Thursday, July 02, 2009

Culture Northern Ireland borrowing Orangefest photos from Flickr?

Snippet from Culture Northern Ireland article

Reading through Culture Northern Ireland's latest newsletter, I clicked on the link to an article titled Orangefest. And was surprised to recognise one of the photos half way down the page.

As part of a concerted effort to discover what the Twelfth was about - which had included some history, launches, bonfires and later on a trip to the field - I spent the morning of July 12 last year perched on a traffic island just outside the BBC in Belfast, watching and snapping the (large) bands and (small) lodges as they split and marched past on either side. (It's an excellent spot if anyone wants a good vantage point this year!)

For a while, a girl who'd been standing with her family on the roadside, came across and sat on the traffic island, joining our crowd of mad people and the odd press photographer who came and went. She was decked out in Twelfth clobber, yet had none of the celebratory attitude to do with her fashion. Instead, she sat and looked into the distance. I held the camera to one side and surreptitiously (sounds better than "sneakily") took a couple of shots.

The original photo - copyrighted!

Now I've never got around to choosing and applying a license to my photos on Flickr. One of those many things I've never quite got around to. For now, the're all sitting there with a copyright symbol beside them. I've never refused anyone permission to use a photo who's asked ... and when I've wanted to use someone else's for the blog, I've learnt to pop a comment on to say and ask if they mind.

The original CNI article

So I was surprised to find that Culture Northern Ireland had filched a picture from my Flickr feed without asking, and without acknowledging. Particularly hypocritical given the link at the bottom of each page to their strong copyright statement that covers the CNI site, and the individual copyright link up at the top of the article!

Of course, maybe they just nicked it off the blog post and not Flickr?

I wonder who supplied the other shots the illustrate their piece?

And in case they're wondering - they are welcome to use the shot - just would have been nice if they'd asked.


Keith Anderson said...

I don't usually ask, but i always make sure to link back to the original on Flickr. that way the user gets the cred and will also find out i'm using the pic. I would take it down if asked, but it hasn't happened yet.

Bad craic from CNI. i hope you emailed them your per-pic-rate

Alan in Belfast said...

I normally check the license, and even if it's copyrighted, go ahead and use it, but always put a comment on explaining it was used, with a link, and offering to remove it if they want.

A bit like the guy who "borrowed" my BarCamp Belfast blog post to use as a starter template for his own, it's nice to be copied, but somehow when you don't know (and then find out without being told) it zaps away a part of you.

Stephen Barnes said...

If it's copyrighted it can't be used without permission. End of.

Having just checked the NUJ rates page, and assuming this is a 400 pixel image, for one month, they've just saved themselves £90 (or you've missed out on £90, whichever way you want to look at it).

You can either send them a bill for the £90, and say if paid within 4 weeks you'll not take further legal action, or you can let them use it for free. The problem with the latter is that too many people do this, and hence the THEFT of images by companies is all to prevalent and rising, simply because they can get away with it.

DigMo! said...

It might also have been they were emailed the article with photos attached ? I would send them an email anyway as they do have the strongest copyright notice I have seen on any local site.

Alan in Belfast said...

Don't worry, I emailed them a few minutes after posting on the blog.

If they could only fix their CNI podcast feed which failed to work on iTunes for a long time and *still* fails to work for one podcast in five. Arghh.

Timothy Belmont said...

Perhaps it's pure ignorance, but I assumed pictures on Flickr were there to share! I use them all the time without asking, to be truthful. Is this wrong? I have asked twice for permission to use to photos of country houses and I got permission.
I used a flickr photo of a bullfinch the other day simply because I don't have any of my own.
Should I have used one from Google Images instead? Is it OK to use Google Images pictures?


d.lewis said...

Oops, hands up and apologies Alan. We were on a tight deadline yesterday and thought the pic was copyright free. The reason we were desperately scouring the web for 'family friendly' Twelfth pics was that the press shots we had from the Orange Order were pretty old school - marching bands etc - and didn't really fit the new Orangefest image they're trying to portray.

To answer Tim's question, it's not OK to use Google images or any other web images unless you've got permission or you're sure of the copyright situation. Lots of people do of course, but you can easily get caught out as this incident clearly shows!


Timothy Belmont said...

Thanks for that, David. I'm learning! Silly question: without spending ages on a picture, is there a quick way of finding out whether it has or hasn't copyright? Or do you always need to send an email and wait all day for a reply? :-)


Alan in Belfast said...

David - thanks for confessing!

(Now go and fix the podcast feed.)

d@\/e said...

I'd like to know what the subject of the photo thinks, does she even know it's on the net? Was she or should she have been asked permission for the photograph to be taken?

Alan in Belfast said...

Technically, she sat in a public place beside a pile of photographers ... much like the other spectators, bands and marchers.

But the answers to your questions:

Does she know ...? probably not.

Was she ...? no

Should she - perhaps - but observation changes the observed and she wasn't unaware that she was in people's shots.

Stephen Barnes said...

Timothy - if you look at the Additional Info on the photo page you'll see the licence. All mine, for instance are "All Rights Reserved", but you may see one of the 5 Creative Commons licence types (eg. no commercial use, share alike etc). I have found a couple of my images used without my permission and seriously considered not posting anything more to Flickr - instead I watermark all images and apply searchable metadata.

D@ve - AiB alluded to it, but you don't have to ask permission to shoot ANYBODY or ANYTHING in a public place. You can sell your image for editorial use, but for commercial use you need to have a model release.

Timothy Belmont said...

Thanks for that, Stephen. I'll check the next time.


Anonymous said...

I notice they apologised, but no offer of a fee!

And can I ask why Culture NI thought it important to offer a positive view of 'Orangefest' when no suitable pictures were forthcoming from the Orange Order? Are they acting as a government sponsored ad agency for Orangeism now?

d@\/ e said...

Stephen, both CNI and AIB run adverts so would photos used on them be classed as 'commercial use'?

Anonymous said...

Is it my network connection or has someone forgotten to register the address that's supposed to be the main orangefest site, ?

Mark said...


Nope. In terms of use of images, 'commercial use' is pretty tightly defined to use directly in something like advertising - where the person in the image could be seen to be endorsing a particular product - as opposed to a generic 'money is being made'.

If you think about, a huge amount of editorial use, especially online, is what you might term advertising supported'.

(IANAL, of course, but this is my understanding developed after trying carefully to get my head around this stuff.)

d@\/ e said...

Thanks Mark. I downloaded UK photographers Rights by Linda Macpherson [a freelance legal consultant who specialises in Media Law and Intellectual Property Law] a few days ago and I've still to read through it all.She states, in one part...
photographs of people may be subject to the Data Protection Act, which controls the processing of personal data, that is data relating to an individual and from which the individual can be identified. There has not yet been a court case that has determined whether or not an image of a person, without any other identifying information, would be caught by the Act, so photographers should be aware of the possibility.
No doubt there'll be a court case somewhere in the UK soon with someone trying that out to see if they can make a buck or two.