The Man From Degban, He Say, ‘Um… it wasn’t us, honest!’

Unfortunately, on February 17th this year, Flickr — who are owned by Yahoo! — deleted the image from their servers. The page it was on disappeared… and with it, all the comments, favourites, and the record of its views disappeared too. That stuff matters only because I’m vain… but every blog that linked to it now has a broken link that goes nowhere and that matters because links are what make the internet the internet. With all those links broken, 6 years worth of photo-sharing has been undone.

I don’t have a beef with Flickr for deleting the image. They didn’t do so because they wanted to or because they were being bloody minded. They did it because they had to. By law. It’s down to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Sites like flickr — and yahoo, twitpic, youtube, yfrog, facebook, blogger, wordpress etc etc — allow their users to upload content. If they were held responsible for every bit of content on their sites the way a print publisher is responsible for the content of their magazines/newspapers etc then they simply couldn’t function. To avoid being sued for breach of copyright they would have to check each bit of content before publishing it. Which is impossible. (There are more than 6 billion pictures on flickr already… who’d look through them all and how would they check who owned the copyright?)

So instead of being responsible for them they abide by the terms of the DMCA. Which means that when someone else sends them a legal notice saying that their copyright has been breached they have to take it at face value and remove the content. No questions asked. It gets deleted. They don’t have to check to see if it makes sense — in many cases it would be impossible to know anyway – they just have to delete the content — via redwolf.newsvine.com

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Photos from Flickr