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Who Asked Flickr to Take Down Obama Joker Photo?

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Noel Sheppard
News Busters
Thursday, August 27, 2009

As NewsBusters reported last Wednesday, the photo sharing website Flickr removed the Obama Joker picture that was later transformed into posters showing up in cities around the country.

At the time, Flickr claimed it had acted on advice of counsel due to legal issues involving copyright infringement.

Yet, according to Thomas Hawk, none of the conceivably interested parties filed a complaint with Flickr:

Flickr’s defense of their removal of the image eventually came from Community Manager Heather Champ (in a Help Forum thread that has subsequently been shut down) who told Flickr users that the reason why the image was removed was that someone filed a DMCA request to take it down.

“In this intance, the Yahoo! Copyright Team here in the US received a complete Notice of Infringement as outlined by the DMCA (Digitial Millenium Copyright Act),” stated Champ trying to deflect blame for the deletion on the controversial law. Champ added, “There appears to be a whole lot of makey uppey going in the news and blogosphere about this event.”

But now PDN is saying that they have contacted spokespeople at TIME Magazine, DC Comics, and the photographer who took the original image for Time Magazine, Platon, and all are denying having filed a DMCA takedown notice against this image. Apparently the photographer Platon’s office wasn’t even aware of the Obama/Joker issue.


Hawk contacted the photo’s creator Firas Alkhateeb to see if he knew who filed the request:

“I actually don’t know who filed the DMCA notice,” wrote Alkhateeb to me in an email, “but I figured it must be from Time magazine, since it’s their image. All flickr told me was that one was filed, but not by who.” Alkhateeb said that he is working with the EFF in order to defend the image, adding “I’m in the process of consulting with lawyers now and figuring out my options but so far one guy I talked to at the EFF told me in all likelihood the image is fair use and I shouldn’t have any problems with a long, protracted court case, but well have to see in the coming stages.”

As one would think the only parties with a possible copyright issue are Time, DC Comix, and the photographer, and these three apparently didn’t submit a DMCA notice, Flickr either acted on its own to take down a picture it didn’t like or management is protecting the identity of the complainant.

Regardless of which is the case, it appears Flickr is engaging in its own form of political censorship by either acting unilaterally or complying with the wishes of a party possessing no legal right to the picture in question.

Stay tuned.

This article was posted: Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 9:00 am

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