You want fries with that?

We recently ran an article by Ester Bloom of The Billfold about photographer Richard Prince who used other people’s selfies from Instagram in an exhibition at the Frieze Art Fair in New York. According to Ms Bloom Richard Prince produced 6-foot-tall inkjet prints of women, ‘many in sexually charged poses‘ and sold them for $90,000 each.

Did he break the law? Probably not. The end user license agreements (EULA) that accompany the use of most social media sites, allows for others to not only view and comment on your images, but to use them as they wish. For example, Instagram’s privacy policy says:

By using our Service you understand and agree that we are providing a platform for you to post content, including photos, comments and other materials (“User Content“), to the Service and to share User Content publicly. This means that other Users may search for, see, use, or share any of your User Content that you make publicly available through the Service, consistent with the terms and conditions of this Privacy Policy and our Terms of Use (which can be found at http://instagram.com/legal/terms).

Although they do not presume ownership of your imagery, which was a fear many people had prior to their purchase by Faceboook, by using their platform you grant them a “non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license” to use your content.

Last week McDonald’s apologised to Kristina Bakrevski and David Sikorski not for borrowing their licensed images, but for copying the creative style in which the images were presented. According to AdWeek, Maccas used Kristina and David’s ideas to promote a $2.50 cheeseburger deal.

Copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit” is plagiarism, but the application of this test to online imagery is a grey area. Kristina’s images of David were licensed, but the creative concept of a man snuggling a tree whilst looking lovingly at his burrito is subject to discussion. Regardless, McDonald’s said sorry and promptly blamed their agency.

If an image is not subject to copyright, and exists in the public domain such as the internet is, then is ‘borrowing’ someone’s image really considered theft? The Fat Jew has been doing it for years and now there is significant debate over whether he is a comedian or a plagiarist. Daniel Tosh has been presenting internet imagery on cable tv for some time as well, however I believe his show tends to credit the creator whenever possible. Whatever your opinion, this article once again highlights the problems with posting your personal life for all to see.

Maccas History