Copyrights and photos on the interwebs.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t do much in the way of photos on this site. Not much at all. That is in part because once that photo is out on the interwebs you never know what is going to come of it. Your Maximum Leader refuses to post photos of his children on the internet for this reason (indeed, he doesn’t even email photos often).

So… It was with great interest that he read this peice on the Washington Post. The piece describes how big corporations are lifting photos from the internet to use in their advertising. Here are some excerpts:

Under the banner of “intellectual property,” record labels warn you not to bootleg their songs. Hollywood studios warn you not to download their movies. Intellectual property has lately seemed the concern of corporations trying to protect the artist from the grabby public.

But in an increasingly user-generated world where the public is the artist, sometimes it’s the big boys who get grabby. And the questions that arise are about ownership, but they are also about fairness, and changing culture, and ultimately, the search for authenticity.


Photographers (even amateur ones) automatically own the rights to their own work (even online). That means others can’t use a photo without permission.

But sometimes, through “fair use,” it actually is okay to use a photo without permission. Fair use can include scholarship or parody, and is determined by a number of criteria.

Further: sometimes, individuals… can decide to give away just part of their control. For example, permitting use of a photograph as long as the source is credited.


Says Lawrence Lessig, the Stanford legal scholar who created Creative Commons, when asked about the issue of corporations borrowing photos: “There’s really no excuse for [these companies] except that they think it’s not important to protect the rights of the amateur.”


What’s noteworthy…, Lessig says, “is that bloggers, a community typically associated with piracy, are rallying in support of copyright.”

He says average individuals are increasingly thinking of themselves as artists, whose work has value — or at least deserves respect. Lessig predicts that as the average Joes have their own material appropriated, it will eventually result in better behavior from both individuals and corporations.

Very interesting stuff. Your Maximum Leader knows that he’s used some photos without attribution. He does know better (and does try to provide attribution - in the form of a link mostly). Appropriation of web images by big corporations without trying to get permission is wrong, in your Maximum Leader’s mind at least.

Be careful with your images people….

Carry on.

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