Court orders Ferguson police not to interfere with photographers

As the news heats up again in Ferguson, a federal judge for the Eastern District of Missouri issued three orders to Missouri State Highway Patrol, City of Ferguson, and County of St. Louis, stating that police agencies must not interfere with those photographing or otherwise recording in public places. The specific language states that these police agencies are prevented from “interfering with individuals who are photographing or recording at public places but who are not threatening the safety of others or physically interfering with the ability of law enforcement to perform their duties.” The NPPA Advocacy blog has a short background on the cases that led to these orders, as well as links to the three orders.

Though these orders were in place over the weekend, at least one journalist, Trey Yingst, was arrested on Saturday for allegedly failing to disperse when asked by law enforcement. police have been ordering people not to stand on streets, but Yingst was not, according to an ACLU of Missouri statement about the arrest that says that eyewitness accounts of the arrest and video recordings show Yingst exercising first amendment rights to take video while standing on a sidewalk.

Poynter has a good page full of information for journalists heading back to Ferguson to cover the news as it unfolds, which also links to information about what you should do if you get arrested in Ferguson.

Related: Check out Poynter’s story about local high school student journalists covering the events in Ferguson. It’s a fascinating view on the news told by those who are living in the middle of it. One particularly interesting story from Kirkwood (High School) Call highlighted by Poynter focused on students from Ferguson facing difficulty getting to school when protests erupted.

And check out my previous post on the visual politics of Ferguson coverage while you’re at it.

UNC reaches settlement with Justin Cook over copyright infringement, will also hold public forum about creative rights

This is wonderful news. After our post–one of this site’s most shared posts–on Justin Cook‘s futile attempts to get the University of North Carolina to acknowledge and correct its infringing usage of one of his photos, the University and Cook have reached a settlement. In a public statement on facebook, Cook wrote:

Yesterday The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and I came to a resolution. They agreed to pay my fee for their use of my image, and I agreed to drop my copyright claim on the condition that the Department of Psychology collaborates with me, the UNC School of Law, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, the Media Law Center and others to hold an interdisciplinary public forum about the importance of creative rights.

This resolution is a win for everyone that is more meaningful than what any lawsuit could have afforded us, and it’s consistent with UNC’s core values. A community of impassioned friends and strangers united and pushed us to this huge victory that will further build community and foster conversation. That’s The Carolina Way!

Justin Cook, 5 November 2014

This is, indeed, a win for everyone. Cook’s issues with non-payment and infringement have been resolved and the greater community, including the infringing parties, will be working together to educate the public about the rights of creative workers, which I’m sure will include coverage of how to respect the copyright of photographers. I don’t think I could’ve imagined a better outcome.

I’m especially happy for this news. I’ve known Justin Cook basically since my start as a photojournalist, when we spent time together at the Flint Journal in Michigan. He’s a heck of a nice guy and a great photographer. Make sure to check out his portfolio and his most recent project, Made In Durham, a look at the effects of homicide, incarceration and gentrification in Durham, North Carolina.

University of North Carolina steals photographer’s work, claims it could not have known photo was not free to use

UPDATE (5 Nov. 2014): The University and Justin Cook have reached a settlement. Read this post for more info.

Original post: This is a case that defies belief. The University of North Carolina used a photo by photographer Justin Cook on a departmental Facebook page without permission. When Cook, who attended UNC and is based in Durham, North Carolina, contacted the university about the unauthorized usage, university lawyers wrote back saying that they removed the image, do not acknowledge that it was an infringing usage, and could not have known that the image was copyrighted and not intended for redistribution. The image was taken from Cook’s wife’s wedding photography portfolio site.

Cook has written back and forth with the University and its representatives, and NPPA General Counsel Mickey Osterreicher stepped in with a letter to UNC explaining just why their response is wrongheaded, abusive of copyright, and generally unbelievable. UNC refuses to budge on the issue, essentially saying that because Cook put the image online, he was essentially allowing free usage of the image by anyone. There’s a detailed look at the whole saga on the Crusade For Arts website.

“I felt like their counsel’s comments were a backhanded way of saying to me: ‘you shouldn’t have put your work on the internet if you didn’t want it used.'” Justin Cook

In my dealings with copyright infringement, I’ve generally followed this advice. A cordial but direct approach to the right people at the offending organization usually results in an acknowledgement of wrongdoing, removal of the infringing usage, and payment. But Cook wasn’t as lucky in this case. It seems like the only option now is to pursue legal action, and that’s a costly endeavor.

It’s sad to see a University treat a photographer–and a graduate of that University!–with so little respect and disregard for copyright. UNC has a host of issues at the moment, though, so my guess is that this copyright case is low on their priority list. But, the institution recently paid $782,000 to hire a PR firm to handle its response to scandals plaguing the university, so you’d think they could afford a few thousand dollars to settle the unauthorized image usage.