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Monday, May 14, 2007


Creative Commons? Doesn't Respect My Copyright

Who is Well, according to their website:

"Technology, business & media podcasts served fresh daily"

What this means is that they have a number of online shows that they fund and distribute. They pay video bloggers to create content for them and either license the work or have the video blogger create exclusive content for them. Some notable people are Ryanne Hodson, Irina Slutsky, Bill Streeter, and Robert Scoble. These are all very respectable people that have helped make video blogging what it is today.

As you can tell from the title of this post, I am here to tell you a surprisingly true story about my interaction with for the last couple of months.

It all started at SXSW, Irina Slutsky invited Bonny Pierzina and myself to be interviewed for The Vloggies Show. This was a great honor; we were very excited to be interviewed but since Bonny is so much better than I am at that, she interviewed by her self. While the interview went on I took some snap shots of the interview and checked out their kiosk. I found this banner advertisement:

podtech kiosk 1558

I immediately noticed something about it... this was the photograph used in it:

Vloggies 0292

This photograph of Casey McKinnon at The Vloggies was taken by myself and was posted to flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 license. I looked for attribution on the banner and saw none, I also saw it was a commercial banner (to state the obvious) and I was never contacted for permission to use this photograph outside of this license. This was upsetting.

I didn't say anything to anyone at that time because it was neither the place nor time to discuss the matter. Also, I didn't want any passers-by to hear us discussing how, a business trying to make it in the web 2.0 world, was stealing creative work for their commercial benefit. That could have possibly been damaging to their business at an event like SXSW. If their viewers/users/content creators found out that had stolen from someone just like their own content creators, these people would lose faith in a company like that. How could anyone watch content from, support, or work for a company that does that?

After I returned home from SXSW I contacted Robert Scoble, hoping he could put me on touch with the right person to talk about this. He did; he forwarded my email to this person. After a couple emails back and forth with her I sent her an invoice for licensed use of the photograph. That was on March 20th. There was no reply for one week; I called and emailed again. No reply again, so again I both called and sent an email... and it has now been over a month and a half without a single reply since the invoice was sent.

I was hoping for a quick and professional resolution to this issue but at minimum expected to be able to discuss options or potential solutions, I received neither.

To top all that off, Violet Blue's photograph of the kisok made it into the San Francisco Chronicle, you can read the article here.

At this point I'm not sure what I'm going to do next.

O man - thats ot cool. I hope for the best outcome for you.
NOT cool is what I typed - but I guess my computer had ot on its mind. Thats prob what that little preview button down there is good for ;)
Thanks for sharing your story. Any resolution? I have a lot of respect for PodTech, and I'd imagine they want to do the right thing here.
Just hand it over to a collections agency..... that will get their attention.

It costs you about $25 to get them to send really harassing snail mail letters.

They'll even ding their credit if they don't pay.
I hate this sort of stuff. I don't know how I would feel about something like this. On one hand they are using your stuff and getting it out there, but on the other hand it's the principal of asking for the permission and discussing of it's use. I just found some of my photos in a Viral video today. I thought it was bad ass, but a quick mention of where the photos came from would have been cool.
Keep us posted man.
One of my photos was in the Viral video too, but I didn't mind.

A whole promotional campaign with Seagate-sponsored prizes -- yeah, they need to pay you not steal from you.
That is so crap! That kind of shit truly angers me. What do I do now? Do I have to stop watching RyanIsHungry until PodTech's license to distribute it expires? Hm. I don't watch it in their player anyway - I hate that thing.

Oops. Rambling. Sorry.

So, I think you handled this very professionally and I think it's unconscionable that PodTech has not responded in kind. Please keep us posted as to your next move.
Errrrggh...(that was a growl)

I'm not all that surprised that they used the photograph without permission; the ball was dropped a few times on the road to creating the poster. Someone found the picture on Flickr and either flat-out ignored the CC or (more likely) equates CC with "license-free" because they don't understand it properly; then someone approved the photo for the poster also without asking where the picture came from, THEN the whole damn poster got the ok from yet someone else who assumed the people before them gave props to the photographers along the way.

What REALLY surprises me is that PodTech isn't communicating with you. You've handled this quite professionally and it's pretty appalling that they've basically ignored you--not only you, but the whole concept of Creative Commons. It's unconscionable--and frankly, really, really weird. Creative Commons is a vital component to what they do! I'm dying to know how they explain this!

And what about the other picture--the one on the right? Where did it come from? We have to assume that photographer may be experiencing the same problem...
It sounds to me like a fairly dumb oversight on someone' part -- but one that can hopefully be a learning experience for companies working in this space and hoping to use CC-licensed materials. PodTech will have quite a headache this morning from all the bad buzz as blogs pick this up, but that's nothing compared to how Lan's probably felt as a creator whose work was used inappropriately and isn't getting paid the attention he's owed.

