Why share if you reserve all rights?


Channel 4 News posted a collection of dramatic photos to its Google+ page of the devastation wrought by Superstorm Sandy in New York City and elsewhere on the US east coast.

My second thought was why post these pics with the restrictive copyright wording of “all rights reserved“?

I noted in my post on Google+ when I shared Channel 4’s post:

[…] So how does that fit with the social web and sharing – just like I’ve done with the pics here on Google+?  And if I import this Google+ post to my blog or share it on Twitter, that broadens the scope of the share by some magnitude, and then what? And what if someone shares my post and also makes use of one of the images on his or her blog or website?

It seems to me that if you post pictures to a social networking site like Google+ – especially pictures that are of an event with huge and continuing public interest – you do so wishing for your content to be shared, otherwise why post it to a place where sharing others’ content is a major element of what people do?

“All rights reserved” is very much at odds with that open sentiment. But what if the pics need to be use-restricted by copyright, with all rights reserved? I’d argue that you shouldn’t post them to a public social network in that case.

In any case, I wonder how many people will look at the photos and just pin them to Pinterest without any thought of the words “all rights reserved.”


Surely a Creative Commons copyright license would be a better way to stake a claim over your intellectual property rights but in a way that gives others a legitimate way to share your content? Such an approach also opens up many possibilities for linking to your content as well as citations and attributions, thus prolonging mentions online of your name/brand.

That’s what I’d do. How would you address this point?

Related posts:

Do your due diligence before using someone else’s content online


The Financial Times reports on an interesting legal dispute between British luxury fashion house Burberry and the estate of actor Humphrey Bogart that highlights the copyright minefield businesses can be faced with on using images online.

Burberry used a still from the final scene of the film Casablanca, showing Bogart in his iconic trenchcoat, in a Facebook timeline depicting the evolution of Burberry’s products and culture. Bogart’s estate said the use was without its permission and, in any case, Bogart preferred the rival Aquascutum brand.

While the FT says the legal dispute has been settled, its report illustrates the rocky path for the unwary when it comes to using third-party content, whether that’s images or any other digital medium.

I think it’s surprising that this case of Burberry actually got to a lawsuit. Or perhaps it does also illustrate the pitfalls if you think an image is safe to use and haven’t rigorously checked that, in fact, it is. And, as the FT notes in its report, of all the pictures in all the world, why did Burberry have to upload that one?

The matter of permissions and copyright came up earlier this year regarding Pinterest, the poster-child for easy copy-and-paste that lets anyone share any content online, whether that’s legal or not.

Businesses of all shapes and sizes have scrambled to create a presence of some type on Pinterest.

But as the Burberry example shows, businesses cannot afford to do any less than conduct due diligence in rigorous permission-seeking from the owner of intellectual property they want to use – whether it’s images or any other content and wherever they plan to use it – to ensure they don’t find their communication efforts undermined by a lawsuit.

[Later Footnote] After I published this post, it occurred to me that I had come up against the very pitfall of which I wrote, about seeking permission to use someone else’s content before using it. I refer to the Bogart image I’d used, taken from the photo stream in the Humphrey Bogart Estate page on Facebook.

Had I fallen into an easy trap? Just because a photo or image is posted on Facebook, it means it’s ok to just use it?

I think I had. Slap-on-forehead moment. It may well be that it’s ok to use that image the way I did, linking back to it. But that does not make it ok without being certain, ie, seeking permission first. I hadn’t done that.

So, I’ve replaced that image with the one you now see above, one that is in the public domain.

A pity, really, as the one I first used was a really great Bogart pic. Not a valid reason to use it without permission, though.

Related post:

Share on Pinterest if you have the right


One online property that’s been getting huge attention over the past few weeks is Pinterest, the join-by-invitation content-sharing and social networking service.

Not only huge attention but also huge take-up by its users – TechCrunch reported earlier this month with data from comScore showing Pinterest reached 11.7 million unique monthly US visitors, crossing the 10 million mark “faster than any other standalone website in history.”

