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Ernest Miller Ernest Miller pursues research and writing on cyberlaw, intellectual property, and First Amendment issues. Mr. Miller attended the U.S. Naval Academy before attending Yale Law School, where he was president and co-founder of the Law and Technology Society, and founded the technology law and policy news site LawMeme. He is a fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School. Ernest Miller's blog postings can also be found @

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August 24, 2004

Hatch's Hit List #33 - Flickr

Posted by Ernest Miller

What is Hatch's Hit List? Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has introduced the Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act (IICA, née INDUCE Act) in the Senate. The bill would make it illegal to "intentionally induce" copyright infringement, but is worded so broadly that it would have all sorts of unintended consequences, one of which is to severely limit, cripple or kill innovation in many different fields. Hatch's Hit List is a daily exploration of some of the technologies and fields that the bill would likely affect. See also, Introducing Hatch's Hit List and the Hatch's Hit List Archives. Send list suggestions to ernest.miller 8T

Today on Hatch's Hit List: Flickr

What is Flickr? According to their about page, they are "almost certainly the best online photo management and sharing application in the world." And, honestly, they may not be wrong.

It makes sharing photos online very easy, including publishing them to blogs. More importantly, it allows for collaborative organizing of the masses of photos people now take with digital cameras. The system is really quite something.

Too bad both organizing (hmmm, derivative work?) and sharing (rights of reproduction and distribution) are infringement of copyrights. By creating such a wonderful tool, Flickr is all but begging people to infringe copyright. Oh, sure, they have "terms of use" that tells people not to infringe copyright ... but what does that matter? Especially with phrasing like this:

Ludicorp [the company behind Flickr] undertakes to obey all relevant copyright laws, however misguided we may all judge them to be.
Translation: Don't violate copyright, wink, wink.

You can create public groups for various interests like "Antique Car Buffs or Obscure Rock Band #33," and won't people obviously include copyrighted photos of such topics? You can search metadata to find exactly the infringing work you're looking for, and there are RSS feeds that will let people know when new infringing works are available.

Flickr is clearly designed to induce infringement.

Want to know more about the INDUCE Act?
Please see LawMeme's well-organized index to everything I've written on the topic, including Hatch's Hit List: The LawMeme Reader's Guide to Ernie Miller's Guide to the INDUCE Act.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Hatch's Hit List | INDUCE Act


1. Stewart Butterfield on August 24, 2004 11:32 PM writes...

We're very proud to have made the list :)

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