Sorry, Flickr

We are a jerkface.

We’ve been using Flickr photos, but haven’t been giving people linkbacks or attribution. Understandably, this recklessness has angered many in the Flickr community. For this, we are sorry.

In previous posts, we expressed cavalier disregard for copyright with regards to Flickr. These comments were infantile and we regret them.

We have felt that the best catalogers of commercial life are the consumers themselves. By illustrating our posts with the highest quality photos we can find, we can better draw a larger audience, some of whom will contribute tips and information, increasing the depth and breadth of knowledge we’re able to share with our readership.

How about this:

• We will properly use Creative Commons search to find any and all Flickr pictures that we may use.
• All Flickr pictures will get attribution in the form of their Flickr user name. That name will get linked back to the source image on Flickr.
• If anyone doesn’t like us using their picture, they can email us at tips@consumerist.com, and we’ll take them down or change the credit. This has always been our policy.
• If you would like to submit photos for use on The Consumerist and gain exposure through linklove, join our Flickr group and add photos to the pool.

Once again, we are sorry. We welcome feedback on this policy from Flickr users, admins, and the internet at large in the comments or tips@consumerist.com. You can ask at that email address for a comments invite as well. — BEN POPKEN

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. homerjay says:

    “Uh oh… YOU badmouthed McGyver”

  2. chimmike says:

    he who says he is………probably is.

  3. Something to do with your “Flickr Favorites” post? It has turned up missing from this morning…

  4. Jesse McBesse says:

    uht oh!

  5. snazz says:

    ‘retarded jerkface’ …. lets get our adjectives correct

  6. CRSpartan01 says:

    Retard?

    Come on, I know you guys are more intelligent than that…

  7. kenposan says:

    I noticed this AM’s post vanished as well, and after I was sooo eloquent! Perhaps our dear Consumerist has seen the error of it’s ways? I hope so.

  8. kenposan says:

    Yeah, Ben!! Now I feel all fuzzy inside. :-)
    And my wife (the photographer) approves.

  9. RogueSophist says:

    Nicely done, Ben. The lawyer and artist in me both feel warm inside. Well, the artist. The lawyer, as always, is cold, calculating, and generally pretty evil.

  10. RumorsDaily says:

    Heh…

  11. Kluv says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is what I suggested last December!

  12. homerjay says:

    Looks like SOMEONE got a strongly worded letter from the legal department at weddingdepot.com

  13. phrygian says:

    I’m glad to see that the blog is changing how it handles photos. It’s only fair to give credit where it’s due, especially since those pictures help improve your blog’s “curb appeal”.

  14. Dustbunny says:

    Does this mean there won’t be any more photos with cats in them? I hope not :(

  15. ronaldscott says:

    It’s been a long time coming but I wholeheartedly approve of your statement.

  16. Mark says:

    I’ve just started populating the Consumerist group with some of my more interesting photos! YAY!

  17. acambras says:

    We like the kitties! More photos of kitties! (With proper attribution, of course)

  18. Will Clarke says:

    “If anyone doesn’t like us using their picture, they can email us at tips@consumerist.com, and we’ll take them down or change the credit. This has always been our policy.”

    Unless, of course, you’re a Lycos Customer Service Manager who’s a jerk.

  19. bluegus32 says:

    Will Clarke said: “Unless, of course, you’re a Lycos Customer Service Manager who’s a jerk.”

    Whatever happened to that story anyway? Did Lycos give up? Did the jackass apologize?

  20. RandomHookup says:

    Write it down…

    2/14/2007, Consumerist apologizes.

  21. scingram says:

    Looks like you guys took some of the advice from this mornings Flickr Favorites post to heart. Good job.

  22. MattyMatt says:

    Why the change of heart?

  23. 24fan24 says:

    Thank you!

  24. Mike_ says:

    scingram,

    I think it has more to do with the shitstorm brewing over at Flickr. They’re not happy about having their work stolen. Also, at least one Flickr staffer is watching, which means Yahoo! knows The Consumerist has been disregarding its users’ posted license terms.

    Glad to see a course correction on this one. I hope Flickr can forgive and forget.

