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White House Claims Copyright On Flickr Photos 169

Hugh Pickens writes "US government policy is that photos produced by federal employees as part of their job responsibilities are not subject to copyright in the US. But Kathy Gill writes that after originally putting official White House photos in the public domain, since January the Obama White House has been asserting that no one but 'news organizations' can use its Flickr photos taken by the official White House photographer, who is a US government employee. This change appears to be a heavy-handed response to last month's controversy resulting from a billboard that implied the President endorsed The Weatherproof Garment Co. after the company used an AP photo of the president for a Times Square billboard. However a New York law already protects individuals from unauthorized use of their image for advertising, and the billboard was quickly taken down. Gill writes, 'Whatever the reason, the assertion of these "rights" seems to be in direct contrast to official government policy and is certainly in direct contrast to reasonable expectations by the public, given that the photos are being produced with taxpayer (i.e., public) money. Ironically, the same Flickr page that claims (almost exclusive) copyright also links to the US copyright policy statement.'"

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