Monday, April 7, 2008

The Pot That Calls...

the kettle black! Today I saw a post in a public forum about someone violating someone's copyright by buying their product and then making one that's exactly the same, then putting it up for sale. Certainly that's a rotten thing to do. But then again, there's only so many ways to dangle a bead from an earwire, so I wonder if such an arrangement of mass-produced jewelry supplies would even qualify for that kind of protection.

Getting back to the person making the complaint -- this person sells jewelry made from photos of contemporary political and cultural icons, photos which are clearly taken from online and print sources. The person's avatar is made from a classic painting which is now in public domain, it's true. But unless the person took a photo of this painting him or herself, it's likely that he or she has violated the copyright of the person who actually took a photo of this painting.

I've seen this kind of outrage about "copying" and "violation of copyright" every day online for close to 15 years now. Depressingly often it is the people who scream the loudest about their rights and threaten lawsuits who take others' work and think if they "change" it by some magical percentage, then it's OK. So taking a Newsweek photo of say, Barack Obama, laminating it and dangling a "Hope" doodad from it and selling it for close to $50 is OK. Never mind the rights of the person who owns copyright of the photo.

OK, so maybe this person got permission from the Newsweek (or whatever) photographer to use their hard work to make a few bucks to sell a bracelet. Somehow, I doubt it. I do love me a good dose of irony.

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