Monthly Archives: November 2013

Photojournalist wins $1.2M in copyright lawsuit

Haitian photographer Daniel Morel has been awarded $1.2 Million by a US judge in a nasty copyright infringement lawsuit against Getty Images and Agence France-Presse. This decision is not only a major win for Morel and serious damage to the reputations of the two international news agencies for what the judge called, willful copyright infringement, it will also be a precedent setting ruling that defines the use and distribution of copyrighted images on the internet and social media websites with their Term of Use agreements that lays claims to photos that people post to their accounts. The case is one of the first to address how images that individuals make available to the public through social media can be used by third parties for commercial purposes and suggests that such “Terms of Use Agreements” cannot override federal and international copyright laws.

Joseph Baio, who represents Morel, said the ruling proves that images taken from Twitter without permission cannot be used for commercial purposes.

Danial Morel's photos of the 2010 Haiti earthquake make the frontpages of newspapers and TV broadcasts around the world. to enlarge.

Danial Morel’s photos of the 2010 Haiti earthquake make the front pages of newspapers and TV broadcasts around the world. …click to enlarge.

This story started when Morel, 62, a well known photographer for his years of work in Haiti posted the first photos of the 2010 Haiti earthquake to his Twitter account for his clients to see. An editor at AFP discovered Morel’s photos through another Twitter user’s account, downloaded them, striped the identifying metadata and gave them to Getty, a partner agency, for distribution. The photos were then widely disseminated to Getty’s clients worldwide. AFP also distributed a number of the images on their network.

When Morel complained about the copyright infringement AFP filed the lawsuit in 2010 against Morel, seeking a declaration that it had not infringed on his copyrights. Morel then filed his own suit.

In the Jan 2013 preliminary hearing AFP had initially argued that Twitter’s terms of service permitted the use of the photos but Judge Alison Nathan found that Twitter’s policies that allowed posting and retweeting of images but did not grant the right to others to use them commercially and that AFP and Getty committed a willful violation of the US Copyright Act and ordered the case go to trail to award damages. The jury also found AFP and Getty guilty of violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act: specifically for altering Copyright Management Information and for adding false and misleading CMI. AFP had removed Morel’s identifying metadata and credited the photos to another photographer. For this they awarded Morel a further $20,000.

At trial, AFP lawyer Joshua Kaufman, blamed the infringement on an innocent mistake and said the Twitter user who posted Morel’s photos without attribution bore responsibility for the error. The AFP editor, Kaufman said, believed the pictures were posted for public distribution.

The $1.2 million was the maximum statutory penalty available under the US Copyright Act. AFP had asked for the award to be set at $120,000. Several news outlets that published Morel’s images previously settled with the photographer for undisclosed amounts, including the Washington Post, CBS, ABC and CNN.

Twitter was not a party in the case. “As has always been our policy, Twitter users own their photos,” a Twitter spokesman said.
You can get the blow-by-blow account of the trail at Editorial Photographers UK
Reuters coverage of the Jan 2013 Hearing
Reuters coverage of the November trial.

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Manthorpe: Philippines politics still stormy after Haiyen

F&O international affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe examines the chaos that typhoon Haiyan made of  the Philippines’ presidential campaign. An excerpt: 

When aid arrived this week in the Philippines’ Capiz region devastated by typhoon Haiyan, some of it came in tasteful blue bags decorated in prominent white letters with the name of Vice-President Jejomar Binay and adorned with his official logo of office.

Social media in the Philippines went viral with criticism of Binay, calling him “epal” – someone constantly trying to draw attention to himself.

A stream of bitter messages accused him of using the horror of the typhoon …. read more*

*Please note, a $1 day pass or subscription is required to access premium work on F&O.

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Where were you when Kennedy was shot?

Fifty years ago today the world lost two major figures, two men who made a difference in the world: American President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and British author Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World.

It is disconcertingly poignant that Kennedy’s famous death so thoroughly overshadows the passing of Huxley, whose novel famously foretold so much about today’s new world.

