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Why BuzzFeed Should Pay My Invoice For Copyright Infringement (revdancatt.com)
236 points by mopoke on Sept 10, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 149 comments



This happened to a bunch of flickr photographers and me for a Toyota advertising campaign. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505123_162-42743425/toyota-and-s...

When Toyota's ad agency Saatchi was confronted about the misuse, they offered a flat fee of $500 (if I recall correctly ) for each photo. Several of the photographers took the deal. A group of around 10 of us hired a lawyer and settled for much more (withholding amount was part of the deal) per infringement.


Wow, $500 is an amazingly insulting offer. Statutory damages for willful infringement are $150,000!


That is the maximum for the willful infringement of an image that is registered with the copyright office [1] and awards are highly vaiable. [2]

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statutory_damages_for_copyright...

[2] http://www.ipinbrief.com/whyitsdifficultpredictstatutorydama...


After the infringement was discovered and before the settlement, I did have to register the photo with the US copyright office. It was a simple procedure and I think I paid $35. This was done to establish that I did indeed hold the copyright Toyota and friends infringed.


Good! I find it depressing how sites like that sponge value off of actual content creators.


It is very interesting business idea. No original research/thought/idea/journalism of their own. Scout common websites (reddit on top), find tidbits, use other people's work (their idea, photos etc.) and post lists. Get your blogger to dilute the content to pander to the most of web so that the virality factor increases, and the author should use "interesting" language. This formula gets you pageviews, and you are on your way to explosive growth.


OK let me start by saying... I really despise buzzfeed -- I think it's a waste of space on the web and notorious for stealing content and just re-flavoring it. I have created a little self-righteous boycott of the site where I refuse to click on anything from their domain. A man has got to have a code...

HOWEVER -- I think it would be REALLY fun to write for them -- I think the challenge of trying to figure out what's hot on the internet and what has people's attention and then trying to get as much traffic as possible would be a ridiculously fun daily challenge.

Would I ever actually consider doing it? Not a chance in hell


Oh definitely, it is a challenge to figure out how to gauge readers interests and more importantly to generate constant readership. But getting content by vetting internet forums, and regurgitating stuff is also not a taxing task. Let's see:

What is author's contribution in this article? http://www.buzzfeed.com/samir/drug-addict-robs-a-store-and-a...

Or this one:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/regajha/diesels-new-ad-campaign-feat...

Ha a post contributed by a community member:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/emilys123/15-signs-you-did-a-musical...

Or the cliched magazine cover story:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/jessicamisener/23-cringeworthy-magaz...

Or let's see what is hot on imgur: http://www.buzzfeed.com/bennyjohnson/obama-asks-the-hill-to-...

But looks like brain does some research:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/briangalindo/15-celebrities-you-neve...


> Get your blogger to dilute the content to pander to the most of web so that the virality factor increases, and the author should use "interesting" language. This formula gets you pageviews, and you are on your way to explosive growth.

It's a long-established business model that works. Just look at food grain.


You say "sponge value" I say "make visible". Content that no one can see has no value as content. Not defending this particular site, I think it's pretty awful. But some content creators should keep a feet on the ground too.


This guy should "keep a feet on the ground" about someone copying his work without his permission, profiting off it, and making it more difficult for him to use his own work down the line? I think he should be litigiously pissed, which he appears to be.


Can we stop talking about every single piece of content like it it were an original Dali?

Be happy your amateur photo got viewed by millions of people, go outside and take more photos.


And this is an example of one of the many, many reasons why intellectual property in the age of the leviathan state is a terrible idea, terribly executed.

As a practical matter you can't own public, unencrypted arrangements of bits. All attempts to enforce ownership of public, unencrypted arrangements of bits are forms of rent-seeking or forms of begging or, at the pleasant best, forms of politely asking other people to go along with your view of the world for a while.


I could not possibly disagree with that viewpoint more. I'm just going to paste my favorite statement from the internet loved Judge Posner.

"A distinguishing characteristic of intellectual property is its "public good" aspect. While the cost of creating a work subject to copyright protection—for example, a book, movie, song, ballet, lithograph, map, business directory, or computer software program—is often high, the cost of reproducing the work, whether by the creator or by those to whom he has made it available, is often low. And once copies are available to others, it is often inexpensive for these users to make additional copies. If the copies made by the creator of the work are priced at or close to marginal cost, others may be discouraged from making copies, but the creator’s total revenues may not be sufficient to cover the cost of creating the work. Copyright protection—the right of the copyright’s owner to prevent others from making copies—trades off the costs of limiting access to a work against the benefits of providing incentives to create the work in the first place. Striking the correct balance between access and incentives is the central problem in copyright law. For copyright law to promote economic efficiency, its principal legal doctrines must, at least approximately, maximize the benefits from creating additional works minus both the losses from limiting access and the costs of administering copyright protection."

http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/IPCoop/89land1.html


That quote doesn't support your viewpoint. There's nothing in that quote that I would say is wrong, and I would happily get rid of copyright entirely.


What? Not everything on the Internet is public domain. Just because I put a photo on the internet that's not encrypted doesn't make it fair game to go sell my photo.