  25. isadora says:

    I’m happy to see you changed your policy on this. As the wife of a photographer I was pretty curious about how you went about using better-than-stock photos without credit.

  26. BillyShears says:

    I’d say something, but I’m kind of neck-deep in the irony of it all.

    It’s cool that you’ve changed your ways, but it’s also a shame that it took this long – and what seems to be a decent amount of arm-twisting – to make it happen.

    To say nothing of why it was even allowed in the first place. :/

  27. Michael says:

    They bit back. Good for them. Now how about seeing that the Gawker Media Terms of Use gets some reconsideration too?

    It’s okay to screw up. Just don’t be an ass when you do. Thanks for finally doing the right thing.

    Yeah, I know. I’m supposed to be unsubscribed. After I left and found the thread on Flickr, I just had to check back and see what was going on.

  28. tgiokdi says:

    With so many various copywrites, licenses, exclusions, limits, or laws over images, it’s incredibly hard for people just surfing the interwebs to pick up on what that particular author has decided to use.

    In the future, I’d love to see something like the ID3 tag on mp3s, but for images, so you don’t have to bother with the manual labor of finding the user’s site, finding the post where they released the image, and then research what obscure version of any particular license they’ve decided that they’re going to use. Tags like this are already used, but aren’t fully supported, and sometimes ignored or overwritten by ignorant software.

    Personally I think that the flickr people just need to get their panties unwadded, and get over themselves. These are simple pictures we’re talking about here, not original copies of world renowned artwork.

  29. agdTinMan says:

    Congrats on finally doing the right thing, instead of just insulting the photo’s owners. I may submit a thing or two to your flickr pool now, if I find it appropriate.

  30. adropp says:

    Tgiokdi “These are simple pictures we’re talking about here, not original copies of world renowned artwork”

    Are you freaking kidding me? There are plenty of working photographers who use Flickr to highlight their work, including myself.

    Please don’t disrespect our work.

  31. Skeptic says:

    Boy, I’d like to think this is a case of just doing the right thing but considering the dismissive snark before the change of hart I have to wonder.

    People offering up CC attribution licensed works are the good people and deserve the little they ask in return.

  32. brooklynbs says:

    The apology rings hollow, especially considering the intent of this website.

    It’s like being jerked around by a company, laughed at, and then when the whistle is finally blown publicly, the company is contrite and says they should have known better.

    Well, you know what? Consumerist should have known better.

    An apology is useless at this point (and boy, did you guys ever grovel). Why did you do something that you knew was wrong?

    Don’t give us this crap about how using the photos without permission was going to help build a better community and bring information to the masses, or whatever you were trying to say. That’s the same line we get from companies who say by screwing Customers #1 to #5, they’re actually helping Customers #6 to #100. That part of the apology was almost as bad as the action itself.

    You guys really hurt your credibility here. Time will tell if you can repair it.

  33. Nygdan says:

    “You guys really hurt your credibility here. Time will tell if you can repair it”

    I think everyone can see that the people that run consumerist came to the realization that they were in the wrong, and its a good sign that they’re able to ‘own up to it’.

    This is nothing like what most companies do. These guys admited they were wrong. Apologized. Corrected the error. Made an open invitation for public comments on their handling of the matter. And made sure that there was a system in place whereby people could send in any future complaints.

  34. Mattazuma says:

    Will Consumerist inform the people from whom they have “borrowed” pictures in the past to give them the option of having them removed?

    Legally, I don’t think an apology really cuts it.

  35. valel says:

    I give credit to consumerist for doing the right thing. It shows their reputation will remain intact for (hopefully) years to come.

  36. Nick says:

    I don’t think the “sorry” should be to flickr; rather, it should be to the photographers. Over the past few months, I’ve seen two instances of flickr users posting comments indicating that they took the photo used in a posting, and all they want is some credit. Frankly, I’m surprised (and a bit disappointed) that a site like this ever let that happen to begin with.

  37. shoegazer says:

    For fucks sake. Ben violated copyright, made a very substantial apology, “regrets” his previous comments (which were, shall we say, ass tastic) and offered to correct the error, all in a span of 24 hours. I have a very nice seppuku blade you can borrow if you want to cut his liver out too. Or write in to the usual address if you would like a refund for your subscription.

