Photo negative. Daniel Morel, the photojournalist who was awarded $1.2 million in damages from news agencies that distributed his iconic Haiti earthquake pictures without his permission after he posted those pictures on Twitter, will not be collecting attorneys’ fees. A federal district court in New York has denied Morel’s motion for an order compelling Agence France Presse and Getty Images to pay the attorneys’ fees and costs that Morel incurred while pursuing his copyright infringement claim against those two companies. In her opinion, Judge Alison Nathan wrote that one “particularly important consideration” factoring into her decision to deny attorneys’ fees was the fact that the Morel’s underlying copyright infringement suit “raised a relatively novel issue, the adjudication of which may… help further define the contours of copyright law in the digital age.” Indeed, Judge Nathan’s opinion in the underlying case, which held that Twitter users do not lose ownership rights in their content simply by posting that content to Twitter, was one of the first cases to examine the rights of a user posting his own (as opposed to someone else’s) copyrighted works to a social media platform vis-à-vis other users of the same platform (we suspect that we’ll see many more such cases over the coming years). Moreover, although Morel’s fee motion was denied, the case remains a stark reminder to companies that just because content has been made available on a social media network, that content isn’t necessarily available for use off of the platform, absent consent from the copyright owner or the platform provider (assuming such provider has acquired the necessary rights from the copyright owner).
Photo shop. And while on the topic of photographs, social media and copyright law, one enterprising company—Lobster—is trying to create an efficient, low-cost way for companies to license photographs posted to social media platforms for off-platform use. People post countless new images to social media regularly; Seventy-million new photographs are posted to Instagram alone every day. That’s a lot of content, especially when you consider that Getty Images, a go-to source for many businesses’ graphics needs, has an archive with 80 million images total. Lobster seeks to create a market for the almost unimaginable pool of photos posted to social media by facilitating the licensing of those images. Having secured approximately $386,000 in funding so far, the company just recently added a search function that, according to TechCrunch, “allows users, usually corporate marketers, digital agencies or publishers, to run a search across various social media for specific imagery and then request a license for that content through the platform.” Images cost $0.99 or $1.99, depending on the platform. For now, only photos posted to Instagram and Flickr are available on Lobster, but the start-up hopes to expand its service to include pictures that have been posted to Twitter, Vine, Facebook and Vimeo. To make their content available for licensing, Instagram and Flickr users need only include the hashtag #ilobsterit.
Photo (over)sharing. You know them: Those parents who assume their kid’s every move will be as fascinating to their entire social network as it presumably is to their immediate family. They post photos of their children engaged in all kinds of activities—even intimate ones like potty training and bathing—to Facebook and Instagram several times a day. This “oversharenting” is popular: 74% of the people who responded to a recent poll of parents with children four-years-old and younger said they know of another parent who has shared too much information about a child on social media. And 27% said they know of another parent who has shared inappropriate photos of a child. Now, according to ABC News, some people tired of the endless parade of kid photos in their Facebook newsfeeds are fighting back by telling the oversharenters how they feel. One objector has even created an entire blog dedicated to criticizing the oversharenters. If that’s not enough to make oversharenters reconsider their posting habits, perhaps this advice from the University of Michigan’s Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit will: “The federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) limits the collection or release of information via the Internet prior to 13 years of age; ironically, by that age, many children have a lengthy ‘digital profile’ based on their parents’ social media use. Parents need to be thoughtful about their use of social media to discuss parenting issues, and are encouraged to be diligent about understanding privacy policies that could impact the way their child’s information is shared.” Let’s face it: It’s hard enough for recent college grads searching for a job to live down those drunken party photos posted to Facebook—do they need to worry about those embarrassing potty training videos as well?