Respect

Lane Hartwell has posted a statement addressing some of the misconceptions about the use of her photo in the Bubble 2.0 video. For instance, one misconception is that she’s suing Richter Scales. She wrote:

It has been erroneously reported in various media outlets and blogs that I have either filed or am in the process of filing a lawsuit against The Richter Scales. This is simply not true. At no point has there been any talk of filing a lawsuit on my behalf. To make matters worse, I have yet to be contacted by even one of these media outlets or bloggers to verify the authenticity of my supposed lawsuit.

Lane is actually easy to communicate with via email, which leads one to wonder if people have gotten so used to twittering, they’ve forgotten there are other forms of communication.

Tara Hunt had two good posts on this: Tragedy of the Commons: Lane Hartwell vs. Richter Scales and Mobs with Pitchforks and Mis-information. Tara speaks as a person who was busted herself for using photos and art without permission. She writes:

Whether or not Lane invoking the DMCA is legal or not isn’t really what matters here and making it about ‘hurt feelings’ belittles what is really at stake here. What is at stake here is that the continuance of individual abuse of the privileges of the works put into the commons will lead to fewer of those works being put into the commons.

That is the point. Perhaps because we have a knee jerk reaction to the term, DMCA, we tar and feather any use. However, Lane trying to protect the integrity of her photography is not the same thing as Disney trying to preserve the Mouse in perpetuity. If we overreact about copyright abuses from corporations to the point where we deny the validity of copyright for individuals, then we’re not good neighbors in a village sharing a commons–we’re nothing more than the Horde looking to sack the village; reacting petulantly, even violently at being denied our goodies. The issue is less one of copyright than it is one of respect. Lane deserves the respect due a person in her craft.

Respect also plays in a sub-thread that ended up slowly emerging from the original discussion. In Mathew Ingram’s post on this topic, as I wrote previously, Michael Arrington wrote in a comment to me that the only reason I was supporting Lane, was because she was a woman:

Mathew is right, you are wrong. But since Lane is a woman, it really doesn’t matter what she did as far as you are concerned. She’s a woman, so she’s right.

I was flabbergasted. I never once thought about Lane’s sex when forming my opinion. Any of you who have read me for years know that copyright has been an issue near and dear to my heart, and I’m actually a copyright supporter–not the Disney type of copyright, but copyright as it was originally intended.

Several people did respond to the statement, both in my comments, in a post that Jeneane Sessum wrote and also in Tara’s posts. She didn’t specifically mention this in her second post, but Tara did allude to this:

I’m really put off that there are so many people spreading, but also believing, bad rumors in this case. I’m sure the many men behind the Richter Scales don’t want a mob sent out to harass a woman whose photograph they used. None of this was done in malice: the photograph used, the request for credit.

Why the maliciousness now? From uninformed bystanders?

We didn’t introduce the topic of gender in this discussion, but now that it has been introduced one can’t help wonder: given the rather astonishingly harsh criticism of Lane Hartwell is there a possibility that some of it goes beyond just our reaction to the DMCA term? Could this also have something to do with Lane Hartwell, being a woman, asserting her rights against a bunch of guys?

I don’t believe this of Richter Scales, the originators of the video. They seem truly unhappy that they’ve caused this unfortunate consequence, and didn’t attribute the photographers as they should. But when I read the following at a post Michael Arrington wrote, after leaving the comment directed at me at Ingram’s, I have to question the emotional context of some of this protest.

The real issue here is that Hartwell’s feelings were hurt. She wanted attribution in the video, and the creators ignored her. Attribution and people’s feelings are not things copyright law considers; rather, it sets forth the rules under which copyrighted works may be or may not be used by others.

The real issue here is that Hartwell’s feelings were hurt. (Also see the the comments to this post describing Michael running into Lane at an event yesterday.)

Haven’t we seen this before? When a woman reacts to an event, her reaction is reduced to one of ‘feelings’, rather than rights or laws, or even common decency? Lane Hartwell did not react as a woman whose feeling were hurt. She reacted like a professional photographer, frustrated with people stealing and using her photos without giving her credit or asking permission, who then contacted the transgressors. When the group who created the video responded that their use was fair use, rather than respect her wishes, or even contact her directly about the use, she then hired an attorney who specializes in IP law to work with her to resolve this issue. An attorney, I might add who represented, pro bono, ThinkSecret when sued by Apple looking for the names of ThinkSecret’s sources. Perhaps we might want to give him the benefit of the doubt that a) he’s not evil, b) he knows what he’s doing, and c) Lane knows what she’s doing.