What I wonder is, even if they'd gone out and asked for the right to use Lan's image, would it have been appropriate to get Casey's permission as well? Although I know Lan these days makes a point of getting clearances in his photos (I signed one of his forms last week), I wonder if Casey agreed to be the uncredited poster girl as part of going to the show and accepting her awards.
you are being a cry baby. get over it the net is about free content
from a paparazzi perspective, yeah... that's your picture of casey mckinnon and you perhaps deserve some kind of compensation, I guess. but I wouldn't make a big negative stink about it. this company that has money clearly likes your work and by acknowledging their oversight you could probably leverage doing some work for them. this kinda thing happens all the time. but do whatever you want. I wouldn't make a big stink about it though. but why be a cranky self-righteous photographer.
No, the interner is not about free content.

it is about people being able to provide free content if they want under the terms they want.
Interesting conundrum, and one you have every right to be upset about. The good news is, your work is worth using. The bad news is, you shouldn't expect compensation? Spurious thinking.

This seems to be the sign of a larger problem...
FYI, on my blog Scoble commented "it's not cut and dry. You're only hearing one side of it and I can't go more into it yet online."

Looking forward to hearing the other side of the story from Podtech and some resolution.
You know I support you Lan. To be fair, I have not heard PodTech's point of view, but a license is a license - that part is pretty straightforward.
Yeah, I don't really understand why it wouldn't be cut and dry. Are there any more pieces to the puzzle Lan?
I dig that you wrote about this, Lan. I hope the outcome is better than the current situation and there's some transparency about what they don't find "cut and dry". Funny to use that term to talk about digital media, which instead makes me think about tangible photo negatives...
Anonymous cowards aside, I hope that you get resolution. This sucks. Keep us posted.
some businesses accounts systems are set to pay bills after 1-3 months especially if there's levels of approvals etc to go through & purchase orders to be created etc. I have no idea if podtech system is like this but perhaps there's a misunderstanding related to this. good luck in sorting a resolution.
Burtonator - I had not thought of that; but I do not think it will be necessary to do so.

Clintus McGintus- It is in no way getting it out there though, no one get to know who's photography it was so I don't feel that I or it got out there. Even so, I like that they liked my photograph.

Chuck - That is cool that you and Clintus don't mind that your photographs were used and not attributed to you, it is your creative work, you do with it what you want. I am a professional photographer and as a professional want people to respect my copyright.

Cheryl - Rambling in comments is just fine. At least you care.

Missbhavens - I can only assume the ball was dropped multiple times. I'm not sure who's photograph the other one is. Thank you for commenting.

Tim - I'm glad people are talking about this on various different sites, it will spread the word that we our content is not free (unless we designate it to be).

Anonymous - Please read "Capitalism for Dummies".

Anonymous - Thank you for expressing your opinion. If you don't believe your work to have any value then I could see you doing that, but my photographs are valuable. This one in particular was very valuable because it made it to the banner. I'm not a peasant groveling for work wherever I can get it so it would be stupid for me to try to get work from them. I'm sorry you thought my tone was cranky, please reread the post and you will see I did not use a cranky tone.

Anonymous - Amen.

Justin Kownack - Thank you for blogging this.

Chuck Olsen - I too am wondering why it is not cut and dry. It is cut and dry to me. There must be more to this that I don't know about, I hope PodTech tells their part soon.

B - Yeah, I want them to come out and tell their side.

Sambear - Thank you for your comment, I will write a new post once I get a resolution.

Aliak - Thank you for that information, but that would fine to take that long if I knew what was going on. I would have liked for someone to tell me that that is how long it would take, especially when I repeatedly tried to contact them.
I just want to double-check something.

The Non-Commercial means that they can't sell the work, correct? Using it in advertisements would be fine if proper attributions had been provided?

David in Ottawa
David in Ottawa: No, you are very incorrect. Go read the license. :o)
Podtech is a sub-par, crappy attempt at Web 2.0 money by obscure people who think they're famous.
Curious on how this ended, if it has even ended.

Thought it would have been taken care of by it?
Also wondering what happened?
How about an update, Lan?
@tim: I agreed and even signed a release form to be in Lan's photo, but PodTech didn't ask for my (or Lan's) permission at all.
Glad you got a little something. i hope they payout Lan. work it out man. keep on taking those beautiful photos you do.
As somebody who actually works a full-time job for a living, I'm offended that you would consider your photography "worth" $2500 and have the cajones to bill anyone that amount for it, especially since it's a photo of an actual vloggie event!

It's no wonder the US dollar is tanking in world markets... a lot of people simply don't understand the value of it.
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