344/365 – I hate “social media”

I smell a scam. It has to do with all the consultants and continuing education people who are jumping on the social media bandwagon. Gotta have it!  Gotta understand it!  My God, your employees could be giving away the store on Facebook! Or twittering their way to a lawsuit!

That last one is my personal contribution to the hype. “Can you Twitter your way to a lawsuit?” is my headline for our webpage that advertises a seminar for lawyers on social media challenges (read: trouble!).  That’s the art from the seminar up on the left. I like the line; it encapsulates the supposed threat.  Thing is, the same danger has been present for over a decade with email, so social media, while being new formats, are not really presenting a totally new danger.  Nor are they the greatest marketing opportunity since sliced bread.  But consultants want you to think that and run, don’t walk, to the latest seminar so your competition doesn’t eat your social media lunch, and breakfast!

I say, shut it all down on the corporate network.  Include Ebay and Cragslist while you’re at it.  There are really very few things your employees should be doing on the Internet while they’re at work, practically nothing for most people except checking a personal email address a couple times a day on their “breaks.”

Oh shit!  I’m doing this blog entry on company time!

75/365 – Copyright question

Who owns an image?  What can be done based on that image?  And what about the original subject?

The original image by freelance photographer Mannie Garcia, and the totally obvious rip-off by poster artist Shepard Fairey. No fair use!?

Who owns an image in this digital age?And what is the limit of fair use?  Here in my blog, I am commenting on the images above, which came from the Wall Street Journal online, but are all over the Internet, so I think I’m in the clear as to “fair use” under copyright law.  But I’m not entirely sure.

According the the WSJ article, freelance photographer Mannie Garcia took the photo of Obama in 2006 while on assignment for the Associated Press. Poster artist Shepard Fairey used Google Image to find the shot  and he used it, without crediting the photographer, to create the “Hope” poster. It took a gallery owner planning a show featuring Obama campaign art to ask about the Fairey poster’s origin, but Fairey refused to say where he got the image. Online searching revealed it was Garcia’s photo, and the AP tried to get standard licensing terms from Mr. Fairey, who refused. Instead, Fairey sued the AP, which has counterclaimed.

I think the AP has a very good case.  Fairey copied every shadow and line from the photo, not just its general outlines.  He made money on his work, so its not just harmless hobby art.  I think he should give AP and the photographer a cut.  I believe in the universal copyright, that the creator of a work has an inherent copyright that can never be given away without express legal documents being signed.  I’m not so keen on protecting the rights of subsequent buyers, who are usually huge corporations.  In fact, I think the creator should always retain an ownership share in whatever profits are made from the work.  Artists and writers are too often bad at business and have been taken advantage of by unscrupulous producers, publishers, and other exploiters.  I think a universal unalienable copyright of the creator would give more creative people a chance to earn a living.