Maybe I just didn't understand what you were trying to say...


His position, I'm guessing, is that when a good has no natural scarcity (pictures and music in digital form, for example, or compiled code), society should not be creating an artificial scarcity in its stead (ie. compelling others not to reproduce it through force of law). He views the idea of this compelled scarcity to be, basically, rent-seeking behavior codified into law.

I'm not entirely sure, but I suspect the "you can't own" portion of his statement was a point of possession and direct control, not necessarily law.

exratione, please let me know if I'm misrepresenting your position here at all, and I'll correct my post. (I'm intentionally leaving out my opinion, just trying to clarify yours. :))


The thing is, most physical goods no longer have natural scarcity in rich western societies like the UK or US. A bottle of water is not at all scarce, but it's still illegal to take it from a store and use it without permission.


That's not what scarcity means. There is a limited supply of bottles, and it costs real pennies to get some and transport them full of water.

Low-cost is not no-cost, and digital copies made by someone else are actually no-cost.


For any practical purpose, there is no limit on our supply of plastic bottles. They are incredibly cheap to make and the raw materials are incredibly abundant.

> Low-cost is not no-cost, and digital copies made by someone else are actually no-cost.

They're not actually no-cost, it's just that the costs are indirect so it's easy to lose track of them. For example, I'd be interested to see someone make and use a digital copy without a computer and electricity, both of which cost money. Distribution takes an Internet connection and servers, which cost money too.


>For any practical purpose, there is no limit on our supply of plastic bottles. They are incredibly cheap to make and the raw materials are incredibly abundant.

The raw resources for bottles are abundant, but it requires labor to make and transport them. Labor is not free, so bottled water remains scarce. If robot swarms will refill and restock bottles for you, then you can take one off a shelf.

>They're not actually no-cost, it's just that the costs are indirect

None of those come out of the pocket of the person being copied. I guess I was too unclear about specifying made by someone else. When we're talking about a '''theft''' scenario, the burden imposed on the person being '''stolen''' from is very important, and when it comes to digital copies they are uninvolved in the action and have no costs at all.


You're not playing fair with your comparisons. In the case of bottled water, you want to count all the costs of making the bottles, filling them, transporting, them, etc. In the case of digital content, you want to ignore the cost of producing the original, and focus only on the subsequent copies.

When you take a bottle of water, the cost of inventory (which captures the entirety of the amortized cost of production) is less than half of the harm to the shop keeper, because the markup on bottled water is well over 50%. The primary harm is the revenue the shop keeper will forego because he cannot sell that bottle.

In the digital realm, using a copyrighted piece of content without permission causes the copyright owner--who did have to invest in the original creation--to forego revenue as well.


>You're not playing fair with your comparisons. In the case of bottled water, you want to count all the costs of making the bottles, filling them, transporting, them, etc. In the case of digital content, you want to ignore the cost of producing the original, and focus only on the subsequent copies.

With bottled water, I want to count all the costs to the manufacturer of making a specific bottle: materials, wages, property taxes, equipment wear, etc.

With digital content, I want to count all the costs to the manufacturer of making a specific copy: none.

I'm not saying that unlimited copying of work is fair, I'm just saying that there is a qualitative difference in scarcity.

I don't really want to argue about what hurts more. I'll just point out that using nothing, or purchasing a license to work A, or purchasing a license to work B, can all be looked at as causing the creators of A and/or B to forego revenue.


There is no single manufacturer of digital content. In that respect, I agree that there is a qualitative difference.

The difference is that water bottle manufacturing is centralized, while digital content "manufacturing" is distributed--each person "manufactures" the digital content on their personal electronic device. That is, they use a device and energy that they paid for, to turn the IP into something that is physically consumable (sound, images, etc.)

So the concept of scarcity is different too, but it doesn't go away. There is still a physical cost to digital content, it's just unbundled from the act of creation.

You could not give infinite amounts of digital content to everyone on Earth, because you'd need to first give everyone an electronic device that can store and play it, the power to operate that device, and a means of digital distribution (network connectivity or shippable media). There are physical and cost limits on all of that.

Digital content only looks free and infinite if you ignore the required infrastructure.


But infrastructure is paid for separately. I'm ignoring the cost of the highways for water bottle shipping, because highways are needed with or without them.

Basically, since people already have computers and power for them to do things completely unrelated to getting this media, the 'cost' of a copy is in the same range as asking for one. Tap your phone against someone else's and you're done, for example. And if you think asking is a real cost then you've defined things so that it's impossible to be past scarcity, so I reject such a definition.


Yes, you have the correct interpretation.


I tend to agree with your point, but apart from the obvious question of paying creators, there is another question: what do we do with scarce, intangible resources, like creators' reputations? Suppose we abolished copyright. Should a creator be able to prevent the WBC from using their creations in a way that might defame the creator, or to promote a cause that is highly offensive to the creator?


> Just because I put a photo on the internet that's not encrypted doesn't make it fair game to go sell my photo.

But it should. Copying is not theft, and shouldn't be treated as such by law, even though it is now. IP is just wrong, we just haven't adjusted to that truth yet; we will eventually.


