The above image has been banned on Yahoo-owned Flickr, due to a dubious claim of copyright infringement (despite the fact that US law has a generous provision that allows for the reproduction of copyrighted works for the purposes of parody).

Flickr must be compliant with all local laws within the 21 countries where we are. The Yahoo! Terms of Service in all of those regions outlines what the process is for dealing with infringement of copyright. In this intance, (sic) the Yahoo! Copyright Team here in the US received a complete Notice of Infringement as outlined by the DMCA (Digitial Millenium Copyright Act). Under the DMCA, an individual may choose to file a counterclaim.

The DMCA is the US-equivalent of NZ’s thankfully aborted Copyright Act s92A amendment(the proposed NZ version was actually stronger..)… if a parodied Obama pic is what would have passed for Copyright infringement under that law then we dodged a bigger bullet than first thought.

Having said that, in this case it appears Yahoo might have been thankful for the DMCA giving them an excuse to delete the page:

In the past Flickr has deleted accounts of users who are critical of President Obama, but as far as I know nothing like this was done to users who were critical of Bush.

It’s clear that the Flickr team wanted to take this image down. Not only was the image removed, but the entire page was taken down with all the comments to the image. There’s nothing in the DMCA that says you have to do that, too.

Flickr lost my trust over this issue. They failed to stand up for a user who chose to display his work on Flickr over competitors.

Surely another reason not to pass such laws. When they are passed they give companies an excuse to back out of services they had previously agreed to provide.

If Yahoo wants us to feel sorry for them because they are getting squeezed by Google then this is not the way to go about doing it. Google might also be censoring certain political content, but at least their product is good. Yahoo’s products are almost totally useless.

As an interesting sidenote the picture has become the emblem of various right-wing blogs but it appears that the image’s original creator was a left-wing Palestinian-American named Firas Alkhateeb. I’m guessing he doesn’t get much sleep knowing what his image is being used for these days 🙂

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