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Thursday, September 27, 2007

NOT AGAIN! Virgin Mobile humiliates teen with stolen content

Two weeks after my own situation with Viacom was resolved (let us hope, and you can read much more about it here), now comes word that another major corporation is taking a person's material without permission and using it commercially. But this time it's much worse than anything I went through with my own digital copyright battle.

16-year old Alison Chang from Texas was attending a Christian camp in Australia. A camp counselor took her picture and uploaded it to photo-sharing site Flickr. Well, Virgin Mobile found that picture and without asking anyone's permission - including Miss Chang's - they used it in a major (and very expensive) advertising campaign. Suddenly Chang's picture was all over the place with the caption "Dump your pen friend" and the words "Virgin to virgin". Here's the story at The Register and here is a photo of Virgin's vulgar use of Chang's visage (also posted to Flickr) along with Miss Chang's comment upon discovering it...

Well, having her picture being used like this has bothered Chang and her family, as it no doubt would most people. They have now filed a lawsuit against Virgin Mobile. They are also suing Creative Commons, the nonprofit outfit whose licensing is the basis for Flickr and many other so-called "Web 2.0" operations.

I also found good coverage of Alison Chang's situation at WebProNews both in this text article and in this video report:

After what I just went through with Viacom, I'm certainly going to keep an eye on what happens with Alison Chang's lawsuit.


Anonymous said...

Years ago I worked for a large retailer that needed to launch a new product on Saturday. The vendor had not sent me any information and we still did not have the produt in stock. I ended up "borrowing" an image and description from a blogger. I was going to replace it as soon as the vendor provided me some info.

When we launched the product, with respective 1 million e-mails, the blogger caught site of his verbiage. He was pissed, for very good reason.

After our company changed the post that Monday and we gave him a $250 gift card he removed his flaming post of our company and we decided to never do that again.

I think sometimes big retailers understaff their internet dapartments and the guys working it are just trying to get their job done. They are not trying to intentionally rip off someone's material.

Anonymous said...

Though there are some similarities with your case, there are some differences as well. First, there are some right to publicity issues here. The girl's father was not the owner of the photograph and they did not have a model release for the girl.

Second, as I said above, the girl nor her parents are the owner of the photo so there isn't much of a copyright claim. It's more a case of emotional distress, defamation and related issues.

Of course, you might have had those options in your case, but you remained so good natured through the whole ordeal that, well, you became a role model for a lot of us in this field.

Anyway, it'll be an interesting case to follow. I'll be watching it for certain.