Sky's the limit
Hacks nick Twit pics then nix fixing it
When Sky News needed pictures of a shooting at Waterloo Station, it grabbed them from the nearest internet source – with neither acknowledgement nor payment.
This episode has now ended happily, with Sky News agreeing to pay tweeter Joe Neale a fee for using his pictures – but the episode does provide a stark warning for all those who fancy themselves as citizen journalists and put their photos online without adequate protection.
According to Joe, he was in meetings all day when the pictures first went up on 5 August. After a number of friends had contacted him to say it was on Sky News, Joe tweeted Jon Gripton, News Editor of Sky News Online to have the name changed from "Joe on Twitter" to Joe Neale. This took about 5 hours. Joe adds that he was told that he should have received an email - which he hadn’t – and that he needed to e-mail the editor, which he did, but with no response.
Joe later chased Sky’s Julian March with an e-mail expressing his continuing concern over what looked like Sky foot-dragging, and setting out the terms for payment. He wrote:
The conditions for using my photo without permission are £300 for the initial use on the front of the site and then charged at 5% for each additional week it is present on your site starting from August the 5th which will continue as long as the photo is present.
As it still ranks high in Google search and has no doubt done its part to generate a decent amount of revenue... Please find my invoice for £326.24 which permits usage of the photo up to today, Monday the 17th of August.
Joe turned up the heat by going public, using the hashtag #skypic. He tweeted: "Newscorp use your photos without permission but have plans to charge for reading their content". This references an announcement by Rupert Murdoch that from 2010 people will be charged for accessing his various sites. According to Joe, this highlights the irony that "Mr Murdoch doesn’t seem to mind not paying for material and happily infringes on other people’s work".
We asked Sky News for comment - and also asked whether it would mind if any of our readers made use of their images without attribution of payment, agreeing simply to settle up later. A spokeswoman responded:
Sky News has embraced social media as an important new source of editorial content and, like any major content owner, we recognise the importance of attribution of sources and copyright. We seek therefore, where possible, to either credit our sources, and/or fairly reward our contributors.
The moral of the story seems to be: keep an eye on what happens to your pictures. Because whilst the megacorps such as Sky and News International may be pretty hot when it comes to private individuals breaching copyright, they do seem to be somewhat slower to react when the boot is on the other foot. ®
@stu, I don't think it matters if the footage is current or not -- even if it were essentially stock footage, the creator of the footage is compensated.
That said, I also agree with "Anonymous Coward Posted Saturday 29th August 2009 03:01 GMT", I would not put up twitpics and then expect to be paid for their use. On the other hand, I can see the point that Murdoch's being a real asshat expecting to charge for news if he's just going to collect it for free via "citizen journalism", I'm thinking this invoice may be motivated by that as much as the actual use of his photo.
The lawyer you first approach in Britain is called a solicitor. He fetches in the barrister at a later stage. Oddly enough, "soliciting" is also an offence in British law.
Interesting to note...
That all those slating this man's actions are ACs, don't you think?
Big News (and Big Entertainment, where online "artistic endeavours" aka lolcats and shit are concerned) have been playing fast and loose with user-generated content ever since they became aware of its existence. Damn right it is an exploitative practice that deserves to be shamed and punished, because you and I know how they would (and do) behave when their own "intellectual property" is used without them getting their vig.
It's a hell of a lot harder for individuals to even regulate thieving of their work, and you can bet that many such abuses go undetected. Even if detected, going the legal route is too expensive for most individuals (even though the outcome is likely to be favourable, because a win for the thief would raise questions they don't want raised). As such, publicising the abuse is probably the smartest thing to do in order to get your due.
Certain people above seem to feel that the guy waived his rights by putting the material online in the first place. Horseshit; for the big boys to be able to claim any such rights over the original content they punt, him and his aunty Jessie have to have the exact same rights or the law is meaningless and unenforceable. The medium through which they publish is immafuckingterial.
Oh, and as for Murdoch's minions being "...just people in an office in London waiting for Friday night like the rest of us", so what? I could give a shit what they get up to on Friday night; if they can't get their fingers out of whatever orifice and contact a copyright-owner for attribution and terms, fuck 'em.