I reached both the NYTimes legal and marketing on Friday and they called off their take down notice pending our initial conversation. I'm currently trying to work out a way to blog the Times and use some image to flag the post. We are not interested in stealing their business, only in covering their great articles and sending readers on. If they say no images at all, that's what it will be. We'll still blog them, it just won't be as pretty.
Admittedly, even as we've stepped up our efforts at careful crediting and sampling of images, we've been lax at times, and the boundaries have shifted dramatically as well. Whenever we've received an complaint (which is rare) we've always responded to it and done our best to come to an agreement for use, short of takedown. This has been successful nearly 100% of the time, and our awareness of and respect for photo copyright has grown each time. Most of the time, we receive thank-yous for directing readers to people's businesses, sites, products, designs and articles, giving them added exposure and helping to grow their business. That's our goal, too.
Back in 2004 I began blogging by borrowing other bloggers images and having others borrow mine. All that was important was that they credited me and properly linked to the post so that the traffic would flow through. In fact, it was flattering that people liked my stuff enough to blog it.
I still feel the same way. As long as you give me credit, and ultimately send people on to my post, you can can borrow what you want. But that's blogging.
Over time this blogging culture seems to have run headlong into the professional photography and media culture, where the business of rights management is well established and necessary to protect the business. These two cultures don't mesh too well.
I hope that we can all work out a satisfactory solution in which rights are protected and sharing is allowed to remain.
After four years of working with the NYTimes, loving them and linking to them often, thus driving lots of traffic, they've gotten dirty on us and, without warning, written to our hosting provider and threatened them with a lawsuit if they don't shut us down and/or remove all the pictures we've blogged from them in 2009. Check out these cuddly words:
"On behalf of The New York Times, I hereby request that the listed urls be disabled immediately and the infringing materials, taken down. THIS IS A DMCA TAKE DOWN NOTICE...."
What is so surprising about this is that we've heard NOTHING from them at all about this, and would not only have complied with their request if they'd asked us, but we'd also have liked to discuss how we could work WITH them in the best way, continuing to cover them and drive traffic. This is totally indirect and out of the blue.
We'll fully admit to loving their pictures, but we've been very conscious to never take too much from them, only blogging a visual "taste" of an article and then pushing readers to get the rest on their site. In other words, our editorial policy has been to quote, not appropriate, just like we were all taught in high school.
But media lawyers often make things worse, and it's sad that they don't seem to think that we're capable of working with them directly. We've called their lawyer, but haven't heard back from them yet.
This also seems to signal a bit of a war by the Times on blogs in general, as we can't be the only ones. By going after the host and bypassing the sites, they have chosen to threaten someone who is hardly responsible and asking them to put pressure on us. They seem to have decided to hamper or cut off those who cover them.
It's probably going to be no images and less posts for us.
We're saddened by this turn of events and can certainly transform our coverage to comply with any and all rules. It's just a shame that it comes to this. Our warm and fuzzy feeling of the NYTimes has evaporated for the time being. And the world turns...