Sunday, March 8, 2015

Some deleted web content preserved by ‘fair use’

When an online resource that you’ve bookmarked disappears, someone else on the web may have preserved at least some of that information.
A lot of copying, aggregating and curating happens on the Internet. Some of it crosses the line into copyright infringement when full articles and photo galleries are lifted and republished without permission. But much of this activity is “fair use.”
For instance, critics and journalists often need to sample works to discuss their artistic merit, societal impact or newsworthiness. “Fair use” is a right not an exception to copyright law, as Techdirt explains.
Recently, for my series on interesting websites, I tried to revisit a Tumblr blog that featured famous music album covers minus dead members. The website, called Live!, devised a clever way to illustrate how much musical talent is no longer with us.
But it’s now offline, no doubt deleted because of Tumblr’s disregard for “fair use” rights. Likely a record label or three complained to Tumblr under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that their album covers were used without permission. Of course they were, but the artist didn’t need permission to use them. These are clearly transformative works. They don’t diminish the value of the original works or take away potential album sales.
As I’ve written before, Tumblr is the absolute worst website for remix artists and web curators to use. Tumblr listens to large media companies but not to its users when it comes to copyright issues.
In October, the Electronic Frontier Foundation produced a chart showing which websites were the best and worst at “Protecting Your Speech from Copyright & Trademark Bullies.” Tumblr was far and away the worst, scoring a big fat zero in five categories.
But I digress.
Despite Tumblr’s best effort to delete the content of the Live! I See Dead Peoples blog, other websites that reported on its works preserved many of its images. Those websites include Laughing Squid, PetaPixel and Gizmodo.
Tumblr is responsible for a lot of link rot as it deletes users’ blogs. In 2013, it summarily deleted my three Tumblr blogs after one photographer complained about a couple of his pictures being on just one of those blogs.
Other websites copied the photos from my blog, LFL Wardrobe Malfunctions, and made their own galleries. They exist online today, including the disputed photos, because they’re hosted on services that are more respecting of fair use than Tumblr.
Another website that disappeared is Hot Olympic Girls, a pictorial of beautiful female athletes in the Olympics. But thankfully for admirers of the female form, its photos were preserved on a Facebook page called Hot Olympic Girls.

Photos: Cover of the Beatles album “Abbey Road” without John Lennon and George Harrison; snowboarder Elena Hight from Hot Olympic Girls.

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