Iconic unattributed photographs. October 26, 2009 10:06 AM   Subscribe

The no-attribution discussion is derailing this thread on famous photographs. Let's have it here instead. posted by Mitheral to Etiquette/Policy at 10:06 AM (45 comments total)

Early threadshitting can also be handled by

1. ignoring threadshitting [i.e. not quoting it so removing it fails to actually do anything]
2. flagging
3. moving on

Not that taking the side discussion here isn't worthwhile, but in a six comment thread that's also a decent option.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:09 AM on October 26, 2009


An attribution discussion would be more interesting than what is there, which is a copyright infringing complaint.

I certainly think it's valid to complain that a blog based on iconic photographs doesn't seem to mention any of the photographers names. Like the photos sprang from magically from the camera, untouched.
posted by smackfu at 10:17 AM on October 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


But I did flag it, I did!

I'm still working on the movin' on.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:17 AM on October 26, 2009


There's the "derailing" comment and then there's exactly one other comment that deals with only the "derail"--yours.
posted by DU at 10:18 AM on October 26, 2009


I removed one other one and I think HuronBob also was a snark responder, for better or worse.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:19 AM on October 26, 2009


Yeah, one comment isn't a derail. But, do you want to talk about copyright infringement?

(/me pulls up chair)

(/me falls asleep)
posted by not_on_display at 10:20 AM on October 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


An automatic deletion of the first comment in every thread would probably go a long way towards stopping derails of this sort.
posted by marxchivist at 10:20 AM on October 26, 2009


(/me wakes up)

..oh! Never mind.
posted by not_on_display at 10:20 AM on October 26, 2009


Not only do these photos fail the fair use test, a lot of them are published without credit to the photographer.

This one still has the Corbis watermark.

Not sure how long that blog will stay up. While I respect the work of the writer and the story summaries, it pretty clearly violates the conventions for using photos.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 10:21 AM on October 26, 2009


I refuse to comment on this unless I can do so anonymously.
posted by Eideteker at 10:22 AM on October 26, 2009


marxchivist: "An automatic deletion of the first comment in every thread would probably go a long way towards stopping derails of this sort."

Yeah, jessamyn! Put a little more effort into a comment about "how to handle threadshitting". I expect at least FIVE methods!
posted by Plutor at 10:26 AM on October 26, 2009


it's valid to complain that a blog based on iconic photographs doesn't seem to mention any of the photographers names

No, it's not. Not every photo is attributed, or the photographer personally identified, but many of them are.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:27 AM on October 26, 2009


smackfu: "I certainly think it's valid to complain that a blog based on iconic photographs doesn't seem to mention any of the photographers names. Like the photos sprang from magically from the camera, untouched."

I think the blogmaster/blogmistress attributes when that knowledge is available.

For example:

The photo was taken by Michael Probst.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:27 AM on October 26, 2009


An automatic deletion of the first comment in every thread would probably go a long way towards stopping derails of this sort.
But then the second comment would become the first comment, and it would get automatically deleted, and then, by induction, every comment would be automatically deleted. Then there would be no more commenting in metafilter, which I guess would stop all derails of any sort.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 10:34 AM on October 26, 2009


Alvy in your third link the author even admits that they have no reproduction rights.

For a moment I actually thought this blog was some sort of Corbis viral, a way to get people interested in those photographs so they would purchase the rights.

The post was entitled 'Iconic Photos.' Why would it be improper to discuss the copyright of said photos? There is actually a lot of interesting gray area surrounding photos like that, photos that may contribute to the common good, or are already so recognizable that they take on a life of their own.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 10:37 AM on October 26, 2009


You know what sucks is confusing this new blog featured in the post with previous russian image aggregator sites. At least this new iconic photo blog tells an interesting story and contributes something to the world (and yeah, they just do a google image search for the subject and slap up whatever they find). My main criticism is they shouldn't call themselves iconic photo when they have no rights to photos and don't take their own, they should be called iconic moments or something like that to take the focus off the photos they don't own, then I think readers and other blogs like us wouldn't mind if they grabbed a photo to illustrate the historical story they were sharing each day.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:40 AM on October 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


That wasn't a derail, it was that little bump you feel when the train crosses over a set of switch points. Now calm down and get back in your seat.

That being said, what exactly is the problem with using non-licensed or non-attributed photos on a fairly lame personal blog that carries no advertising and therefore is totally non-commercial?
posted by rocket88 at 10:41 AM on October 26, 2009


Alvy in your third link the author even admits that they have no reproduction rights.

