Andy Dickinson's post Time to get your head round fair use is more than fairly useful. Read it. It summarises the English (and Welsh? or UK?) law.
And it has also set me off on something of a tangent.
While the laws relating to copyright and fair use have not changed substantially, "custom and practice" undoubtedly have.
Thanks to Creative Commons I could illustrate a story about protests over Wrexham's proposed incinerator without getting up from my desk, let alone paying any money over to a photographer. All I need to say is acknowledge "CC BY SA http://flickr.com/photos/vertigogen/58184067/"
In the blogosphere it is pretty much acceptable to quote the majority of another person's post providing you "pay" for it with Googlejuice (a link).
Most of our websites make their video embeddable which is implicitly an invitation to use it for free (in return for Googlejuice, natch) although I had an interesting conversation the other day with Debbie from "reprints & eprints". The roots of this department lies in our print history. Advertisers delighted to be written about in an article often purchase reprints which they send out to their clients. We charged for the privelege, of course.
Anyway, Debbie had a client which was featured in one of our videos and they wanted to put it on their own website. How much should she charge them?
My first instinct was to say "nothing" and then I wondered why that was? When did I stop thinking of content as having value? Has the value of content actually diminished? If so, how come? Perhaps I've been brain-washed by the social media free-for-all and have lost sight of it?
Of course, in some cases the value (or, anyway, the cost) of content has actually plummeted. Photography is the main loser here due to flickr, morguefile (from which the picture on the left is taken) and a thousand other sources.
Indeed, our purchasing department has just struck some incredible deals with image libraries and it's not surprising that Getty is trying to claw something back from the free image explosion.
Yet bizarrely many of the photographers we commission persist in clinging on to the copyright of what they produce for us. Freelance writers long ago recognised that the world was changing and that it was in their best interests to give us all rights to commissioned work, much to the NUJ's chagrin. But really: who would you rather buy a frying pan from? Someone who would only let you fry sausages in it once or someone who acknoweldged that you had paid for the frying pan and were entitled to do what you wanted with it?
Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh, yes. I'm wondering:
- Are we right to make all of our videos embeddable?
- Is the culture of "use it but give us a link in return" really good value?
- If the answers to these are "yes" and "yes", then where is the money going to come from?