August 20th, 2009 at 01:54pm
It looks like Yahoo doesn’t like criticism of Barack Obama. Their Flickr photo gallery service has seen fit to silence opposition to the anointed one.
That Obama Socialism graphic that’s been doing the rounds of late has caused a bit of a stir on Flickr where they have deleted it, citing a copyright issue.
After creating the image [Firas] Alkhateeb posted it to his Flickr account and ended up getting over 20,000 views on it. 20,000 views that is until Flickr pulled the image down censoring him, along with everyone who commented on the image, citing “copyright-infringement concerns,” according to the [Los Angeles] Times.
Personally I think it’s too bad that Flickr decided to censor this iconic image. Whatever you may or may not think about this image and it’s appropriateness, the image would absolutely and unequivocally be considered parody and parody has always been one of the most effective defenses against any copyright complaint. Parody is why Weird Al gets away with creating a song called “Eat It,” directly to the tune of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”
What’s more, in the interest of free speech, political parody *especially* is perhaps given the widest berth of all. This is why Ralph Nader was able to directly rip MasterCard’s “Priceless” campaign and why the courts subsequently ruled in his favor after MasterCard sued him over it. Earlier today, a friend and Flickr contact of mine from DMU, A Boy and His Prime, who is a law student, put it more directly. “If you produce something that is transformative, and not derivative, then it’s fair use (Folsom v Marsh). In Campbell v Acuff-Rose, 510 U.S. 569, Souter seemed to suggest that the main idea is substitutability, and that makes a lot of sense when you consider what copyright protects (i.e. your interest in your own work). The Jokerbama does not replace the original photo in any sense.”
And it’s not just this picture. It seems that posting anti-Obama comments can get your Flickr account nuked as well.
Flickr user Shepherd Johnson was browsing the official White House photostream one night when he decided to post a politically-charged comment. Then another, then another. Soon, without warning, Yahoo’s photo-sharing service deleted his account, complete with 1,200 pictures.
The Virginia man’s initial 10 or so comments, which went up Wednesday night, were deleted without explanation by Friday. That night, Johnson posted roughly ten more to different White House photos, this time linking in another Flickr user’s Abu Ghraib picture, as allowed by Flickr’s comment formatting (see Johnson’s reproduction of his comment, left, taken from his post to freedom-of-information hub Cryptome).
In the midst of this second round of commenting, Johnson found his account was gone. There had been no warning of any sort from Yahoo, he said. Johnson would later work his way up Flickr’s customer service tree, eventually leaving a message for the vice president of customer service and other bigwigs. He even left a message for Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz — a noted fan of frank discourse — on Bartz’s home answering machine.
Johnson, who lives outside Richmond, still has no answers. More crucially, he also doesn’t have access to any of the 1,200 pictures he uploaded to Flickr under his paid “Pro” membership. Many of the pics, he said, were “completely irretrievable — I didn’t back them up on any disks, I just spur-of-the-moment loaded it up and deleted the flash” memory originals.
This is exactly why I refuse to use Flickr or Facebook as my primary photo gallery, as I refuse to give a third party the power to moderate my publications. Flickr, with their politically charged censoring of accounts critical of Barack Obama, have just made my position that bit more solid.
And how do Flickr respond? By clamming up:
In accordance with Flickr’s policy, we cannot disclose information to third parties concerning a member’s account. However, in joining Flickr, all of our members agree to abide by our Community Guidelines. These guidelines require that all of our members be respectful of the community and flag content that may not be suitable for “safe” viewing.
Flickr is a very large community made up of many types of members from all over the world, and we respect the viewpoints and expressions of all of our members.
Very funny way to show it.