I never claimed or assumed they had the rights. If it were a picdump with ads everywhere and no effort made to attribute the photos I could understand where you're coming from, but a (Near as I can tell) non-commercial site presenting acknowledged copyrighted works with attribution where possible isn't something I can get het up over.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:44 AM on October 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I keep reading 'iconic' as 'ironic'.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:49 AM on October 26, 2009


Alvy, while I agree with you that it is presented on a non-commercial site, and it doesn't really bug me all that much, I clearly remember getting smacked down in AskMe about the same thing. Doesn't matter if its personal, it is still illegal.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 10:54 AM on October 26, 2009


If it were a picdump with ads everywhere and no effort made to attribute the photos I could understand where you're coming from

The funny thing is that for the people with adblockers, they look the same.
posted by smackfu at 11:01 AM on October 26, 2009


An automatic deletion of the first comment in every thread would probably go a long way towards stopping derails of this sort.

But then DU and I wouldn't have any comments on the blue!
posted by dersins at 11:05 AM on October 26, 2009


People like to borrow photographs. I doubt this Afghan restaurant asked permission to incorporate the iconic afghan girl photo in their mural.
posted by nomisxid at 11:12 AM on October 26, 2009


Jess...my comment wasn't meant to be snark...well, not really. I should have flagged the comment and moved on.. I guess I got hooked by the instant snark of the first comment.
My intent was to stop the derail, but I guess I just jumped on the train and road it off the side of the embankment... sorry about that... next time I'll keep my keyboard shut ..

I'm still not sure what the issue here is, however. Seems to me that this is a fair use of those photos. Any experts out there that want to weigh in on this...
posted by HuronBob at 11:30 AM on October 26, 2009


My objection is that the photos aren't at all iconic. False advertising.
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:33 AM on October 26, 2009


heh... I went back and read my comment... when I said "it will be an interesting read"..I was referring to the blog linked to... I was in the middle of work stuff and had to bookmark it for this evening (I hate it when work gets in the way of the meta)...but, I suspect you thought, Jess, that due to my poor grammer, I meant the post here would be interesting due to the derail... nope...
posted by HuronBob at 11:35 AM on October 26, 2009


CunningLinguist: "My objection is that the photos aren't at all iconic. False advertising."

Some are, some aren't.

Some should be.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:47 AM on October 26, 2009


The whole idea of an "iconic" photo is somewhat misleading.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:59 AM on October 26, 2009


While we're talking about attribution, how about mentioning Wikipedia?

From the Lennart Nilsson Iconic Photos post:
He achieved international fame in 1965, when his photographs of the beginning of human life appeared on the cover and on sixteen pages of Life magazine. They were also published in Stern, Paris Match, The Sunday Times, and elsewhere. The photographs made up a part of the book, A Child is Born (1965); image from the book were reproduced in on the cover of April 30 1965 edition of Life, which sold eight million copies in the first four days after publication...

... Some photos were also later included on both Voyager spacecraft, as the part of the golden record that contains pictures, symbols and sounds of Earth and her inhabitants.
From the Lennart Nilsson Wikipedia article:
... He achieved international fame in 1965, when his photographs of the beginning of human life appeared on the cover and on sixteen pages of Life magazine. They were also published in Stern, Paris Match, The Sunday Times, and elsewhere. The photographs made up a part of the book, A Child is Born (1965); image from the book were reproduced in the April 30 1965 edition of Life, which sold eight million copies in the first four days after publication. Some of the photographs from this book were later included on both Voyager spacecraft.
posted by Songdog at 11:59 AM on October 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


And no, although I can't be sure I don't think the Iconic Photos editor wrote the Wikipedia article. Not recently, anyway. That bit of the Wiki text was nearly the same three years ago. The Iconic Photos post is just seven days old.

The photos and stories are interesting and certainly some work went into publishing them on this site. I just think it would be decent of the site editor to acknowledge that some of the work was performed by other people.
posted by Songdog at 12:07 PM on October 26, 2009


Isn't it iconic?

It's like rain on your wedding day
posted by found missing at 12:45 PM on October 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


I love you guys.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:50 PM on October 26, 2009


Nah, just kidding.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:51 PM on October 26, 2009


I suspect you thought, Jess, that due to my poor grammer, I meant the post here would be interesting due to the derail

Nah, I followed you and it was fine, I didn't mean to make it sound like I was calling you out. I just wanted people to know that if someone threadshits like that early, if people don't respond to it, it's easier to delete. Since you had responded I felt weird deleting your comment but it also meant more impetus to keep the original comment which we would have otherwise excised.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:55 PM on October 26, 2009


Brandon Blatcher, we're not just your emotional playthings, dude.
posted by lodurr at 5:14 PM on October 26, 2009


I know people feel strongly about this kind of thing, but this looks and smells like Fair Use to me: conspicuous absence of advertising, no commercial links in evidence (thinking that if s/he linked to Corbis or similar he might actually be in more trouble), actual commentary on the images, attributions appearing to be given where they are available... It's real commentary -- may not be high quality, but it's real commentary, and low volume. And I see some evidence of image removal (e.g. in one post he describes an image and refers to it by position, and it's not there), so s/he's probably removing images whenever there's a takedown request.