When you say "IP is wrong," do you mean that it's morally wrong, that you have a natural right to copy and sell any photo that you find on the Internet? Or do you mean that it's wrong policy, in the sense that we would all be economically better off without any IP? Or both?

I view IP as a useful tool that allows content creators to earn a livelihood from their work. If you oppose IP and support legal file sharing, you forfeit the right to complain about the quality of TV, movies, video games, etc.


I mean creating artificial scarcity is wrong; ideas are not property, digital content is not property. Property exists because of scarcity, absent scarcity, there should be no notion of property or ownership of something.

Content creators should not be using law to create markets that can't exist naturally. If they can't find a way to fund their work in a world where distribution is effectively free, then their work isn't worth paying for. That distribution used to be a profit center is a historical accident that's been fixed by the Internet.

You cannot prevent copying, and copying does not take something from you, it is not theft, you have not lost any property, anything that can be digitally copied has no right to be called property to begin with. It's a legal fiction created to manipulate people into associating copying to theft when nothing has actually been stolen.

I oppose all forms of IP, the world would be vastly better without it. Patents were not created for inventors, they were created to make that knowledge public.

When a law attempts to prevent something that cannot be prevented and that a majority of the population will do anyway; that law is wrong.

IP has created an environment where people expect to work once and then rent seek and be paid over and over again rather than just for the time they worked; this is wrong and artificial and leads to disparity of wealth distribution where people live forever off the work of others.


I believe he is talking about common sense vs. you talking about law.


To put your "arrangement of bits" trivialization into a more realistic perspective: A 3x2 true color bitmap with just 6 pixels requires 144 bits to store. There are thus 2^144 such possible images.

Lets pretend that every computer connected to the internet today starts randomly generating images. Lets optimistically say they can generate 1 million per second each, and optimistically assume there are 3 billion such computers. For any particular image as described above, these computers have an expected time to generate the image of around 2^24 years. That's almost the age of the universe so far. Increase the image size to 3x3 and those computers will effectively never generate the image (expected time something like 2^75 times the age of the universe).

Those bits in an image aren't arbitrary. Do not trivialize the importance of digital content by equating a picture to an "arrangement of bits." Even a seemingly very small arrangement of bits is extremely special.


I don't think that the non- arbitrariness of content changes the assertion - that attempting to own content is rent seeking or begging.


The uniqueness of an image is meaningless, it doesn't in any way stop it from being a simple arrangement of easily copied bits and absent such scarcity, the notion of property is meaningless. Property only makes sense when something is scarce.


BuzzFeed is notorious for STEALING content from other websites. Using pictures without permission isn't the only bad thing they are doing. They even copy/paste chunks of text verbatim into lists without attribution (For example "13 Things You Probably Didn't Know About the Movie 'Clueless" is comprised almost solely of sentences copied from the IMDB trivia page for Clueless, with no sign that they are anything but his own words.). Also their lists are rehashed from other blogs.

http://gawker.com/5922038/remix-everything-buzzfeed-and-the-...

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/business/2013/03/buzzfeeds-ha...

http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2012/06/...


From the article: "On Slate Jonah Peretti goes on to say ”would love if every image contained some secret metadata and a way to license that image. But the practical reality is that it is pretty challenging“."

Now there's an interesting startup idea.


Digimarc did this years ago but the problem has always been enforcement, not detection. As noted in the article, BuzzFeed knew where the image came from and could have figured out a way to license it pretty easily- but they didn't want to.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digimarc


Haha. What he meant was:

"I'd love it if it remained 'pretty challenging' to identify who owned what on the web, because our whole business model would crater if we had to pay for the content we rip off."


Exploiting other people's content is fundamentally baked into the business models of these guys and their "I-can't-believe-it's-not-plagiarism" cousins.


It already exists: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steganography#Digital

Unfortunately, it's easy to thwart. (just transform the image slightly)


Not at all. Enough methods, such as spread spectrum watermarking, survive a multitude of digital deformations and 'analog' attacks like printing and physically deforming. Action from 1.30 and German, but the demo is pretty clear. [1]

[1] http://www.3sat.de/mediathek/index.php?display=1&mode=play&o...


I can't watch the video, can you please provide some information/source about the technique.


I saw i paper a long time ago of a stenography quite resistant to transformations so the basic information was still extractable from the picture. Still i think that a photograph of the monitor would remove it.

EDIT: Even a photo filter might not succeed if it did a homogenous effect across the pixels.

I have to find that algorithm someday.


Knowing BuzzFeed, they would probably just apply a photo filter and call it a day.


That doesn't make it any easier to license, does it?


There's an industry effort to set up a universal licensing language and registry:

http://www.useplus.com/aboutplus/system.asp

https://www.plusregistry.org/

Though I can't say it's gained much traction.


Every photo on Flickr has a copyright tag attached to it. At least on Flickr it's not challenging at all.


This already exists:

http://www.photometadata.org/meta-resources-field-guide-to-m...

The problem is that the people you most want to follow this are the least likely to check IPTC metadata first.


You're missing the point. IDing the copyright owner is the easy part. Licensing the picture is the hard part - you have to write an email to the person and there's all this tedious back-and-forth whereas what the buyer wants is a one-click button like on Amazon.

