Stunning infringement

Stunning infringement

The next brouhaha? Or is it jsut my lack of understanding of IP law showing again? Here at the FactoryCity, we make the news, you decide (Tim would be so disappointed in me, stirring shit up again!)!

But, the point is this: is the recent collaboration between Yahoo-Flickr-Nikon a legitimate re-use of people’s photos with commercial intent? Or, in the case that photos are explicitly designated as licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 license, as in the case of Flickr employee Heather Champ, is the license simply being ignored? (Heh, not to mention the fact that featured photo was taken with a Canon Digital Rebel, but I digress.)

I mean, this is really interesting. I guess I don’t care so much about there being product placement on Flickr where it’s relevant — I mean, Scott Beale and Thomas Hawk take awesome photos with Canon EOS‘ — that’s useful information! And now I want to buy a Canon EOS 5D!

But to go all out with some lame-ass big bucks ad campaign not of the community smacks of Chevy Tahoeism. And frankly, turns me off. Oh well.

So how about them licenses? Am I shooting blanks here or, if your photos are showing up in Nikon’s campaign, are ya feelin’ a bit taken advantage of? After all, the TOS say very clearly that “What’s Yours is Yours”. So what’s the deal here? Eh eh?

Author: Chris Messina

Head of West Coast Business Development at Republic. Ever-curious product designer and technologist. Hashtag inventor. Previously: (YC W18), Uber, Google.

9 thoughts on “Stunning infringement”

  1. You have to give them permission, though, by tagging the photo, so it’s not been done without knowledge.

  2. Yep, if you click on “Upload Now” on that page then it spells out the details–it’s opt-in.

    (On another note, the zoom in/zoom out effect on that page is really sweet.)

  3. @Rachel — is it smart enough to catch the case when someone other than me tags my photos with “nikonstunninggallery”?

  4. That’s the fun thing about copyright. You can always give someone the right to copy your work.

    When people submit their photos to JPG Magazine (which Heather and I operate), they don’t have to be CC images for them to be published. The photographers can license their images any way they want – they just give us permission to print them by submitting them.

    Similarly, you don’t lose your copyright when you explicitly add a tag to one of your own photos so that it’s considered for a Nikon ad. The act of tagging it is giving permission.

    I’m trusting that they’re smart enough to tell self-tagged photos from ones that might have been tagged by a 3rd party, because Flickr usually does the right thing in matters like this. But it is a good question and should be answered somewhere. Certainly, if anyone can effectively submit your photo by adding a tag, that’s a big problem.

    But the license thing is a total nonissue. Photographers are getting great exposure from this. I think Nikon and Flickr should be commended for shining a light on the talented nonprofessional photographers out there – no matter what kind of camera they shoot.

    For their horrible TV ads with a half naked Kate Moss, however, they should get a spanking.

  5. I’m not really worried about it, I’d be flattered if one of my photos was chosen. (I don’t use Nikon though.)

  6. Yeah, thinking it over, I’m not really that bothered by it — and as you said, Derek, it’s a great promo for Flickr creators.

    If the tagging bit is done correctly, then I have even less of a platform to harp from, which is actually a good thing! So long as folks have a choice — you’re absolutely right that they can choose whether or not to hand over use of their photography to Nikon/Flickr.

    The Kate Moss thing, well, that wreaks of fear to me — fear that Flickr member photos are not “sexy” enough to sell their camera. And that, I’m sorry to say, is really too bad.

    So tell us Matt, I presume that you tagged one of your photos, leading to its selection? And that that, by you, is considered fair use? If so, then, sweet!

  7. Maybe they are smart enough to separate self-tagging from other tagging..and maybe they will do it. In general I agree with Derek that Flickr do usually ‘do the right thing’. Looking at the shots on the site, only 4 out of the 13 on the homepate have got open tagging set, the others have it restricted (I think the default is contacts only). There is a control mechanism if you really really don’t want your photo used

  8. @Derek,

    That Kate Moss thing is exactly where I took issue. A potentially beautiful campaign muddied by the need for them to hire Miss Cocaine Chic herself – oh wait…that silver flat surface would be perfect for a little blow at the club! man…genius!


    We chatted about this, but I don’t think the copyright thing is an issue. Where I take issue is that Nikon probably spent 10x what they spent on the Flickr deal on the Kate Moss/Hollywood deal. And what is going to leverage them more relationships? The smaller spend.

    I’m actually getting quite miffed at the low cost of community. Seriously. We should make it really really expensive to reach us as individuals. You want me to blog something? Click the PayPal button. It’s $10k a mention. I’m worth it. 😉

    Okay, so that’s extreme, but that’s what it costs to get Miss Moss to even pick up the phone (let alone pose nude for this shoot, which is probably $100k). Does the community work get less respect because it is inexpensive? Is it a perceived value issue? That is why, like Derek, I take issue with the ‘User Generated Content’ thing, too. Sure, that’s warm and fuzzy, but so little value is put on it in the big, fat corporate world.

    Do we pay people? I don’t know if that’s the answer, but maybe we stop paying celebrities to endorse products like this. It doesn’t make any sense to me.

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