More On Copyright

My cousin Amanda1 wants to know:

I just finished a painting and I wanted to put it on Facebook, but I need to know about copyright stuff, if I put it on Facebook does that give the Facebook people right to it?

Editors note: edited for grammar and such.

The short answer is yes.

Facebook has something called a “Terms of Service”2. It’s a long document, but the part you’re going to be interested in is near the top, section 2 “Sharing Your Content and Information.”

Part 1 reads: “For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (“IP content”), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (“IP License”). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.”

I’m not a lawyer, but when you put content you create (such as a picture of your painting) on Facebook, you automatically give them certain rights. However, as soon as you delete the content, the rights you gave them are automatically rescinded unless your content has been shared with others who have not deleted it.

Copyright is a very interesting subject and one that is not very well understood by many people. I’d encourage you to learn more about it. A good place to start would be Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright

If you have any questions, feel free to let me know. I may not be able to answer all of them, however I can also ask my roommate who’s in law school.

-30-

I also sent an email to Auntie, just to make sure everyone is on same page and to (hopefully) provide a Teaching Moment™:

Amanda was asking me about copyrights, which I’m more than happy to give my two cents on in my non-lawyer capacity. However, I’m rather passionate about copyright (or more appropriately, the abuse of copyright and the rights of people) and was hoping this could turn into one of those “teaching moments” I so often hear about from my parents. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (sort of like the ACLU for the electronic age) has a website called “Teaching Copyright” (http://www.teachingcopyright.org/) which provides (for free) a curriculum for teachers to “present the laws surrounding digital rights in a balanced way.”

I think there’s lots of confusion about what copyright is and isn’t. The current copyright (and patent and trademark) system is (in my opinion) a mostly vile shell of what the original intention behind the system was. Yes, strong words, but also words I believe to be accurate. Anyway, I’d encourage you take a look. The site is pretty decent and while not comprehensive, at least gets the ball rolling.

You may also be interested in Creative Commons (http://creativecommons.org/), which “provide a flexible range of protections and freedoms for authors.” An example of this would be my website (https://andrewferguson.net/some-rights-reserved/) and almost all of my photos.

As always, feel free to ask lots and lots of questions.

-30-

I’m curious where copyright and the like is headed. I’ve been fed-up with the current system a little while now, but I’m usually on the early side of the “early adopters”. My hope is, of course, that we are starting to see more uptick in the desire to return to the origins of the copyright, “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”3

A graph of Everett Rogers Technology Adoption Lifecycle model. Copyright 2007 Natebailey, Creative Commons Attribution 2.5.

  1. who is, incidentally, the sister of my cousin Nick 

  2. http://www.facebook.com/terms.php?ref=pf 

  3. Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution 

Copyrighting Your Work

My cousin Nick wants to know:

My question is about copywriting my pictures. To my knowledge every picture I make or take is copywrited just because I did it. I was wondering if putting “all images copyright john doe 2008” on the bottom of every page of my website would cover me, or do I need to do something else?
And should I copyright them to my name or my website? (“copyright john doe 2008” or “copyright ABCompany.com 2008”)

Note: Don’t forget that I am not a lawyer (IANAL). These are merely my understandings and thoughts.

Under current United States laws, anything you make is automatically copyrighted. Additionally, you can submit your work to the United States Copyright Office for a fee, however I have never done this and don’t think it’s worthwhile.

To my knowledge, adding the “All images copyrighted by…” phrase does not offer any additional legal protection. If you were to add the phrase, I would use your name, since that’s the legal entity that owns the copyright.

I’d also like to take a second to mention something called Creative Commons. Almost all 10,000 of my photos and most of my blog is released under a Creative Commons license. Creative Commons allows you to retain the copyright, however it lets others use your work with specific requirements.

For example, most of my work is released under a By-Attribution, Share-Alike, Non-commercial license. This means that anyone is allowed to use my photos as long as it’s for non-commercial work (i.e. they can’t make money off of it), if they modify my work they must share it under a similar license, and they must attribute me.

I’d suggest you take a look at: http://creativecommons.org/

I hope that helps and let me know if you have any more questions.

