May 19, 2008
Last year, Virgin Mobile Australia decided to use Creative Commons-licensed images in an advertising campaign. The campaign, dubbed “Are You With Us Or What”, featured photographs taken from Flickr, which were overlayed with taglines and a plug for Virgin’s cell phone service.
The ad in question featured Alison Chang flashing a peace sign. The photo, taken by Justin Wong, was licensed using Flickr’s “select a license” feature under a Creative Commons by attribution license, which allows commercial use.
The problem was that, while the photographer had allowed commercial use through his license (though he later claimed to be unclear about the terms), it only covered the copyright of the work itself. Chang nor her parents had signed a model release, meaning the use potentially violated her right to privacy.
The result is that her parents sued on her behalf in a case that is still ongoing.
So what went wrong and how can others avoid a similar misstep? The answer is actually fairly simple.