Law and Tech A weblog on Law and Technology

20Jul/090

Wikipedia, a market approach to copyright?

Copyright gives the owner of the copyright an exclusive right to distribute and display their images. 17 U.S.C. 106. This exclusivity
creates an effective monopoly on a particular creative work. In some instances this exclusive right gives the owner a lot of bargaining power
when dealing with those who want to use the content. (Just look at the music and movie industries, piracy aside.)

The NY Times reports that Wikipedia has a strong policy of using works that are licensed under a very unrestricted Creative Commons license which professional photographers are weary of. Because of this, Wikipedia does not have many good photographs of celebrities. But, at the same time celebrities want their (good) pictures on Wikipedia. But, because of the licensing restrictions on Wikipedia, if it can go there anyone can basically take and use the content – much to the chagrin of the photographers.

The article finishes with a quote from celebrity photographer Jerry Avenaim: “To me the problem is the Wikipedia rule of public use . . . If they truly wanted to elevate the image on the site, they should allow photographers to maintain the copyright.” It appears that as Wikipedia becomes more indispensable we’re going to see a much greater push of celebrities to get pictures of their likeness on the site licensing restrictions on the part of Wikipedia or not. Celebrities may eventually push for some photos of them to be distributed with a CC or other “copylite” licenses. In this case it’s Wikipedia’s relative exclusivity that beats out the content owner.

19Jun/090

One Expensive Playlist…

As reported, the Jammie Thomas-Rasset verdict was announced, $1.92M to the music industry's largest players. This is after she "won" a retrial after the Judge ordered a retrial for an imprecise instruction in the first trial which the jury rendered a comparatively minuscule $222,000 verdict. But, as Thomas said, "Good luck trying to get it from me... it's like squeezing blood from a turnip." This reopens the question as to whether the sky is truly the limit as to damages. Especially as to statutory (compensatory) damages for copyright infringement, which is thousands of times more than the cost of the 24 songs she infringed.