I wanted to add some notes to the little fiasco which was the Copyright Issue I alluded to on the Pavilion, since it cuts directly to the heart of the debate regarding the Creative Commons, etc.
Airlock Alpha (http://www.airlockalpha.com
) is a website I frequent. Usually once every day or two. I have had some minor communications with Michael Hinman, the owner/primary writer, over the last few years.
Yesterday Hinman posted an article regarding the reports which -- incorrectly -- stated that Harlan and the producers of In Time had reached an agreement on credit. The original article was posted on Yahoo News, and got picked up by a few genre sites including AAlpha. Again, it was blatantly false, and Hinman was understandably cheesed off at having run an inaccurate piece. He posted a not-unreasonable comment on the events -- though he makes an effort to paint Harlan as a contributor
to the error because Harlan did not correct the folks who came to this site to congratulate him on the "win". Harlan, as he had said he would do, remained mum on the topic. But that's another story for another time.
When I found Hinman's follow-up article online, I was surprised to find that he'd used one of my pictures of Harlan -- the "Got Ellison" auction shot of Harlan holding the typewriter and a goofy grin on his face. I hadn't heard from Hinman, hadn't even known they were using the shot. Worse, it was simply posted without attribution. Okay, I thought, they don't know who owns it so I sent Hinman a personal message on Facebook letting him know the picture was mine. I mentioned that I wasn't asking for it to e taken down, nor was I even seeking compensation. I wanted attribution. A reasonable request. I also sent him the wording of how the copyright should read.
Hinman sent back a bit of a snarky message to the effect that the shot was in Fair Use, but if I would "prove" that I owned the rights he would "consider" the credit. And written the way THEY wanted it to read, not MY wording. After a couple more passages, in which I was lectured about Fair Use, then told he didn't have time to explain the Legalities involved, I let him know that I'm not exactly uneducated and frankly didn't appreciate his approach -- and that, if he liked, I would be happy to discuss this from a more Legal standpoint.
(Fair Use doesn't apply, since the photo is neither newsworthy in and of itself, nor is it even related to the article -- two standards for Fair Use. His standing was predicated that he had downloaded the shot from a news source and therefore wasn't required to cite copyright holder. Wrong, but that was his position.)
We went a couple more rounds, ultimately with his stating that if I could prove copyright, by showing a website in which the shot was published with a copyright notice, he would give the credit. David Silver quite grandly offered to send Hinman a note stating that he had first use rights, from me, and that the copyright had remained with me after that use.
Now, I want to emphasize that I didn't need to even go that far. I could have, very easily, instructed Hinman to take the shot down, and sued for a paltry sum, but it never got that far. And what Hinman never bothered to find out was who my counsel was during our disagreement -- David, of course, is a recognized photographic authority, and Christine Valada, a well-known photographer and attorney
. So I was confident it wasn't an issue or misunderstanding on my side.
But had Hinman done the correct thing and responded with an apology and agreement to cite the credit if I could show a website confirming the copyright, it would have achieved the same thing without all the argument, kept me from posting in a number of places regarding the incident, getting David and Christine involved, and generally causing friction between myself and the site. And if I had only had Creative Commons available to me as a resolution, nothing
would have been done. Creative Commons lacks the teeth which Copyright granted me, and Hinman's claim of Fair Use would probably have stuck. (Again: He claimed that the photo is public property if he's using it for a news item. As noted above that's not Fair Use. The photo was taken for marketing purposes, not news, and has no relation to the story about the inaccurate news article.)
So, not to relight the debate, but this as a prime example of why I feel Copyright Protection is absolutely paramount to a healthy artistic market.
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.