Hey, there! Log in / Register

Photographer sues NBC Boston for using his Twitter video of a fire without paying him

Hammann's fire tweet

The tweet with the video, from Hamman's complaint.

Update: The lawsuit includes a screen capture of a tweet that does not offer the video in question for sale. However, Hammann posted two tweets, one of which did offer a high-quality version of the video for sale to news organizations. The story has been updated with that.

A videojournalist who lives in Franklin today sued NBC Boston for re-using video he posted on Twitter of a fire in his hometown last year without either asking or paying him.

In a lawsuit filed in US District Court in Boston, Jon Hammann says the station should have known better, both because it often asks people who post things to Twitter if it can use them and because he "holds a good faith belief that without purchasing a license, no news organizations were authorized to use the Copyrighted Work, including the Defendants."

When Hammann "recorded, edited and produced a 2-minute-long video clip" of an apartment-complex fire in Franklin on May 24, 2021, he tagged several Boston news outlets, including NBC Boston, assuming that if they wanted to use the video on air, they would first ask him about payment. Instead, the station simply ran parts of the video, his complaint states.

In an offer to sell a license to use the Copyrighted Work commercially, Plaintiff posted the Copyrighted Work to his twitter account on May 24, 2021, and “tagged” several news stations, including the Defendant’s local station, NBC10 Boston, to offer to sell each a license to use Plaintiff’s Copyrighted Work.

Hammann posted two different tweets about the fire. The one at the top of the story, which is included as Exhibit A for his lawsuit, does not mention that the video is for sale. However, the other tweet, which also shows the fire video, says "2 Minutes of 1080P VO for sale.'

The way NBC Boston used the video without even asking him is a violation of his copyright, one a judge should force the station to pay damages for, his complaint charges, adding:

Pursuant to industry standards, multiple other news organizations did reach out to the Plaintiff to inquire about purchasing a license to use the Copyrighted Work.

Hamman spent 17 years as a cameraman at NECN and NBC Boston before being laid off in August, 2020.

Ed. note: Since the beginning, I've assumed that people who tag @universalhub on photos and videos they post on social media are giving me permission to post a copy on the Web site. Over the years, there have been a couple of folks in professional media who have told me they want to tag me, but only if I don't use their images, a request I've honored.

Topics: 
Free tagging: 
AttachmentSize
PDF icon Complete complaint113.76 KB


Ad:


Like the job UHub is doing? Consider a contribution. Thanks!

Comments

To me, that is giving implicit permission to use the video.

up
Voting closed 0

If I am holding a piece of artwork I made on the sidewalk and I call out to you "Hey, look at this!" does that give you permission to take it from me?

up
Voting closed 1

The TV station didn't remove it from the phone or camera of the person who made the video.

up
Voting closed 0

The creator owns the copyright from the moment a work is created.Go back to my analogy, I called out to you on the street to look at my artwork, you liked it, got my name, went home, figured out there's a full res image of it on my website, have it printed and framed and hang it on your wall. I didn't give you the right to do that just because I called out your attention to my artwork.

up
Voting closed 1

would be a more accurate comparison.

up
Voting closed 1

In the old days it wasn't uncommon for someone to approach a news station with footage of a newsworthy event and offer to sell them the tape. They'd screen it to the news director who'd decide if it was worth whatever they were asking

This is pretty much the same concept. But it's a questionable thing to do without adding "redistribution prohibited" or something making it clear it wasn't intended to be used without discussion.

up
Voting closed 1

up
Voting closed 0

That, however, is not the tweet he used in his lawsuit complaint. Instead Exhibit A for his complaint is a screen capture of the one at the top of the story. But I'll include a link to that one.

up
Voting closed 0

Gotta ask for permission . It’s that simple.

up
Voting closed 1

If you used something off of NBC Boston, even this guy's video, you can bet they'd be after you to get paid. I once asked the Glob if our club newsletter could reprint an article they'd run which had only been made possible with assistance from our club. They demanded a lot of money, even though it was not for profit, much more than was in the club treasury.

up
Voting closed 0

Does NBCBoston have a TOS the same as Twitter's?

up
Voting closed 0

I post that I have a piece of bubblegum for sale for $10. I tag you in the post. Clearly we now have a contract for you to buy the bubblegum from me.

up
Voting closed 0

Given that gum is a different medium than video or a social network.