Contemporary Services Corporation Are…

I was going to complete the title of this post with “Douchebags”, but I’m not sure that’s the most appropriate term. Foolish? Ill-informed? Republican? Terrorists? Okay, this getting to political. I’ll just leave it blank and you can decide what word to fill in. Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments.

Shooting pictures can be a challenge sometimes. I used to run into similar situations back in high school when I was doing cinematography.

I remember I was shooting this one scene with my neighbor, Eddie, up at Eckstein Middle School. It was a Saturday, nice and sunny out. We’re in the parking lot shooting (he’s on top of the car, I’m inside basically letting the engine idle us forward). A cop comes up and starts asking us questions. Apparently, some of the parents (there are several soccer games being played on the field) thought we were video tapping cars that we wanted to steal, or something like that. Yea, it was really bizarre.

I also shot some video at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport garage complex. I was shooting the toll-booths because they look very similar to the US-Canadian border crossing booths. After a few minutes, I was asked to stop. I had got what I needed and left.

When I started getting serious about photography, I checkout some books about my legal rights. I wanted to know where I stood legally because if you know me, I like to push the boundaries. They more or less boil down to:

  • I can take pictures of anyone or anything on public property (this includes streets, sidewalks, and public parks)
  • Anything really does mean anything (in public, that is): accidents, children, celebrities, criminal activities, buildings, law enforcement offices, etc
  • Private parties, absent a court order, have no right to confiscate my film. Taking or attempting to take my film can constitute a criminal offense against me (such as theft and coercion)
  • The same applies for law enforcement, unless they are arresting me (which I hope doesn’t happen)

As always, I am not a lawyer (IANAL), so consult your attorney of choice before doing something rash. All the information above is taken from an excellent pamphlet put out by Bert P. Krages, who happens to be photography as well as a lawyer: The Photographers Rights. I keep this in my camera bag at all times and would suggest you do as well.

This brings me to EDays. From last year, I know that there are certain restrictions on how I shoot (i.e. flash or no-flash) and when I can shoot. That’s fine and all. This year, the CSC (Contemporary Services Corporation) Event Staff Supervisor comes up to me to make sure I know the deal. I say yes. Then he adds something to the effect of, “If you don’t follow these rules, I will have to confiscate your camera.”

As I noted above, confiscating or attempting to confiscate my camera/film is a no-no. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it because I was here already and I didn’t want to get kicked out before the concert even started. I was going to talk to him after the concert, but I couldn’t find him and I was dead tired.

So I did the next best thing, I sent an email to Mike Smith, Branch Manager for CSC Denver, Colorado:

From: Andrew Ferguson
Re: CSC photography equipment confiscation policy

Mr. Mike Smith,

My name is Andrew Ferguson. I’m a student at the Colorado School of Mines. I also happen to take photographs. On Friday, March 30, 2007, The Colorado School of Mines hosted a concert with Flogging Molly and Single File.

I was a volunteer photography at that event with a full access press pass. Before the concert, the Contemporary Services Corporation* Event Staff Supervisor for that event talked to me to make sure I knew the rules about only photographing the first three songs of each band and to not use the flash. I informed him that I did. He then preceded to tell me that if I were to break those rules, he would have to confiscate my camera.

I have read a few books on a photographers legal rights and talked to a few friends I have who are lawyers. It is my understanding that private citizens, absent a court order, are not allowed to take my equipment for any reason. Furthermore, taking my equipment, directly or indirectly, by threatening to use force or call a law enforcement agency can constitute criminal offenses such as theft and coercion.

I regret that I did not obtain the supervisors name, however, his blue jacket had the number 202 on it and identified him as the CSC Event Staff Supervisor.

The purpose of my email is to find out what CSC’s official policy on the matter of photography equipment confiscation is.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, my contact information is below.

Thank you for your time,

Andrew Ferguson
//my email address//
206-948-1701

We’ll see how that goes.

Note:
* If you don’t know who CSC is, they’re pretty much the Halliburton of event security. The minions wear bright yellow jackets and try to look tough. You’ll probably see them on TV if your watching a sports game.