So you're a hardcore Flickr addict who can't wait to upload more photos of yourself dancing, singing or perhaps simply flashing the V sign for the camera. Ever wondered if your photos could be used by someone else without your knowledge? Say a large multi-million dollar company, especially photos with a Creative Commons License?
It seems that Alison Chang found that out the hard way when Virgin Mobile used her picture in their ad without telling her in advance. Alison's photo was taken by her youth counsellor, who posted it on his Flickr page. As you may have noticed, the ad isn't very flattering (Dump your pen friend) and has caused Alison Chang and her family much distress.
Depending on the type of Creative Commons License, the rights of a certain piece of work could range from very little to the full blown rights that everyone is familiar with. What does this mean for Alison Chang and her family?
I am not a lawyer (IANAL), but it looks like it boils down to the type of license that was chosen for that particular photo. In this case, the photo in question has a license that allows usage under the following conditions:
Attribution. You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).
For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work. The best way to do this is with a link to this web page.
Any of the above conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder.
Nothing in this license impairs or restricts the author's moral rights.
And this is what the family is banking on in this law suit. They claim the photographer was not mentioned by name which is true to an extent. Although the ad doesn't contain the name of the photographer, it does have a link to his Flickr page at the bottom. I guess this is going to be a tough one to call.
If you want to read about what others are saying on Flickr, see the links below.
[Link: Virgin Mobile advertising campaign using Flickr photos at Flickr]
[Link: Dump Your Pen Friend ad photo and discussion at Flickr]
[Image: Alison for peace at Flickr]
[Source: The Sydney Morning Herald]
On another note, isn't it ironic that this story pops up on the International Day of Peace? People are going around promoting peace and harmony while someone is suing over an ad that features them flashing the peace sign. Things are definitely not going well for this year's Peace Day.