Sunday, August 30, 2015

"Fair" Use ? Exploiting Artists.

Some words, IMHO, simply should not be used as legal terms. "Fair" for one. "Fair" is too subjective; many people understand the term differently. What seems "fair" game to a student or a scholar or a person or business entity who is very happy to redistribute other people's property without permission, may not seem at all "fair" to a creative individual whose livelihood depends on the legal licensing or sale of their work.

My friend and colleague Marilynn Byerly recommends this article on Fair Use: 

Marilynn blogs about copyright here: 

On Facebook this week, artist Jon Paul Ferrara posted about the permissionless use of his artwork on the covers of some ebooks being sold for profit on certain retail bookselling sites.

Musicians and authors receive most of the attention when copyright infringement is discussed, although there was a memorable dust up in 2012 - 2013 when some websites claimed the right to turn "user-generated content" (ie uploaded photographs) into posters and wallpaper and postcards which the sites would sell for their own profit.  I saw my own paperback book covers offered as posters etc. I wonder whether the intent was that I should purchase it?

Quoting from TheTrichordist from 2013
"When Instagram attempted to change its terms of service that would allow the company to monetize the work of the individual without the individuals permission, consumers went ballistic. It seems that permission is not such a difficult concept to grasp when people are personally effected. This is why privacy is a much more universal issue, because everyone is effected by it....."

"User-generated" too often means "User-Uploaded" but not generated or owned by the site member.

Here's an excellent site that studied social media sites that strip metadata and copyright information from photographs etc.

Bouquets for Google, in this case. Brickbats for Facebook... apparently.

The sites that remove copyright information could be a potentially serious issue from copyright holders, because these sites, in effect, make copyrighted works look like orphan works or public domain works.  Why does the law allow this? If the artist's name can --and may-- be lawfully removed from a painting, why shouldn't the author's name that the title of a book be stripped from the book?

(I am not seriously suggesting that attribution and titles should be stripped from copyrighted books. My point is that it should not be stripped from artwork.)

For authors who are self-publishing, make sure you purchase your cover art from a reputable source, and make sure you have the appropriate licensing for your anticipated print-run or distribution. If there are photographers and models involved, see if you can obtain waivers from both.

My best,
Rowena Cherry

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