Checking Copyright

There’s a lot of material out there on the internet. And the nature of the internet means that it’s easy to reuse that material without paying any attention to copyright. If my browser can display an image, then I can save that image to my local disk and then, perhaps, use it on my own web site or in some other publication.

But just because it’s easy from a practical perspective, that doesn’t mean that it’s legal to do it. Much of the material on the web is subject to various copyright restrictions. And if you’re going to be a responsible internet citizen then you’re going to ensure that you are careful not to use any material in ways that are contrary to the copyright.

If you are, say, a national newspaper then you’re going to want to be really sure that you’re being careful about copyright. I’m sure that someone like (to pick a paper at random) the Daily Mail would get very upset if they found someone using one of their photos without permission or without giving correct attribution. It’s therefore reasonable to expect them to offer the same courtesy to others.

Take a look at this story about Philip Schofield and Twitter. Don’t bother to read it. It’s the usual Mail nonsense. They’re complaining that Schofield shares too many details of his life on Twitter. But they do it (ironically, I’m sure) by poring over every detail of a meal in the Fat Duck. No, don’t read the words. Take a look at the pictures. Schofield has illustrated his evening by posting photos to TwitPic. TwitPic is a Twitter “add-on” that allows you to share photos as easily as Twitter allows you share text.

Notice that the Mail have put a copyright attribution on each of Schofield’s photos. They all say “© Twitpic”, implying that that TwitPic own the copyright on the photos. But if you take a few seconds to read TwitPic’s terms and conditions, you find that they say:

All images uploaded are copyright © their respective owners

TwitPic lay no claim at all to copyright on the pictures, so the Daily Mail are attributing copyright to the wrong people. It’s not at all hard to find this out (it’s a link labelled “terms” at the bottom of the page – exactly the same, in fact, as it is on the Mail site), but the lazy Daily Mail picture editor couldn’t be bothered to do that and just guessed at the copyright situation.

And whilst we’re talking about the Mail not understanding copyright, it’s worth remidning ourselves of the nonsense in their terms and conditions.

  • 3.2. You agree not to:
  • 3.2.1. use any part of the materials on this Site for commercial
    purposes without obtaining a licence to do so from us or our licensors;
  • 3.2.2. copy, reproduce, distribute, republish, download, display,
    post or transmit in any form or by any means any content of this Site,
    except as permitted above;
  • 3.2.3. provide a link to this Site from any other website without obtaining our prior written consent.

Under clause 3.2.3, I’ve broken their terms at least twice in this article. But clause 3.2.2 is the really interesting one. You’re not allowed to download or display the content of the site. Which makes it rather hard to view it in a browser. Idiots.

Update: They have now changed the copyright on the photos to “© Philip Schofield/Twitter”. So that’s one less piece of stupidity in the world. The struggle continues.

One comment

  1. You’re not allowed to download or display the content of the site. Which makes it rather hard to view it in a browser. Idiots.3.2.2 says “except as permitted above”.

    3. Permitted Use# 3.1. Subject to clause 3.2, you may print and download extracts from this Site for non-commercial use on the following basis:* 3.1.1. no documents or related graphics on the Site are modified in any way;* 3.1.2. no graphics on the Site are used separately from accompanying text;* and* 3.1.3. no copyright and trade mark notices are removed.

    Which seems to me to be giving the explicit permission for viewing the site in a browser.

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