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Don’t Be a Copyright Hypocrite
Posted By John Harrington On June 18, 2008 @ 9:00 pm In Legal Matters | 7 Comments
There are two types of creatives in this world: those who have had their works infringed, and those who will. But just because “the kids” think it’s OK to steal your music, video or photography, that doesn’t make it so. And the worst thing you can do as a photographer is to be a hypocrite and infringe on the works on other creatives (because everybody else is doing it) while whining about your own situation.
“The Kids” Are Wrong
A while back, I watched a presentation by a noted photographer, whose work was enhanced by the music of Enya. I know it’s next to impossible to get permission for uses like this, so it was pretty clear that he was infringing on the artist’s copyright.
I continue to watch as other photographers promote videos/presentations with music that is almost certain to be an infringement. They upload these on YouTube just like “the kids,” without realizing they are undermining all of us by doing so.
Here’s another example. Do you have friends who “share” a Photoshop or PhotoMechanic serial number, yet complain when their own work is stolen? I bet you do.
Were I to provide a photograph that was not my own to an organization for their presentation, or to a Web site or blog to grow traffic, the infringing party would be the organization or Web site or blog. It is the “publication” of the material that is the infringement. For a public performance, it would be the corporation or organization that provided the forum/programming that would likely be held accountable.
Years ago, I was working a product launch for a pharmaceutical company; the audience was comprised of sales reps who visit doctors’ offices to give out samples and promote the product. The event began with the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Give It Away Now,” which made sense — except for the fact that the company did not have the right to use the song. This is pretty hypocritical for a company that works to maintain the patents on its drugs for as long as possible.
Fair Use vs. Stealing
When it comes to music, unless you’re critiquing the music itself — as in, “listen to the multiple downbeats”, or “the refrain here is repetitive” — what you’re doing is not fair use. It’s something else, called stealing.
One of the more unpleasant conversations I had recently was with a client for an assignment, who, after his subordinate signed my contract with a rights-managed rights package, called saying “I just want to make sure we own all the rights to these photos.” I had to explain that this wasn’t the case.
He was irritated and said, “We just have a fundamental difference about how to approach this.” And I said, “Well, mine is a perspective based upon copyright law and rights granted under the Constitution. Are you suggesting that if an artist produces a song and earns money off the CD, that they then shouldn’t be paid additionally when their music is used in a movie or a commercial?”
And he said, “Well, that’s different.” I said, “No, actually, it’s the same copyright principle.”
Remember that the next time you’re creating a multimedia presentation and want to keep up with what “the kids” are doing by adding a hit song to your work.
[tags]copyright, photography law[/tags]
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