I first encountered AmericanSuburbX in 2008. My initial thoughts were – ‘hey, this is a cool site’. But gradually I became more and more uneasy with the site and it’s content. It became obvious that 99% of the content was sourced from elsewhere – often without permission of the creator. Whole essays and photographic series were being reproduced under the ASX banner.
As a standalone project, I could just about accept that ASX had a place – the fair use claim could be that the site was an educational resource (i guess?) – but when the content started appearing on Facebook, I was really surprised.
I’m all for the sharing of content, but I also feel really strongly that the creator should have a say in where his/her intellectual property appears, especially if they are getting no renumeration. I had my own run in recently with GUP magazine – this ended up on PDNpulse and several other blogs, and to the great credit of the publisher Peter Bas, they have now amended their policy for featured artists. Its not that hard – contact the photographers that you want to feature, explain what you are doing, and generally everyone is happy.
Facebook though… thats a different beast. As a photographer, I am really careful about what content I upload directly to Facebook. I have a fan page, to which I post the odd news item and every so often a photograph – but this is my calculated choice. Why am I so cautious? Well lets just say that Facebook’s terms and conditions aren’t the greatest for uploaded content:
2.1 For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (“IP content”), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook.
With this in mind, why has noone had an issue with the 141 galleries of photographs that ASX editor Doug Rickard has uploaded to Facebook? If I found out that someone had taken my images from my website and put them on Facebook, I would be fuming!
I’m not the first one to call Rickard out on this – Bryan Formhals questioned him over at La Pura Vida, and prominent photo critic A.D Coleman was quite rightly pissed off to discover that one of his essays had been reproduced in it’s entirety on ASX. However, in spite of these disputes, the content on ASX keeps on growing, both on the original homepage and (more importantly) on Facebook.
So here’s my pitch – while I can sympathise with the popularity of ASX, the uploading of thousands of copyrighted images onto the Facebook platform is a clear breach of copyright that is of no benefit to the content creators. The Facebook T+C’s are of detriment to anyone who uploads their own Intellectual Property; coupled with this, Doug Rickard is also in clear breach of Clause 5.1 in Facebook’s terms and conditions:
5.1 You will not post content or take any action on Facebook that infringes or violates someone else’s rights or otherwise violates the law.
I would be interested to hear from Mr Rickard how he can justify posting this content onto the Facebook platform, and also why he thinks it is okay to use other peoples intellectual property without asking permission. (disclaimer – Perhaps Mr Rickard does have permission form the content creators – in which case I apologise…)
What do you think about this? With the recent success of the Stop43 campaign in the UK, its been recognised that photographers have total control over their intellectual property. As A.D Coleman stated in his response to Rickard:
I might well agree with you when you write that “I thought that it needed to be seen rather than buried somewhere in an archive.” The appropriate way to deal with that perception is to contact the copyright holder of the work and propose to put it online. To which the copyright holder may or may not agree. Republishing it without permission is presumptuous, to say the least.