The Ghost of Snapped Shot

Or, welcome to my low-maintenance heck.

Fair Use and Photography: A Photo Editor's Advice

Hey, I'm game. I've been burned by this torch before, but the more advice I read, the merrier I am.

And believe me, I'm darned merry.

I’ve been asked a few times by readers “What’s fair use and what’s illegal when using photography that’s not yours on a blog?” I can’t actually answer that question, because I’m not a lawyer, but I would like to help bloggers understand the best practices for using photography that doesn’t belong to them, so when I saw this “Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video” (here) I thought I should create one for photography (and not 16 pages long), since it doesn’t already exist. There’s really no end in sight to the practice of bloggers writing about a photograph or a photographer and then posting a picture, so don’t you think it’s time we set down some guidelines on what acceptable and what’s not? I’m going to post the best practices guide on the url and I’d like it to represent what photographers and photo industry bloggers feel is acceptable. Here’s what I think:

Be sure to click on over (and visit here, whenever it's up and running) for the rest. This, along with Gabriel Malor's excellent piece, will continue to be Snapped Shot's set of "guiding principles."

 Tags: copyright #DailyFodder


#1 Rebecca 10-Sep-2008
Hi Brian. Thanks for your response to my previous comment. I meant to reply there, but this post is a better starting point for what I would have written there.

My command of pig latin - no offense intended to Senator Obama, either veiled, coded, implied, intimated, insinuated, or otherwise connoted - is near fluent, so I tiptoe back to this subject with trepidation. (Yes, I know you were joking, but I also know how serious all of this has been for you.)

On the subject of Brands. Most of the blogs I frequent have some focus on highlighting dishonesty in the media. Comparing news articles to show how journalists spin facts is a powerful tool in digging for the truth. Public opinion of news sources has degraded steadily since Edward R. Murrow last signed off, but, until recently, reporters and anchors have benefited from the lingering notion that, "Where there's smoke, there's fire.". While the public might be skeptical of a single report, a news agency pile-on still has the effect of creating distrust in an individual, whether or not any single report about them is truthful. We've watched in frustration as this has happened to decent people, over and over again.

The one weapon in the propaganda arsenal that has retained most of its firepower is visual media. A picture is worth a thousand words. Pictures can't lie. See for yourself. A journalist can claim to have witnessed something, or print another person's claim, but some doubt of their honesty remains possible. A photograph, however, proves that the event happened, even if the conclusions about it are subject to uncertainty. The power that photography wields is such that it is a powerful temptation for liars and propagandists, and remains an incredible tool for spreading truth.

Critical analysis of information disseminated visually is so vitally important, if only to protect its use from the same "fall from grace" that the print media has experienced, that I was surprised to find only a couple of online resources to do that work. If there are others besides you and zombietime, I haven't found them yet, nor, it seems, has the AP. What you (and zombie) do, seems to me to be the essence of the practices that "fair use" is designed to protect. From all that I've read on the subject, a fair trial would probably conclude the same, but knowing that doesn't protect your rights in any realistic way.

I worked for nearly 15 years as a computer programmer, and even spent a few years in there teaching programming courses at a local college. Having dropped out of high school (a decision I'm still willing to defend) and never completing enough college courses for my own degree, I'm proud of the career I made for myself, and the obstacles I overcame to do so.

Five years ago, I began suffering from chronic pain. I'd lived with TMJ, neck pain and headaches from a cervical spine problem, and only recently diagnosed narcolepsy, for most of my adult life, but I still managed to work and support myself, even through a divorce and the nasty (Michigan) economy. My doctor diagnose uterine fibroid tumors and I had surgery to remove them. After the surgery, I gradually improved, but the pain came back suddenly, and I've spent the last five years taking just enough pain medication to keep me functional, and trying to find a way to get back to health and able to work.

I had disability insurance through my job. I had savings. I thought I was protected, but I didn't realize how difficult it is to enforce my right to coverage. There is little point in pursuing my original disability insurers, because I'd have to prove in court, not that their decision to deny me coverage was wrong, but that the denial was arbitrary. Not an easy thing to prove.

So I've now waited almost 2 years, since having my social security disability claim denied, for my appeal to go to court. My finances are in ruin, my efforts to find the medical care I need to return to productive society are hampered by having to scrape together money for the medications that only keep me well enough to cope with basic, survival activity.

What I know now: the law isn't the point. The point is whether or not you can afford to have the law enforced. The lawyers have become the gateway to securing basic rights, and that gateway gets more expensive all the time. Justice is for those who can afford it, and I'm not convinced that leftism has done anything but make the situation worse. They artificially prop up those who never planned for, or took responsibility for their lives, leaving those of us who thought we were doing the right things, dangling in the breeze.
#2 Rebecca 10-Sep-2008
In Which I Apologize For Leaving A Novel In The SnappedShot Comments Space.

Powered by Snarf · Contact Us