TITLE: Pre-Cease-and-Desist E-Mail
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: August 03, 2006 3:57 PM
My blog has received occasional interest from unexpected
places, such as
my local newspaper
author of a book on marketing.
These contacts have always been pleasant surprises.
Yesterday evening, I received e-mail on a different sort
of interest, one which is less pleasant.
In a blog entry on
June 14, 2005,
I did what I sometimes do: use an image or cartoon from
another source that illustrated a point I was trying to make.
In this case, it was a cartoon from a well-known series that
expressed humorously how I felt when accepting the position
as head of my department. I wanted to give the creator
credit for his work, so I mentioned it by name and linked to
the author's web site.
Somehow, the syndicator of the series came to know about my
entry. (The fact that my use of the cartoon shows up as #40
on a Google Images search for the cartoon makes the discovery
not all that surprising!) Last night, I received a polite
letter from the syndicator asking that I remove the image,
along with a playful though perhaps overwrought message from
the author himself. I updated that blog entry as soon as I
could to remove the offending image.
As I said, I occasionally use images from other web sites
to illustrate my blog, though I have not sought official
permission to use all of them. I've always tried to stay
within the bounds of fair use, and I have always linked to
the web page where I found the image, so that the creator
would get full credit for his or her intellectual property
along with any attendant traffic that may follow from my
readers. In an "free software" sense, I was just trying
to participate in the exchange of ideas.
I may well have been within the legal bounds of fair use
in this case. Not being a lawyer, I would have to spend
a little time, if not money, to obtain a legal opinion to
that effect. In either direction, I do not think it's
worth my time or money to find out.
I have great respect for intellectual property rights and
do not wish to infringe on them. I recall being rather
annoyed by the cavalier attitude taken by the founder of
Wikipedia on the its use of copyright images and images
otherwise controlled by others. Whatever one feels about
free software and open source, one rarely has the right
to require another person to share intellectual property.
Similarly, the idea of downloading copyright music and
video without paying disturbs me. I may think that someone
should distribute something openly, but that is
the copyright holder's prerogative.
So: I will be careful from now on to use only those images
for which I have permission to do so.