    Basically, kudos to Ben for attempting to make amends. Kudos to the flickr users who have accepted the hand of apology (even those who requested photos be taken off).

    This just highlights how messed up the copyright system has become, but is a good test example of the use of Creative Commons. I’m just sorry it had to happen to Consumerist.

  38. Mike_ says:

    This just highlights how messed up the copyright system has become

    That’s the dumbest thing I’ve read all day. (Don’t fret. The day is still young.) This is how copyright is supposed to work. Individuals secure the exclusive right to their work. And people who violate that right face consequences.

    This was far from innocent infringement, and Ben was defiant (the ‘fair use’ comment) until the very moment Flickr users started raising hell. I can see how some people might find the apology contrived and insincere. On the other hand, I’m not sure what more he could do to make it right, even if he does truly regret what he did. All he can do is apologize, and start working on building back the good will that was lost through his poor choices.

  39. shoegazer says:

    This is how copyright is supposed to work. Individuals secure the exclusive right to their work. And people who violate that right face consequences.

    Fair point, I didn’t mean copyright as a principle is messed up, it is the various permutations of “copyleft” (11 valid ones apparently) which tend to trip up unwary bloggers like Ben (and myself, though my personal journal doesn’t have the star status of a Gawker rag to raise Flickr’s ire).

    That’s the dumbest thing I’ve read all day.

    Oh I’d give it a few minutes.

  40. Kluv says:

    I’m very glad that Ben has apologized, and that the site is finally doing the right thing. But let’s be clear — this wasn’t a case of Ben being an “unwary blogger” who was “tripped up” by copyright. He was told by many of us last December that his ganking of the photos was not Kosher.

    And, when we made suggestions re: Creative Commons, proper credit to the photographers, etc… (basically, all the changes they’re now making) we were told to sit down, shut up.

    That said, I’m glad we can finally get back to talking about unscrupulous car salesmen.

  41. brad77 says:

    @shoegazer:

    Flickr makes this fairly easy. License information is listed right next to the photo. If only other sources were as explicit about this type of thing.

    I didn’t mean copyright as a principle is messed up, it is the various permutations of “copyleft” (11 valid ones apparently) which tend to trip up unwary bloggers like Ben […] and myself […]

    Creative Commons, or “copyleft” actually makes it easier to use or re-use an image. It’s also not part of the copyright system. It came up as a response to it. Without it, photos should be assumed “All Rights Reserved” and permission should be requested. “Copyleft” is less restrictive.

    Bloggers need to be more wary. A lot of that stuff out there isn’t yours to use, so get familiar with Fair Use and Creative Commons if you plan on using it.

  42. Aaron Pratt says:

    I think this is a good gesture on consumerist’s part, but as a graphic designer, I’d prefer to see them request permission from the artist prior to using an image. If I were to include a photo in a project without securing the appropriate rights, it’s likely (or at least possible) I’d get hosed in a legal battle.

    Realistically, it’s not difficult to secure the rights to stock photos and to take your own pictures.

  43. apollonia666 says:

    Think you guys could get the rest of Gawker Media to do this? I run a reading series in NYC, and three times in the last month or so Gawker.com has ganked copyrighted images from Flickr taken by a friend at my shows. No attribution, no linky love, nothin’.

  44. Anonymously says:

    I’d like to say that Flickr users are a bunch of whiny bitches:

    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070201-8752.html

    I’d also like to say that the Consumerist’s disregard for copyright has bothered me for some time and I’m surprised it took this long to catch up to them.

  45. kurmbox says:

    @Aaron Pratt:

    Ben said:

    We will properly use Creative Commons search to find any and all Flickr pictures that we may use.

    Meaning, they’ll only use pictures from flickr given that they’re available under appropriate CC licenses. On Flickr, a conscious decision must be made to make photos available under these licenses, so this does, in effect, nullify any request they would have to make assuming they follow the terms of the license.

  46. tgiokdi says:

    adropp:

    A fine display of hubris at its finest