Like many other people, I’ve been experimenting with Pinterest although I’ve yet to really get going and ‘pin’ much content that I gather from my travels around the web that I’d want to share with a community at Pinterest. Clearly I’m not the right gender demographic anyway as 97 percent of Pinterest users are female, says PC Magazine.

Be that as it may! If you use Pinterest, I’m making it simple for you to share content you find on this blog as Twitter Facebook Google Plus One Social Share, the WordPress plugin I use that creates the social sharing buttons you see at the end of each post, now includes a Pinterest sharing button.


Any of my content you share from NevilleHobson.com – whether it’s text, an image, video or audio – is covered by a Creative Commons license. Whatever service you use to share it, you don’t need to ask my permission beforehand. As long as you abide by the terms of that license, or agree a change in those terms with me first, you’re ok from a copyright perspective.

That may not be true elsewhere on the web, though.

According to Business Insider, Pinterest might be enabling massive copyright theft through the way in which its service makes it easy for anyone to simply post anything they see on the web to their account on Pinterest. A couple of clicks (or taps on the mobile app), and you’re done.

What about copyright?

Pinterest themselves make it clear in their terms of use that you shouldn’t post anything on which you don’t have the rights or if you don’t have permission to do so, as the Business Insider report notes:

[…] In its terms of use, Pinterest actually specifies that users shouldn’t pin photos they don’t own the rights to, a request that is being ignored to an absurd degree. Even if you link and attribute, that does NOT absolve you of the fact that you took someone else’s work and re-appropriated it.

Those terms of use include this clause:

You agree not to do any of the following:

  • Post, upload, publish, submit, provide access to or transmit any Content that: (i) infringes, misappropriates or violates a third party’s patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, moral rights or other intellectual property rights, or rights of publicity or privacy; […]

Business Insider’s report also goes into a detailed discussion in an FAQ format that explores the many and complex issues related to copyright, fair use (fair dealing in the UK), transformative works, and more:

[…] But the big problem is that it grabs entire copyrighted works to re-post. This could be hard to overcome, especially as Pinterest starts growing and becomes more of a destination for a greater audience. The more time users spend on Pinterest, one assumes, the less likely they are to click out to other sites. And why click out when you can see the whole picture right there?

It’s an interesting situation, one that may well result in someone mounting some kind of legal challenge in one jurisdiction or another to test the copyright water, especially if Pinterest starts to make money from their service (which they say they aren’t yet). Once that happens, someone is sure to sue when they find their content on or linked to at Pinterest, the act of which infringes their rights to an extent that it just can’t be ignored.

I think it’s another example of digital technology and the internet enabling people to do things that copyright laws never imagined when they were drafted (and amended over time), and now looking woefully out-dated if not out of touch with contemporary society. The web moves faster than the law.

Unless or until any legal challenge happens, I’d be careful to acknowledge other people’s intellectual property rights first and foremost.

[Update Feb 21] Pinterest has taken a step to address the copyright issue with the release of code that website owners can place on their web pages that prevents anyone ‘pinning’ images from their site.

An additional text in their help section includes this:

What if I don’t want images from my site to be pinned?

We have a small piece of code you can add to the head of any page on your site:

<meta name="pinterest" content="nopin" />

When a user tries to pin from your site, they will see this message:

“This site doesn’t allow pinning to Pinterest. Please contact the owner with any questions. Thanks for visiting!”

It’s a good start but I wonder if it will be enough to satisfy critics as well as actually combat what some see as content theft and others as just linking. This only addresses images not text or other content. Still, Pinterest has also set a limit of 500 characters to text content which will address the people who scrape whole blog posts and other text content.

Yet I wonder if many websites will add the code at all. And would it not be best if the code was more about opting in rather than opting out? But that would be a wholly different scenario for Pinterest and its users as that would mean websites having to enable a code to permit pinning rather than it being the ‘default by inaction’ as now.

All part of the figuring-it-out process.

(Via LLSocial.com via Mashable)