That’s the Mail Online brush-off, saying after publishing Rebecca Reid’s profile picture without either permission or payment, that by making her picture ‘public and discoverable’ she has posted it ‘into the public domain’. This is arrant nonsense. The public domain has a very specific meaning in copyright law, indicating that copyright has either been forfeited or expired, and in UK law it does not expire until seventy years after the creator’s death. Until then publication requires permission and payment. As any editor knows. Including the character who ran an ( erroneous, © Twitter ) copyright notice under the published picture! Which, incidentally, has now been taken down ( we have the screengrab ), replaced with a grab of her twitter feed.
The charitable explanation for this misleading and misinformed policy painting an inaccurate picture of the law is that the writer genuinely believes it, in which case she really should not be holding any senior editorial position on a national newspaper, let alone responsibility for ‘compliance’. And she also seems unaware of the Mail Online’s own House Rules for comments
“You must not insert links to websites (URLs) or submit content which would be an infringement of copyright” (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/article-1388145/House-Rules.html )
The alternative is that the Mail Online, guilty of copyright infringement ( yet again ), instead of owning up and paying up is trying to avoid the consequences with pseudo legal twaddle. If so not a bright idea to try that on with the Digital Editor of Grazia.
But there’s more. It get’s worse. This is what the Independent Press Standards Organisation, IPSO, which regulates most nationals including the Daily Mail ( though not the Mail Online ) tells the public, most of whom will not be as clued up as Rebecca Reid:
“Journalists are normally allowed to publish photos, comments and information from social media profiles, forums or blogs if there are no privacy settings protecting them and they do not show anything private” (https://www.ipso.co.uk/media/1510/social-media-public.pdf ).
This is quite simply not true. Publishing without permission photos “from social media profiles, forums or blogs if there are no privacy settings” is in flagrant breach of the law. The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. And also in defiance of their very own Editors’ Code, Point 1, Accuracy: “ The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information….”
Piracy with the blessing of IPSO! Quis custodiet IPSOs custodes?
The answer to which is the law of the land. Which is also the last resort of creators. Photographers can and do extract payment for copyright infringement from the Mail Online. But, why, why, why do we have to deal with the lawlessness of national papers, and IPSO advice as baseless as that Mail Online reply to Rebecca Reid?