Monday, August 11, 2008

Metroblogging Flickr Groups: Beware

I came across a site called Orlando Metroblog that had linked to a podcast episode of mine, an interview with an Orlando Sentinel editor. I was happy with the blog post. See below:

And then I saw it: a flickr badge with my photos inside it... right next to ads. It appeared to me that they were making money off content of mine without my permission. See below:

I read their terms of use for bloggers and if this is how they treat bloggers, I shouldn't be surprised they'd treat flickr-ers the same way:
"You agree not to assert any ownership right of any kind in the submission (including, but not limited to copyright, trademark, unfair competition, moral rights, or implied contract) and you waive the right to receive any financial or other consideration in connection with such submission including, but not limited to, credit. This means once you send us something we own it and and publish it if we so choose, and that you can’t send us something and then complain if or when we use it. If you are very nice we might say 'Thanks.'"
I wrote them an email based on the knowledge I had at the time:
Photos from a flickr account of mine, which are all labeled as "All Rights Reserved," are currently being displayed on your site without my permission. The photos are inside a Flickr widget on the homepage and subsequent subpages.

On these same pages, there are display ads. You are (a) stealing my content and (b) deriving money from my content.

My flickr account:

You need to contact me.

1. How long you've been displaying my content?

2. How much you intend to pay me for the use of my content, starting from the very first day you began displaying it without my permission, next to display ads which you are profiting from?

3. If you wish to display my content after today, you need to offer me a financial deal to do so. If you are uninterested in paying me to use my content, then I am asking you to take my content down immediately.

Either way, I am owed compensation.
This was their response:
"Mark Baratelli wrote:

The photos are inside a Flickr widget on the homepage and subsequent subpages.

Hi again Mark-I just noticed this line, that widget shows only photos that have been put into the Metroblogging (Orlando) Flickr group. As you know, only the owner of a photo on flickr can do this and by adding a photo to a group you are giving that group permission to use the photo. Additionally, flickr widgets can be used by anyone and flickr makes sure they are within fair use limits. If you do not want your photos to show in that widget, please remove them from our flickr group and do not submit them in the future.

Thanks so much for your time.
Ok. I'd forgotten I'd joined their flickr group, but it neevr occurred to me that when joining, I'd be knowingly making them money with the photos in my flickr account. When you look at the group, it doesn't appear that it's connected with any external website, nor does it appear obvious that your photos will appear on their site, next to ads. Well, I don't know if it was there when I signed up or not (I don't remember) but at the very bottom of the group page, it does indeed say "Photos by the Metrobloggers in Orlando.". See below:

Since they don't feel the need to share it, I will: If you add photos to this group, they're gonna put ads against them and make money for themselves and not give you anything. Even if the rules of use for the badge are on flickr's site somewhere, and if they do indeed say that this Metroblogging blog can do this, I think it's just good business to share that upfront, so people can make an educated choice about whether to join the group or not.


Matt said...

I guess I'm not really sure how your content is being used to generate revenue off ads? Is anyone traveling to the site with the expectation that they will be able to view your Flickr photos?

Mark Baratelli said...

What is the difference between a post being displayed next to an ad and a photo being placed next to an ad? I don't feel there's any difference. hence, my blog post.

Sean Bonner said...

Hey Mark-

Nice editing on that quote from our TOS there, however chopping off that first two lines like you did sort of changes the whole feel of it and makes it kinda evil sounding. I'm sure you weren't trying to do that on purpose right? The first lines I'm referring to are these:

"In addition to welcoming your comments to the sites, Metblogs also accepts submissions through submission forms on it’s site. Submissions are made on a voluntary basis and no promise is made that those submissions will be published."

As any lawyer will tell you this is standard TOS for anyone who submits things, what it means is you cant send me something without my knowledge, and then demand I pay you for it. Which is actually a lot like the situation with you photos. It clearly states these are the terms for submission, and not the terms for our bloggers as you imply.

First I'd like to point out that that flickr widget shows only the 3 most recently submitted images in the flickr group. It's really more of an ad for that group, and not providing any income generating content on our pages. It's an ad for a group of photos that you opted into and you submitted your photos to without looking to see what you were submitting them too. And then you demanded to be compensated for that. We didn't come to you asking for photos, you put them into our group. If you don't want them there it's easy for you to remove them, but I hardly think you not paying attention is the same as us doing anything inappropriate.

Mark Baratelli said...

Show me where the blogger TOS is. I cannot find it on your site. Thanks.

Mark Baratelli said...

I still haven't heard back from you. I emailed you asking to show me where the TOS for bloggers on your site are. I cannot find them.