Hey Derek, sorry that this hassle has been occupying your time!
Now, a serious question: where does the line fall concerning fair/editorial use and use that is out of bounds? For instance, every day we see on Cable News and Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, etc, clips from another news network or some other show, photos lifted from the newspaper/net, etc, etc. How does this compare with a blogger lifting a screen shot from a Web page? Do you consider it illegal, or merely inethical, especially since there was some nefarious "interpretations" going on that didn't match the facts?
In other words, did you have legal grounds in that this use violated the limits to fair/editorial use, whereas Jon Stewart playing a lifted clip from MSNBC or Fox for comic effect would not?
I'm curious, both to know how one would interpret the difference, and as to whether blogs are by nature some kind of "gray area" that hasn't been legally defined, or what?!
Curious to hear your thoughts!
There is no actual hard legal definition of fair use. Unfortunately, only a judge can decide whether a usage was "fair" or not.
Fair use is treated differently through different mediums. Using a 30 second clip from a one hour newscast may be considered fair, while using that entire newscast would almost certainly be determined not to be.
The real crux of fair use is the "usage". If I make a copy of a movie and watch it by myself in my home, there would likely be no legal action that the studio could take against me. If I sold copies of that movie or showed that copy to a movie theater full of paying customers, they would certainly have reason for legal action.
With photographs, it is an entirely differant ball of wax. Since you cannot play a "clip" of a photograph, it is much more difficult to "fairly" use someone's photograph.
Section 107, Title 17 of the US Code outlines some criteria for determination as to whether a use is considered "fair". It can be found on page 19 of the PDF file at the top of this list (Complete version...):
There was a fairly recent court case where the judgment fell on the side of the photographer that I feel is about the closest example of case law that there is on a matter like this.
I do not feel that the usage of my photograph meets the criteria of fair use and I would hardly classify it as news reporting.
That's about as much as I'm willing to comment on my specific situation, but here is a great resource on copyright issues for photographers:
Keep in mind that I am not a lawyer, or a judge. These are simply my personal opinions based on a lot of research in the last several days.