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Creative Commons and the Case of the Hotel Pool Sperm

In the past, I’ve written on how fucked up Creative Commons licenses are for photographers. Thanks to my eFriends and the internets, I just found a great example of what I was talking about.

NJ.com posted a story about some polish teenager claiming she got preggers in a hotel swimming pool and her mom buying that load of bullshit and suing the hotel. Right next to the article there’s a picture of a girl in a swimming pool, that must be the chick from the story, right?

The girl in the picture isn’t Magdalena Kwiatkowska, it’s a self-portrait by flickr user santiana, who forever gets to have her image linked to terms like “teen pregnant from sperm in hotel swimming pool”. NJ.com did nothing wrong, santiana used a CC license, as god intended.

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Filed under: shit that grinds my gears

5 Responses

  1. mike says:

    while this is a comical example of CC licensed photos, i don’t doubt for a minute that if someone thought this photo fit the article, regardless of license, it’d be used. life as a photographer is hard (that’s not what i do for a living).

  2. Henrik Bøgh says:

    Actually NJ.com did something wrong (unless the license of the photo has changed).

    Looking at the photo now it is licensed as CC Attribution 2.0 Generic (the one you also links to). This license clearly states that:

    “You may distribute, publicly display, publicly perform, or publicly digitally perform the Work only under the terms of this License, and You must include a copy of, or the Uniform Resource Identifier for, this License with every copy or phonorecord of the Work You distribute, publicly display, publicly perform, or publicly digitally perform.”

    And

    “If you distribute, publicly display, publicly perform, or publicly digitally perform the Work or any Derivative Works or Collective Works, You must keep intact all copyright notices for the Work and give the Original Author credit reasonable to the medium or means You are utilizing by conveying the name (or pseudonym if applicable) of the Original Author if supplied; the title of the Work if supplied; to the extent reasonably practicable, the Uniform Resource Identifier, if any, that Licensor specifies to be associated with the Work, unless such URI does not refer to the copyright notice or licensing information for the Work; and in the case of a Derivative Work, a credit identifying the use of the Work in the Derivative Work (e.g., “French translation of the Work by Original Author,” or “Screenplay based on original Work by Original Author”).”

    While the article actually does include a link to the photo-author, NJ.com doesn’t “include a copy of, or the Uniform Resource Identifier for, this License with every copy” and doesn’t “keep intact all copyright notices for the Work”.

    I agree that it is a problem that Creative Commons over-simplify their licenses (it’s a bee in my bonnet), but NJ.com looks like a professional media company and that warrants a read of the complete license text.

  3. St. Ansel says:

    You know… that doesn’t change the point of the post. Adding a link directly to the license won’t change the fact that the flickr user’s image is being used to illustrate an article about hotel pool sperm.

  4. Henrik Bøgh says:

    Apparently I manage to fuck up my copy paste, so the second last paragraph didn’t get in:

    The original license also states that “You must […] give the Original Author credit reasonable to the medium or means You are utilizing by conveying the name (or pseudonym if applicable) of the Original Author if supplied; the title of the Work if supplied”. By convention that would be either below the image in a printed media. For electronic medias using the alt-text should suffice. NJ.com didn’t do that either.

    But that said: No it doesn’t change the simple fact that santiana’s image was used in the article on NJ.com. And if she hadn’t used a CC-license it most probably wouldn’t have. But I still think that your final remark about “NJ.com did nothing wrong” is off-key.

  5. AngryChris says:

    Doesn’t the woman in the picture have grounds to sue for libel then? And isn’t that independent of the license under which the picture is distributed?

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