I mean, if you set up a table in Downtown Crossing with pieces of gum for $10 apiece, and I took one and chewed it, then walked away, your analogy might work, except it still wouldn't, but at least you'd be a bit closer.

up
Voting closed 0

Douchbaggery here

up
Voting closed 0

Might be wasting his money on a lawsuit, but who knows.

up
Voting closed 0

I've posted alot of newsworthy photos and video. Generally how it works.. or how I've perceived it to work is:

I post pic/video of newsworthy event
tv/media reply to video and say "i'm so and so from blah blah news source, can we use your pic/video"
I reply with 'yes' (or no)
and they use the video (or dont)

I've never had anything taken but I agree with Adam, if you tag a news source, you want them to use your video. This isn't a sales call.. you want sales, BE EXPLICIT that it is sales. I can't view the tweet (its been deleted) so I cant see if he gave the 'a-okay'.

Any good journalist or news source won't pay video/pics. They just won't. Something something integrity of journalism. You can still get the story out without pictures or video.

up
Voting closed 1

Most news sources will pay for images and video. They have a budget for this. There is an entire crew of Boston freelance photographers. Most of us work on prearranged assignments but there is still a market for breaking news (fires, police activity, accidents, etc). The difference is we generally contact photo editors directly and avoid unclear distribution rights on social media.

Check out Boston Press Photographers Association which includes staff and freelance photographers in our area.

up
Voting closed 0

Tagging isn't granting permission to use. It's getting the word out there. Those news outlets are free to RT him and spread the word.

up
Voting closed 1

Maybe, but the thing is.. people tag them, and its good video so the news source wants to use it. The person is then like "pay me".

Sure the news org can not use the video and just say no. But still, IMHO, it seems like a sh*tty thing to do. Tag them and then be like "pay me".

As a content creator, I understand the time aspect. But as someone who wants news worthy events to get out, I'm willing to give away my services for free for some twitter videos. Yes even ones I've spent a few hours on editing together.

I just see this stuff all the time on twitter.. great news worthy event video, and replies to every single tv/media person is "pay me". I just sigh, we've just turned into a $$$$$$$ society in any way we can get it.

Isnt anything just newsworthy anymore and forgo the 'i need to be paid' crap for news events? It wasn't always like this, ya know. People were GLAD to have their stuff on TV. Now everyone wants a break.. or cash. Its sad.

up
Voting closed 1

If you owned your own business and how little income coming you would want money from news stations using your video that you got and edited. It’s not being money hungry it’s being a good business.

up
Voting closed 0

Used my photo (or video, I forget) of a hailstorm on TV years ago and asking to be paid didn't even enter my head. Yes I tagged him in it. Yes he asked if he could use it. Once you put it on the internet it's pretty much a free-for-all isnt it? And I'd do it again tomorrow and I still wouldn't ask for money. Sheesh. It's like, a community service.

P.S. I was a professional reporter/photographer for 17+ years.

up
Voting closed 0

I’m not curious why you don’t want to be paid for your work

up
Voting closed 0

Nobody asked me to. I was on my way to the drugstore. It suddenly began to hail (wasn't supposed to).

I thought it would be of interest to the local area so I tweeted it and tagged three Boston weathermen.

It was hardly the Zapruder film, and on my own time.

up
Voting closed 0

hey, refills arent free. now you have to pay me a million dollars.

up
Voting closed 1

Granted, I'm not a professional, but if I tag Adam or any other media outlet with a photo or video or question or comment, I *want* them to use it! Asking for payment after the fact seems pretty douchey.

up
Voting closed 1

1. I don't think it's obvious that he *wasn't* offering it for free distribution.
2. They still should have gotten explicit consent.

