Letting Go

There has been another copyright hubbub this week with a photographer, Lane Hartwell, had one or her photos appear in a parody video that got to be popular. She got mad, asked them to remove it, when they were flip with her she got a lawyer and filed a “notice and takedown” under the DMCA to Youtube and got it pulled. She has since made all of your Flickr photos hidden (except for this one demanding payment for the use, classy) and generally is mad at the world. I sympathize with her broadly, much of the theft she is talking about is real and damaging, such as magazines using your photos with paying when she makes her living taking photos for magazines.

In the case of the video however I feel she is wrong. This was clearly fair use under almost all the definitions of fair use bar the academic. She should let go on this one. She won’t though, she is convinced that her property rights are absolute and trump all and so is striking back at the wrong target. This won’t help her in the long run, people will remember this instead of the times she is clearly in the right. I had never heard of her before, now I associate her with abuse of the DMCA. She will probably stay bitter and blame the video.

This sort of thing is why I think we need some common sense reform in the copyright world. Ms. Hartwell should be protected from real theft, artists should be allowed to create and people should know when to let go. The only way to make sure your work is never stolen is to never show it to anyone. Once you show anything it becomes part of our culture, expecting it go completely back into your box is both greedy and naive. I think it is sad that Ms. Hartwell has decided to hide her work from the world and it is definitely not to the public good that she has had the video pulled from two sites already. Is that what we as a society want? Art suppressed and artists hiding their works to be ‘safe’?

EDIT: The offending photo has been pulled. Ms. Hartwell has suceeded in further hiding her work from the world both here and on Flickr. A win for her, a loss for the rest of us on both counts.

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