Posted by: coolethan77 | November 5, 2012

Why are words easier to steal, er, use fairly than pictures?

Reading about copyright and fair use laws this week got me thinking about the role of bloggers and the new media paradigm in general. The new media landscape is one in which ideas and information are more widely shared and appropriated than ever before, but the media topics that are being appropriated by the endless supply of “content creators” are much less voluminous than the  “transformative” works that flood the marketplace of ideas, making it much more difficult for media producers who invest capital in actual traditional reporting to place a high monetary value on their service/products.

I point this out because, although I’m both a photographer and a writer, I’m highly averse to republishing photos on my blog without either gaining permission or paying a subscription fee while I will readily copy paragraphs of text from articles. My personal feelings on this issue seem to be reflected in this article from the Center for Social Media: “Photo editors were less likely than other editors to intuitively employ fair use rights. They showed great sensitivity to the concerns of photographers, who generally asserted that photographs they or their photographer peers created should not be reused without licensing.”

Why is it so commonplace to appropriate a journalist’s written reporting under “fair use” but the cultural stigma (within the journalistic media) related to republishing copyrighted photos remains in place? How can we accurately judge the value of these services if this disparity in fair use standards exists within the mass media?

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