So in absence of a case for laws being broken, what you've got is something that some people object to, and then we get into the whole Fair Use melee and those never end well.
posted by lodurr at 5:22 PM on October 26, 2009


This person plagiarizes content from all over the web.

The NYT: "He stood firm on other disputed specifications, such as a plexiglass dome for the building and glass doors. The plans to start building were delayed several times but, finally, the museum was in construction in 1956. It is expected to be completed in a month or two. "

Iconicphoto: "He stood firm on others, such as a plexiglass dome for the building and glass doors. The plans to start building were delayed several times but, finally, the museum was in construction in 1956. "

Inquirer.net: "The images were doctored for the official party daily, adding a few extra centimeters to Ceausescu and putting a hat on his head. Except no one thought to airbrush out the headgear in his hands. When the mistake was spotted, police were sent across the country charged with securing every copy of the paper and its front-page image of the despot with two hats."

Iconicphoto: "The images were doctored for the official party daily, adding a few extra centimetres to Ceausescu and putting a hat on his head. Except no one thought to airbrush out the headgear in his hands. When the mistake was spotted, police were sent across the country charged with securing every copy of the paper and its front-page image of the despot with two hats."

WikiPedia: "Capote dangled the prized invitations for months, snubbing early supporters like fellow Southern writer Carson McCullers as he determined who was "in" and who was "out"."


There's more, but I'm tired of cutting and pasting. Suffice to say that this is a dodgy site.
Iconicphoto: "Capote dangled the prized invitations for months, snubbing early supporters like fellow Southern writer Carson McCullers as he determined who was "in" and who was "out"."
posted by oneirodynia at 5:48 PM on October 26, 2009


Oops, bad edit on my part. Sorry bout that.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:48 PM on October 26, 2009


I know people feel strongly about this kind of thing, but this looks and smells like Fair Use to me: conspicuous absence of advertising, no commercial links in evidence (thinking that if s/he linked to Corbis or similar he might actually be in more trouble), actual commentary on the images, attributions appearing to be given where they are available... It's real commentary -- may not be high quality, but it's real commentary, and low volume.

It seems unlikely to be fair use to me as it probably fails the amount and substantiality test. The blog owner is publishing the whole of each copyrighted work. While it's been found that reproducing a thumbnail of someone else's copyrighted image in order to index it passes the fair use test, I'm not aware of any other case law that allows the reproduction of someone else's image in it's totality, in a non-transformative manner.

If anything, the fact that the blog owner appears to be taking down images when they come to the attention of the copyright owner suggests that he or she also recognizes that this isn't fair use. It suggests that when the copyright owner catches him or her, he removes the image immediately to avoid a legal action that they know they can't defend or win.

Disclaimer: I don't care whether this person publishes these pictures or not. I just don't think they'd be able to successfully rely on a fair use defense in court. However, IAMAL.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:25 PM on October 26, 2009


If anything, the fact that the blog owner appears to be taking down images when they come to the attention of the copyright owner suggests that he or she also recognizes that this isn't fair use

Sorry, but it suggests nothing other than that the person might be afraid of ruinous legal proceedings or having his site taken down by his ISP.
posted by lodurr at 7:31 PM on October 26, 2009


The legality of the photographs doesn't bother me so much, but the direct plagiarism of the text seems really tacky. I can't expect the blogger to go back in time and retake a famous photograph, but they certainly have the ability to type out a few paragraphs of their own. Sloppy and boring, not worthy of an FPP.
posted by Forktine at 5:53 AM on October 27, 2009


have to admit, the text plagiarism is starting to bug me, too. But I think focusing on the copyright aspects of that misses the point of what's bug-some about it. What's bugging me about it is that he's presenting as more than he is. It's like re-typing philip roth for your creative writing class: it doesn't hurt roth in any conceivable way, but you arguably end up a little less for it.
posted by lodurr at 8:08 AM on October 27, 2009


I'm movin' on, I'll soon be gone
You have broken your vow and it's all over now
So I'm movin' on.

-Hank Snow*

See that name? Hank Snow? That's attribution.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:50 PM on October 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's the right thing to do, kids!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:51 PM on October 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pshaw! Like anyone wouldn't recognize those immortal words.
posted by Mitheral at 9:49 AM on October 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


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