Agree with Lane’s move, don’t agree–there is nothing wrong with having an opinion on this issue. However, when we start advocating violence, plotting how to destroy her career, or belittling Lane’s actions because she is a woman than, frankly, we have more problems in the commons than whether we get to view a funny video, or not.

Michael Arrington considers me …one of the most unpleasant people he’s ever known. Fine, great, perhaps I am. I, however, didn’t bring up the ‘gender card’, but when it’s played on me, I sure as hell am not going to fold and leave the game.

What do we want from this environment? Where only those who are popular are allowed to determine the ethics of our interactions? That webloggers can speak softly in weblogs, but nastily in comments, Twitter, and backchannels and all is well? Where women can be so easily and so frequently belittled with nary a raised eyebrow? Mobs can be whipped up and turned loose without a thought to the consequences?

That only the little people get called out for their actions?

Weblogging is ten years old today. Huzzah! Now, what do we want from this environment? Because what we’re getting is something I don’t value anymore.

update

Lane Hartwell has issued a more detailed statement:

A photo of Owen Thomas that I shot under contract for Wired News was used without my permission in a music video created by the Richter Scales. I own the copyright to the photo and, as I do in every instance where I find my work used without my permission, I contacted the band, told them my work was copyrighted and asked why they had used it without contacting me to license the work.

The band’s response was that upon receiving my complaint, they contacted an attorney who told them they had the right to use my work without gaining permission, paying a licensing fee or giving me credit. They said the video was a parody and thus the unauthorized use of my image was protected under something called “Fair Use”. Normally when I contact someone about my work, they apologize and remove it immediately. Because they didn’t, and mentioned talking to a lawyer, I felt it necessary to talk to a lawyer myself. Despite reports to the contrary, I have not sued the band. I spoke with a lawyer to clarify my standing on the issue of copyright.

I suggest you read the whole thing. Especially those of you saying Lane’s feelings were hurt, she should never work again, and generally dwelling on her evilness.

There’s also a thing in the commons called an ‘apology’.

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20 Responses to Respect

  1. tod hilton says:

    I stopped reading TechCrunch a long time ago when I realized that Michael Arrington prefers to spin fiction as fact without any concern or remorse. His comment to your post only serves to support my personal opinion.

  2. On Dick Cavett many years ago, John Lennon read a piece by Congressman Ron Dellums (then D-Calif.) about the song Woman is the Nigger of the World as part of the intro he had to give before they would let him perform the song on TV. It’s all here on YouTube.

    Dellums said the key to second-class status is being “defined by others.” That’s what happened to you in those comments.

  3. Bud Gibson says:

    This seems like a no-brainer to me. Richter would have had a fig leaf had they at least attributed. But, they didn’t.

    Having used many things under fair use in the class room, we always attribute.

    Lane Hartwell is getting a hard time because she is standing up for herself at an inconvenient time. She should continue to stand up for herself. Period.

    PS I like the striped banner. Also, at your recommendation, I am now also a hulu private beta tester. Tin Man is a guilty pleasure on that service.

  4. Ethan says:

    What do we want from this environment? Where only those who are popular are allowed to determine the ethics of our interactions? That webloggers can speak softly in weblogs, but nastily in comments, Twitter, and backchannels and all is well? Where women can be so easily and so frequently belittled with nary a raised eyebrow? Mobs can be whipped up and turned loose without a thought to the consequences?

    I have been sitting on this paragraph ever since someone brought it up in passing. Apparently, its time has come:

    “The cruelty and aggression we see throughout the world is only possible when we de-humanize our fellow beings,” Pema Chödrön says. “When they cease to exist as real, feeling beings then we can kill and abuse them. The key is to see others as living beings just like ourselves. When we see them as real, feeling people and listen to their stories, we cannot harm them.”