UniversalHub is a smaller operation than NBC and so I don't think it matters as much.

up
Voting closed 0

By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods now known or later developed (for clarity, these rights include, for example, curating, transforming, and translating). This license authorizes us to make your Content available to the rest of the world and to let others do the same. You agree that this license includes the right for Twitter to provide, promote, and improve the Services and to make Content submitted to or through the Services available to other companies, organizations or individuals for the syndication, broadcast, distribution, Retweet, promotion or publication of such Content on other media and services, subject to our terms and conditions for such Content use. Such additional uses by Twitter, or other companies, organizations or individuals, is made with no compensation paid to you with respect to the Content that you submit, post, transmit or otherwise make available through the Services as the use of the Services by you is hereby agreed as being sufficient compensation for the Content and grant of rights herein.

(emphasis mine)

I think he's fucked in summary.

up
Voting closed 0

Then why does NBC ask every twitter account with use worthy video or pictures for permission before posting it or using it in a news package?

up
Voting closed 1

He tagged them on the tweet. The ones you typically see them asking for permission are the ones where somebody took a possibly newsworthy photo or video but didn't tag them.

I only post stuff on UHub that I find on Twitter or Facebook if I have permission, either because somebody tagged @universalhub or because I asked the poster (and yes, I'm just a one-person outfit, rather than a big operation with a newsroom and scores of employees, but it's still the same idea).

up
Voting closed 1

At-least for tweets though, you usually embed them, which is allowed use of the existing work.

If NBC News Boston had just embedded it in their website I am not sure it would be an issue. The issue here is that they extracted it from that context (and also edited it)

up
Voting closed 0

Because they choose to?

I mean would you rather be known as the news station that asks (and thus people go tell others to watch for their clip on the news) or the news station that always uses content without asking?

up
Voting closed 0

He didn’t delete his tweet, he didn’t give permission. That’s all you need to hear for it to be copyright or not. If there is no permission from the owner saying “you can use this”, then nobody has the right to use it. Tagging the news channels was encouragement for them to see his tweet and possibly pay for it, if they didn’t then they leave it be.

up
Voting closed 1

With the fact that NBC Boston certainly knew how to contact Hammann, because he worked there as a cameraman for a long time before he was laid off in August, 2020.

up
Voting closed 0

Oooooof

up
Voting closed 0

..."Hey [@NBC10Boston, etc], contact me if you want to publish this." Wouldn't that solve the problem?

up
Voting closed 1

From a company which says straight up in its job ads "You must agree to settle disputes through arbitration."

Laws and decency appear to be mere suggestions to the Peacock. I hope this guy takes them to the cleaners...but he'll get at best a modest victory because, you know, corporations.

up
Voting closed 1

Here is $100 for your video.

Have a nice day.

Sincerely,

NBC Boston

up
Voting closed 0

Generally, news orgs ASK for permission to reuse photos/video from tweets, even if they were tagged. Sometimes - including our beloved uHub - they assume the tag means it's OK to repost (and generally it is.) Still there is no actual rule, just shaky precedent, about whether reusing the content of a tweet without asking is theft. This will be a good case to help create some legal background going forward.

up
Voting closed 0

Per the complaint he is looking for: (a) Plaintiff’s actual damages and Defendants’ profits,
gains or advantages of any kind attributable to Defendants’ infringement of Plaintiff’s
Copyrighted Work.

Curious how you would quantify any profits made by NBC with this video?

up
Voting closed 0

It turns out Hammann did specifically offer his video for sale in a tweet - just not the one that his attorney included as an exhibit in his lawsuit. I've updated the story to reflect that.

up
Voting closed 0

If I tag you in a tweet, you may use it. No charge.

Love,
ScollaySq

up
Voting closed 0