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Post One: Annie Leibovitz Reaches Temporary Setttlement

Good news for now. At least for the time being Annie Leibovitz got a little bit of air to breath and more time to figure things out. Read the article on NY Times here.

Post Two: Los Angeles Times Writer Unclear About Copyright

This article that I read this Sunday left me speechless not to say angry. So a bit of a steam blowing seems to be appropriate.

What’s it all about? Here is writer David Lazarus who I believe is a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times. The story is about a copyright problem that a small Long Beach travel agency encountered. Somebody who must have lived in the stone ages or has the mind of a five year old (I see it therefore it’s mine) somehow manages to use a Getty Images photo without realizing that they need to pay a use fee. “We were really surprised, because we didn’t think we were using any copyrighted pictures,” Formella (the travel agency owner), 51, told the writer.

Mr. Lazarus column explains how Getty sent a letter asking for $1000 in penalty and proceeds to tell that he feels this is and outrageous request suggesting that it may even border on extortion and finds a lawyer who says just that. Nevertheless the article states that there are after all 200 million images to guard and Getty Images alone finds over 70,000 infringements a year. Mr. Lazarus seems to think that this is no problem at all.

As long as our fellow content creators  don’t GET IT, we are in bad shape. Have we not been fighting this kind of ignorance for years? Are we not entitled to fair compensation before the fact? Are we wrong to ask that you respect the content I create and before you use it make sure you can? Is it really OK to promote theft in a major newspaper and put out a statement that states (and I translate freely) “use the images and if you get caught just say you are sorry.” Because as the thief you get to say what you think is fair you should say or do that makes it OK? Photographers are not loving parents to infringers – it’s not cute and at a certain age sorry alone won’t do it. If I think about it, oops is not a valid business argument, is it?

Doesn’t the law state that not knowing (=ignorance) does not protect you from the consequences of your wrong doing?

For my part, I can’t wait what direction the article would have taken if the writer had thousands of articles he wrote as a freelancer on the free market and would have to chase hundreds of global infringers a year. Perhaps once he realizes what kind of cost, effort, aggravation time is associated with chasing people and businesses who just take your stuff he will recant his statement and figure out that infringement in essence really is stealing.

But wait, it gets better. The writer puts a poll on the website asking what readers think of his ideas to curb copyright statutory damages and penalties and here is the poll:

Poll

Should there be a limit to damages for online copyright violations?

  • Yes. The penalty for infringements should be commensurate with market value. (20 responses)

    54.1%

  • Maybe, if the damages claim is completely over the top. (7 responses)

    18.9%

  • No. Copyright violations need to be deterred, and big fines do that. (10 responses)

    27.0%

37 total responses

(Results not scientific)

Here is what I would like you to do: Please go to this poll and state your opinion about this (whatever that might be) and/or send him an email. This was on the front page of the Business Section on September 13, 2009. Here is the email david.lazarus@latimes.com.

For my part: I wrote this post yesterday and I was quite upset. So I let it sit a day and re-read it. I do that when I get angry or upset at something or someone. I write it and save it, revisit it the next day when I have calmed down and then send it. In this case I am still upset.

NOTE FROM BEATE: It’s been only a few hours but the poll has significantly changed already and the vast majority is picking option three. Of 163 responses now 62.6% want to see stiff penalties for infringements.

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