Blain’s Morning Porridge, 13th May 2022: NFTs 1, Blain Zero
“It doesn’t matter how rich you are – you know when you are being ripped off…”
This Morning – NFTs are in the press for all the right reasons – insider trading, zero value and scams, but as digital assets in a digital world have enormous potential – for making your wallet lighter….
Friday 13th… Damn and tarnation… I have just been caught and ripped-off by a Non Fungible Token – NFT. They do have some utility after all…
This morning, I was going to write a blistering piece about CryptoWinter, the scams behind tethercoins, the absolute pointlessness of bitcon, write up the insider trading stories that drove NFT prices, and take apart the technobabble bullsh*t crypto and NFT shysters use to their useless products.
Instead, I find myself preparing to face the courts against Reuters, the venerable news agency I hold in high regard.
Instead of a top-down perspective of the dangers to humanity posed by libertarian proto-fascists and their Bitcoin and Crypto Mythos… let’s look bottom-up at how NFT’s will eventually ruin your weekend…
I have no beef with Reuters – it is one of the great organisations on which modern society is founded on: an independent international press agency. Unfortunately, they have outsourced their photo-library to a bunch of rapacious money-grabbers – and they are determined to rip their pound of flesh from the Morning Porridge after I made an innocent mistake.
Reuter’s photo-library must be a wonderous thing – images of all the pivotal characters and moments across history and society since the mid 19th century. As such it is a thing of enormous value. It is a practical illustration of the potential of digital wealth. Effectively, any photo-library, or even art catalogue is now a repository of NFTs.
Reuters owns their photo-library mages and is surely entitled to reap returns from them. In the past you could view these photos for free in history books, maybe cut them out and put them in a frame. Which is great in theory, until you discover you can’t use a picture of your grandfather’s regiment (The Cameronians, since you ask) on the Somme in 1916 in an email because it’s owned by Reuters… and the digital universe means they will know… they will know and charge you if you use it..
NFTs and the Reuters photo library are not dis-similar. An NFT infers ownership just like a picture in a photo library. If I use the five-words Jack Dorsey used in the first ever tweet: “just setting up my twttr”, should I then pay Iranian Crypto entrepreneur Sina Estavi, who bought the NFT of that first tweet, for using them? After all its now his property. He might have paid $2.9 milion for the NFT of the Tweet (for which he was recently offered $10k at auction, which he turned down), but does he now own these words? I will let the courts opine on that.
Earlier this year I wrote an article about Persimmon, the UK home builder that’s been accused of all kinds of scams ripping off customers, riding rough-shod over communities to build horrible urban sprawl estates, contributes little in terms of critical infrastructure and amenities, but gets away with it, allegedly, because of the amount of money they denote to a particular political party… The article attracted some attention and much favourable comment from readers, and was quoted in the press.
This week arrived an email from a Picture Rights Agency threatening me with action for unlicenced use of a Reuter’s photo in that article.
Let me explain from the outset. I made a mistake. I now acknowledge I used a Reuter’s photo, and even though it was an innocent mistake, I should pay for it. The question is how much? I don’t write the Porridge to make money – although it would be nice if more of you subscribed. After paying for the website and mailchimp it’s enough for some beers. 80% of my day is spent doing my day-job.
I illustrated the article with a photo I found on Google of a Persimmon building site which focused on a board bearing the company’s name. It is an entirely undistinguished photo in all respects. I did a cursory check to see if it was copyrighted and reckoned it was not. Apparently it was. I had made the mistake of using someone else’s copy of the Reuters photo.
I emailed the agency, explained it was an innocent mistake, apologised and immediately took down the photo from the Morning Porridge Website. I offered to make a donation to charity.
The agency called me. Not good enough. I was informed: “Copyright infringement does not require your knowledge or intent. We understand that your unauthorised use may have been unintentional but being unaware of licensing requirements or copyright ownership does not change your liability for the infringing use.” Fair enough. My bad.
Then they told me I owed them £350 (!!) for the unlicenced use of the photo – equivalent to a year’s use of the Reuter’s photo library. I offered to pay the whole £350, on the condition Reuters then gave me a one-year licence. No. They demanded the £350. They told me: “Settlement of the unauthorised use claim does not constitute permission for future use of the imagery.”
Being a Scotsman, I told them the suggested £350 was outrageous for a stock photo. I offered to negotiate. They hummed and hawed, but agreed and offered me a small discount on condition I paid immediately. I offered them 50%. They refused.. They have warned me action will follow if I do not pay. They also told me: “The terms of this settlement offer shall be kept confidential, except as may be required by law”, effectively gagging me from writing about it.. Oh dear….
The picture agency have advised me to consult “IP” and “digital rights” lawyers. That’s standard practice – making me weigh up the costs of paying up, rather than paying legal bills – which experience has taught me will escalate out of all proportion to the original bill.
The immediate result is .. there will be fewer photos with the Morning Porridge, unless they are my own…
More widely.. how long before we discover we don’t own our past or future because someone else claims they own it in NFT format…? Sadly, this is what the future looks like. In a few years time you are going to receive multiple bills from NFT owners for looking at images on the net or other places of images they own. Meanwhile, I am checking the many times I have been quoted on Reuters and am thinking of sending them a bill for £350 for each time they used something from the Porridge… I will negotiate…
I will pay my bill to Reuters – I sincerely think they are a great company.
The agency chasing me for payment are just doing their job, but not nicely. I am concerned about the rapaciousness of the modern world, and am trying to look two steps forward. It worries me what the shysters who aim to run the world in the name of libertarian crypto and NFT rights are capable of..
Five Reasons to Hate Crypto
BBerg – Crypto-Market Panic Subsides With Prices, Tether Stablizing (really?)
Thunderer – Rowan Atkinson set to profit from Mr Bean NFTs
Have a great weekend… out of time, and back to the day job..
Strategist – Shard Capital