Although the page you link to is a great resource, it's a sad fact that there's no metadata for 'Cost of 3-month nonexclusive license: $60 per million impressions. Remit-to: my_account@paymentprocessor.com'.

All sorts of restrictions on usage and what-all else, but no fields for price or payment method...the only two things that a potential buyer actually needs to transact business.

/facepalm


So in your scheme it would make sense to add some custom fields listing price and payment method rather than a URL where one could learn the current prices? In your hurry to make a teduously pedantic purported correction you might perhaps have misunderstood the problem: there are many ways to sell photos quite easily online but no way to force people to use one.


I disagree that that is the problem. There are many ways to sell photos online, but a photo editor doesn't want to be restricted to only browsing a pool such as Getty or Shutterstock (which are not open to all comers either). My argument is that while there are widely accepted mechanisms for establishing copyright status (eg CC-by-SA or sharealike) there's no universal standard to automate or streamline licensing, which is why (rent-seeking) brokerages persist.It's a shortcoming of the Creative commons approach that it doesn't include any sort of transaction mechanism for the CC-BY version. I went to Dan Catt's Flickr page; there's a statement of copyright but there's no link to buy a license for the photo. This is the problem.

Licensing is a pain in the ass because it's not automated; it's not automated because many artists are scared of pricing (and I say this as an artist). They're reluctant to stick a price tag on their work out of the fear that they'll pick one that's too low or too high and as a result there's no standardized way to license a an interesting piece of art you stumble across, other than by contacting the apparent copyright holder and trying to enter into negotiations, which is so time-consuming that it's often not economically efficient for the would-be licensee. It's cheaper to assume the business risk of occasionally infringing than to license IP without any standardized framework for doing so - especially for articles of this kind that are thrown together in the space of an hour or two. A URL is not helpful because (as with this example) we have no idea whether it will provide a mechanism to perform a license transaction or not.

What I'm proposing is adding term metadata that allow the information about pricing to travel with the picture like any other piece of metadata. It's kind of ridiculous to have all sorts of metadata codifying the creator/copyright owners ownership interest in the IP but not to include any on what that interest is valued at. If such term metadata were to become standardized in similar fashion to the Creative Commons licensing, then artists would be able to sell more of their work with less transaction overhead, while licensees would be able to buy with the same convenience that consumers enjoy.


> What I'm proposing is adding term metadata that allow the information about pricing to travel with the picture like any other piece of metadata.

This is a fundamentally naive view of the problem: the rates will vary over time and based on the usage and photographers will charge more for the front-page of a major magazine than their kid's PTA newsletter.

The solution is, again, a URL which allows all of those details be conveyed without trying to cram a soon-to-be-stale copy into the photo metadata.


Type:

    jhead -purejpg in.jpg out.jpg
And no pesky EXIF or IPTC to worry about. Hence digimark and others that put the info in the image.


That was the point of my last sentence: metadata exists for honest people who choose to do the right thing. Anyone dishonest can trivially strip this but the snake-oil vendors like digimark only raise that bar enough to catch the most inept thieves.

Put another way: Buzzfeed could trivially put a system into place to scan images to prevent mistakes. It would be a much harder problem to reliably stop dishonest editors – at that point, it'd be better to simply use something like TinEye or Google Image Search.


Until I take a screenshot of the image and then use that. Printers create a light band of yellow on every print that helps identify the printer it came from (counterfeiting with a store bought printer is stupid), maybe something along those lines would work?


It would be just as doomed as any other DRM scheme. You can't stop anyone from copying an image, removing any metadata that might be there, or even if they're clever, from cloning out a watermark.


Reading the original quote, and assuming good faith, they're wishing for some system that would permit them to establish an image's owner.

If you don't take steps to strip out typical metadata, such is indeed already present, in EXIF and IPTC fields.



EXIF


You can just image search your photos every X months.

I agree, it could be a startup.



Google images is better.


As you mention in your article, copyright infringement is not theft. You have a legitimate claim against BuzzFeed, but don't start using the terminology of MPAA/RIAA , unless you want to be hated as much as they are.


MPAA/RIAA aren't hated for abusing terminology. They're hated for extorting exorbitant payments from people (some of whom don't even own computers, let alone download copyrighted material) by abusing legal process (threatening people with lawsuits that are probably groundless, but which the defendants can't afford to pay a lawyer to defend). I doubt that the author of this article could ever deserve that amount of hatred.


> MPAA/RIAA aren't hated for abusing terminology.

Perhaps they aren't hated for it, but they sure are ridiculed for it. "You wouldn't steal a car"->"You wouldn't download a car" anyone?


That's not a terminology abuse, that's a hilarious misunderstanding of social norms.


Eh, I don't know. Is it really a misunderstanding if it is intentional?


Yeah right. They're hated because they look at the people ripping off their stuff and sites like ThePirateBay profiteering on their content and try to stomp on that sandcastle.


No, they are hated for doing the legal/moral equivalent of beating a child bloody for shoplifting a snickers bar. (And added to that, not taking especially good care that the child they happen to be punching is the one that actually took it).