    (Source)

    Regardless of one’s tolerance/penchant for “woo”, I’d say that quote pretty much sums it up. People like Shelley Powers and Lane Hartwell aren’t “real” because they live in the magical land of make-believe aka the internet. This is a “place” where words have power, but don’t hurt, unless you’re a whiny baby who gets “hysterical” at the drop of a hat. A “place” where actions have consequences to the extent that these actions can provide selective benefits, as opposed to negative consequences, such as being fingered as a guilty party (as opposed to a suspect) and therefore undeserving of the most basic rights. A “place” where, at least in the 1990s the traditional rules of economics no longer apply, except when online-only businesses collapsed for want of profits, let alone an actual business plan. And on and on.

    I’ll stew on this some more privately (as in, alone in the Fortress of Solitude), but yeah, I’d say once empathy is lost, so too is the value one might have found in the potential, if not the practice of online communication.

  5. Kathy Sierra says:

    Second, third, and fourth on Ethan’s comment. I would only add that it is awfully hard (and very very human) to find abuse in others and not see it in ourselves. To view ourselves as guilty of the same things we criticize others for, *that’s hard.* Not morally, emotionally, ethically, but just genuinely hard. Our brains have blind spots reserved for our own behavior. Everywhere we look we see hypocrisy, yet those who look at US see the same, and we can’t understand that. But I think much of it comes to the ‘dehumanizing’ Ethan mentions. And it’s sooooo easy to do on the internet where we talk to and about people we never sit with face-to-face. We don’t know their life, their family, their stories. We see only what we want to see.

    For example, “Lane deserves the respect due a person in her craft.” What does this respect mean? And who deserves ‘respect’ and who does not? A staggering amount of disrespect is not only tolerated but high-fived on the internet, including right here on this (and in the past my own) blog. What is justified in the name of ‘honest criticism’ is often viciously cruel, highly personal (criticism of the person, not the work, etc.) and in the case of women — too often just HAS to involve sexuality (not to mention their looks and age). To me, the problem is less that this goes on, and more that we have such double-standards and blind spots.
    And Shelley, I want to thank you for allowing me to comment on these last posts. I know I’m stretching it, and you’re tolerating it. I’m working up the courage to start writing again and don’t mean to be using your blog for ‘practice’, but you keep bringing up the really important topics!

  6. > If we overreact about copyright abuses from
    > corporations to the point where we deny the
    > validity of copyright for individuals, then we’re
    > not good neighbors in a village sharing a commons

    I think it’s the fault of big coporations abusing copyright that has made us build strong mechanisms to escalate when unfair copyright claims are perceived to happen. And this escalation is even triggered for individuals I guess. Perhaps some of us are even more disappointed when individuals don’t try new means of e.g. Creative Commons sharing — sort of thinking “it’s bad enough that evil corporations claim copyright all day long, but can’t at least common sense individuals understand the nature of a ‘mashing’ creative web?”.

    By the way, I also didn’t agree to the “feelings were hurt” angle, and the “since Lane is a woman, it really doesn’t matter” is also weird — if you use an image without crediting it’s disrespectful, and it’s not far off to be pissed about that as an individual. (I do not think Lane should have asked for it to be removed, if that’s what she did — I don’t know — though… there may be much better ways to handle this, e.g. to ask for a button to be placed close to the video on the official homepage linking to her webpage.)

  7. Niek Hockx says:

    This is by far not the first time a discussion in Downtown Blogsville, USA becomes a battle between the sexes for no reason at all. I may be a “dumb Eupean furiner”, but I know one thing for sure: as long as you keep paying too much attention to “this environment” things ain’t gonna change.

    There’s so much nice wide open space on the Intertubes outside the narrow minded, 19th century, white male, cowboy dominated US Blogosphere. Why do you keep dancing on the saloon bar for their pleasure, when you could just ignore them and go your own way?

  8. Shelley says:

    Sorry to group responses…maybe I should thread my comments.

    Tod, I’m not a reader either. Normally because I don’t really care for most of the stories. I did think Lane was not given a fair shake.

    Sheila, women are the niggers of the web? That was a great video. And a true demonstration of ‘fair use’.

    Bud, thank you for noticing the stripes. I kind of like them too. And hulu is fun.

    Ethan, god I hate the word ‘hysterical’. I’ve had that dumped on me so many times. And that is a great comment you quoted.

