Not content with failing to credit hyperlocal blogs whose stories they ‘borrow’, Wolverhampton’s Express & Star now seem to think that Creative Commons licenses on photos don’t apply to them either.
A recent story on the rise in visitor numbers to Baggeridge Country Park on the Express and Star website features a lovely photo of the coal-mine turned beauty-spot. This photo was very similar to one I recently took myself, so out of curiosity I did a Google image search for ‘Baggeridge Country Park’.
Lo and behold, whilst the first image in the search result wasn’t mine, it was the one the Express & Star had used in their article.
Clicking on the photo led me to this Wikipedia page and the original photo. Like many photos on Wikipedia (and other photo sharing sites), the shot was published under a creative commons license. This allows others to use the photo for free, under certain conditions.
Creative Commons Attribution
The image is clearly marked as being licensed under the ‘Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License‘, with attribution (credit) needing to be given to the owner, in this case someone called ‘Frank Smith’. Which according to the licensing terms means…
You are free:
- to share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work
- to remix – to adapt the work
Under the following conditions:
- attribution – You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).
- share alike – If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.
Nowhere on the Express & Star article is there any attribution to Frank Smith.
You might have thought that the paper would at least go to some effort to hide the fact that they’ve broken the licensing agreement of an image and not credited the original photographer, but picking the first photo in a Google search (lazy journalism!) and not even renaming the file before uploading it to their website suggests otherwise! Indeed, the image they have uploaded to their website has the exact same file name as the wikipedia one ‘Bag_Pool__Baggeridge_Country_Park_Sedgley_-_geograph.org_.uk_-_154307.jpg’.
I would like to know why staff at the UK’s most-read regional newspaper think it’s okay for them to ignore the licensing terms of a photograph such as this?
How many other people’s photographs are they using without the required credit?
In doing so they are making a mockery of creative commons licensing, which in the long run helps news publications like the Express & Star save money by using photographs for free.
Is is really too much to ask for a simple credit, or even perhaps a link back to the original image?
Hardly a great example for a local news publisher to set, is it?