I Did My Good iDeed For the Day
I read The Consumerist.com frequently. It usually has stories about deals and corporate wrong-doing, greed, ways to fight back, and general consumer advocacy. It’s also part of Gawker Media, which is a large collection of blogs online, which mimic a digital Parade Magazine, covering gossip, celebrities, tech, gadgets, etc. A couple days ago, they did a post linking to their Flickr favorites, and mentioned thats where they get a lot of the good photos they post on their site. Right when I saw it I wanted to mention to them that they needed to be careful and only pick out Creative Commons Licenced photos, and make sure they use attribution. Distracted by the girl, and sleep, I didn’t get around to it, and when checking the page the next day, for sure, they were called on it.
Their only response? “Transformative means fair use.” In the comments there were links to a prior post from December where they were called on the fact that they had stolen someone’s Flickr photo. The editor of Consumerist.com Ben Popken’s response about adding a link to the flickr page was appalling:
“I have now removed the link because we realize that this policy would be more trouble than it’s worth. If people want credit, they can ask for it. If people want their photo down, they can ask us. Otherwise, we’ll just go back to using the best photos we can find in order to illustrate our posts. If you guys want a bunch of ugly ass retarded stock photos all the time, you’re in the fucking wrong place.”
“Credit is more [trouble] than its worth because then we would have to deal with people bitching all day that we didn’t spell their name correctly, or they want their name and not their Flickr ID and so on and so forth… when my time is better spent looking for the next post to write. The next post that will save you time or money, or reveal some corporate skulduggery or whatnot. What is the greater good? To use the best photo possible to illustrate the post and move on!”
“I know, let’s make drawings of everything. We are careful. We choose nice photos. If musicians and producers used the same notions of copyright today back in the day, there would be no hiphop. Consider us the Paul’s Boutique of consumer knowledge.”
I knew that just writing an email to the editor wouldn’t cut it at this point. So I posted the whole thing to Flickr’s forums, and then linked to it in the comments of 4 or 5 of the photos they’d stolen. I told Chase about it, and he put up a story on Digg, which made the front page earlier today.
After a number of posts in the flickr thread, and a couple of hours Stewart, a member of flickr staff, and I found out later, one of the founders, said they were looking into it, and “It is definitely a bizarre attitude coming from a publication that is ostensibly out to protect “the little guy” … ”
By the end of the day, The Consumerist had apologized. They also set up a flickr group and asked for photo submissions that they could use on their site. There are at least a handful of posts where images are still being used without attribution, but they may be working on that, and will no doubt be called on it if they remain up much longer.
It was quite interesting, watching the posts and the comments, and seeing the response build through out the day. It is also pretty amusing to look at The Consumerist frontpage today, covered with crappy screenshots from commericals.