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The Courts Twitter Your Rights Online

Developer Exposes Copyright Infringers On Twitter 164

snitty writes "Wil Shipley, developer of Delicious Library, found some applications on the iTunes App Store that were using without permission some images from his popular desktop application. He outed them on Twitter. The team at Technically Legal broke down the story and the take-home messages for using other people's images."
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Developer Exposes Copyright Infringers On Twitter

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  • Hmm (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @03:42PM (#29430161)

    Image off of his website. []

    Macbook, Starcraft, Peggle... Are those fair use applications?

  • Re:Hmm (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:02PM (#29430361)

    Macbook, Starcraft, Peggle... Are those fair use applications?

    More to the point: did he try to pass them off as his own? No.

    This centers around one party using another party's compyrighted property without permission.

    His image looks like a photoshopped version of a stock, copyrighted Apple image:

    Apple Macbook Pro []

    I'm using the lighting on the top left corner and the artifacts around the camera. I wonder if he asked for permission from Apple before manipulating that image of theirs.

    It's bad if someone uses his wood grain background without permission (to make money, no less). But when he uses someone elses' copyrighted material (to, in turn, push his own product), it's fine and dandy.

    Either derivative works are fine or not.

  • by joocemann ( 1273720 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:03PM (#29430367)

    I know the guy who made the blue frog on the Azureus startup screen.... and it wasn't for Azureus.


  • by Volante3192 ( 953645 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:18PM (#29430515)

    The RIAA didn't become the "big bad meanies" because of going after copyright infringers.

    They got that title through their strong arm tactics, legal arguments, twisted logic, abuse of the justice system, extortion... well, pretty much everything associated with how they operate these cases.

    Contrast the above to how this infringement was handled.

    I see no moral conflict here.

  • Re:The Image (Score:5, Interesting)

    by garcia ( 6573 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:18PM (#29430523)

    Why didn't he just email them and ask them either not to use his pictures, or to pay him for them?

    Because sometimes even when you do both of those things [], you get nowhere fast. Twitter is something that a lot of people utilize and it's a good way to go about expressing your frustration and getting the word out to a lot of people (including the offender) quickly.

  • Re:The Image (Score:2, Interesting)

    by coaxial ( 28297 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:18PM (#29430525) Homepage

    True, it is the texture. But let's be honest here. It's not just the texture. It's the whole look of the application. Delicious Library has a VERY distinctive look. Books and DVD boxes sitting on wooden shelves. It's unmistakable, yet these applications completely aped it. More importantly, it is confusingly similar.

  • by GargamelSpaceman ( 992546 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:38PM (#29430803) Homepage Journal

    Even in 16 bit color the set of all possible 32x32 icons is 67,108,864 bytes, ( 67 megs )for 32 bit color it's 4,398,046,511,104 or 4 terabytes.

    For 64x64 icons in 32 bit color, it's 17,592,186,044,416 bytes, or 17 terabytes.

    I am surprised some copyright troll doesn't copyright the set of all 128 x 128 icons at 32 bit color depth ( comprising 70 terabytes ) and then sue everyone who uses a new icon in any product into oblivion. Every possible icon would be contained in one of those copyrighted icons either in whole or in part. It might be worthwhile to copyright commonly used lower color depths as well, though it shouldn't be strictly necessary.

  • Re:The Image (Score:4, Interesting)

    by diamondsw ( 685967 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:43PM (#29430883)
    Except he's been on the iPhone [] for a while - until Amazon yanked all mobile licenses to their data.

    This goes back to the whole issue of stealing "look and feel", which they most certainly did. Whether that constitutes legal copyright infringement is beyond me (and I imagine 99% of the commenters on /.).
  • by Bemopolis ( 698691 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @05:16PM (#29431461)
    If it's that easy to "make a woodgrain texture lots better than that one", then how come none of those lazy bastards did it instead of poaching his?
  • by KingSkippus ( 799657 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @06:27PM (#29432741) Homepage Journal

    Ignorance of the law is no defense.

    No, but there is such a thing as "reasonable perspective." This guy is so worked up about a frickin' woodgrain texture that he's wanting to sue for losses, and since that would actually cost some money, instead resorts to calling the other developer a thief? I don't care if they did knowingly swipe the texture, that's stupid, plain and simple.

    Do you ever speed on a highway? Technically, you're breaking the law every time you do. How would you like it if a police officer decided that he just plain doesn't like you? He stakes out your house, and every time you go 56 in a 55, he dings you with a ticket. Even more, the judge doesn't like you either, so you don't get stuck with a minor violation, you get charged with reckless driving and have to go to jail.

    It was a frickin' woodgrain texture. The appropriate response would have been to just let it slide. The "I'm irritated" response would have been to e-mail the developer and said, "Hey, that's my texture, please remove it from your app." His actual response, though, is stupid and petty.

    Most artists don't make enough for their work as it is

    Yeah, because I'm sure that's why people were using these applications. Not just because of the woodgrain texture, but because of that specific woodgrain texture. Any other woodgrain texture would have made both the original application and the iPhone app pieces of crap. People are seeing that specific woodgrain texture on the iPhone app and thinking, "The app is just okay, but that texture is so... beautiful...

    Puhleeze. I'm sorry, I thought this was about an application, not a "work of art." Sounds like someone is a little too full of themselves.

  • Priorities (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rocketship Underpant ( 804162 ) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @08:59PM (#29434495)

    I wish he'd spend less time Twittering and blogging and more time fixing the bugs in Delicious Library 2 that have been there since the beta. There's like, what, one update a year for that application? I don't even bother running it any more.

  • Re:Twitter (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bit01 ( 644603 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @04:45AM (#29437395)

    Yeah. the twitter angle was pretty much gratuitous.

    It's probably twitter marketing parasites. Any "news" item that even remotely mentions twitter gets spammed [] everywhere.

    Most people seriously underestimate just how much astroturfers [] = stealth/undercover marketers [] = shills [] = low lifes [] have invaded social networking sites and the net in general. They talk the talk of ethics but they rarely walk the walk. Twitter is currently one of the worst.

    Anytime you see a one-sided "story" talking about some commercial product, or have trouble trying to have a legitimate discussion with a commercial product zealot (there are very few consumers who are zealots about any commercial product), you're probably dealing with an astroturfer. They are lying shits, make their life hell.


    Astroturfing "marketers" [] are liars, fraudulently misrepresenting company propaganda as objective third party opinion. Anonymous commercial speech should be illegal.

"You must have an IQ of at least half a million." -- Popeye