February 28th, 2014

Facebook’s Teru Kuwayama on How To Use Social Media for Documentary Storytelling

Long before he went to work for Facebook as the social media giant’s liaison to the photo community, photographer Teru Kuwuyama saw social media as a tool for photographers “to eliminate the gatekeepers and the editors, and to be our own operators,” he told a standing-room-only crowd at the Aperture Gallery in New York on Tuesday.  Old media models formed in “an analogue era” no longer exist, but he said many photographers who have been “adaptable” to social platforms are using them to reach and engage audiences.

Kuwayama spoke along with Lev Manovich of the Software Studies Initiative at “Documentary, Expanded: Interventions in Social Media,” a panel moderated by photographer Susan Meiselas, executive director and board member of the Magnum Foundation, which organized the talk as part of its Photography, Expanded program. Photography, Expanded held its first conference, in collaboration with the Open Society Foundations Documentary Photography Project, in April 2013, Meiselas said, to encourage photographers to expand their storytelling beyond the still image at a time when “we all felt the ground shifting beneath our feet” due to a shortage of assignments and production budgets from traditional media. Kuwayama shared work by photographers who are using Instagram to connect with audiences — though not, in most cases, to make money with their images.

He began by showing his own social-media-based project, Basetrack. After having worked in Afghanistan as an embedded photojournalist, Kuwayama won a James S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford, where he came up with a plan to gather a small group of embedded photographers who would post images and information about a Marine battalion in Afghanistan for their families back home. Launched in 2010, Basetrack was “basically a tricked out blog,” he said, with a map and a countdown clock to the end of the Marines’ deployment, but equally important was the Basetrack Facebook page, which “became a rallying point for the community.” Basetrack was never intended to reach more than about 1,000 viewers. “Who cares about this 20-year-old Marine who was 8 when this war started? It was clear it was his mom, his sister,” Kuwayama explained.
(more…)

September 5th, 2013

Facebook Makes Alarming Changes to Terms, ASMP Breaks Down the Changes

Facebook has altered their terms of service to make it possible for companies that pay the social media network to utilize Facebook users’ content and likeness without compensation or permission. The changes are sure to alienate Facebook’s users in the creative community, who make a living from licensing their work and content.

Among the changes is this gem:

“You give us permission to use your name, and profile picture, content, and information in connection with commercial, sponsored, or related that content (such as a brand you like) served or enhanced by us. This means, for example, that you permit a business or other entity to pay us to display your name and/or profile picture with your content or information, without any compensation to you. If you have selected a specific audience for your content or information, we will respect your choice when we use it.”

ASMP created a handy Q&A about the new terms of use that helps break down the changes and what they mean for photographers.

This comes on the heels of the ASMP-led criticism of Instagram that was recently issued.

We have to wonder, at what point will a social network take the step to actually compensate the users that make it tick and protect them from unauthorized exploitation and surveillance? Seems to us like a network that figured out how to do that would find a community very quickly.

Related: Photography Trade Organizations Take Aim at Instagram Terms
AFP, Washington Post Violated Daniel Morel’s Copyrights, Judge Rules
Morel Case Highlights Copyright Risks of Social Networks

June 20th, 2013

Instagram Demonstrates Powerful Video Stabilization – on a Smartphone

shaky-videoProfessional photographers don’t often turn to a smartphone to shoot video. But in the new video offering announced by Instagram today is technology that could eventually be a great addition to the toolkit.

A new video option for the photo sharing site can literally take jumpy, hand-held video and turn it into something watchable. Technology like that could someday be used to help rescue video footage that might otherwise be given up for loss because of a shaky hand.

Here’s a clip of the announcement about the new technology, taken from today’s live stream of the Instagram press event.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=rB5WrX3NLBU

To watch the replay of the live streaming of the whole Facebook/Instagram event, beginning to end, go this Live Stream page.

–Erik Sherman

October 8th, 2012

Facebook Copyright Takedown: Justice or Injustice?

An alleged copyright infringer appears to have gotten his just desserts from Facebook, which has summarily removed his Facebook fan page. But the story highlights the lack of transparency in Facebook’s policy regarding its handling of infringement claims.

Bill Tikos, the founder of the design and culture trend spotting site The Cool Hunter,  has complained on his Web site that his Facebook fan page was taken down for an alleged copyright infringement. A FB page and 788,000 fans “nurtured meticulously over the past five years–was gone,” Tikos wrote. “No explanation, flimsy warnings, no instructions on what to do next. None of our numerous attempts to rectify the situation and resurrect the page have worked.”

Cool Hunter–not to be confused with Cool Hunting, another trend-spotting site that remains in good standing with FB–says Facebook has refused to provide any detail about the alleged infringement. The dust-up was first reported last week by The Next Web, an online tech publication.

“We have no idea what we were infringing on. Which image/s or posts, specifically, have caused this?” Tikos wrote on the Cool Hunter Web site.

