Moving to Freedom, .Org

Copyright Quibble

Waipi'o Valley Road in Hawaii

I was happy to share my Hawaii vacation pictures under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, but it occurred to me that I may not have the legal right to do so for several of them.

Three were taken by my wife, but I’m pretty sure she’ll go along with me on the licensing choice.

Two of the pictures I placed online were of my wife and me together, and these were taken by random bystanders. Since I neglected to bring copyright assignment forms to be filled out and signed in triplicate, I think that means the copyright belongs to those unknown — and by now almost thoroughly unknowable — people.

Since they agreed to take the pictures, it seems safe to suppose that they consented for them to be captured to the memory card on the camera, but I don’t know if we can assume they would give permission for me to copy them to my hard drive, to CD, and to print them, send via email, or display them on the internet. I certainly doubt that by taking the photos we can assume they were assenting to the liberal terms of the chosen Creative Commons license.

Maybe we can argue that by handing someone the camera and choosing where we stand, we are sufficiently involved in the composition of the photograph that we are joint copyright owners of the photo?

In any case, doesn’t it seem awkward and uncomfortable, these contortions that our copyright law forces us into?

However, this situation illustrates my carelessness with attribution. Although I believe the photos should be free as in free speech, I also believe in providing proper attribution, and I neglected to do that here. But it seems that this is the expected fate of the conscripted tourist photographer.