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Content rights

Content rights are important to a lot of people, including photographers. Many people are unaware that it is a violation of copyright law to even LINK to a copyrighted photo, for example. Many photogaphers have had to be selective in terms of which copyright infringements they pursue in court.

A revision, on Sunday,  in the wording of Facebook’s policy over what happens to profile content when members delete their records, made even MORE users aware of content rights. :-) Facebook issued a clarification, which you can read about in the CNN article linked above (with copyright information at the bottom, in very prominent BOLDFACE). (Note added February 21, 2009: Facebook then REVOKED the change, at least for the time being!) The CNN article suggests that a professional photographer might want to choose a media-sharing site with tighter language (than Facebook’s) concerning photo rights. No doubt Facebook’s lawyers will be earning their pay in the short term (if they haven’t already) writing tighter legal language about content rights in general.

To me, the “Facebook Furor” is only the “tip of the iceberg.” People should be very concerned about the content that they contribute to social networking sites for a number of reasons, among them:

  • What corporations will see the content? Will your good friend be fired over it? Will YOU?
  • What other organizations (foreign governments?, YOUR government?, insurance companies? :-) ) will see the data? What use will they make of it (not all organizations and corporations are as “nice” as your friends and family, in case you have not already learned this). Much of this use will be unknown to you (that’s how they work).
  • Be aware that corporate “data retention policies” vary widely (usually for protection of the corporation against “fishing expeditions” in lawsuits). I always treat data as something that, once submitted to a database, is NEVER going to be deleted, but will be retained by SOMEBODY. (Let’s just say I am a skeptic, based on experience.) (Note added February 20, 2009: See these articles (1, 2) about the proposal for a new federal law concerning data retention.) (Note added February 22, 2009: The folks pushing for these laws [according to the articles cited] are the giants of the recording and movie industries. The lawmakers proposing these laws are using the excuse of “safety,” [“protecting innocent children”], a common excuse for the erosion of liberties. The proposed federal law would also require that logs be retained by households with wired and wireless networks, according to the news articles cited.)
  • As I wrote yesterday in “Six degrees,” social networks are currently valuable information sources (for those with the right permissions and the right tools) in operations against terrorists (other criminals?), and who knows for what other uses.

Web-based social networking is yet another human endeavor in which technology has outpaced slower institutions (e.g., “experience-based” institutions, like “law”). It is good for folks to watch over the evolution, as these other institutions try to catch up.

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

You can view higher-resolution photos (*generally* 7-30 megabytes, compressed) at the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Pro Gallery on Shutterfly™, where you can also order prints and gifts decorated with the photos of your choice from the gallery. Apparel and other gifts decorated with some of our most popular photos can be ordered from the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Store on CafePress®. Both Shutterfly™ and CafePress® ship to most international locations worldwide! If you don’t see what you want or would like to receive an email when new photos are up on the site, send us an email at info@cheshirecatphoto.com.

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