    Kathy, yup, I regularly trash people.

    I think if you’re going to start a weblog, you need to learn to differentiate criticism of what you write as compared to criticism of what you are. If you see criticism of what you write as a personal attack, you’re never going to be happy weblogging. Just a thought before you start up again.

    Philipp, mashing creativity means acknowledging the work that went into the finished product. Not doing so? Height of self-indulgent arrogance.

    Niek, you’re recommending that I leave this environment to the people like Arrington. To stop caring about these issues and writing posts like this–just in time to have some lady go into Michael’s comments, telling him how right he is, and awful women are who play the gender card.

    It’s not the Arringtons who bug me. It’s the women who sell the rest of us out, for a pat on the head by assholes like him.

    But what do I know? I’ve been reduced to “Shelley” — no weblog, no name, a nothing–a true non-entity in this wonderful world of weblogging.

    And you want me to leave all of this?

  9. Karoli says:

    Shelley,

    Comments like those you refer to in this post speak for themselves, at least to me. They’re not worth taking seriously, because they’re intended to derail the discussion and send it off on a completely unrelated tangent. The threading on Mathew’s comments did a good job of limiting that piece of the discussion but it was still just rude and unnecessary.

    You are a person who has strong opinions and isn’t afraid to express them in a strong fashion. Some people don’t like that, particularly when you demonstrate a willingness to engage and get to the heart of issues. I confess, I think twice before making a comment in counterpoint to yours, at least in the sense of being sure of what I’m about to say before I say it. I suppose for some, like MA, it’s just easier to throw a tantrum like a 2-year old than to engage in real conversation.

    Truly, I don’t agree with Lane Hartwell’s course of action, but I do understand her frustration and I understand her right to do it. It felt to me like an elephant squashing a flea. What it didn’t feel like: Hurt feelings, or a tantrum.

    Other comments did feel that way but not her action or her post.

  10. Pingback: Lane Hartwell: Still wrong on fair use - - mathewingram.com/work

  11. Shelley says:

    Karoli, I’ve always believed that if what you have to say the first time is worthwhile, then you have to be prepared to defend it within a discussion. I also have a strong–too strong, really–sense of fair play. I won’t jump into something where equals are duking it out, but I hate seeing popular people using their popularity to make life miserable for others. Or playing on emotions in order to trigger a mob to do their dirty work. Or demean a woman by using her sex, (and Kathy, yes I realize this was done to you, no I didn’t approve, and yes, I wrote that I didn’t approve in the weblog and in emails.)

    I don’t like bullies. I especially don’t like men bullying women, but it can go the other way at times, too.

    More though, I don’t like people using their more powerful position to make lives hell for someone who deigns cross them. I probably dislike this most of all.

    So I hope you never feel uncomfortable getting into a discussion with me. I may not agree,and I may be forceful in my delivery, but you’ve never been a bully and I would never treat you like one. Because that would make me a bully ;-)

  12. jeneane says:

    So all this criticism of Lane for calling in the law, and it was the band who called a lawyer first? Sheesh.

    The Tech Elite love their systems networked and their people siloed.

    Niek – HEY! What Shelley said. Besides, they wouldn’t have jobs without us.

  13. jeneane says:

    Shelley, your name is being tossed about on Twitter as well related to the Hartwell story. (I can only imagine what those with Private profiles are saying ;-) ) P.S. Kevin Marks offered some intelligent tweets among the twits.

    http://twitter.com/TechCrunch/statuses/509126772 – Oh and I didn’t know you knew Mike. When did you meet him, Skype him, or talk to him on the phone last?

  14. Shelley says:

    Frankly, I can’t figure out why he’s so hostile to me. I haven’t commented that much in his weblogs, and haven’t been nasty as some people that drop by. I disagree, strongly, but I don’t call into question people’s parentage.

    He is a friend of Gabe Rivera’s. In fact, a roommate, I believe. I have been chatting with Gabe about the, urh, lack of diversity on Techmeme. Maybe Michael is reacting so hysterically by osmosis, because of what other people have told him. Such as Gabe.

    And he’s good buds with Dave Winer. God is it the tech field or just Silicon Valley that attracts type?

    Good to know I’m being tweeted. I feel so…cool.

