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Thursday News: Getty frees its images; Massachusetts law protects upskirt photos; Justice Department v. Aero; and the importance of the author brand

Thursday News: Getty frees its images; Massachusetts law protects upskirt photos;...

The world’s largest photo service just made its pictures free to use – This is great news for bloggers; Getty Images, which owns 100+ years and millions of photos, is opening up its archives so everyone can use the images for free. This move is in marked contrast to certain other companies (cough*Adobe*cough) in regard to managing their intellectual property in an online environment where providing users with an easy way of legally consuming information and entertainment may be the best defense against piracy. Getty realized that its content was already being used, in many cases illegally, and so it has evolved and looked to other ways of generating income. Now, if you use a Getty image, they can generate advertising or collect user data from your site, giving them a potential revenue stream that doesn’t require direct payment from the photo user.

Getty Images is dropping the watermark for the bulk of its collection, in exchange for an open-embed program that will let users drop in any image they want, as long as the service gets to append a footer at the bottom of the picture with a credit and link to the licensing page. For a small-scale WordPress blog with no photo budget, this looks an awful lot like free stock imagery. –The Verge

Mass. High Court: Subway Upskirt Photos Not Illegal – I haven’t actually read this decision yet, so I can’t comment on it, but the ruling in this case is upsetting enough. Shooting a picture up someone’s clothing is legally protected. The way the laws in Massachusetts are written only gives protection to people who are in a nude or semi-nude state. Someone in public, fully dressed, does not, according to the Court, have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Clearly the law needs to be re-written, but in the meantime, this is a pretty disturbing situation.

So-called Peeping Tom laws protect people from being photographed in dressing rooms and bathrooms when nude or partially nude, but the way the law is written, it does not protect clothed people in public areas, the court said. The SJC ruling went on to suggest that the act in this case should be illegal, noting other states including New York and Florida have explicit laws criminalizing public upskirting. –CBS Boston

Justice Department Backs Broadcasters in Aereo Dispute – The Justice Department has indicated that it will not support Internet startup Aero in its fight against traditional broadcasters, over the way in which Aero allows consumers to view and record programs in such a way that allows Aero to bypass licensing fees. The US Supreme Court will hear the case next month, and you can read the Justice Department’s amicus brief via the re/code article.

Aereo allows consumers to see local broadcast programs on the Internet by renting them access to tiny remote antennas. Subscribers pay up to $12 a month for the service, which allows them to record shows remotely and store them online for playback on laptops and mobile devices.

Last week, the big four networks warned that an Aereo victory in the case would essentially destroy the broadcast industry’s business model of charging pay-TV companies like Dish Network and Time Warner Cable fees to retransmit broadcast signals. –re/code

The Strongest Brand In Publishing Is … – Yet another episode of “who’s the boss” when it comes to book sales and profitability. David Vinjamuri comes at the issue from the perspective of brand recognition rather than book sales, which he notes has historically been the way traditional publishers have measured success.

Brand loyalty is important because it has a direct impact on profitability. In fact, Codex data shows that consumers are willing to pay a 66% premium for a book by a favorite author over an unknown author. The chart below is for eBooks only (the prices are higher and premiums narrower for print books), and it also suggests that ebooks from new or lesser-known authors should be priced under $6.00, versus the $9.36 or more that readers are willing to pay for a favorite author. –Forbes

Dear Author

Wednesday News: Social media is used to cull college applicants; Women...

One critic says that an author’s work should be judged against her past efforts and questions whether “criticism untainted by knowledge of who the author is and what she has already done … is valid.” I don’t agree with the second person’s opinions at all Rowling’s desire wasn’t just to be judged by critics differently but to shed the weight of reader expectations as well. NYTimes.com