Monday, November 7, 2016

Copyright 101

This blog is all about comparing the old with the new, and because it seeks to do this visually I trawl the internet for images that I can use to tell stories. 

I try to be careful with the provenance of images. I have no interest in passing off someone else’s work as my own and I do not monetise the blog with advertisements in order to profit from the work of others. I even block some links in the comments section if they are a blatant plug for a commercial entity. I do this so that places that might otherwise charge for the use of an image might allow that use without demanding a fee. It is usually sufficient.

Most of the older images that I use are out of copyright and just need a simple attribution. Some copyrighted works need specific permission for any type of publication and that is normally granted immediately for this blog given that it exists purely as a historical reference for interested readers. Whenever I have contacted universities, museums etc - even television stations - permission has been granted for me to use relevant material with appropriate attribution. I took the view that newspapers already had their information readily accessed electronically, so they would not mind it being reproduced with the proper attribution.

Imagine my surprise at receiving a terse email from one of Rupert Murdoch’s minions instructing me to remove any and all News Corp copyrighted images within 48 hours. Or what? It didn’t say, but Rupert has far deeper pockets than your humble blogger, so I am in no hurry to find out.

Technically they are within their rights to refuse to allow this blog to republish their copyrighted images without express permission, no matter what attribution might be used. I did reply, asking if there could be any exception for a non-commercial blog and was told that News Corp charges a fee for use of images and that it does not allow them to be posted on blogs. The reply went on to say that they would normally demand a fee for this misuse but would not in this case if the images were removed within 48 hours.

So I have removed the images. There weren’t a lot. This occasional message now appears throughout the blog:

I am disappointed in this action. It would seem to me that a few random images (acknowledged to be copyrighted to News Corp) on a little-known blog that might appeal to the occasional history nerd would hardly cause any loss or damage to News Corp. What is the difference between the posting of an attributed image on a blog and the sharing of the same image on Facebook?

But sending out gruff emails has given someone an important job in a big organisation, so let’s move on.

PS - I have chosen not to provide links to the now-missing News Corp images.


  1. Typical piece of small-minded pettiness. But Rupert didn't get where he is today by being nice to people. The Evil Empire must be preserved at all costs. ;-)

  2. What a shame, but I suppose News Corp isn't really in the business of 'educating' people. It would appear to be more interested in propoganda!

  3. That really sucks. I hope this truly was just a handful of images; I have dipped in and out of your wonderful historical record for a number of years and the diminishing of it in any manner is shame. I trust going forward you are able to locate images belonging to more generous individuals and organisations. Keep up the good work!

  4. Very disappointing and mean spirited.

  5. I know it's hard and seems petty but it is the law. As bloggers we need to "Do the right thing".

  6. I understand your frustration when images are shared via Facebook, Instagram, etc yet a little ole 'history nerd' blog, like you said, gets a rap over the knuckles. :-(


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