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Archive for the ‘copyright’ Category

Hacking, Journalism, and Moral Treason

Posted by prof e on December 16, 2014

The hack of Sony Pictures and subsequent release of salacious emails and other confidential information has been the talk of the town (read Hollywood) in recent days. Much of the information obtained by the hackers (aka Guardians of Peace) is very personal and potentially damaging to careers and reputations of employees, executives, and celebrities connected to Sony. Medical records, compensation packages and their private negotiations…even jokes about President Obama that have a racial component…are on display for all to see.

But the hackers alone cannot do serious damage to Sony without the willing participation of journalists. What the hackers have stolen, journalists are now distributing with the protection of the first amendment and the claim that these are important and relevant issues to be discussed in a public forum.

But not every one is willing to give the news media a pass when it comes to reporting this story. Appearing on Howard Stern’s radio show, Seth Rogen (co-star of The Interview) claimed that journalists are profiting from doing exactly what the criminals/hackers want.

Television writer Aaron Sorkin has been another outspoken critic saying, “Every news outlet that did the bidding of the Guardians of Peace is morally treasonous and spectacularly dishonorable.” Sorkin acknowledges, in his op-ed piece in the New York Times, the importance and role of the media when it comes to whistle-blowing and exposing wrong-doing, e.g. the Pentagon Papers. But he makes a clear distinction between that and these gossipy morsels that have little or no value for the preservation of democratic ideals.

As demented and criminal as it is, at least the hackers are doing it for a cause. The press is doing it for a nickel. ~Aaron Sorkin

I suppose one could argue that this hack reveals facts relevant to issues of importance: gender disparity for celebrity compensation, race-tinged jokes about the President by Sony execs who support him and gave to his political causes, and allegations of journalistic malpractice by New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. But these exceptions are not what’s generating all the buzz on blogs and social media.

Not too long ago when nude celebrity pictures were hacked from the cloud “real” journalists were careful to keep their distance for fear of being seen as accomplices to the crime. But this time the “gift that keeps on giving” has fewer detractors and the benefit of readers’ fascination with celebrity culture. The hackers have promised a “Christmas gift” of new information while Sony’s lawyers are sending threatening letters to news organizations in an attempt to discourage further dissemination. But if there’s one thing on which we can be fairly certain, it’s that attacking journalists won’t go over well.

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Posted in 1st amendment, copyright, film, global media, journalism, media industry, new media, PR | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Copyright Monkeybusiness

Posted by prof e on August 9, 2014

Macaque-Selfie-finalPerhaps you’ve seen this picture of a female Celebes crested macaque. The picture is unusual in several ways. First, the expression is priceless. To peer into the soul of a subject and capture it on film in such a powerful way is truly amazing.

But that brings us to the second way in which this photo is unusual. It is a selfie. That’s right, the photo was taken by the subject. According to an article on the Mashable website, the photographer David Slater was on a trip through the jungles of the Indonesian island Sulawesi in 2011 when he had his camera swiped by the macaque who then turned the camera on herself.

Okay, pretty interesting story so far, but it gets better. Several years later someone uploaded the photo to Wikimedia Commons. Slater, who claims copyright on the photo, asked Wikimedia to remove the photo. Wikimedia denied Slater’s request claiming that Slater did not own the photo since he didn’t take it.

Alex Magdaleno, writing for Mashable, continues…

according to Wikimedia’s licensing report, it remains in the public domain “because as the work of a non-human animal, it has no human author in whom copyright is vested.”

There you have it. Once the courts settle this case we’ll know whether animal selfies enjoy the protection of copyright. And what if the courts say that the copyright belongs to the critter who pressed the shutter? In the US, copyright is awarded for the life of the author plus 70 years. If a Giant Galapagos tortoises snaps a selfie it could remain under copyright for upwards of 250 years!

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