Archive for September, 2007

Copyright vs. Publicity Rights and the Creative Commons

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

Take a look at this photo page [] on Flickr. The photos shows an image of an outdoor ad on a bus stop in Australia by Virgin Mobile with the phrases “dump you pen friend” (or pen pal) and “free text virgin to virgin.” In the bottom corner of the ad is an attribution to the photographer and the location of the original photo used in the ad from Flickr.

Now take a look at the comments.

The first comment is “hey that’s me! no joke. i think i’m being insulted…can you tell me where this was taken.” Posted by the girl in the photo. Let’s ignore the “i’m being insulted” as I’m hard pressed to imagine how anyone would be insulted by the photo or it’s tag line—displeased that their photo was being used in an advertisement I can understand but being insulted? That make me doubt my faith that people are generally good hearted and intelligent. How much of an uptight Christian with serious problems talking about sex or anything to do with sex do you have to be to find “free text virgin to virgin” insulting? It’s and ad for ‘Virgin’ mobile!

The second comment is by the photographer. He wants to know if Virgin will give him free stuff.

So in the first two comments, by the subject of the photos (let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and call her the model since it is being use in an advertisement) and the photographer we have some lovely feelings on display: Embarrassment and anger on the part of the model and greed on the part of the photographer.

If you read the rest of the comments you will run across the models brother displaying anger and a lot of concerned Flickr users pointing out the basics of copyright. Finally after quite a number of comments you will come across the real item of interest: the lawsuit.

The model and her family and the photographer are suing. Suing Virgin Australia, Virgin’s US operation and Creative Commons—the authors of the license (selected by the photographer!). Read the FAQ written by Creative Commons on their blog here [] and a post by Lawrence Lessig, the CEO if Creative Commons, on his site here []. (There is also a longer discussion on Flickr, here [].

The lawsuit against the Virgin companies does not bother me much, in fact, almost not at all. If Virgin, a company that deals with models for ad campaigns on a regular basis did not check the terms of the license regarding publicity rights then it’s their own stupidity and they should be liable. It is noted in the FAQ on the Creative Commons site that the license only deals with ‘Copyright’ and not at all with ‘Publicity Rights.’ And I cannot imagine a lawyer signing off on this type of thing without readying the terms and details of the license, and I find it even harder to believe that there were no lawyer involved with an ad campaign by a big company.

The fact that Creative Commons is being named as a defendant and the photographer a plaintiff really bothers me. From what I can read on the suit the complaint charges that Creative Commons did not properly educate the photographer on the terms of the license.

This complaint against the Creative Commons is, like too many complaints filed in the US, just pain silly. It shows either a disgusting greed, overwhelming stupidity or a disturbing lack of personal responsibility on the part of the photographer.

Since by default photos posted by user on Flickr are under the default ‘all rights reserved’ traditional copyright license and the photographer would have to manually choose to license his photos under a Creative Commons license I suspect that the photographer just does not want to own up to having made that choice. He, like too many other people in the world, suffers from the great malady of the times: a lack of personal responsibility. He seems to thank that it is the responsibility of Creative Commons to that this happened. But he choose the license! Flickr explains, in clear English the details of the license and provides a link to the Creative Commons site that further explains the terms.

I think the complaint against the Creative Commons grows out of the second comment on the photo page, the first comment by the photographer; “where was this? do you think virgin mobile will give me stuff?” Such a sad world we live in. I guess since he is not getting paid he is lashing out at everyone. Why isn’t he suing Flickr and Yahoo!?

Since all my public photos on Flickr are released under the Creative Commons Attribution License, I will have to follow the court case. I take a lot of photos on people and the outcome of the case could affect the license I use for photos where people are the main subject.

I believe I understand the terms of the license I have chosen. I even set the content of this website under a Creative Commons Attribution license (here [] and the ‘CC’ button at the bottom of the page.)

I truly hope the complaint against the Creative Commons is dismissed outright and I hope the photographer learns to take some responsibility for his actions and choices rather then continuing to blame others.

Money matters

Monday, September 17th, 2007

“Apple AND Google have together more money than anyone except God, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.”

