Poetic Justice

U2’s upcoming album, due to be released on March 3rd, has already been leaked all over the internet after a mistake by Universal’s Australians branch.

U2 is a staunchly anti-piracy and pro-DRM group that advocates greater controls to ban individuals that download pirated material, and have accused ISPs that continue to ignore copyright theft of being facilitators themselves.

You can now download it as DRM-free 320kbps MP3s, although why you would want to listen to their dribble is another matter.

Copyright Notices on Photographs

There has been a lively debate going on over at The Online Photographer over watermarking photographs you post on the internet with copyright notices. My take on it is that someone who is mildly competent at Photoshop can remove the majority of watermarks on images, and so is only a deterrent to the most casual of image thieves.

The real problem is companies using your images for their own profit, without your knowledge or permission. Of course, this is why we have copyright law and civil law suits1 and having a copyright notice on the image is not going to affect it either way, and just adds annoyance to the majority of your audience and is ultimately a waste of time.

  1. No matter what the BPA says, copyright violations should be a civil matter not a criminal matter

Flickr’s censorship angers it’s own community

After Digg’s recent PR fiasco, you’d think other companies would learn that using the heavy handed approach on your community is a very bad idea. As Matthew Haughey explains:

If the Digg HD-DVD encryption key fiasco taught us anything, it’s that you can’t make rash top-down decisions and expect your community to be okay with it.

But, it seems Flickr (or it’s parent company Yahoo!) has been very heavy handed with Rebekka Guðleifsdóttir, a prominent photographer in the community. Rebekka found that a company was stealing her photographs and selling them through their website and eBay. She posted to Flickr about it, and gathered hundreds of comments. However the Flickr Staff have seen fit to delete that photograph, giving the reason Flickr is not a venue for to you harass, abuse, impersonate, or intimidate others. If we receive a valid complaint about your conduct, we will send you a warning or terminate your account..

Never mind that there weren’t any threats made by Rebekka at all, it seems Flickr got a little pressure from some lawyers about the public humiliation of a company and decided to blindly follow it rather than risk legal action. This is a sure fire way to drive a community to the edge, picking a company/lawyers over them when clearly the community is in the right and the company is wrong.

Flickr has since apologised for it’s rash decision to delete the photograph, although unlike Rebekka, I view this as no amends for it’s actions. My opinion of the Flickr Staff and Yahoo! have been reduced substantially, and I will probably not recommend their services as eagerly as I did before. This is not the end of Flickr by any means 1 and I hope it will continue to thrive and improve. But most of all, I hope it learns that you must respect your users and the community, and realises that while it may be relatively easy to get users and build a community, but make one wrong move and it might just come crashing down on you.

  1. I will still be using them, and although a few people have deleted their account in protest, they are in the extreme minority.
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