Helicopter crash photos – who owns them?

Mobile phone “reporters” in Egypt

The tragic helicopter crash in South London last week was yet another example of the important part which social media now plays in news reporting. The point at which breaking stories hit the headlines is no longer determined by the arrival of newspaper or broadcast journalists on the scene. Within minutes of an event taking place Twitter is abuzz with eye witness reports, photos and video footage posted by passers-by. Not surprisingly it is these on-the-spot accounts which are of most value to news organisations and they often seize on this kind of material to illustrate their own reports.

There are issues here though. Copyright in photographic material belongs to the photographer, even if it’s posted on Twitter. Newspapers are wrong to think they have the right to post it on their own websites without taking this into account.

An interesting article in the Guardian has more about some of the issues which have arisen from last Wednesday’s events.

(Photo: Creative Commons Licence via Hossam el-Hamalawy)

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