If one goes around the blogosphere, one will ﬁnd plenty of fashion blogs, reviewing the New York, London and Milano fashion weeks. This is healthy. But they do this with images, usually from Condé Nast’s Style.com, and claim fair use.
Condé Nast may or may not go after them. They probably won’t get much, if anything, and risk having the lawyer’s letter put online, with the company humiliated. (Not for long, since where else would one go for the photographs?) Some bloggers will get vindictive, even though they broke the law.
I am not against bloggers who choose to post their reviews. They have every right to express their opinions. However, I know we wouldn’t get away with it and this is where the playing ﬁeld isn’t as even as we would like to think. While we shot our own photographs, we have a looser schedule for Lucire, making sure they go in to a future print edition, rather than compete with the the instantaneous nature of the web. (Style.com does the blow-by-blow better these days—how the tables have turned since the early 2000s!) It would be easy and tempting to do what every other blogger does, copying from other sites—but owning rival magazines, I don’t have the luxury of claiming fair use. I could try, as the defence is legally available to me—but we’d get laughed out of court. I simply wouldn’t win.
Yet I like to think that my opinion is as valid as the next blogger’s.
Copyright law is beginning to mean less and less as people copy without consequences.
Today, I noticed my Aston Martin V8 Vantage review, originally published in Lucire and which had been licensed to Get Frank, published in full (sans byline, but with a link) on the MI6 site for James Bond fans. I quite like the MI6 site and I admit to reading many of its copyright-infringing articles on the site, rather than at the original URL. I’ll even admit that I was grateful they did that in some cases, especially when the original publisher had taken its version ofﬂine.
At this point, I am not going to go after MI6. I even joined its forum to post the correct link.
While I could ask for the article to be taken down, what do I gain? Very little. And the Condé Nast legal department is probably thinking the same thing.
There are cases for the Creative Commons’ ways of sharing things, and I believe in many of them. But I also believe in making a buck off my own work whenever I can: I should decide, as the author, or copyright owner, where things are republished.
It’s understanding these principles that stops me from doing what so many bloggers do. The worst I have are thumbnails of Flickr images linked back to their respective pages, the photographer’s name coming up in the pop-up boxes—and even then it’s because Google Image Search has made “thumbnail infringement” acceptable. Once again, as a copyright owner, I have no problem about seeing thumbnail representations of my work if there’s a link—so I adopt a “do unto others” approach.
Generally, I know I am not thrilled about having my company’s work copied. But that restraint places the law-abiding among us behind those who ﬂout the law more openly. They probably won’t ever be pursued because few legal departments will act on the law, but they will act on the money.
Posted by Jack Yan, 11:20
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