Just in case you missed it, over the weekend there was a bit of an Aussie blogger stoush between Tim Blair
and Anonymous Lefty
(barrister Walter Jeremy Sear). The stoush developed as an offshoot of an ongoing battle between AL and Iain Hall
. When Blair joined the fray, the already nasty situation became decidedly nastier. (The Blair comments are here
; the AL comments can be accessed here
The brouhaha started when AL posted a photo of his cat – the cute kitten at top – that was then copied and reposted by Iain Hall. AL made his displeasure known by posting this – here's the whole thing because it has since been heavily modified and reposted
under a different title (the bolded text removed):
Copyright Infringement via stealing cat photos
This is a photo of our cat, taken today. (Unfortunately I didn't get a photo of her hanging by her front paws when she slipped, as I put the camera down and went to rescue her. Capture the cute photograph... or save kitten from plummeting to the ground? Sadly, I picked the latter.)
Copyright in this image is owned by me. No-one is entitled to reproduce it without my express permission.
Although, of course, I didn't need to actually write those words. They go without saying. Because - as most people with even the most basic understanding of copyright are aware - copyright exists from the moment the work is created. It doesn't need to be registered. It doesn't need to be announced. It doesn't need a little "c" in a circle stuck on it. Simply, the copyright in the image automatically belongs to the person who created it, immediately. And it continues to do so for a fairly long time. Works don't enter the "public domain" until seventy years after the death of person who created the work or, if the work is published anonymously, seventy years after it is published.
Theft of such an image is, of course, covered by the Copyright Act 1968. Those who claim their theft is "fair use" might want to read sections 40-42 of the Act. Simply copying a photograph of someone's cat is extremely unlikely to qualify as "fair dealing for purpose of research or study" (s40), "fair dealing for purpose of criticism or review" (s41) or "fair dealing for purpose of reporting news" (s42).
Copyright is indeed a complex and evolving area of the law, but as it relates to photographs, it's well-established - certainly as to the question of whether people can just take others' photographs and reproduce them, particularly where the owner has notified that person, declared ownership in the photographs and requested that those photographs be removed. (The answer is, "no".)
If you happen to be stealing any works of mine, text or images, (and I know of at least one person who is), please stop it immediately.
ps Friday cat photo! How fun and light-hearted is that?
That, coming from a barrister, is obviously a very thinly veiled threat. Enter Blair with this
, including a photo of Sear:
Oddly, copyright hardliner Sear (below) frequently publishes borrowed images at his own site.
It quickly emerged AL's a habitual image hotlinker, making him a prolific bandwidth thief. AL responded with the everybody-does-it-and-anyway-it's-not-worth-much defense
The original complaint was about a malicious person using an image and refusing to take it down after requests by the owner to remove it. This is completely different, obviously, from a blogger "hotlinking" to a news image, or a popular culture image, where the bandwidth involved is miniscule, and the creator of the image does not object. The former hurts the copyright holder; the latter doesn't. Obviously I wasn't condemning a fundamental part of blogging. Most of us don't mind our images or work being shared occasionally; there is a limit, however, which is what had been reached in this particular instance.
I'm not convinced hotlinking is the right way to post images, particularly when (like AL) you're running four image-rich blogs
. Regardless, in habitually hotlinking at his four blogspot sites AL is ignoring the following advice
Adding Images "from The Web"
If you choose to "Add an Image from the Web" using the image upload feature in Blogger, you shouldn't use an image location that is hosted at someone else's expense without their permission. Sometimes this is referred to as "stealing bandwidth" because every time your blog loads, the image is loaded from their server, and this person likely incurs an expense.
Before you put an image in your blog, realize that some images are protected as intellectual property through copyright. This means that the creator has sole legal rights to their works and may not want you copying and displaying them. If you are unsure whether or not an image is copyrighted, it's best not to risk it. However, there are places which make it easier for you to find images you're allowed to use:
Flickr: Creative Commons
Creative Commons Search
So, as it turns out, Anonymous Lefty is considered a thief by his own host. He is a law unto himself.
(Cute kitten photo copied and reproduced for the purpose of reporting the news.)