With the short Thanksgiving week, I thought we would touch on a few interesting stories developing over the last couple of weeks.
Photographer gets $1 million+ verdict from AFP and Getty for copied Twitpics
In my three part series on using images from the web for your news stories, we talked about the Morel v. Agence France-Press case. Agence France-Press, the Washington Post and Getty used images of the Haitian earthquake put on Twitter by photographer Daniel Morel. The Washington Post settled, but the case went to trial last week against AFP and Getty. AFP thought they had permission from the photographer to use the images, but they did not get permission from the right person.
Previously, a judge rejected AFP’s argument that it could use the images because they were put up on Twitter. The Twitter terms of service did not provide that the photographer gave his rights in the images away or grant anyone else the right to use the images outside of Twitter. In the trial, it turns out AFP did not follow their internal guidelines on the use of images or take immediate corrective action. The jury awarded the upper end of the statutory damages.
If you have policies, follow them. If you make a mistake, you fix it as quick as you can. You can read about the case here and here.
Engineering gift for girls’ video spreads on Facebook – lawsuit follows.
I have a daughter. I liked this commercial.
I assumed they had the Beastie Boys’ permission. Apparently, they did not and the Beastie Boys sent a copyright cease and desist letter. The people at Goldiebox fought back and filed a suit asking the court to declare the parties’ rights. Is it a parody or do the Beastie Boys have to do this to make sure more people don’t use their songs in commercials? You can read more about the case here with some legal analysis from the EFF here. At least Goldiebox will get some more attention with the lawsuit at the beginning of the holiday shopping season.
Want to criticize me, it will cost you!
KlearGear’s terms of service state:
“In an effort to ensure fair and honest public feedback, and to prevent the publishing of libelous content in any form, your acceptance of this sales contract prohibits you from taking any action that negatively impacts KlearGear.com, its reputation, products, services, management or employees.
Should you violate this clause, as determined by KlearGear.com in its sole discretion, you will be provided a seventy-two (72) hour opportunity to retract the content in question. If the content remains, in whole or in part, you will immediately be billed $3,500.00 USD for legal fees and court costs until such complete costs are determined in litigation. Should these charges remain unpaid for 30 calendar days from the billing date, your unpaid invoice will be forwarded to our third party collection firm and will be reported to consumer credit reporting agencies until paid.”
A Utah couple criticized KlearGear on RipOff Report. Soon thereafter, KlearGear sent the couple a bill for $3,500. KlearGear never sued, but did report the couple as delinquent to the credit reporting agencies. We have talked about being proactive, but not too proactive, when it comes to online complaints. Since the news of this broke, KlearGear has shut down its Facebook page and its Twitter feed to hide from the blow back. You can read more here, here and here. This is not the kind of press you want before the shopping season.
Update 11/27/13 - a lawyer is now representing the couple and has sent a demand to KlearGear to remove the notation with the credit agencies or face a Fair Credit Reporting Act lawsuit. Read about it here.
Reputable companies line up to support TheDirty.com
Finally, we update you on the Jones v. TheDirty case we have talked about before. This is the suit by a former Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader against the website TheDirty. A Kentucky judge allowed the case to proceed against the rumor and trash site despite Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which normally provides immunity for website operators based on user generated content. The jury awarded $380,000 and TheDirty.com appealed.
While some may believe the ends justified the means against this particular defendant, the refusal to dismiss this case flies in the face of almost every other Section 230 case. In this case, the court wrote “the very name of the site, the manner in which it is managed, and the personal comments of defendant Richie” shows that the site “specifically encouraged development of what is offensive about the content.” TheDirty.com asks people to “submit dirt.” Their submission form has entries for the “dirt,” and provides a link to upload photographs. The court seized on the fact that in response to the post about Jones, the site operator wrote “I love how the Dirty Army has a war mentality.” Thus, no dismissal by the judge.
Section 230 has its place. Imagine if Facebook, Google, or YouTube could be sued or had to police all of the user generated content. I don’t think those services would exist. That’s why many of them have filed amicus briefs with the Sixth Court of Appeals urging the court to reverse the ruling and dismiss the claims. You can read more here about how and why the likes of Amazon, Google, LinkedIn, Google and Microsoft are asking for the reversal.