  15. Shelley says:

    “It’s an ad feminam attack. ”

    I am sending Kevin roses.

    You realize now, that Michael has spun this around so that I’m sexist, and am ganging up on him to destroy his business. No, I’m not joking — go look at his private weblog at Crunchnotes.

    He sounds like a man either on drugs, or who maybe isn’t in the right line of work. Some people don’t handle criticism well; or confrontation for that matter. Good or bad, that’s the nature of this game. People are going to disagree, and they’re going to be critical. And you’re going to get called out when you screw up. I have been in the past. Usually by my friends.

    Seriously, I’m giving Arrington a wide berth now. He seems incredibly instable. I like that Eric Rice, though. He’s a good vidcaster.

    PS I thought your arguments over at Mathew’s were good. He’s really absolutely, positively, sure he’s right, isn’t he? What surprises me is the number of non-lawyers absolutely, positive sure, as compared to the lawyers.

  16. Julian Bond says:

    A while ago you came up with a wonderful image for some of the people mentioned here. “Three Mentos in search of a Coke bottle”. There’s really nothing like a good “Blog Spat” (like the recent Blog-Crunch debacle) to act as a Mento detector!

    So can you come with a gender neutral equivalent of that phrase?

  17. Aunt Hentic says:

    Brrrr… it’s a cold one here this morning. Almost froze my “last part over the fence” off while collecting eggs in my pine needle made by Indians egg basket! :)

    Been following this discussion while stoking up the woodstove for my hubby’s breakfast. It’s given me a lot to think about as I putter about doing my early morning chores.

    I recently spilled red crystal light on my carpet and tried a couple different carpet stain removals and nothing worked. Then I got this tip from a friend. First take a wet white cloth and place it on top of the stain. Then place a warm iron (on a low setting) on top of the white cloth. Leave on the stain for 15 minutes. Repeat until the stain is gone. I now have my beige carpet back again, stain free! This works on Koolaid as well.

    Here is a tip for removing Silly Putty from clothes: First put the clothing in the freezer for a little while, then scrape the area with a dull knife to remove what you can from the surface. Put an old towel behind the fabric, and soak it with rubbing alcohol, then rub with a piece of old towel, removing bits of putty as they flake off. you may need to soak the fabric again (and test in an unobvious place with alcohol first to make sure it doesnt remove the color). hold it up to the light to make sure all the putty is removed (repeat if it isn’t). when all the putty is removed, wash as usual.

    Rub the sap with an ice cube, then gently scrape off any excess sap. Sponge the stain with cleaning fluid and let air dry. Rub with detergent and launder as usual.

    I learned recently that using alcohol, such as vodka, can remove tree sap from clothing. I rubbed a little vodka into the sap on the clothing and then washed the item as I normally would and the sap was gone!

    Have a good one! :)

  18. George Frink says:

    Yes, Michael Arrington commented on twitter that you were “trying to destroy” his “business.”
    That’s how I came to write this comment.
    I was taken aback by his twitter post and pursued that thread and others in attempt to find out who you are and whether the assertion was justified.
    I still know almost nothing about you.
    You certainly disagree with him regarding Lane Hartwell, as do I.
    I have no desire to harm his business.
    Without endorsing every word you have written here, I see no plot to drive him under.
    The net effect of his comment, it seems to me is one round in the foot (his).

  19. Karl says:

    I’m just catching up on this and I agree with George.

    The ongoing talk seems to be an effort to goad you into a personal fight – to take you off topic.

    Kevin hit the nail on the head.

  20. Karoli says:

    The Rush Limbaugh of Tech?

    I just read the Crunchnotes post from yesterday (I don’t subscribe to any of the blogs he writes so I have to actually go look for it) about this whole mess. He makes it clear that his remarks came from a personal impression he has of you and in the ongoing tradition of no respect, he gives you none, while bemoaning the fact that his characterization as a sexist will preclude him from writing on TC.

    The only thing that is missing is a picture and commentary like this. First entertainment, then politics, now tech.

    Actually, that sequence is wrong. It’s everywhere and has been for a long time. When I stop seeing reports like the one I linked or comments like the one I read on Mathew’s blog I’ll believe there’s some progress being made.

    The self-justification is nearly mind-boggling. Kevin’s “ad feminam” remark was right on the money.