Careful UGC fans– there’s a reason why you have to take it seriously!

Creative Commons (And Virgin) Sued For Teen’s Photo Being Used In Ad Campaign

from the sue,-sue,-sue dept

Stack writes in to let us know that the family of a teenager in Texas has sued Creative Commons, Virgin Mobile Australia and Virgin Mobile USA because Virgin Mobile Australia happened to use a photo of the girl in an ad campaign in Australia. The photo had been taken by the girl’s youth counselor, who posted it on Flickr, with a Creative Commons license saying the
photo could be used with attribution (the ad apparently includes the Flickr URL, so it appears to be following the terms).
There are some bizarre parts to the story. It’s not clear why they’re suing Creative Commons, since the photographer (who is apparently suing as well) chose
the license in question. If he didn’t want to have the photo used, he shouldn’t have picked a CC license (or should have picked a more restrictive CC license). It’s certainly ridiculous to then blame CC
because the guy didn’t know what kind of license he was choosing or how
it could be used.
In fact, the original photo is still using a CC Attribution 2.0 Generic license. You would think before suing the guy would have at least changed the license. It also doesn’t
make any sense that the family is suing Virgin Mobile USA. It’s an entirely separate company from Virgin Mobile Australia. Also, the family says that they’re quite upset because people can now “Google” their daughter. Yet, the ad doesn’t have her name, and the photo was
put online by the youth counselor, so it’s not clear how they could be Googling the ad (and, of course, by suing, the family is only drawing a lot more attention to the ad).
Finally, the family is complaining that this is defamatory and somehow insulting — yet it’s
difficult to see how the ad can be construed as insulting. It’s hard to see such a case getting very far — though, it is interesting to see that Virgin Mobile was using CC Flickr photos in their ad campaign.

Techdirt: Creative Commons (And Virgin) Sued For Teen’s Photo Being Used In Ad Campaign

Okay there are two BIG lessons we need to recognize from this:

1. Do NOT put pictures of anyone under the age of 18 on your flickr page unless you are a) related to them (and even then, be careful), b) have some sort of blessing from the parent.

By uploading photos into these crazy new photo communities (i do love me some flickr though), you are basically licking and sticking everyone within your photo on public space. Why not take your photos and tape them to telephone poles, yeah?

It’s one thing to take pictures and keep them in a photo book or frames, etc, because you have control over who sees/doesn’t see the pics. I mean– I was a camp counselor for like 12 years… you’re going to take pictures of last days at camp, or incredible camp fetes, etc. You’re experiencing the summers just as they are. Teachers are the same– your class is your working world… you take pictures of them and post them around the class and school. It’s not scary people, it’s life. You’re allowed to be a part of it. But what is scary is putting pictures of kids who do NOT belong to you in public places– thats’ not your decision. You need sign offs. You need permission. Photo communitites– or basically ANYWHERE on the net– that’s a free for all. I would make the overall statement: NEVER PUT A PICTURE OF SOMEONE UNDER 18 ON THE NET. PERIOD. END OF STORY. Of course, exceptions– parents, the over 13 set, etc– they can make that decision for themselves.

2. COMPANIES– UGC from ANYONE under the age of 18 is a very, very careful place to tred. Why? Because they’re minors. Once a minor crosses that 18-year-old point, they can turn around and point out people they think may or may not have taken advantage of them in youth. 18 = adult, can make decisions for self… not held legally responsible my parents. So in an 18-year-old’s eyes, any decision made by their parent while they were minors can be questionable.

A parent may have signed off on some random UGC for their child… but if that kid turns 18 and is a bit sue-happy… they have about an inch of room to fight back. Bad news bears, ya’ll.

This doesn’t happen often. It’s very rare… but it still COULD happen. Don’t let it happen to you (says the daughter of an Insurance Agent, lolz… my pops taught me well). Wouldn’t YOU hate to be the exception to the event?

With UGC you want to make sure you are NOT stealing from kids (no matter how you try to spin it). You want to make sure everything is made VERY clear to both the kid AND the adult from like– moment one of UGC invitation.

UGC is a great opportunity for any & everyone. Just be straight with yourself & your company & your brand if that’s the route you want to take…. There’s more than just social responsibility at stake.

Protect yourself and your users… that should be a mantra for anyone exploring the online space for U18.

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