Attribution is Still Important, Even on Social Media

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Copyright and attribution seem like quaint concepts if you’re browsing the Internet these days. While finding and sharing images has never been easier, a lot of users and accounts take a fairly complacent approach to letting you know where the image is from.

 In an effort to persuade users to attribute content properly, Tumblr updated its Terms Of Service for the first time in two years. “Make sure you always give proper attribution and include full links back to original sources,” the new TOS says. There’s also a warning to users asking them to stay clear of posting content that’s copyrighted or trademarked because Tumblr will comply with DMCA takedown requests.

Tumblr also doesn’t want users to create accounts with “confusing” URLs, i.e. URLs that could easily be confused for the official account of a corporation, a Tumblr user or a celebrity. Parodies are ok, no free speech will be undermined, but impersonation will not be tolerated. It’s a holistic approach to ensuring truth in blogging.

On the other side of the spectrum are services like @HistoryInPics which, according to an interview with The Atlantic, take a very lax attitude toward copyright and attribution. Xavier Di Petta serially creates and sells social media accounts to make a living. With @HistoryInPics, he and his business partner have generated almost 1 million real followers in just six months. Indeed, a retweet from @HistoryInPics gets a lot of attention.

The problem is that the images aren’t theirs, and not all are public domain. When challenged, Di Petta offers the oldest and lamest excuse in the book, “I’m sure the majority of photographers would be glad to have their work seen by the masses.”

Given the popularity of the account, users certainly like the images. But anyone who has their work stolen, or stripped of context would be much less appreciative of such hollow “exposure” that leaves them without any reimbursement, or even any acknowledgement that they were involved at all.

Image credit: opensourceway

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