Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Why, an attentive reader might wonder, are most of the pictures you post either old or from space?  Copyright is the answer.  This blog is hosted on a Google server in the USA, so anyone who wants to take it down can do so via a DMCA complaint to Google.  I don't want to violate the law unnecessarily, and I do want to give proper credit to photographers.  In practice, that means a reliance on images 1) created by the US Government or its agencies, 2) from Wikipedia where the copyright status is clear, 3) images old enough to be out of copyright, or 4) photos published online in places like Flickr where I can link back directly to their post.  Some of these can still be dodgy, but you have to take some chances or don't post at all.  For political stories, I'd love to use images from AP or Getty, and would happily pay to get high quality and legal photos.  But their licensing schemes are aimed at commercial use.  A single photo of the size I like to use would cost hundreds of dollars.  This is too bad as I'd probably spend $100 a month with Getty if each picture cost $10.  But that's not how they want to run their business, so I don't use commercial photos if I can avoid it.  The only exceptions are photos so widely reproduced that my usage is unlikely to attract attention, or where I alter the image sufficiently to make a fair use claim.  So readers can get a preview of upcoming photo posts by trawling NASA , Wikimedia or Flickr.