CityTV in Toronto punished for using Flickr photos and not giving proper credit to owner

CityTV in Toronto had a great story. Burglar gets caught in the act by home owner, attempts to get away by leaping off balcony, busts his leg, and someone snaps pictures of the poor sap while he lays on the ground as cops are called and arrive to the scene. What avid Flickr user Joel Charlebois did with the photos afterward is the real story.

When CityTV heard him mention that he was going to post the photos to Flickr, they not only checked them out but used them in a news story. Problem is, there was no mention of the person who took the images. This is also known as a violation of copyright. As any good Flickr user and avid photographer will tell you (like Duane did on his blog post on this same topic), you protect the things you love. Yes, you can protect your photos on Flickr with a copyright, and the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council agreed with the complaint brought against CityTV.

Charlebois, displeased, took his case to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC), and today, nine months after the complaint was filed, a majority of the National Specialty Services Panel found that City’s broadcast did indeed violate the Association of Electronic Journalists of Canada’s RTNDA Code of (Journalistic) Ethics, which states that “Plagiarism is unacceptable. Broadcast journalists will strive to honour the intellectual property of others, including video and audio materials.” (The full decision is here.) The panel took particular issue with the lack of credit to Charlebois, stating that “the broadcaster knew full well the identity of the photographer whose still shots were used in the news report,” an omission that they deemed unfair, for news reporting or otherwise. (They note that the American RTNDA states that “professional electronic journalists should…clearly disclose the origin of information and label all material provided by outsiders.”)

As a result, City must issue a rare on-air statement at least twice, during prime time, over the next ten days. That statement will follow a script set by the CBSC, stating that, in part, the news organization breached the aforementioned Code of Ethics and “included three still photographs of the injured burglar without providing any credit to the photographer, whose identity was known to the broadcaster. By failing to provide that accreditation, the broadcaster has failed to honour the intellectual property rights of the photographer.” [torontoist]

What is important to me on this story is that intellectual property was protected as it should be, no matter how it is being utilized. On top of that, it gives comfort to know that mainstream media will be held accountable for violations of copyrighted material. It’s not a full safety net, but that means that even the little guy stands a chance against big media companies when it comes to protecting your content.

Even Charlebois admits in the story that all he was really concerned about was the proper accreditation, not the punishment handed down to CityTV. I think it’s interesting to note that there is very little discussion of fines or compensation.

Bum Rush The Charts follow-up

Bum Rush The ChartsInstead of tacking on an update to my original posts here and here about Bum Rush The Charts, I thought I would throw a few more thoughts into the aftermath that was. After all, I helped promote this event/movement, and you probably assume thoughts that I have on it. Yes, I liked the concept, but the discussion in the spheres of blogging and podcasting urges me to think out loud a little bit more.

GZExpat is a long time, non-supporter of all things iTunes, and The Reverend Don Deeley has presented me with numerous theories of everything that is wrong with DRM[wiki], which is what every single thing you can buy from the iTunes Music Store is laced with. It’s that thing that prevents you from duplicating, copying, or moving the file in which you purchased within certain parameters.

Some people are unaffected by this, but that’s like saying you can drive the car that you bought here and here, but you can’t drive it here, park it there, or you have to give up your car after you drove it for six months. So let me be in agreement, I am all for opening up DRM across the board, just like what Steve Jobs proposed in his little white paper that he lofted at the music industry nearly two months ago.

Bum Rush The Charts resultsIn a slight manner of speaking, that is what BRTC was about, except it goes a little further than this. The ultimate goal was to push an independent artist to the top of the iTunes charts. It fell short, but the results still showed an effect. Will major music executives care? Probably not, but it shows that independent media can push independent music in a user driven capacity.

