Monday, December 24, 2007

Copied pictures

The Huffington Post has an article about a column by Frank Rich. The article includes this composite image consisting of pictures of both Rich and Bill Clinton. At the bottom of the article the following credits appear.
Photo of Frank Rich from the NYT; photo of Bill Clinton via
The credits include the link to the original source of the Clinton picture.

Yet the composite image was stored on The Huffington Post website. It was not (as are the images in my blog entries—like this one) references to the original image sources. My question is whether The Huffington Post asked for permission to copy the images. It seems unlikely because an exchange of emails requesting and granting permission would have taken too long. So The Huffington Post probably just copied the original images and created a derived combined (mashup) image without permission. What are the copyright implications of that?

There is a sense in which it is preferable to copy images than to refer readers to the original source. Copied images are retrieved from one's own web server. When the original source is used, one is forcing that web server to supply the images. So by copying the images, The Huffington Post did the original source a favor — of sorts. But they also violated copyright, didn't they?

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