The Ghost of Snapped Shot

Or, welcome to my low-maintenance heck.

PDNPhoto on Snapped Shot

I was very pleased to read Photo District News blogger Daryl Lang's take on my whole situation. A highlight:

Had Ledbetter decided to fight the AP, things could have gotten very interesting. I wasn't familiar with Snapped Shot until this weekend, but I can see why it got on the AP's nerves. It tended to post large numbers of AP photos, sometimes with just a few words of commentary, and leave them up indefinitely. The site's venom-spitting nastiness toward photographers and editors surely did it no favors.

On the other hand, in my quick perusal of the site's archive, all the images I saw were displayed in the context of a critique. You could argue this is fair use. Lots of Web sites (including this one) will run photos they do not have permission to display as part of a commentary about the photos.

Be sure to jump to the source to read the rest. And Daryl, if you have a problem with me reproducing this snippet here, please contact me (sorry, still quite gun-shy over here).

For those of you who are interested (or at least, those of you that I haven't put to sleep yet), I'll follow up with some commentary beyond the fold.Personally, I don't think the law describing "fair use" of copyrighted works is concrete at all, so ultimately, the only two things that mattered were: (a) the Associated Press is the sole copyright owner of all of the content published on their news wires, and (b) they have a legal team, and I do not.

And to be honest, to the courts, (a) is really all that matters.

My choices were to take the fire-and-brimstone approach with them, and then confront the near certainty that a court would see things their way and fine me (personally) accordingly. Or, I could cooperate with their demands, and do my best to adjust my blogging style to work within the constraints they've set before me.

Personally, I could use a good challenge. Negotiating these muddy waters ought be fun!

It is interesting to note that the Associated Press does not offer a public site that end-user customers can use to browse their full photo archives. I mean, the AFP does it via Getty and ANP Photo, so it's not like we're talking about uncharted territory here.

Alas, for those of us who use the largest two wire photo services in the world, we are stuck with "access denied," that is, unless one is employed by a big company that "needs" access to the services.

(I should know, I've gotten at least two rejection letters/callbacks from Reuters from the times I tried to sign up for access to their archives. And my AP Images account, which is useless for linking users to anyway, seems to have mysteriously vanished.)

Of course, I suppose we could always be satisfied with the very limited stock that the AP feels end-users deserve to access.

If these companies are so serious about entering the digital age, don't you think they'd open things up just a little bit more?

(If any of you have any theories on why they do things like this, feel free to drop them in the comments. Does it have something to do with them selling access to their archives to libraries? Other legacy services such as LEXIS/NEXIS? I'd love to hear it, if you know the answer.)

Oh, and as an aside, while this blog was quite venom-spitting in the beginning, I've softened my stance considerably since then. Heck, I've even managed to make a few "friends" along the way! In fact, when Mr. Muheissen learned of this site's predicament, he replied (and I hope he doesn't mind me sharing here—You know the drill, sir!):

No man at all beleive me but now we all check out your site, big time curiousity so thats why, but nothing personal mate.




#1 otoc 04-Mar-2008
I'm so glad PDN posted that.

Most of the photojournalists I know take great care in the power that a single shot has in defining a moment and know that improper timing, framing, or subject matter can change the perception of reality. That's where a critical viewpoint is needed and when it isn't, another viewpoint needs to be there to discuss it. Current law makes it hard to do that.

This *would* have been a great test in the courts. You know that our talks were balanced over several viewpoints: what the courts have allowed, what it takes to argue your case, and what AP had on it's side.

It's too bad the support you got from the other bloggers was vocal and in many cases hurt you if you decided to take the path of settlement with AP. I don't know, perhaps it was ignorance (we've all had that until faced with the reality of how hard Copyright is to understand when it comes to Fair Use) to the fact these things aren't cut and dry when it comes to pulling an image to criticize it or use it for education purposes.

This case would have had a *tremendous impact* on changing how a *single* photo is *not* the same as a whole article of *text* , as is the current standard for Fair Use.

It would have had a *favorable* impact on *every* blogger and site owner.

My take on this whole learning situation is a sad one. You were alone in your decision to make a change to the laws in court.

That's where the decision had to be made: in the courts and not the blogs.

I regret my *only* support was vocal to you. But I didn't have the stake that other sites had in this.

*This* *is* *all* *about* *selling* *subscriptions* *to* *services* . And photography is one of the services. Even if AP started selling single images (what an *incremental* business for them, *hint* , *hint* ), it wouldn't allow us to grab the full shot for Fair Use under current law.

Hopefully people learned from your ordeal. Access to an image via a hotlink is viewed the same as downloading the image. The copyright holder owns the material and we are left with how it will get interpreted *only* if we go to court over it. And spend the bucks. And the big lesson that Fair Use doesn't allow us to pull the entire item.

What's interesting is the battle the EFF is waging to keep access free. Comcast has started to filter access of large files and suppliers want the providers to watch for abusers of all types of violations based on *their* interpretation of the law.

So the availability of material to view could get worse in the future and the WWW could become a members only place. With membership having the rewards.

And as you point out, if material isn't available to non-members, how can sites like yours function?

Or as this AP situation showed, when a photograph is being criticized, why doesn't Fair Use allow a full image to be used?
#2 jimzinsocal 04-Mar-2008
Every site owner and blogger type should be following the issue with great care.
I believe sites like youtube can give us
misunderstandings that can translate to other areas. otoc and myself have had some interesting back and forth.
For me? It's still a puzzle.
I happened to notice at youtube a brief parody with many of the very same images Brian had posted from AP.[still shots with music]
And I cant help but wonder if somehow
[google] youtube is treated differently simply by virtue of the parody exception. Does two still shots of Rage Boy that repeat with "I'm a loser" playing as music = parody?
Or does AP simply avoid the tangle with GOOG?

Its all an education.
#3 captainfish 05-Mar-2008
that is because Google has money and does not represent criticism of their craft like the Highly Reputable SnappedShot site does.
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