Its not that they react to being ripped off, its that they react more like Los Zetas than law abiding shop-keepers when they do.


And also subverting the public domain (the Disney extensions) and trying to force everyone on the internet to do policing for them (SOPA). And pushing for much harsher IP laws both in scope and penalties.


The Disney thing is largely unrelated, the amount of content even a decade old being pirated is negligible compared to the latest whatever.


Actually it is related - they want to stop the creativity of the others.

RIAA/MPAA mission is simple:

They want to own all of the content, control the ways to distribute that content, that content to be used only as they say, forever.


Are we discussing why they are hated, or why people use sites like The Pirate Bay?

Because Disney is sure as shit related to the first.


I'm talking about the Copyright Extension Act in 1995, largely attributed to Disney, that makes really old stuff almost nobody is pirating remain copyright and out of the public domain?

The reasons they may be hated for that don't bear much relationship with copyright infringement which focuses almost exclusively on newly released things that would be copyright regardless of Disney's lobbying.


The Copyright Extension Act in 1995 is a significant part of why they are hated. It is anything but irrelevant or unrelated.

You are the one attempting to insinuate that only people who use The Pirate Bay object to their perversion of copyright laws and discussion. Multiple alternative reasons to be angry with them have now been presented to you, but you just claim they are unrelated because you assert that the real reason is that they are just interested in pirating recent things. In discarding these alternative reasons because they they don't mesh with your already unsupported assertion, you are begging the question.

People are in fact upset with the MPAA/RIAA for their abuse of terminology and all that it facilitates: the corruption of copyright laws, weaponized lawsuits, and the shackling of (frankly ancient) culture.

Pretend that people are only upset with their abuse of terminology because they want to pirate things all you want, but you are dead wrong.


If that were really true, then there should be markedly less piracy of content from publishers not affiliated with the MPAA or RIAA, but that doesn't seem to actually be the case.


How do you think that follows? I am not asserting that people pirate MPAA/RIAA content because they hate those organizations, nor do I think that is the case. That would be a foolish thing to assert.

I think that people pirate primarily opportunistically. Some of these people try to justify their piracy by saying they hate the MPAA/RIAA and pirate for ideological reasons, other pirates do not.

People, sometimes people who pirate, sometimes not, hate the MPAA/RIAA for a wide variety of reasons that have been beaten to death in this thread.


TPB are paramount in any accurate representation of copyright infringement as it exists today.

I don't dispute people are upset with the MPAA/RIAA, just that it has very little to do with Disney or material that shoulda/coulda/woulda been public domain at various times in the last century.

Centuries before Disney was created the copyright length was still decades longer than the age of material people primarily pirate.


You are completely ignoring the possibility that there exist people who hate the MPAA/RIAA despite not pirating. Furthermore you are completely ignoring the possibility that some people pirate opportunistically, and hate the MPAA/RIAA for reasons unrelated to their pirating habit.

You cannot strike out the possibility of non-pirating critics with evidence of what pirates prefer to pirate, since all critics just being pirates is your unsupported assertion.

  1. Critics are pirates.

  2. Pirates pirate new material.  Pirates are not concerned
     with old material.

  3. Critics are not concerned with old material.
2 is almost certainly true; I certainly do not deny it. 1 is your unsupported assertation. 3 cannot logically follow from 1 and 2 so long as 1 is unsupported. 3 cannot be cited as support of 1, that is circular reasoning.


TPB wouldn't have taken off on such a rapid trajectory if the MPAA and RIAA hadn't been so content to gouge the public in decades past.

Rabid public adoption of music and video piracy is most certainly a function of the public's perceptions re: price/value and anger at blatant collusion on the part of record labels to inflate prices.


Oh bullshit, most people couldn't give a flying fuck about that or they'd have boycotted the products before the internet came along. People like free stuff; it's not like they've been sending 1/10th of the money they saved on stuff they downloaded to the artists' fan clubs.


No reasonable person is going to hate him for using ordinary colloquial English. In ordinary English, we can "steal" many things besides tangible property.

If your friend convinces your girlfriend to leave you for him, it is common to say he "stole" her from you.

A sports team that wins from behind at the last minute against a supposedly better team is often said to have "stolen" the game.

If a restaurant owner paid a waiter at another restaurant to spy on the kitchen to figure out a sauce recipe, and then put that sauce on his menu, many would say the recipe was "stolen" [1].

Falling in love is often described as having your heart "stolen".

If someone bugs your office and hears you practicing your pitch for a startup incubator, and then they apply and pitch your idea before you, using the points from your pitch, most would say he "stole" your idea and your pitch.

[1] This may not be such a good example, because the recipe could be a trade secret, and "theft" might then be legally correct usage instead of just colloquial usage since misappropriating trade secrets is actually called "theft of trade secrets" in some jurisdictions. For instance, see 18 USC 1832, "Theft of Trade Secrets" [2].

[2] http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1832


It's theft of money. You do something that incurs a debt, but instead of paying that debt you simply keep the money in you pocket - money which is, by right, no longer yours. It's like bouncing a check. Generally speaking, that's chalked up as theft.

