On copyright, fair use, and free speech

TechCrunch has an excellent cover of the “photograph in the video” story that has been going on all over the web in the last few days.  Basically, somebody wrote a funny song and made a video for it.  In that video a bunch of images were used including one that was downloaded from Flickr without permission of the photographer.  The photographer got really pissed off and such.  The video was re-edited to remove the offending image, but there was plenty of discussion on how is right and who is wrong in this story.  Some really important questions on copyright, fair use, and free speech were asked, and some really smart people tried to answer them.

The rights of the copyright holder have always been balanced against the more fundamental right of free speech. And free speech in the Internet age, more so than ever before, goes way beyond words and text. The way people express themselves on the Web increasingly involves images, video, animations, and other rich media, often in mash-ups of pre-existing works. That is how people communicate today. Both copyright law and industry standards need to evolve to take that into consideration.

While I support the (copy)right of the author to command the usage of his or her work, I think that this particular case wasn’t handled properly by the photographer.

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