More Flickr Woes

Dump Your Pen Friend
Originally uploaded by sesh00

I, like many of my friend, have recently joined facebook. Unlike Flickr it has drawn in a lot of people who are not normally of the technical persuasion. They think it is great to upload pictures usually of some drunken night where the participants look a little worse for wear. I recently noted to a friend that I like the tutu she was wore out one night. The only problem was I wasn’t there and I saw the picture from a non-mutual friend that tagged the image on her facebook wall. She was a little surprised and didn’t know that people could do that, but in this case it was innocent enough.

Like the early days of e-mail, i.e. when regular punters started using it (not the techie weirdos that usually play nice when it comes to computers) there were many stories of people hitting reply all instead of reply and the embarrassment that ensued from some off colour humour reaching the wrong person or persons. Over time the netiquette of e-mail has settled down and there are now less of these reply-all stories as people have learned either the hard way or some horror story.

The new netiquette comes to taking and posting photograph of other people to the internet. The examples are beginning to rack up. Just this week Virgin mobile in Australia have found themselves sued by a Texas family after their 16 year daughter, Alison Chang, was featured in a ad campaign. Virgin used an image that was uploaded Alison’s youth counselor that was released under creative commons. As a result of her image being they are seeking damages :

Claiming it caused their teenage daughter grief and humiliation by plastering her photo on billboards and website advertisements without consent

The technical legal details are abound. They correctly used the image under creative commons however they did not have a model release for for the feature participant. In the past it was usually the photographer that took care of this, but he/she was also a professional who living was selling of said photographs.

However while Virgin might find themselves on the wrong end of this one and will hopefully learn from it. I think the blame also reside with the person who uploaded the photograph, the youth counselor, Justin Wong. Blinding uploading pictures of other people without their permission is going to cause a lot of problems. Just because you don’t mind having your life laid bare on the internet for all the world to see doesn’t mean every body else feels that way.

As a result of cases like this and other emergent problems, I have been trying to educate friends and show them when and how they are leaking information that probably wouldn’t prefer. Also as a Flickr pro user I have marked all pictures containing people as visible to family and friend only, it is a shame that only flickr users can only be marked as family or friend.

It is a shame that Alison picture was used in that way by Virgin, I don’t think it was with malice just as a bit of a laugh and I hope that when she matures a bit she’ll find out that there are plenty of worse things in life. She may even be able to ride out the noterity, maybe she should take some notes from Britney Spears defender Chris Crocker, who went from been slagged off one day for his over the top YouTube video to been given his own MTV reality TV show.

Picasa, map my photo, please!

Picasa web albums is a strange beast. Launched in beta over a year ago it seemed all geared up to take on Flickr. That didn’t happen and so far there has been no real move to wards making picasa the social web experience that is flickr’s power. Instead Google seem content to allow picasa web albums as a backup storage for photographs with the ability to share with other people(it is also used as a storage medium to power images hosted on blogs like this one.)

Today google announced that they have added geotag support in Picasa.

Map My Photos

For the uninitiated geotagging involves assigning a geographic co-ordinate to an image. It has been around for a long time, the military been a big user, but support has grown is recent years. The biggest impact was the release of Google maps/Earth which allowed a user to find the co-ordinates of the given location. This was then extended by the Google API plugin that allowed people to pull down the co-ordinates of that location and apply in in various ways to images, either adding the co-ordinates in the EXIF of the digital image or as tags on the flickr page hosting the image.

Last August Flickr added integrated support for image geolocation, using yahoo maps instead of google maps which has introduced geotagging to the masses. However the more discerning geotaggers are not too fond of yahoo maps and still geotag using google maps.

It is surprising that picasa web albums took so long to added geo location support. Especially since the picasa tools, picasa2 (very confusing) has had geotag support, using google earth for a while. However they might have been playing the long game on this one as in the same release they also announced mobile support for picasa web albums. With phones beginning to come with GPS as standard (now that cameras are de-facto and places like Europe are demanding that phones have GPS) all images will be geotagged in the future so the requirement to physically place a image in space will no longer fall to the user any more.

This means uploaded images to picasa web albums will be in the correct locations and the user will be able to see where the images were taken. This could be very helpful to travelers on exotic holidays. It’s easy to tag images where you are from as you more than likely know the locations intimately it is not easy if you were taken through the depths of asia.

Flickr Mis-step?

Flickr, currently a darling of the web 2.0 boom, which was bought out by yahoo a few years ago, is threading on dangerous ground with a recent censoring of an artist photo.

The story starts with Flickr user _rebekka a popular user based in Iceland that is well known for her picture that include self portraits and landscapes. Even though certain parts of flickr a ridden with semi naked chicks taking saucy pictures of them selves and getting a huge number of hits via titillation and not quality. _rebekka is not that un good looking but it isn’t the self portraits that have caused woes but her landscapes. It turns out some crowd in england downloaded some of her photos and sold them on as their own. No permission from _rebekka and certainly not paying her either.

Things got warmed up when she found out and contacted the English company, Only-Dreemin,  informed them of the violation and tried to resolve it. She wasn’t lucky

Things got even more interesting when yesterday she post a commentary on what happened, she uploaded the picture above and in the description she detailed all that happened. The internet found it and were disgraced and comments pored into her flickr page denouncing the company and her treatment.

That was until flickr pulled the image leaving behind the following message

“Flickr is not a venue for to you harass, abuse, impersonate, or intimidate others. If we receive a valid complaint about your conduct, we will send you a warning or terminate your account.”

That’s all! Flickr have use _rebekka as a poster child for flickr. The content of her post may be viewed as inflammatory by some, and flickr trying to run damage control did the easiest thing and pulled the image. But she at the very least deserved some behind the scenes contact from flickr. She’s popular and the images themselves came from the website. Flickr run the dangerous risk of becoming like it parent company and lose sight of what made the site successful in the first place and remembering to respect the users.

Digg got taught this lesson last week with the whole AACS fiasco, they sided with the lawyers over the users and got punished fast. The backlash to flickr may not be as extreme but this may be the start of a run of these new web 2.0 companies which are now trying to turn a profit losing sight of priorities and alienating their unrealised asset, the users.

Rebekka story needs to be heard so she’s moved it to her own blog, outside flickr’s censor space keep an on on this link for future details.

Update :

It turns out Flickr came to there sense and issued an apology to Rebekka_ for censoring her picture see here maybe there is hope for flickr yet and they have learned from the digg example, don’t mess with you assets.