By focusing on the infinitely reproducible media (which cannot, strictly speaking, be stolen) the RIAA/MPAA made themselves look like idiots. But just because they failed to correctly identify what was being stolen does not mean that no theft was taking place. Focus on the money not changing hands (which obviously can't be duplicated) and the picture becomes a lot clearer.

Edit: Downvotes? I guess the truth stings, especially when the logic is airtight.


It really isn't.

1. Defaulting on a contract is, generally speaking, a civil matter and has nothing to do with theft.

2. There is no contract here, implied or explicit.

3. Buzzfeed haven't physically taken anything from the OP intending to permanently deprive him of it.

You seem to have received a few downvotes unfortunately, but I assume that is because your post is mainly bad metaphors supporting a faulty argument.

Edit: line breaks.


Straw man.

I said "check" not "contract" for a reason. Specifically, because it creates an obligation to pay that does not require a separate contract. Copyright law works in the same way, in that it creates an obligation to pay that does not depend on an additional contract between parties.

Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule. That is to say, copies that can be made without triggering a corresponding obligation. These are gathered under the Fair Use provision of the law.

There are also criminal and civil violations within copyright. But the larger point is that refusing to pay money owed is very much a form of deprivation.


I'm trying to inform you as to why you received downvotes. Perhaps regurgitating descriptions of logical fallacies makes you feel better, but unfortunately it doesn't improve your argument.

Theft has a specific meaning which you should learn before you make broad, sweeping, incorrect statements about it.

Even if your analogy had any relevance to this copyright dispute, it doesn't follow that theft has occurred. Giving a bad cheque is not theft. Giving a bad cheque with a certain intention may amount to fraud.


His argument isn't based on contractual relations. He's quite right; Buzzfeed has kept the money they should have paid him in licensing fees for using his picture, so they have it and he doesn't.


The law is a contract between you and the state.


Isn't that a little extreme? Don't see how a person protecting the claims on the photo of his/her own child that is being exploited for commercial gain by someone not authorized by the creator to do so is even in the same context as MPAA/RIAA stuff...


Eh, I think we understand what "theft" means in this context. It's "theft" more in the "theft of service" or "theft of value" sense: Buzzfeed has taken something that would otherwise cost money to use and has used it without payment ("theft of service"). And has potentially sapped value from it by making it tougher for the author to use as he wants (like in a book -- "theft of value").

"Theft" works, here.


The problem with doing that is it condones language-creep for rhetorical reasons.

Theft has a meaning which involves "taking with an intent to deprive the owner of their rightful possession". Sure I understand you when you misuse the word, but that doesn't make it a good thing.

My response to this is to say the OP is using extortion to squeeze money out of Buzzfeed with the threat of expensive lawsuits.

That makes him sound like a real bastard doesn't it? Because it isn't really extortion, it is a legitimate attempt to settle a legal dispute. My answer is... let's use words as accurately as we can, rather than twisting them to make our point.


"As the kids grow up I’ve been collection various “Parent Hacks” were I’ve discovered useful ways of doing things, with the aim of one day producing a “10 Neat Things I Learnt While Being A Parent“. Now one of those things has been splashed all over the internet, which kind of devalues the usefulness of the list I was planning."

The above is the thing I find most amazing. If you are compiling a list so that you can one day produce "10 neat things I learned" etc. then the last thing you should be doing is putting that info anywhere on the internet. The saying that comes to mind is "possession is 9/10th of the law".

By posting it online, multiple small parties will potentially take it, spread it around, and you will never have enough legal resources to police it. Effectively it is gone forever.


> The saying that comes to mind is "possession is 9/10th of the law".

The saying was never really that - only through bastardization and a gradual veering away. In fact, it was that "possession is nine /points/ of the law".


Am I the only one who think the OP may have overreacted?


I don't think he overreacted.

1st - the law is obviously on his side. 2nd - he is the little guy in the case which for me matters 3rd - he is not looking at extreme damages but is making a small claim. 4th - it seems to me that he is mostly annoyed for not being credited properly and being just dismissed/made fool of by the company statements.

And lets be honest - whatever a person views should be for non commercial infringement (mine are extremely lax) and sampling/transformation (the author should be entitled to part of the earnings, but should not have the ability to stop the work from being created or distributed) if you make money out of someone's IP he is in his right to say Fuck you, pay me! for some part of that amount.


No, you're not the only one.

I totally get him, but I think the way in he expressed his belief came up as just whiny.

Also I believe the problem is with copyright laws and not with BuzzFeed. They are not selling that image, they are just illustrating their content and the same article without his image would have exactly the same value.

But beyond all, what pisses me off the most is the blue background on those link, good lord!


I am not selling your code, I am just using your code verbatim without your permission to make money and compete with you.


I do open source software released under GPLv2 so, literally, be my guest.


Oh, you mean you gave the world permission in advance through a formalized licensing agreement? Just like the article's author didn't?


I have tried reading Cracked articles without the images to save traffic (they pay and attribute every image). It was not the same - the experience was degraded for me. Images do provide lots of value.


They changed the image for other similar to the original. How that changed the value?


