Miami Herald Tries -- and Fails -- to Intimidate Random Pixels Blogger

Categories: Media Watch
randompixelsherald.jpg
via Random Pixels
The offending image on Random Pixels.
Classic David and Goliath: Small local blogger criticizes big, powerful daily newspaper. Daily newspaper doesn't like it and sends a cease-and-desist order even though when the local blogger gave the daily praise, it found no problem with that. This is basically the drama unfolding between local blogger Bill Cooke of Random Pixels and the Miami Herald.

Earlier this week, Cooke wrote a post taking a jab at the Herald's photographs at Monday night's Dolphins game. In it, he "praised" photog Charles Trainor Jr. for "resisting the temptation to keep his lens focused on the field for the entire game." He also gave Joe Rimkus Jr. an honorable mention for "crafting a splendid caption." In the post, he used the original photographs from the Herald's site along with proper credit.

This is not a particularly unusual post for Cooke. He has lifted photos from the daily before, the most recognizable time being when staff photographer Patrick Farrell covered the aftermath of Hurricane Ike in Haiti and his subsequent Pulitzer Prize win.

However, the criticism of the earlier post might have rubbed the Herald the wrong way. Cooke received the following email from director of site operations Suzanne Levinson:
Dear Bill,

It has been brought to our attention that the web page located at http://randompixels.blogspot.com/2009/08/random-pixels-recognizes.html has content reproduced from The Miami Herald and MiamiHerald.com.

Please remove these photos and any other Miami Herald content present on your site immediately. You are also urged to not publish future stories or images from The Miami Herald or MiamiHerald.com on your site. As our Terms of Use policy states, we welcome links to our site, but do not allow reproduction of complete stories or full-sized photos. We do allow use of no more content than is available in our RSS feeds, ie headline, one paragraph and a link to the story or photo gallery.

The content in question includes the following items on your website: Photos by Joe Rimkus Jr. and Charles Trainor Jr. of Miami Dolphins cheerleaders.

Please remove the materials cited above immediately, and any others that you may know of in violation of The Miami Herald's copyright within the next 5 business days.

Please reply with confirmation of action taken within 5 business days or this matter will be forwarded to the McClatchy Company's legal department for further action.

If you have comments or concerns about our copyright policy, please feel free to contact me. Our complete copyright policy is available on our website at MiamiHerald.com. As mentioned above, you are welcome to link to content on our website. You are not allowed to reproduce it on yours.

Suzanne Levinson
Dir. of Site Operations

However, the Herald should be aware that because the photos are an integral part of Cooke's criticism, they qualify under the fair-use doctrine. Also, Cooke argues the photos he used were not full-size but resized, therefore not in violation of the Herald's terms of use.

The issue sort of highlights the bigger issue between the dailies and blogs. Perhaps the biggest case so far has been the Washington Post's criticism of Gawker's use of one of its stories. Gawker pointed out some weaknesses in a story in the Post, and when the daily fired back, saying Gawker basically stole and repackaged the story as its own, the blog didn't exactly stay quiet. It pointed out the story was linked several times in the blog post and it had effectively written the headline and lede that the original Post scribe wanted to write but probably wasn't allowed to.


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