F&O writer Brian Brennan’s vignette about Kennedy in his ancestral homeland of Ireland, JFK: The Murdered King, is here. (Day pass or subscription needed.

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Who caused climate change?

Facts and Opinions reports on a new study that fingers 90 companies for some 2/3 of all emissions behind human-caused climate change. Excerpt:

International debates about climate change, such as the United Nation talks now underway in Warsaw, have lately focused on blaming nations and which of them should pay the bills. That changed today, with new research that claims just 90 companies are responsible for two-thirds of emissions linked with human-caused global warming.

Report author Richard Heede is upfront about his purpose: to change the game — and to name and shame.

Heede lists 90 companies, most of them producers of oil, gas and coal, alongside seven cement manufacturers  read more in F&O dispatches.

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Science interpretation for dummies – from lawmakers to journalists

That science is under siege has become a truism. Every conversation I have with a scientist, almost every public issue debate, every story I do about global crises, touches on censorship, religious and ideological beliefs, and a lack of education.

Three scientists aim to address that in a new commentary published in Nature. “There are serious problems in the application of science to policy,” note the authors, but the usual solutions  proposed, to increase political involvement by scientists, or give more scientific advisers more power, are unrealistic. Worse, they say, those fixes ignore what they call the core problem: scientific ignorance among lawmakers.

William J. Sutherland, David Spiegelhalter and Mark A. Burgman offer a sort of crash course in skills to needed to grasp “the imperfect nature of science.” It has 20 tips with examples in “interpretive scientific skills” aimed at public servants, politicians, policy advisers and journalists, to help parse evidence and avoid influence by vested interests.

“The harder part — the social acceptability of different policies — remains in the hands of politicians and the broader political process,” they note.

Their points include:

  • Differences and chance cause variation.
  • No measurement is exact.
  • Bias is rife.
  • Bigger is usually better for sample size.
  • Correlation does not imply causation.
  • Extrapolating beyond the data is risky.
  • Controls are important.
  • Randomization avoids bias.
  • Scientists are human.
  • Data can be dredged or cherry picked.
  • Extreme measurements may mislead.
  • Feelings influence risk perception.

Cliched? Sure, perhaps. But still useful, even as reminders. 

Posted in All, Canadian Journalist, Current Affairs, Gyroscope Tagged , , |

A “gangrenous limb” speaks

F&O Bob_Blakey_and_Brian_Brennan_grave_of_BobEdwards-1

Two of the journalists Conrad Black called “gangrenous limbs:” Bob Blakey (left) and Brian Brennan, raising a glass to the memory of Alberta legend Bob Edwards.

One-time media tycoon, British Lord and American convict Conrad Black generated controversy recently when the Calgary Public Library Foundation named him the recipient of the Bob Edwards Award. The honour is bestowed annually in the Alberta city on an outspoken Canadian author.

Black achieved special notoriety amongst journalists in the city during a bitter strike in 2000 at the Calgary Herald — not least for calling striking journalists “gangrenous limbs.” Black was then chairman of a company called Hollinger, which had accumulated a large number of Canadian newspapers, including the Herald.

One of those “gangrenous limbs” was historian, author and Facts and Opinions founding writer Brian Brennan. Brennan writes on his own blog why, despite the honour bestowed on Black, he still chose to help the foundation host the event. He reports how Black was booed during a speech touching on the travails of Toronto’s embattled mayor Rob Ford, the fall of Richard Nixon, and Black’s own incarceration in an American prison for mail fraud and obstruction of justice.

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Greg Locke in Maclean’s

Offshore Oil by Greg Locke © 2013 -
The semi-submersible offshore oil exploration drill rig, Henry Goodrich, working on Husky Energy’s White Rose offshore oil field 300km south of St. John’s, Newfoundland. Photo by Greg Locke © 2013

Greg Locke, Facts and Opinions’ managing partner, visual, is profiled this week in Maclean’s, Canada’s national newsmagazine. The Maclean’s feature, online and in the magazine on news stands, includes a gallery of Locke’s photographs of Atlantic Canada’s offshore oil industry.


