Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Pierre Omidyar

Good news. Pierre made BusinessWeek's list of Entrepreneurs for the Ages. Congrats Pierre! And... they used my photo of him. Yay!

Bad news. They didn't give me attribution. It's the ONLY thing I ask people do with my photos since they're Creative Commons Attribution licensed. It doesn't cost them anything... and they're crediting the photos by Getty Images.

/me shakes fist at BusinessWeek

The original Flickr image is here:

I suppose they might have found it on Pierre's Wikipedia article. But... clicking on the photo shows the license.

UPDATE: I wrote them a letter and they sent me an apology and fixed article. Thanks BusinessWeek!


At first found you on Twitter, since became 1 of the 1153 followers/stalkers of yours :-) Just love your photographs, they are so alive, real, and expressive, especially the ones of insects you took one early morning... Shall we send hate mails to BusinessWeek to pressure them into reprint? ;-)

I've been lucky enough to have some of my photos used on Wikipedia as well- I love CC!

Jung: I'm going to give BusinessWeek a chance to respond... and I'm not really mad. Just disappointed.

Eduardo: Yes! I love it when my pictures get used in Wikipedia. I've been uploading them to the Wikimedia Commons now to make it easier.

Oh my, Joi, I heard about this non-attribution from your Twitter. It's only right, and *nice*, to credit you. After all, without you, they wouldn't have even had that photo to begin with.

Weird too that you notice they're crediting the Getty Images snaps... hmmm... accidental oversight or intentional negligence? I'd like to know! :)

Joi, whats the big deal. You know you took it. The people that care and admire you now know you took it and Pierre knows you took it. In my book that would make me happy (and surely your Karma balance runneth over) So what if the rest of the world doesn`t know - or if a certain corporate media outlet doesn`t acknowledge you. Doctor orders more time meditating on the rock to get centered :-)

Adam: It's not about making somebody happy. The media industry reminds you everyday that it is of utter importance to respect their copyright. Business Week woul´d never have used a professional photo from, say, Getty without permission and royalty payments. It's neccessary to show them that individuals have the same rights and are not just a cheap source of good quality content. If it makes you happy that a company takes your content without attributing you (even if you specifically asked for it) to use it in a commercial context, then feel free to do so. I surely wouldn't.

Joi, I hope you are not just telling us, but you are instead telling them. You maybe should have just sent them an invoice.

Adam: As Tim says, it's a matter of principle. I personally don't have a huge problem with this, but as the chairman of CC I can't really just "let it go" when someone is ignoring our licenses.

I am putting together the exact wording for, and finding the proper channel for formal contact with BusinessWeek since it appears they didn't notice this blog post. More later on this.

Yes, as a point of principle I can see your point, Joi especally in view of your CC Chairmanship. Also position well articulated Tim. I guess that I was more worried about you personally and whether this had effected the inner state of happiness and radiance that you have been working on through your recent focus on Mindful Living. Glad to hear their was no need for concern:-) BTW nice picture.

This type of thing appears to be happening more frequently. It seems to me a nominal donation by Business Week to CC in lieu of royalties for not properly licensing your photograph would be in order.

If companies can simply apologize after the fact for stealing CC content (when they get caught), this problem will only grow.

It's a good list - fronted by Scottish Entrepreneur Andrew

We have a long history of entrepreneurs and inventors... just a pity so many have to leave to make it!

In addition to an apology, Businessweek should do an article on CC in an upcoming issue.

To me, this was a pretty serious mistake to make for a top-tier business magazine such as Businessweek. They probably attribute most of the photography they use to Getty Images by default. It seems like more education is needed for the media to learn what CC is about.

Anyway, good job on the photo!

Dear Joi:

I am sure that Business Week was very quick to make the correction. A wrong or omitted copyright attribution makes them subject to claims under Section 1202 of the Copyright Act here. (That's the part of the DMCA that no one ever bothers to read.) Civil damages can be as high as $25,000 and there can be criminal penalties as well. (Unlikely, given the attitude of the current adminstration which only talks a good game when it comes to copyright enforcement. (Large companies are never brought to bar on these issues, only small players.)

As someone who once made a living as a professional photographer, I agree in your credit where credit is due approach. The automatic atribution of copyright to those who merely distribute content is a continuing problem. It's mere laziness and failure to do the required due diligence to make a proper attribution.

