Thursday 15 August 2013

Journalist ethics

Daughter.1 took an amusing picture, and posted it on her Facebook account. Various people told each other about it, and it "went viral", meaning that lots and lots of people told each other about it.

One Twitter user tweeted it. And it went viral on Twitter.

A big UK newspaper printed the picture. No-one asked daughter.1, the copyright holder, if that was OK. So she phoned the newspaper to complain.

The newspaper's position was that they had asked the Twitter user if it was OK for them to use it, and the Twitter user said it was. Notice - they didn't ask the Twitter user if she had the authority to give that permission.

It's a bit like if you were walking down the street, saw a car you liked the look of, and asked another passer-by if they minded if you took that car.

Newspapers get very keen on copyright, but that's when it's their copyright at stake. Do they care about other people's copyright? Obviously, not so much.

So, take heed. Any picture that you post on Facebook, or on Twitter, or on your blog, might be taken by a newspaper and splashed across their front page. And they probably won't ask your permission - if they ask permission from some random person, they think that's enough. So before you publish your wedding photos, or your baby pictures, or your pictures of yourself, you should ask yourself - would I be upset if this appeared on the front page of the Daily Bugle?


  1. Just because they asked that Twitter account doesn't mean they had the authority to use it. Send a bill for use of your copyright!

    I'll admit that this is a US-centric view, I don't know the exact details over there, but there's some good overlap due to all the international agreements in place.

  2. So, I can intimate something on a tweet, that could be construed that you, Dr Solly, may be of particular persuasion, and then you could sue my a%% off in court. But you are telling me I can take a picture off your facebook, geocache or duaghter 1's twitter and sell it to The Buckinghamshire Ridicule and you can't do anything about it!!

    In fact, I am quiet sure you could raise a complaint to the press complaints commission and it would be looked into. (you : actually means your daughter , as she is the injured party! )

  3. Bill, that's right. The surprise is that they even thought that they had authority.

    Anon, that's a good thought. I'll suggest the PCC to her.