From there he goes on to say that he knows of two images posted on Cool Hunter without credit–both of them images found elsewhere on Facebook without credit, Tikos says. And then he digs himself in a little deeper:

“The other reason that could have caused the closure of our FB page is that we sometimes use images even when we do not know who has taken the picture,” he wrote. He goes on to say that everyone else–FB, Tumblr, Pinterest, and “millions of people and organizations share images – theirs and someone else’s – freely every day.” Tikos says he wants to give copyright holders credit if he can find them; his web site (and Facebook page, before it was taken down)  invite copyright owners to get in touch if they see their images on either site without credit.

As it turns out, others have had their Facebook fan pages removed without recourse or due process, The Huffington Post reported last year. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, internet service providers (such as Facebook) can protect themselves from liability for infringement by their users if they act quickly to take down infringing content.

Last year, Facebook told one site owner that it didn’t have time to judge disputes over copyright take-down requests, according to The Huffington Post report. FB said it was up to the site owner to contact the person who submitted the take-down notice–and get that person to withdraw the complaint. After The Huffington Post reported on the lack of due process given to those who lost their FB pages as a result of allegedly fraudulent DMCA complaints, Facebook issued a statement saying “Abuse of DMCA and other intellectual property notice procedures is a challenge for every major Internet service and we take it seriously.”

So are Tikos and Cool Hunter just victims of Facebook’s legal expediency?  Did Facebook overreact, as Tikos suggests, to a couple of alleged infringements without giving him due process, and a chance resolve the complaints?

The Next Web investigated, and reports that it got a statement from Facebook that said: “This [Cool Hunter] account has been disabled due to repeat copyright infringement under our terms and the account has been removed from the site accordingly. Additionally, we have thoroughly reviewed all related reports and have determined that we took the correct action in this case.”

OK, but in the name of transparency, how hard would it be for Facebook to post the evidence for everyone to see?

September 28th, 2012

On Sustainable Business Models, and Comparing Apples to Oranges

The American Society of Media Photographers’ program, “Sustainable Business Models: Issues & Trends Facing Visual Artists,” held September 27 in New York City, can be viewed online via ASMP’s video library. Speakers and panelists provided useful context and insights into the current marketplace for photography, as well as thoughts on how professional freelancers might adapt their marketing and licensing in today’s economy. A warning, however: Along with provocative insights, the afternoon panel also included the predictable, banal observation that photojournalists have no role to play now that “everyone has a cellphone,” and statistics on how many images are uploaded to Facebook or Instagram each day or each hour or each minute. If you’re like me, you find these comments irritating. Because the first comment is untrue, and the second is irrelevant to any discussion of the professional photography business.

Yes, news editors trolled Instagram to get images of the aftermath of the Empire State Building shooting, but those image sales had no impact on the market for photos by professional news photographers: If amateur cellphone users hadn’t been on the scene, we simply wouldn’t have had any images of the carnage. Yes, a zillion snapshots of cats, babies and plates of food are shared on social media every day. What bearing does that have on what a professional photographer offers to clients or their audience? (more…)

March 21st, 2012

Ellen Degeneres Not Amused By Photog’s Billboard Stunt

An artist's rendering of the billboard Madalyn Ruggiero attempted to put up for six weeks in West Hollywood.

Artist's rendering of the billboard Madalyn Ruggiero attempted to put up for six weeks in West Hollywood.

Television personality and talk show host Ellen Degeneres—and her show’s lawyers—were not amused by an Ohio freelance photographer’s recent publicity stunt, and their legal action has cost the photographer thousands of dollars.

Photographer Madalyn Ruggiero created a small business by putting costumes on her dog, Denali, photographing him, then selling greeting cards bearing the images. Buoyed by the success of her cards and Denali’s 27,000+ Facebook fans, Ruggiero bought billboard space in West Hollywood in an attempt to get Ellen Degeneres to put Denali on her TV talk show. “Ellen,” the billboard read, “Denali the dog wants to meet you!”

Just days after the billboard went up on February 13, the show’s lawyers ordered the billboard company to take it down because, they argued, it traded on Degeneres’s name and likeness (Ruggiero dressed Denali up to look like Degeneres for the billboard).

Ruggiero says that the billboard company’s lawyers sought and received approval from Warner Brothers, which owns and produces Degeneres’ show, prior to putting up the billboard. The ad should have been displayed for six weeks but was up for only a few days.

“I was shocked and confused why my harmless billboard was removed,” Ruggiero says. “When I spoke with the billboard company they were very cold and told me nothing.”

The LA Times, Today Show and MSNBC have all published stories about Ruggiero’s run-in with Degeneres’ lawyers.

“I meant no harm with my billboard,” Ruggiero explains. “I am disappointed and confused. Denali is getting old and I thought trying to get Denali on Ellen’s would be fun. I always thought she was a huge dog lover, but I was mistaken.”

Now Ruggiero is out thousands of dollars for a publicity stunt gone awry. Should Ruggiero have known better? Maybe. Should we be surprised that Degeneres responded with legal threats rather than a sense of humor? Probably not.