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Copyright and that Rolling Stone Cover

Meanwhile, over on Facebook, I posted the following:

I have a slightly more prosaic question about the Rolling Stone cover.

From what I understand, the photograph of the bomber running on the cover of Rolling Stone is a selfie, meaning that the bomber took the photo himself, of himself. According to US copyright law, the photographer generally owns the copyright to any photograph he or she takes (unless a previous arrangement is made). Doesn't that mean that the bomber owns the copyright on this photo? If so, what legal right does Rolling Stone have to publish the photo on their cover?

Is it some sort of fair use? Are they simply violating the bomber's copyright? Are they (and I would hate to think this is the case) paying the bomber a standard licensing fee for the photo?

Does anyone know?

(Please keep comments on this topic only.)

It's led to a lot of interesting discussion. Here's a link for anyone interested in reading the thread:

Facebook Thread: Copyright and that Rolling Stone Cover


Facebook doesn't own the picture. When I post my own photos to Facebook, I still own their copyrights, not Facebook.
I'd guess it was licensed from Facebook under their EULA. However, there is a fair use exemption for news and commentary. Not having read the Rolling Stone issue (and not being likely to read them again), I don't know if such might apply, but it's a loophole they could use to defend the use.

Also, since the photo was previously published on Facebook, and it's unlikely that the subject registered it with the Copyright Office, he may not have standing to bring an infringement claim (registration is required if you want to bring claims). He's probably got other things occupying his time right now.

December 2016

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