Parent is arguing that having no image significantly changes the value. It is very challenging to determine how much value was created by using the infringing image, one that the court must decide. What is not challenging to determine is that the image provided some value (where that is a dollar or a million is a different question).

Actually, even if it provided no value whatsoever, even if Buzzfeed did not make a profit off of it, this would still be infringement and the photographer is entitled to remuneration.


> Actually, even if it provided no value whatsoever, even if Buzzfeed did not make a profit off of it, this would still be infringement and the photographer is entitled to remuneration.

I never said the guy was wrong. I said I think this is silly and he should just move on.


Why? What about this is silly? The man's photography was appropriated without permission by a commercial entity and used to generate revenue that he was never offered. This is the kind of thing that upsets content creators. What about it is silly?


If it doesn't change the value then why didn't they use the 2nd image in the first place?


He really just sounds like a butt hurt copyright troll.


I don't think you understand what the term 'copyright troll' means.


BuzzFeed bothers me as much as the next person, but how mad can you really be at BuzzFeed for linking back to the wrong page, according to how you see it, that still contains the original picture and is publicly viewable?


It'd be more nitpicky if the image were Creative Commons-licensed in the first place, but it wasn't. Buzzfeed linking back to the original is just pretending like it's CC and attribution is all that is required. (assuming they didn't just make a mistake)

Linking to the wrong page sounds like they were probably on that page to download the image, and when they went to get the attribution they just happened to have that tab open. Most likely laziness, not malice.


One thought that comes to mind is in the line "So all those 4 million plus views who may click through, will they count as “Views” on my Flickr page? No."

Bear that in mind - if this is accurate (and the guy once worked on Flickr), then linking to the download page avoids bumping the photo's view count up, which might indicate to the photographer that the photo's been featured on a highly trafficked page.


That sounds like a Flickr problem more than a BuzzFeed problem.


Well, that's why the author said it's why they're not _pleased_ with the way it was used - because they linked to it in the manner least beneficial to the creator.


The point is that they linked to the source, which did not specify that it was licensed under Creative Commons, and offered a convenient way to contact the photographer.


Linking back to a web page (any page) is not a get-out-of-jail card for copyright infringement.


Keep me updated. Really fascinated by your quest to get back the $75 they probably owe you.

My god it must be nice to have something like this actually be a problem in your life and make you mad.


* $500 to $5,000


This is worth 500 to 5000 in the same way that the Winklevoss twins should own half of facebook


In general there are many companies out there who create entire biz models on ripping off photographer's photos and compiling them into lists that sit side saddle to paid ads. I have lots of personal experience with this, and if a photographer registers his or her copyright, such companies are very much liable for compensating the artist. These companies know this. Most photographers don't notice the infringements or if they do haven't registered their images. If more photographers registered, the pool of stolen images would be full of many more legal torpedoes, so to speak, and the companies who are less risk averse would spend the 30 minutes it would take to brainstorm a system for getting images legitimately. (Hint: Cracked.com has accounts with Getty and Corbis. It's not that hard.)


I feel your pain. On the plus side, you take great photos and now I'm aware of your work (I know, I know — doesn't do much to help).


This is good to see. Too often the scum at Buzzfeed get away with blatant infringements.


It doesn't have to be this way, does it?

Yes, if BuffPo were to agree some payment for photo or writing reuse, they'd have much greater outgoings. However, they'd also then become legitimate channels for syndication, rather than incidental leeches.

I do profess some grim amusement in noticing that serial infringers - the Daily Mail comes prominently to mind - are never punished with anything greater than a nominal fee for whatever work they've lifted. Given these are outfits that are entirely based around profit (rather than simply linking to them in a personal journal, for example, with no money involved), surely the consequences for copyright infringement ought to be amplified, rather than diminished into inconsequentiality?

Imagine a BuzzFeed that shared the ad revenue with the creators of the photos involved. It wouldn't lead to anyone's early retirement, I'm sure, but we have the means to make such happen, very easily. Shouldn't such sites be working toward helping creators be rewarded for what fuels those very sites?


Now in Bulgarian! http://agronet.bg/agro-news/interesni-novini/874-2009-02-09-... Tineye seems to be out of date, but google image search comes through with a wealth of copies out there.


This guy has a great claim to some payment, anywhere from $500 to $5,000 (or whatever he can settle for). The usage without permission is not in doubt. The case for payment for this type of usage is well-established. The only question is how much. Buzzfeed is in the wrong and they should pay up, pronto.


He mentioned that many of his other photos are CC licensed and this is one of the exceptions. Isn't there any way they could have seen the CC licenses on his other photos and mistaken this photo for one of the CC licensed photo?


I asked Jonah about this very thing a year ago. His response was lacking IMO:

http://cdixon.org/2012/07/24/buzzfeeds-strategy/comment-page...


As an amateur photographer I've actually been in the same boat, but with an unnamed newspaper in the UK, it's an interesting process. It's also ridiculously common for media companies to use photography without licensing it properly, and whilst I've heard the argument of "don't post it if you don't want it using" it just doesn't work. The world would be a poorer place if creatives felt that they had to sequester their work away to maintain their own rights of control over their product.