Don’t think for a minute that Billboard Music Charts[wiki] work this way. The only reason someone sits on top of that chart is because of the millions of dollars that is spent on marketing that artist. It’s a funneling of big music pushing their focused, narrowed down product to big radio networks who only play a certain amount of artists in their regular rotation on the hot hits stations. It’s what they want to sell and make the maximum amount of profit, not necessarily what you should or want to hear. And if you find that hard to believe, remember when ska was hot? Don’t hear that much on the radio these days because some marketing trend guru says the most amount of profit potential lies in some other genre.

Dave Slusher made a post as to why he was abstaining from BRTC, and I completely respect the idea he presented. However, the aspect of getting respect from traditional or mainstream media is not the reason I bought into this. If anything, I saw this as a really great experiment of what is possible through the combination of blogging, podcasting, and combining that with independent music.

In the end, it proved that it has the potential of being very effective. You can argue all you want about the over all method, but science works the same way. You run an experiment, test the results, and then look another way to test the hypothesis in order to validate your data. That’s not to say that this will happen again anytime soon, but no one can say with complete sincerity that this trial produced some results that are worth raising an eyebrow at.

Podcast Ready vs. Apple vs. the telephone game

It’s been interesting to watch this unfold over the past few days. There are some folks that have been waiting for the moment to jump on Apple over everything they are doing within the world of digital media, DRM, copyright, trademarks, and so on. This is no exception.

Apple Computer has slapped Podcast Ready with a “cease and desist” letter, claiming that the terms “Podcast Ready” and “myPodder” infringe Apple’s trademarks, and that they cause confusion among consumers. The company has been cracking down on use of the word “pod” by all sorts of parties, even though its trademark is for the word “iPod.”

Podcast Ready CEO Russel Holliman said he’d consider dropping the name myPodder if he had to, but “Podcast Ready”? If that’s infringement, Apple is claiming that it owns the word “podcast.” Sure, the word originated with the word iPod, but most people now see it as a general term for downloadable audio shows that isn’t affiliated with one brand more than another.

Coincidentally, Apple’s letter arrived the day before Podcast Ready unveiled a new version of its software — one that works with the iPod. [wired]

The full version of this letter to Podcast Ready can be found on their site here. The debate is beginning to subside, and the way it has unfolded opens up a couple of observations.

The majority of folks reporting this took this as Apple making the move to trademark the term “podcast” so that no one can use it without their permission. Upon reading the full text of the letting from Apple’s lawyers, this isn’t exactly what this action is intending to do. However, people jumped on it and began bashing the move without getting the full story. In fact, the words “cease and desist” never appear. That didn’t stop the bloggers and podcasters from slamming Apple’s legal action against Podcast Ready.

Podcast411 released a special, soapbox episode[listen] about this issue, and it digs deep into the issue. In fact, Rob did his research, got a copy of the letter, talked to people at the U.S. Patent Office, and reviews how media organizations poorly reported this news. I had a feeling that there was more to this story, and this appears to be the truth. Adam Curry examined the issue as well on a recent episode of the Daily Source Code[dsc#468] and echoes what Rob said on Podcast 411.

Simply put, Apple is defending their right to what they have legally trademarked. “Podcast” is not under threat, and no one can trademark something that exists in the public doman. That’s like someone trying to get a patent on “television” or “radio”, and there is no way that will happen.

There are some folks that take issue with the word “pod” itself, as Apple claims trademark over it. To that, some say the name for the medium should change. I’m sorry, but “netcasting” is the worst thing I have ever heard. It sounds too similar, in meaning, to streaming. Podcasting is what it has come to be. You’ll be hard pressed to change it now.

The last thing I take issue with is the way that so many reporters took up this story without getting all their facts in check. posted a follow up to the story above, with a copy of the letter to Podcast Ready. Not once did they mention anything about getting clarification on the matter by actually seeing a copy of the request from Apple’s legal team. There’s poor journalism going on here.

Regardless, Podcast Ready now has more publicity than it could have ever imagined.

