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Commenters accuse Mail of image misuse – a bigger missed opportunity for publishers?

Mail Online is coming under renewed criticism for its use of online images, following a story on ‘moneyfacing’ (people using banknotes to create self-portraits).

A tweet from @alisongow alerted us to the Mail’s article ‘Creasing up: Banking on a funny photo with the ‘moneyfacing’ craze sweeping the web’ on which commenters have alleged the paper has used the images central to the story without permission.

Comments include:

“As the photographs are a pretty intrinsic part of this so called feature, I’d say that asking permission to use them is the very least this so-called newspaper should’ve done.”

The creator of the images, Thom Shannon, has now reposted them to Flickr with a watermark protecting them, adding he has never felt the need to use watermarks before, but that requests to the Daily Mail to remove the photos have not been answered.

The Mail isn’t the only site making use of the images: the Sun has a 12-image slideshow and Telegraph.co.uk features just one image, though it does give accreditation for this to a website (something Shannon has disputed).

This is not the first time the Mail’s use of online images has been challenged, but issues of copyright aside, Kevin Anderson suggests that there is a bigger opportunity being missed by newspapers at large (scroll down to the comments):

“[T]his is another example of the news industry missing an opportunity to build community around what they do. When I use Creative Commons photos from sites like Flickr, firstly, I honour the terms of the licence. Secondly, I drop the Flickr user a note letting them know that I’ve used a photo on our site. It’s not only a way to use nice photos, but it’s also a way to build goodwill to what we’re doing and do a little soft touch promotion of our coverage. It takes a minutes out of my day to create that email, but instead of a backlash, I often get a thank you. They let their friends know that the Guardian has used their picture. It’s brilliant for everyone. There are benefits to being good neighbours online, rather than viewing the internet as a vast repository of free content.”

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