Plus most of the time if you approach a photographer first you're going to get a much better deal than when you've decided that licensing it properly wasn't important.


I'm running into a similar problem with a trademark I hold for my brand (that I created and am developing). People have fast-followed with different (similar) Twitter accounts, but are calling themselves my trademark (thus diluting the brand). The problem is, I reached out to Twitter and they said that these accounts weren't in violation. I spoke to a lawyer who referred me to someone else. Should I pursue it further or just be flattered that they are promoting the name? The problem if I do that is that then everyone thinks it'll be okay, so the trademark is essentially useless. Any ideas? By the way, some of these accounts have > 400k followers where I only about about 5k.


What was the invoice amount for? You list all those reasons why "it's not worth a lot" is not a good argument...so what are you arguing it is worth? I have to say, your "I was going to use it" argument sounds a lot like "I had that idea first" argument for start ups. In the end, buzz feed can just execute with that photo better, your idea (no offense) was never going to touch 4.2MM views.

Definitely not saying you necessarily deserve nothing, but what amount did you put in your invoice? Want to know what you think the value is


Congrats, buzzfeed! You just made my hosts file.


Well Reverend ... I think your claim has merit but I'd be interested in knowing what denomination ordained you with language like that. I'd recommend you avoid curse-words like that in your court filing and in the event you talk with officials involved in your case.


> what denomination ordained you with language like that.

Huh?

How about I grew up on the other side of the world, in a completely different culture, where we don't care for words like 'denomination' and 'ordained'.

Welcome to the internet, which as you don't seem to understand, is global.


I never assumed you were from the US, though I'll admit I'm not as well versed in the operation of denominations, sects, religions, cults as I could be. Since your post was in English, I did assume it was a language you spoke and that at a minimum you'd have access to a dictionary that contained the words 'denomination' and 'ordained'.

So while I was curious before, now I just think you're a jerk, and I'm rereading your post in a different light (the jerk that's always got a chip on his shoulder light). Have a blessed day, night, evening, morning or whatever it is where ever you are.

* Also note that I didn't comment on your use of the swear words ... it's pretty common and I can filter it out and/or understand the exclamatory nature of the use.


Note: I'm not the OP of the article.


Um, you do realise that Dan Catt isn't really a priest or a minister, don't you?



Wait, how do you know any denomination did ordain him with that language? Or, wait, would you have preferred German?


Where is it written that a Reverend shall not use such language?


This one took me a while ;)

1) Koran - [4:148] GOD does not like the utterance of bad language, unless one is treated with gross injustice. GOD is Hearer, Knower.

2) Talmud - [Ketubot 8b] Even a heavenly decree for seventy years of good can be reversed if one perverts his mouth with improper speech.

3) Bible - [Ephesians 5:4] Neither should there be vulgar speech, foolish talk, or coarse jesting – all of which are out of character – but rather thanksgiving. 5:5 For you can be confident of this one thing: 8 that no person who is immoral, impure, or greedy (such a person is an idolater) has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

4) A gentleman has no skill in trifles, but has strength for big task: the vulgar are skilled in trifles, but have no strength for big tasks. - Confucius, Analects, c.400 b.c.

5) Buddism - "Right Speech" : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_speech#Right_speech

Note that I'm not sure where to look for other religions of the world.


Religious arguments frequently don't work like that. Where is it written, for example, that Catholics must not use condoms?


http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/encyclicals/docume...

Section 14, "Unlawful Birth Control Methods"


If you're religious, the prohibition is based on Genesis 38, in which a fellow called Onan avoided his familial obligations towards a woman, having sex for pleasure but pulling out to avoid conception. This irritates God, who promptly strikes him dead. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onan has an in-depth explanation from multiple doctrinal perspectives.


Here, actually: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpe...

Search the document for "contraception".


That's pretty much my point.


I think the GP has a fair question - the stereotype of people who label themselves 'Reverend' includes a considered reluctance to use profanity. It's not saying that reverends can't do this if they're 'real', but it is far enough out of the stereotype to ask just what kind of denomination is the author a reverend for?

Whether or not it's "written" somewhere doesn't mean that there isn't a stereotype as to how 'holy' men (it's always men...) should behave. Witness the confusion when Westerners got into Indian religions in a big way, then couldn't quite square the way some gurus shagged themselves silly - 'holy' men were 'supposed' to be celibate, if not in actuality, then at least in behaviour. It isn't the done thing to have your Anglican priest bragging about his last shagging session with his wife, for example.

Or is the author using 'reverend' as a joke appellation, without seriously being one?


It's just not polite. It's a nice post that could have been better had he used a nicer language.


Okay, that's a different view — one that I am more prone to agree with, although I feel the language did lend a visceral tone to the piece, which seems appropriate given the subject matter.


Someone needs to create a new internet where everything that makes it way onto it is automatically Creative Commons "by Attribution". If you can read it, you can use it (as long as you give credit).


This would not work, as it would be difficult to impossible to distinguish legit content from content uploaded by liars, thus breaking the trust model you are trying to create. Here, I uploaded the entire Harry Potter series via ebook, it must be Creative Commons; right?


Good luck.




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