Creative Commons CEO Apologizes To Virgin Mobile

Posted on 12/3/2007 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)



"As CEO of Creative Commons, I apologize for any trouble that confusion about our licenses might have created," said the nonprofit's founder and CEO Lawrence Lessig, referring to the lawsuit alleging inappropriate use of a minor's CC-licensed photo in an ad campaign for Virgin Mobile of Australia.

The image of an underage girl was placed on Flickr, where the original photographer allowed its use by others under a Creative Commons license. In accordance with its terms, the image was subsequently used in an ad campaign for mobile phone services. As we anticipated, the girl's mother Susan Chang filed a lawsuit in Dallas, Texas, based on privacy-rights violations. Apparently, the advertiser did not obtain model releases for any of the Flickr-hosted images it used in this campaign.

Initially, Chang named Creative Commons, Virgin Mobile USA and Virgin Mobile of Australia as co-defendants. Last week, however, she voluntarily dismissed Creative Commons and Virgin Mobile USA from the suit, deciding to pursue the case against Virgin Mobile Australia alone.

According to Lessig, this is the result of the plaintiff's counsel recognizing that Texas and U.S. laws do not hold Creative Commons liable for this type of content misuse. He pledges that the nonprofit will work hard to ensure misuse doesn't happen. In essence, he is giving Chang exactly what she sought: Her original lawsuit did not ask for monetary damages from Creative Commons, but it did ask that licenses be modified to more fully outline what rights are and are not being granted to the end user.



"It is always a problem (even if not a legal problem) when someone doesn't understand what our licenses do, or how they work... We thought the meaning was clear. We work hard to make this as clear as we can. We will work harder," said Lessig. He also asked Creative Commons' users to help recover the $15,000 cost incurred because of this suit by supporting the licensing scheme, joining its online community or spreading the news of the lawsuit's end.

Flickr is routinely criticized by content creators for not explaining Creative Commons licenses to its users, rather than allowing the image owner to determine reproduction rights. Yahoo!-owned photo-sharing company is not a party to the Chang lawsuit.


Copyright © 2007 Julia Dudnik Stern. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

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