers’ rights in the US here. The text is printed on the gray card set we sell through our store.
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed a new law last week that makes it a crime to post images to the Internet that “frighten, intimidate, or cause emotional distress.” Violators found guilty of doing so now face up to one year in jail and $2,500 in fines.
[…] for image postings, the “emotionally distressed” individual need not be the intended recipient. Anyone who sees the image is a potential victim. If a court decides you “should have known” that an image you posted would be upsetting to someone who sees it, you could face months in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. [#]
Needless to say, the Internet is in an uproar over this, and it seems pretty likely that the law will be struck down for being unconstitutional very soon.
(via The Volokh Conspiracy via Engadget)
Image credit: Peek-A-Brother by evilpeacock