Robert X. Cringely, “The Power of Six: Google’s plan for world domination. Also why the iPod Classic sucks.” []

Perdido Beach Sunrise, August 2004

Sunday, September 16th, 2007


Hungry Ghost

Monday, September 10th, 2007


Who is the man in the picture?

Friday, September 7th, 2007

Early in 2001 when I was in Paris, with my then girlfriend and another friend of hers, I was introduced to a very strange man my now-ex had met on a previous visit to the city of lights. A Basque man who spoke close to an infinite number of languages. Most of the time we spent with this man my one-time girlfriend engaged in a halting language hopping dialog with him mostly to my total exclusion. Language hopping because she partially spoke a few languages but had trouble carrying on long conversations in any one… so every time the conversation got to an idea which she could not express in the language she was speaking she switched language.

Normally this would not be an issue I’m not a jealous person so I didn’t care that she was talking to a friend, male or not. But at the time our relationship was a bit strained for other reasons. So spending time with this starving artist guy living the free life in Paris was hardly what I wanted to do while in Paris with the girl I was dating. Funny thing is my main rival for her affection when not in Paris was the other guy who was following us around… had in fact followed us all the way to Paris! When I said friend above I was being nice. To make the story short: I won that round… and lost another one nine months later—to a German. But c’est la vie, that’s not important to this story.

I must also stress that this man was responsible in a single week for me seeing the two worst movies I have ever paid to see. The one about the cow wedding [] and Santa Sangre []. Santa Sangre was an ice pick lobotomy of a bad trip, nothing more to say.

Now, I relived these memories and I told you that story so I could tell you this one…

About 7 or so months later I was in Paris again. I saw off my still-but-not-for-much-longer girlfriend from the Gare de L’est and walked to Gare du Nord to catch my train. Along the short walk I was accosted by the visage of that cunning linguist! Only there were multiple copies of him! In black and white and plastered all over the alley wall! In A4 glory a photo of this man who sent me to see cows wed and armless circus mothers go on murderous rampages glared out from an alley wall. Off to the side the patrons of an overflowing pub laughed in drunken French. It was more than my fragile little mind could take…

So I ripped one of the photos off the wall as best I could and ran to catch my train back to London. The picture had no words, no catchy slogan, no sinister phone number, nothing. Just a photo of this man smiling with his down-and-out artists hair and tiny spectacles. Grinning. Sinister.

I later showed the picture to a friend that also new this man. They agreed that it was him, without a doubt. But we could never figure out why. Why was he in the pictures? Why were the pictures all over the walls near Gare du Nord? What was the meaning of it all.

So I’ve had this torn-from-the-wall picture in a box for years. I find now that I like the picture. Not because of the association with a relationship that ended badly, or because of the scars he caused with his movie selection but because it’s an interesting picture. Like random graffiti that only has meaning to those in the know but which still strikes the blissful passer by as genuine good art. I like it. But I still have to ask “who is the man in the picture?”

We Shall Privail!

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

“Today, we celebrate the first glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directives. We have created, for the first time in all history, a garden of pure ideology, where each worker may bloom, secure from the pests purveying contradictory thoughts. Our Unification of Thought is more powerful a weapon than any fleet or army on earth. We are one people, with one will, one resolve, one cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death and we will bury them with their own confusion. We shall prevail!”

Big Brother, Apple 1984 Macintosh commercial

See the commercial here [] read about it here [].

Keong Saik Cat

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007



Monday, September 3rd, 2007

“What and how much had I lost by trying to do only what was expected of me instead of what I myself had wished to do?”

Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man.

Oxford, United Kingdom, July 2007

Sunday, September 2nd, 2007

Oxford is a lovely city. Filled with Gothic towers and noble schools. I went to Oxford on a Sunday afternoon to take photos because I wanted to visit the colleges in the late sunlight, which in July means around 7 PM. I forgot that all the colleges close to visitors at 5 or 6. So I ended up with few photos or anything. C’est la vie. It was still fun to walk around the city. To Blackwell’s miles of books, traditional ales at The Turf Tavern and of course the great only-appearing-in-the-evening Donner Kebab Vans! They even serve Veggy burgers!

You can see the rest of the Oxford, United Kingdom, July 2007 photoset on Flickr [].