There is a fine line when it comes to user generated content, the social web, and copyrights. Recently, Twitpic revised its terms of use to make it clear that users own the rights to the images they upload on the site. Facebook already has such a rule. Flickr gives users the option to choose the type of copyright license they want to apply to their uploaded images – even going so far as to offer Creative Commons licensing options. Unfortunately, many online publishers ignore those copyrights.

It turns out, a lot of big news organizations ignore them, too.

Recently, Stefanie Gordon snapped pictures from her Delta flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavor launching into space. She uploaded it to her Twitpic account, and news organizations started contacting her asking permission to use it in their reports. She agreed with one caveat — she needed to be credited. Some news organizations even paid her a small fee to use her pictures, but others didn’t bother to comply with her attribution request, let alone pay her anything for her amazing photos.

Gordon saw both ABC News and CBS News use her pictures with no mention of the photographer at all. She is proud of her photos and is only asking to be recognized for them.

Therein lies one of the biggest problems of user-generated content and the social web.

Copyright violations, content scraping, and plagiarism are rampant on the social web, but surely news organizations should know they need to protect themselves as they protect content publishers whose work they use. In other words, you can’t ignore the rules just because everyone else is doing it.

Bottom-line, there aren’t strict rules regarding the sharing of online content, particularly when it comes to the rules of fair use. Copyright violation is so rampant on the social web that even big brands who should know better are jumping on the “who cares who owns it, let’s use it” bandwagon.

What do you think about this story and online copyright violations? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

via Mashable

Image: stock.xchng