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Is copyright the stumbling block for Digg “pictures”?

February 28, 2007

My favorite social-news site Digg added some new categories: stories about the 2008 elections and a devoted Microsoft news. What they didn’t add is getting some grief from the Digg community.

For a while now, Digg users have been clamoring for a “Pictures” section, to compliment the News, Videos, and Podcasts sections currently on the site.

Muhammed Saleem, a blogger at ProNet wrote a post called “Thoughts: Why Digg Didn’t Add a ‘Pictures’ Section”, which contained no such answer to his question. (It should have been titled “Why DIDN’T Digg add a “pictures” section?”) Saleem posted a Photoshopped mockup of the Digg menubar with the word “pictures” added to it, and ta-da … the page gets 1,479 diggs!

Sigh! Reading Saleem’s post about Digg’s “picture” section and how the section could use the same display formula of thumbnail-imaged posts that the video section shows got me to thinking…

No, it can’t. My reasoning after the jump…


Showing an image, or even a reproduction (thumbnail) of someone else’s image without crediting the source is against copyright laws. So the current system of clicking on the thumbnail to see the bigger video/image would not work here, not without a fleet of lawyers stopping by the Digg office to drop off lawsuit notices on a frequent basis (or a wave of infringement takedown notices at best, ala YouTube).

“OK Corey, stop overreacting,” you’re probably thinking.

But what is the main purpose of Digg, other than its social component? It’s to drive traffic to recommended sites.

That’s where the “Pictures” section would fail, because the image would have to be linked to directly by image location by the Digg user/poster, not the Web page it’s on.

gavelSo the Web page owner wouldn’t make a dime off of the Digg wave of traffic just viewing the one image that was posted. And that’s bad for business for the site owner, especially if it’s a high-resolution image that takes tons of bandwidth to display.

Right now, copyrighted videos on the Digg site are taken down by the content hoster when it’s realized, and the Digg post breaks. So no foul on Digg.

But with a “Pictures” section, the Digg office would have to employ some sort of active copyright watcher to prevent violations, to prevent subsequent lawsuits and/or to show that they are trying to prevent infringement. That’s a tad too costly, I’d think.

Just my thoughts on this … now I head back to Digg, where I see a teacher has cut off a student’s tongue.

OUCH! I wonder what THAT looked like? I wish I had a pict .. oh, never mind.

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