Who owns the most retweeted photo of all time? The simple answer is “it’s complicated.”
You may have heard about the now famous “Oscar-Selfie” engineered by host Ellen DeGeneres. To comply with copyright laws while reporting, the Associated Press asked Ellen for permission to use the photo (include hyperlink). Ellen granted the permission but the question was quickly raised, “Does Ellen actually ‘own’ the photo?” It was Bradley Cooper who squeezed the shutter, as he was best situated to take the shot and had the longest reach of those present to fit in all the A-listers pictured. So does that mean that Bradley Cooper actually owns the image?
In a featured post on Newstex, Susan Gunelius addresses this question as it relates to online content publishers. I was pleased to be asked to share my own insights into these types of copyright conundrums and Susan cites my responses in explaining some of the issues at play.
Intellectual property law does not provide simple clear-cut answers to questions of copyright ownership of these types of ad-hoc and arguably collaborative works created in real-time dynamic situations. But copyright remains a fundamental property right, and we must respect the property of one another.