On “Citizen Journalism,” Copyright and Payments

Adam Hochberg over at the Poynter Institute has a piece up on the photos that flowed out of the Southwest Airlines plane that had it’s fuselage come apart. He talks with the one passenger who was compensated for her images (by Reuters, so they get a nod of approval) and with several editors about how they go about obtaining images in these situations.

This paragraph, though, made me sick to my stomach:

Other news organizations are more willing to take a chance on a compelling picture before it’s been thoroughly vetted. (Cathaleen) Curtiss said AOL’s policy during her tenure allowed editors to publish a photo immediately and keep it on AOL’s site for as long as two hours while attempting to contact the photographer. If a problem was detected or the photographer couldn’t be reached, the photo was removed.

Um, no. That’s still a copyright violation, regardless of how long it was up – AOL was (is?) knowingly violating copyrights law? The value of that image is much higher in the first few hours – they know that and are pretending to do the right thing by putting in an artificial grace period?

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