Note: Due to a limited posting schedule during the month of October on days where I can not write regular post, I am taking time out to highlight some of the older posts that have become pillars of the site.
In December 2007, something of a perfect copyright storm emerged. The Richter Scales, an a cappella group well-known in tech circles for its parodies of the industry, released a song entitled “Here Comes Another Bubble”, set to the tune of “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Joel. It was an instant viral video on the Web, racking up millions of view on YouTube and other sites.
However, the video used photographs and other images from various sources, none of which were attributed. One of the photos, a picture Owen Thomas, was taken by famous freelance photographer Lane Hartwell, who is known to be very aggressive in enforcing her copyright.
She approached the band with objections about the unattributed use of her work. Though the band provided attribution in the video notes on YouTube, Hartwell wasn’t happy with the compromise and eventually filed a DMCA takedown notice against the video, which resulted in the work being removed.
What followed was a controversy that deeply divided the Web. Many felt Hartwell had overreacted, filing a takedown against what was in all likelihood a fair use of her work. Others felt it was the band at fault for not providing attribution to any of the work used in the first place or, even better, seeking out appropriately-licensed material.
The controversy seemed to reach out to all corners of the Web and continued until the band released a new version of the video, with Hartwell’s image removed and a proper credit roll for the film.Continue Reading