There’s a transcript available from the oral arguments in the case where Agence France Press, Turner Broadcasting/CNN, ABC, Getty Images and CBS are suing Daniel Morel after they stole his images from Twitter immediately after the Haiti earthquake (Read all about this on BJP).
The transcript is available on the duckrabbit blog (here) and I would encourage you to visit and see what he’s got to say about it. He’s also done an excellent job engaging JF Leroy (Director of the Visa Pour L’Image photofestival) in a debate over Daniel Morel’s posting of valuable news images on TwitPic/Twitter. JF told the British Journal of Photography (BJP) “Photographers have to accept their responsibilities. You can’t put your images on Twitter and not expect them to be taken up by others” and duckrabbit has hounded him about this statement and gotten several responses (latest one here).
Obviously this is going to be an important case for photographers so I’m posting the latest developments as they come here. Of great interest to me is how content distributors are suffering because of the ease at which content moves on the internet and they’re fighting hard to claim some kind of right to distribute un-credited things floating around. Obviously this is not how copyright law works so they’ve not got a leg to stand on but it’s interesting to see how their lizard brain works in the oral arguments:
THE COURT: What should I do about the language that says, All images uploaded are copyright their respective owners?
MR. KAUFMAN: That’s true. There is a difference between owning a copyright and having a license granted. No one says that Mr. Morel lost his copyright by posting his images to Twitter/Twitpics. We have never argued that. We are saying that by accepting the terms and conditions, he accepted — he granted a license, and the terms of the license are what is set out in Twitter as to the use of third parties. Twitpics doesn’t talk about third parties. It is silent as to that. So you look to the other part of the equation, the Twitter, which does specifically talk to Twitter’s use, its partners’ use, and the user’s use. And it says when you put — other social networks and other sites don’t have this language. You can — if you look at one or the other, this language happens to be very broad. It is what Twitter and Twitpics are all about. It is the broadcast — re-twitting has become part of the lexicon, because these when you post these things up here, it happens again and again, it’s what people do at these sites. It is not matter of stealing.
I don’t expect someone holding a photography festival in the south of France where content is shown to prospective clients in person to like or understand what is going on here just as I would expect AFP to be very aggressive in finding a way to make money off distribution of content, even if that mean stealing it. I only hope Twitter takes notice to what is going on here and that photographers rally around Daniel and that we try to turn these new social tools into something useful and profitable for photography.
There is the conclusory assertion that ABC removed copyright management information, but all of the exhibits in the complaint itself or in the counterclaims themselves show that there was no copyright management information on the photo, there was no copyright management information that would have come along with it when you download it, and therefore nothing was removed. There is no case that says that you have to reach out and add additional information that may have appeared elsewhere on the page, and that allegation of violating through the removal of copyright management information doesn’t state a claim absent something there that was actually removed, which couldn’t have happened. And if we downloaded and saved, we got what was there. Whether we should have taken it or shouldn’t have taken it is a different issue and will come up later in the case. But for the purposes of copyright management information, if you look at all of the exhibits depicting the image, there is no copyright management information on it and no case says we need to also pull information from elsewhere on the page.
MS. HOFFMAN: The only thing I wanted to say is that all of the defendants here aggressively defend their own copyright and that the — that the claim that I just said, that Mr. Morel — and it probably is not worth repeating — but when Mr. Morel put up those images, it is not really any different than ABC, CBS, CNN wanting everybody to come to their sites to watch the Olympics or the tennis championships, and they aggressively defend copyright in those programs, even though they want all the world to see it, for the purpose of selling sponsorships.
Oh, the irony.