World Media Infringes Copyright To Show More Of Angry Birds

It might seem like I've began a holy war against other media corporations out there, but no - I'm just trying to prove how ridiculous the media business is online and just how far it will go for a few more eyeballs. This case in my opinion is a perfect example of such an activity where certain laws become secondary. On December 6th Finland celebrated its independence day and the Finnish president invited the most successful people from various walks of life to the Presidential Palace for a gala evening. This year Peter and Teija Vesterbacka also were invited due to Peter Vesterbacka's work as the CMO of Rovio. Teija Vesterbacka wore a red dress for the evening that had design concepts from one of the birds in the mobile game Angry Birds.

All this caused a huge stir online as a result of numerous blogs and media sites showing the dress in a photograph. It's all good publicity for Teija and Peter Vesterbacka, Rovio and Finland except for tiny detail - all of the international outlets that published the picture of the couple walking down the isle, did so illegally.

Professional photographer Kari Kuukka wrote a lengthy post on this in his personal blog how all this went down. Techcrunch, LA Times, Dailymail and Mashable at least published the image and a story to accompany it.

The photograph was taken my Matti Matikainen and it was first published on Iltalehti. Since then a Norwegian company asked for permission and when the price of 100€ was set, they withdrew their interest to buy it. CNN has also asked the photographer to share the photo freely to their audiences as well as Yahoo who said they would link back to the website of the photographer.

Why is this such a big deal? People who create things, be it designers, entrepreneurs, developers or photographers, for that matter, should be compensated for their work. Piracy isn't only a problem in the music industry, it's quite rampant in photography online and has only increased in the recent years as media companies fight for pageviews.

Secondly, this event highlights a clear problem in the market; when photographs are shared instantly and blogs are eager to cover events that attract attention - what would be the new concept to license photos online for cases like this? Clearly the current model isn't working as it should. It's a big money question to solve, that's for sure.

We at ArcticStartup use Creative Commons licensed photos from Flickr and always link back to the author when we do so. Those, and screenshots from companies' websites make the most of our photo content online.

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Teppo Hudson December 08, 2011

True, this is a problem. Sadly, I see no real solution for this. The reason is that when content is going into bits on the digital world, the cost of copying becomes zero. Therefore value of a UNIT goes towards zero.

The disruption is in the business model. When content creators used to sell units, now they will have to create another form for sale. There are no real solution as of yet, for example Spotify is great for consumers but horrible for musicians. Same for news portal and their use of photos.

Solution? Value is in the curation, I believe. Create an experience that is more memorable than just the unit.

Mike K December 08, 2011

I believe the Finnish company scoopshot is developing a platform that will alleviate some of these issues.

Antti Vilpponen December 08, 2011

Teppo, I'd argue that if the production value of an image (copying) is basically zero - it doesn't mean the value of that item is zero.

All of these media/news sites hugely valued the image as it was the key part of the whole story. Without it, there would not have been anything to write about - you needed the image to make a splash. Therefore it had huge value.

I'm more optimistic and believe there can be business models built around this. A Spotify model for photographs is one. It will be hard to achieve, but would guarantee bloggers all the images they want for a smaller fee (something that would most likely increase the overall usage and market).

Teppo Hudson December 08, 2011

Oh yeah, corrected. I meant the value of the content is not zero if that is the only copy available. But if that Angry Birds photo is available freely on the web, it will be copied. At that point the value to purchasr drops.

So if there is a service like spotify for photos, that could prevent copying even when added to a website, then the photographer could charge unit based. Otherwise it will be near impossible due to nature of the web.

Teppo Hudson December 08, 2011

An example: The reason Picasso's "Three Musicians" is valued in millions are perception that the content is unique and that there is only one Picasso's "Three Musicians". If you ad a second one the value drops. And with value I mean transactional value. Not just perception.

Onetwo3d December 08, 2011

Well, I've had couple of cases where Finnish companies have illegally used my photographs (by downloading them off the portfolio through google's imagesearch).

It does come as a shock at first, but seeing that the compensation you receive afterwards is tenfold more than the original price of the photograph without even taking the matter to court (which they know they would lose), it at least teaches some to check where they get their pictures. Sadly, I'm sure a lot of this kind of behaviour goes unnoticed (I basically stumbled on my photographs by walking on the street and noticing some familiar looking ads).