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Photojournalists and Pinterest

June 19th, 2012 by Alicia Calzada and tagged , , , , ,

Recently, I was asked to review Pinterest by Mark Loundy. I thought I would share with our readers my conclusions after signing up and reviewing the social networking site.

Photographers have two different concerns regarding Pinterest. The first is whether or not to participate in the service. The second is whether to encourage others to “pin” your photography and whether to object if and when they do.

1) Using Pinterest- by using Pinterest, you warrant that the images that you pin are yours and that you have a right to use them. This is at complete odds with the pinterest browser “pinning” tool, which enables you to grab photos from virtually any website and pin it to your “pinboard.” Photographers should be aware that they are putting themselves at risk by using Pinterest.

If you follow Pinterest’s “Best Practices” which are recommendations from the company, you are doing something called “in-line linking.” This means that you are not pulling the photo off of the site and hosting it in your site, rather you are using code to provide somewhat of a window to the host website.  Because copyright protects not just the copying, but the display of images, this could still be a copyright violation. In a very famous case from about five years ago, the Ninth Circuit held that Google was not violating copyright through its “google images” service, which utilizes in-line linking. See Perfect 10, Inc. v. Google, Inc., 508 F.3d 1146, 1167 (9th Cir. 2007).  An important distinction is that google images are thumbnail images  (as are the images that propagate when you post a link on Facebook) while Pinterest posts are large images and the use on pinterest is akin to an article or content you might find on a news website. Furthermore, unlike Google Images, Pinterest does not provide a transformative service like the Google image search, rather it enables average users to use photos in a way that they would also be used in the marketplace.  So while there may be some defenses available to the Pinterest user, there is no guarantee that it would apply.  Photographers who use Pinterest must realize that they are probably violating copyright when they post others’ images.   Like everything, a decision to use Pinterest should involve a risk – benefit analysis.

2) Being the subject of “pinning.”

If you want to avoid being subject to “pinning” there are a couple of options:

Pinterest has a code that you can insert into your website’s html code that blocks pinning. The addition is “<meta name=”pinterest” content=”nopin” />” (with the brackets), and is found at this link:https://en.help.pinterest.com/entries/21063792-Prevent-pinning-from-your-site.

The problem with relying on “opt out” is that this is not the way copyright works. Google books has a similar “opt out” policy and I believe that both policies turn copyright on their head. Copyright works by requiring the user to get permission from the copyright holder. The concept of copyright falls apart if you require the copyright holder to opt out of every potential user who had developed an opt out policy.

You can also use a web company, software or code that is resistant to in-line linking, such as PhotoShelter’s website service. This is a better solution as it protects you not only against pinterest, but similar services. With new social media companies popping up every day, your best bet is to display your images in a manner that makes them difficult to rip off, but that still provides good SEO.

Of course these options are only helpful with websites that you control, which still leaves you out in the cold in regards to the work that you have licensed to a client for use online. There is also a DMCA takedown procedure for pinterest.

Many photographers have decided that Pinterest has value that makes it worth allowing pinning.  Whether or not you want to allow it is a personal decision that should be based on your business model.

Posted in contracts, copyright, Photographers' Rights, photojournalism, social networking | 2 Comments »

Is Your Internship Legal?

May 22nd, 2010 by Alicia Calzada and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

With the school year wrapping up, another Internship season is upon us. So I thought it might be worth re-hashing an issue that I posted on my personal blog a couple of months ago about labor laws and free internships. Here it is:

You need an internship. Companies love having interns because it lightens the work load, they get to nurture and identify young talent and it supports the industry to train future photographers.

There is an interesting article in the New York Times about the expanding trend of unpaid internships and the reality that some unpaid internships violate federal wage laws.

I also found a useful evaluation at this link.

One of the big concerns is that unpaid internships are being used to replace paid workers in this economic recession. This is certainly true in the photojournalism world.

Some states require that an intern receive school credit in order to be eligible as an unpaid intern.

The Department of Labor has provided a set of guidelines to determine whether someone is a trainee, entitled to not being paid (this is relevant for Fair Labor Standards Act- i.e., whether or not minimum wage laws are being violated).

There is also a report by the Economic Policy Insitute on the trends and need for reform for internships.

According to the DOL, there are six factors used for determining if someone is an employee or trainee:

1. The training, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the
employer, is similar to what would be given in a vocational school or academic
educational instruction;
2. The training is for the benefit of the trainees;
3. The trainees do not displace regular employees, but work under their close
observation;
4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the
activities of the trainees, and on occasion the employer’s operations may actually
be impeded;
5. The trainees are not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training
period; and
6. The employer and the trainees understand that the trainees are not entitled to
wages for the time spent in training.

“If all of the factors listed above are met, then the worker is a “trainee”, an employment
relationship does not exist under the FLSA, and the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime provisions do not apply to the worker.”

This does not affect non-profits using volunteers.

You may think this is overkill when you have a student willing to work for free in exchange for valuable experience, but this is extra important for photographers because the consideration of whether someone is an employee is also important for consideration of who owns the copyright. Also, if there is an on-the-job injury or a sexual discrimination case, employment status is extremely important.

Do you want to know if the free internship program at your paper is in compliance with the law? To be sure, better ask your corporate counsel.

Posted in business, contracts, interns, photographers, photojournalism, students | No Comments »