Sunday, March 11, 2012

James Altucher: Copyright Laws Not An Issue

James Altucher writes in a recent post how using copyrighted images without permission on the internet is not only fun and profitable, but on top of that, will make you happy. Funny note; the blog post begins with a popularly stolen Getty and meme image that has supposedly gone into the public domain (Sammy Griner the attitude kid).

Here's Altucher advice on using licensed images:


ANSWER: Just use google images and take whatever images you like. Ask for permission later. Or never ask. Several things can happen.

- The most likely thing is that nothing happens and you have great images on your post

- The creator of your image can contact you and ask for credit, in which case you give it

- The creator of the image can send you a cease and desist. I have NEVER seen this happen.

That’s it. So focus on doing the best writing you can. When I do a long post I always look for good images that will fit the post. In a blog post, as opposed to a book, you want someone’s eyes to dance down the page. Images and appropriate use of bold, help with that.

Astounding. His advice is to use content without permission until you get caught. Sadly, I think this is typical. It certainly doesn't help the need and value of copyright and trademark laws if this is the prevailing attitude. I then made this comment:

RE: copyright issues:
Would it be all right if I took your blog posts and used them on my blog as my own? Maybe collect them into a book and sell it and not care diddly if I had your (ha!) permission? Before you advocate stealing the hard work of other people, you should learn about Fair Use and the copyright and trademark laws (hint: they help protect us from idiots like yourself).

Altucher answered with this comment:

Marc, power to you. Go for it. My only goal is to help people in any way I can. The more ways/vehicles that can happen, the happier I am. That said, I have removed images when people have asked and I have put credit up and many images that I use are fair use images.

I have also helped promote artists by putting their work up and I've linked to many authors and others to help them.

Seems like Altucher wants to help people, just not the copyright owners. Also, he clearly doesn't understand the difference between public domain and Fair Use. My comment back has since been removed by Altucher, and I've been banned for life from ever commenting again, but it essentially made the following points:

- Leaving it to the copyright holder to find usage violations on the entire Internet is an impossible task. Especially if the image is manipulated, resampled, saved to a different file format, renamed and/or the metadata has been removed from the file.

- Forcing the copyright owner to hunt down unlawful usage and then file a take down notice is equivalent to saying I will break the law until you catch me.

- No matter how you try to spin it, using copyrighted material without permission is wrong and violates the law.* The copyright holder, and not anyone else, decides how and who will use their properties.

- Giving credit for an image doesn't make it any better; if you don't have permission, you violate the law.* None of Altucher's usage was editorial and were not Fair Use.

- Websites that use stolen content compete with the original content holder (ie: if I'm selling a book I wrote and a website provides the text on their website for free without permission, there's no incentive for people to buy my book).

- Altucher is profiting from the use of licensed images. He uses those images to enhance the look of his site. His blog is used to sell his books and to secure speaking gigs.

- Altucher's argument was flawed and hypocritical. His blog promotes honesty, yet he advocates stealing. The blog promotes not harming anyone with your actions, yet he advocates profiting off of the hard work of others by using licensed images without paying for them.

Here's more good info on Fair Use: [link]
Here's a related story about content criminals.

More related: [link] Again, giving credit, seeking permission while using the content and/or having a link back to the content owner is NOT FAIR USE!

*Unless it passes the Fair Use test.


Blogger FJ said...

gotta love IP-banning. what a tool (Altucher, that is). feel free to email me the comment(s) you'd like to leave and I'll post them until I get IP-banned too.

i've read some of that guy's stuff and most of it is in a tongue in cheek tone, but he responded to your initial comment seriously, so he can't really use that defense.

you're just spoiling the party, Marc, by pointing out silly things like laws which go unenforced on blogs not read by 50% of the population..sadly, that would be the only way to get anyone's attention on these matters.

3/12/2012 10:00 AM  
Blogger Marc Hansen said...

Oh, he was serious -- and ignorant. His advice for where to get images for a blog boiled down to; steal them.

Here would be my advice:

- Create or shoot your own images
- Purchase images from an artist or photographer
- Purchase images from a stock image service or news org

Two things bother me the most:
- Altucher purports to giving helpful advice, but advises to violate U.S. laws
- The theme of his blog in general is to live a better life by being good and not harming people yet he promotes stealing and profiting off of the hard work of others

Altucher is not without sway; his blog gets a lot of traffic and he regularly appears on TV, so this kind of crap needs to be addressed.

3/12/2012 10:17 AM  
Blogger Marc Hansen said...

Add to advice:
- Use public domain images

But you better make sure the image is public domain! You would need to be able to prove such images are actually in the public domain.

- Understand the Fair Use Act

Many people still don't understand what the FUA means and how it affects the use of non-public domain content. Either people aren't bothering to read it or they're just too stupid to comprehend.

3/12/2012 10:21 AM  

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