Over the weekend the BBC had to deal with the embarrassing ignorance of someone in their complaints department who appeared to believe that images shared on Twitter were “public domain” and “therefore … not subject to the same copyright laws” as material outside social networks.
A blog post, from online communities adviser Andy Mabbett, gathered thousands of pageviews in a matter of hours before the BBC’s Social Media Editor Chris Hamilton quickly responded:
“We make every effort to contact people, as copyright holders, who’ve taken photos we want to use in our coverage.
“In exceptional situations, ie a major news story, where there is a strong public interest in making a photo available to a wide audience, we may seek clearance after we’ve first used it.”
(Chris also published a blog post yesterday expanding on some of the issues, the comments on which are also worth reading)
The copyright issue – and the existence of a member of BBC staff who hadn’t read the Corporation’s own guidelines on the matter – was a distraction. What really rumbled through the 170+ comments – and indeed Andy’s original complaint – was the issue of attribution.