Fair Use.

I recently had to delete a bunch of spam comments on older posts on this blog, which was tiresome except for the fact that I discovered some comments on an old post I had not read.

They related to my use of an image by Marc Vallee.

I didn't ask permission to use the image as it is my belief that the image I post on this blog are covered by the Fair Use terms of U.S. copyright law. Marc himself had asked my opinion on copyright in the comments, to which I replied that I was following Fair Use guidelines but if he wanted me to remove the image I would.

Fair Use is something that is hotly debated. For the record, most of the images I post on this blog are copyrighted. I do not always ask permission to use images and maybe out of respect I should. That is a failing on my part. I still maintain that the law allows me to use images on this blog in the manner in which I do. If the copyright holder disagrees then I will always remove the image as soon as I am asked. I have no objection to my own images being used on blogs and in any other non-profit manner. I of course want to get paid for my work but most blogs and the like are not money making exercises and are instead a source of opinion and information, two things that I believe people should be able to offer up freely should they wish. If I saw one of my photographs on a billboard in Times Square it would be a different matter, but if I saw it on a blog with commentary (good or bad) I would have no problem with it.

Comment and debate are important parts of our society and culture and I would hate for the world to turn into a place where nobody will allow anyone to comment on what people do without asking for permission first. That is a slippery slope toward censorship of debate and I do not like the look of that future at all. I am happy to put out opinions in public that people may disagree with. A friend once told me that I had really strong opinions. I inferred from her tone of voice that she thought this could be a bad thing. My response was that yes, I may have strong opinions on certain matters, but I will always listen and I am always open to changing my mind.

However, it appears that I managed to piss off a few people with the use of Marc's image and as such I will endeavour to be more respectful in future by asking permission. I have been intending to make this blog a little less random and a little more in depth anyway so perhaps it is time to take longer, post less often and generally be more aware of how what I post is perceived. The readership of this blog is tiny but that doesn't mean I should not take account of the fact that some people have a different interpretation of Fair Use, that the U.S. copyright law does not apply everywhere and that even if I am legally allowed to use a copyrighted work here, that doesn't mean I should do so without permission, purely out of regard for the copyright holder.

I never intended to cause any offence to those whose work I respect and if I have done so I apologise.


1 comment:

Benjamin said...

Over the top Tom, but heartfelt.

Take down the photo but don't apologise. Because the truth is, and this is a fact, that your post has the opposite effect of the way it was intended. Most people reading it will now think that Marc Vallee is some kind of egotistical prick who has shot himself in the foot, becaue no-one can read Phototgraphy Lot and not find it informed, respectful and challengeing.

Most people would be chuffed to end up on such an excellent blog.