The RIAA doesn’t want your next of kin anymore

The Recording Industry Association of America[wiki] had a lawsuit against a Larry Scantlebury of Michigan for illegally downloading music over the net. Apparently, the actual offender was his stepson, but, naturally, the lawsuit came against Larry. This sounds like a common story that we’ve heard before in the news.

What’s unusual is that Larry passed away in June. Did the RIAA drop the case? Nope.

The RIAA represents Warner Bros. Records, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, UMG Recordings, BMG Music, Arista Records LLC, Capitol Records, Inc., and Atlantic Recording Corporation all of whom brought suit against Larry. The lawyer representing the RIAA is Matthew E. Krichbaum of law firm Soble Rowe Krichbaum LLP (although I’m not sure if he’ll answer, he can be reached at in case you want to ask him questions about the case). […]

Getting back to, Mr. Scantlebury, apparently, his death isn’t enough for the RIAA to take its business elsewhere. No, Krichbaum has already invested time and resources into this case and so now, he must still bring it across the finish line. So, in pursuit of a settlement with our war heroe’s estate, Krichbaum has made a motion to allow Larry’s family 60 days to grieve after which time they’ll have to give depositions. [zdnet]

Two months and then his family was under the gun by the RIAA to pay up on the settlement. Incredibly cold hearted, yes. There is something to be said about how the legal system works in events like this, but compassion is not apart of the equation here. Deaths in the family take a toll on emotions and finances, so even a year or two could have been more appropriate if they were that hellbent on seeing the case through.

Now that this story has circled the news outlets and blogs, the RIAA is doing some clean up to their image of being a heartless beast of control. They dropped the case.

Our hearts go out to the Scantleberry family for their loss. We had decided to temporarily suspend the productive settlement discussions we were having with the family. Mr. Scantleberry had admitted that the infringer was his stepson, and we were in the process settling with him shortly before his passing. Out of an abundance of sensitivity, we have elected to drop this particular case. [boingboing]

Aside from misspelling Scantlebury’s name, the RIAA is showing some heart and a swift CYA move in the public relations department. Maybe the spelling issue actually shows some human element, but they’re far from able to demonstrate a sense of humor. Cory Doctorow lays it out pretty well on the same post over at BoingBoing.

This is reminiscent of the RIAA’s approach to things like YouTube lipsynch videos: “our songs are released to be listened to and nothing more; should you dare to make them part of your life, we will use the copyright law we bought to break you.” [boingboing]

Give, take, and then you sue

Around seven last night, Rebecca was in front of her computer when she told me about an ongoing issue that Kris Krug was dealing with. It might not be so truthful to saying it has been long running or constant, but it quickly escalated last night. I’m incredibly intrigued by the situation, so allow me to explain a little.

Krug made this post back in February that details how Kevin Corazza had stolen photos on Flickr and claimed them for himself. In fact, the photos in question belonged to Krug, and when contacted, Corazza removed the disputed photo sets almost as soon as he was discovered. Then yesterday, Kris got a cease and desist from lawyers representing Corazza.

I checked out the post and went wandering around the photo sets of Kevin Corazza to see if I could find the disputed photos. That’s when I clicked the next picture to view only to have “kcorazza is no longer active on Flickr” pop up, big and bold in the middle of the window, all of this happening within a twenty minute time span.

This makes little sense, and it really pains me to some extent. I often run into the stereotype that Americans (Kevin Corazza) are quite content with pursuing legal action (suing) in order to get their way (money). You won’t hear me disputing this, and the whole situation at hand makes it even more apparent.

It almost makes me curious about getting Kris on the podcast to chat about this a little. The implications from this could fizzle or really try the creative commons license[wiki, flickr] that everyone falls under when they sign up and post on Flickr. There are some copyright issues to hash through on this one.

Update: This has made its way to Digg, and the discussion is getting very interesting.  Join the photo hunt on Flickr and see if you can match other people’s photos there to Corazza’s personal website.  Amazing…