Fox Nabs Santa Pug From Flickr

    December 26, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

Television networks and sports leagues are pretty vigilant about protecting their content, and have gotten fairly nasty about it lately, especially in relation to the Internet. That righteous indignation doesn’t always go both ways, though, as these same entities can be lax when it comes to use of other people’s content.

Fox Nabs Santa Pug From Flickr

The NCAA, for example, doesn’t even like live blogging as it, in their estimation, is the equivalent of a live representation of the game. Along with the networks that broadcast the events, the Olympics, NBA, MLB, and the NFL are downright obnoxious about how their content is used and issue several warnings per broadcast.

And that makes it kind of funny (funny ironic, not funny ha-ha – okay, a little ha-ha) when they get busted using someone’s copyrighted content without permission. Judging from dramatic tone of Tracey Gaugran-Perez’ post about Fox’s use of her photograph for the Saints/Eagles game, she didn’t think it was one bit funny.

Gaugran-Perez posted a photo of her pug dog, Truman, decked out in his own Santa outfit to Yahoo’s photosharing service, Flickr. She was a bit more than surprised when she saw Truman later on television, pimped out for Fox without her permission.

Unlike the Australian girl whose family sued Virgin Mobile for using her image from Flickr in an ad campaign, the image was not licensed under Creative Commons. This representation of Truman is marked "All rights reserved."

Gaugran-Perez writes, "reason suggests that if you want to use a photo or some other content I’ve created on a national TV broadcast, YOU SHOULD ASK FIRST AND YOU NEED TO PAY ME FOR IT. And not in NFL-logo water bottles, commemorative hat pins, and autographed copies of The OReilly Factor For Kids. No no no. Greenbacks pleez, beeyatches. Dolla dolla bills, y’all."

In general the comments are supportive and advise her lawyer up, but one notes that it was probably a lower-level employee on a deadline that searched for the image on a deadline. This was the case in a situation involving a Flickr user upset with Real Time with Bill Maher. Could be possible. A Google image search for "santa pug" brings back several options, including her photo on the first page.

But still, it’s obvious Fox is sufficiently lawyered up when it comes to The Simpsons on YouTube, as is Viacom, who likes to argue there’s no money online when it suits their purposes for arguing against striking writers, but sues YouTube for a billion dollars anyway.

So you might say they have it coming, even if it was an honest mistake (and who knows if it was?).

But as user-generated content and social media continue to proliferate, this type of occurrence could become more common – large companies with teams of lawyers swiping content from online sharing sites and only paying up when they’re busted. This strategy worked for insider-traders until the feds imposed jail time instead of fines – the fines were just a cost of doing business.