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Brennan remembers Kennedy, Ireland’s murdered king

In June of 1963, when American president John F. Kennedy came “home” to Ireland, Brian Brennan lined up with thousands of his fellow Irishmen on O’Connell Street in the centre of Dublin.

They waited for hours to catch a glimpse of a famous descendant of Irish immigrants, to welcome home a long-lost son of Ireland. Finally they were rewarded. “As was the custom in those innocent times, the president rode in an open car through the streets of Dublin, hatless, smiling and waving. When the motorcade passed Nelson’s Pillar, people in the offices above tossed rolls of toilet paper and bus tickets onto the street,” remembers Brennan.

Five months later the news of Kennedy’s shooting death reached Ireland, and the shock felt like a death in the family, he writes. Read Brennan’s column, JFK: The Murdered King in F&O’s Loose Leaf column (available to subscribers or with a $1 day pass to Facts and Opinions.)


Posted in All, Current Affairs

Book review: A Crowbar in the Buddhist Garden

F&O Reid book Crowbar-in-the-Buddhist-Garden,-AJoyce Thierry Llewellyn first encountered author and convict Stephen Reid in 1988 when, as a university student, she interviewed him for an academic project. Back then  Reid had been out on parole for just a year, having spent 20 years in jail for robbing banks and prison escapes, during which he featured on the FBI’s most-wanted list. Reid’s 1986 book, Jackrabbit Parole, had been well-received and, writes Thierry Llewellyn, “he was the poster boy for redemption.”

Flash forward. Thierry Llewellyn is today a screenwriter, story editor and instructor at the Vancouver Film School. Reid is back in jail, having lapsed, and is still writing. And once again Thierry Llewellyn is writing about Reid — this time with a review of his latest book, A Crowbar in the Buddhist Garden: Writing From Prison. This fall, it won the  City of Victoria’s most prestigious book award.

“It is not always an easy book to read,” notes Thierry Llewellyn. “Reid is a sensory writer, using vivid language to portray a variety of experiences: the horror of the nurse who looked down at his skinny, 14 year-old, addict-marked arms; the smell of urine in solitary; the screaming and howling of the angry and crazy in the next cell. In Without My Daughter, he expresses grateful awareness of his young daughter’s love, describing her as an ‘enduring victim’ whose ‘love is relentless: it jumps over the razor wire.'”

Read Thierry Llewellyn’s review of Reid’s book here, in Ex Libris.



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Promises to aid development are empty

Pledges by “have” countries to help the “have-nots” are almost all talk and no action, new research shows. 

F&O Ecuador

A woman packs a load on her back in the hills above Otovalo, Ecuador. Deborah Jones photo © 2013

Since 2003, when a Washington-based think tank started an index to measure development policies by wealthier countries, “the scores for aid, migration, trade and technology transfer are about the same,” said the Center for Global Development in a report today

“Rich country policies to support global security are distinctly worse,” said the centre, because international peacekeeping has fallen as arms exports to undemocratic regimes have increased.

Only the environmental index showed improvement, because of a reduction in chemical emissions harmful to the protective ozone layer in the atmosphere. The exception was Canada, said the centre, “the only country whose environment policies have deteriorated since the index began … in part because of rising fossil fuel production, increasing per capita emissions and low gasoline (petrol) taxes. Slovakia and Hungary take top place in the environment standings with the highest gasoline taxes of CDI countries and greenhouse gas emissions among the lowest.”

The centre said its Commitment to Development Index (CDI) uses hundreds of indicators to rank member countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development by how their policies affect poorer countries in aid, trade, finance, migration, environment, security, and technology transfer. Denmark, Sweden and Norway ranked first overall. South Korea and Japan ranked last, notably because of high tariffs on imports from developing countries.

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