Let me add that one of the reasons I stopped being a professional photographer was all of the people who gave away their work to build a reputation and a portfolio.
It became impossible to make a living because most clients preferred low prices or "free" to a quality image rendered by someone who was dedicated to doing his best work. Every high school kid with an SLR became my competition. Today, now that everything is digital, it must be a real nightmare for those who still work in this field.

Congratulations on the "sale" but it carries another cost.

One professional photographer I talked to said that books about photography and tutorials are selling more than ever because of the increase in amateurs photographers who want to learn more. Maybe one thing pros can do is make the amateurs their customers.

Dear Joi:

Teaching photography is a completely different skill set. I turned "pro" to support my personal work and I taught a few others,one of whom is still in the business and very successful. The problem with turning "pro" is all the bread and butter work like passport photos, darkroom work for others, weddings, etc, etc that you end up doing just to stay in business. The thing that got me out of the business was those 99 cent color portraits at K-Mart. It was bait and switch, of course, but it killed a major line of business because most people only thought about the price. And accused the pros of ripping them off. My breakeven was about 50 bucks, BTW.

I went into the real estate business instead.
I had a wife, family and an MFA program to support. This is the problem with amateurs. When you gave Business Week that image you saved them the fee that normally they would have paid to a working pro. You didn't need the money. Someone else did. This is breaking a rice bowl. Unfair competition that has nothing to do with the quality of the work itself. Your answer to this is that this other person should, in effect, find another gig? The race to the bottom continues with you leading the way. If quality means nothing and professionals who dedicate their lives to a craft can'tr make it, what does the future hold?

All I can say for a professional losing a job because of an emergence of new cheaper technology and people is that you've got to learn a profitable skill, and that there's no guarantee that your skill will be profitable forever.

In 1989 people depended on UUCP. Now UUCP is archaic. In 1990s most of mail messages were delivered point-to-point between two SMTP servers. Now most of Internet users read/write mail on Web and use POP3/IMAP mailbox handling protocols. You could call yourself a programmer if you knew UNIX in 1980s. Now you can't be a profitable programmer if you don't know the internals of Microsoft Windows (or MacOS X), which I'm not so interested in (because you've got to pay a lot of $$$$$ to buy their stuff, though you're still getting behind because Microsoft or Apple operating systems are proprietary.

Profitable technologies and skills change as time goes by. That's one of the reasons I shifted my focus from programming and systems administration to doing more fundamental research so that I could tap a source of funding for a non-profitable but unsolved fundamental issues such as DNS.

In the music industry, most of the so-called pros are ripped off by the so-called copyright holders or the distributors. I once wanted be a musician but I decided giving my pieces into the Creative Commons domain was much or sensible because you couldn't be a really profitable musician unless you risk your personal privacy and life and all the efforts (and those are in most cases insufficient). An amateur musician can build something quite good by using a set of Pro Tools or similar software tools.

And I think in the world of photography, digital cameras have already succeeded to kill the bromide-based market. (Correct me if I'm wrong.)

One thing I forgot to write: congrats for Joi and the other Creative Commoners to fix the attribution of the BusinessWeek photo.

Hi Joi,

Do you mind filling us in on how you addressed this in your letter? It might be worth something to those that may be in similar situations.

This is what I sent.

Dear Sirs:
I noticed that you used my photograph of Pierre Omidyar in your online in the “Entrepreneurs for the Ages” story of the online edition of Business Week, without any permission or attribution. I can only assume that you obtained the photograph from Wikipedia or Flickr. Assuming this is the case, as you can see from the photograph source, I made it available under a Creative Commons Attribution license. This royalty-free license requires only that you attribute the photograph to me, the photographer, when you publish or display it. I believe that your use of the photograph without following the terms of the license is a violation of my ownership rights in the photograph, but rather than sending you a takedown request, I'm simply asking you to properly attribute the photograph. I hope you'll agree this is quite a reasonable license. If you choose attribution to comply with the Creative Commons license, you may find the photo's full license information here []. Please note that attribution requires keeping the copyright information intact. The easiest way to do this is to link this [], but “Copyright Joichi Ito - Creative Commons Attribution Licensed” would be sufficient as well.
I would appreciate your confirming to me within 5 days of your receipt of this letter, that you will in fact properly attribute the photograph and follow the terms of the applicable Creative Commons license.
Thank you.
Very truly yours,
Joichi Ito
CC Alexander Lourie, Esq.