Shockingly, you can’t just lift photos off Twitter and sell them

origin_47085654

origin_47085654File this one in the well-duh category.

News agencies seem to understand the concept of copyright fairly well, especially when it’s their copyrights that are being violated. That’s especially true for French papers — which have threatened legal action against Google for posting a title, blurb, and link to their stories.

You’d think that taking photos off another website and not just using them but actually posting them to Getty Images and reselling them would be a pretty obvious no-no.

You’d be wrong.

Photographer Daniel Morel took riveting photos of the devastation caused by the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. So riveting that the Agence France-Presse took them off Twitter and actually uploaded them to Getty Images, according to Reuters. Then the Washington Post — a Getty client — used the photos on its website.

Both the AFP and WaPo are named in the lawsuit, but it’s hard to argue that the Post did anything wrong. Most news agencies — VentureBeat included — use image-publishing sites and assume that the digital rights are taken care of. (I mostly use Flickr creative commons photography.)

District Judge Alison Nathan ruled in a summary judgement that both news agencies have infringed Morel’s rights, but the case has not yet gone to trial. He also clarified that while Twitter does allow the retweeting of images — which is in a sense re-broadcasting — the network’s terms of service do not allow for the downloading and reselling of images.

And yes, that’s the well-duh part.

photo credit: jakedobkin via photopin cc


VentureBeat is studying mobile marketing automation. Chime in, and we’ll share the data.