You may have read by now about artist Richard Price. He took a screenshot of a post from Instagram that included somebody's photo and several comments, added a comment of his own, blew it up to a much larger size, printed it out on a big canvas...and sold it for $90,000. Actually, he did this with a bunch of posts and sold all of them for around that much each, through a gallery.
He didn't ask for the permission of the people who created or were pictured in the posts or whoever took the pictures, and has stated even if they'd said no, he would have done it anyway.
Isn't this a violation of copyright, or misappropriation of somebody's image? His position is that by making changes to the original (adding his comment, blowing it up, including not only the image of the person but also some of the Instagram site around it), he has transformed it into a new work, one that makes an artistic statement (although I couldn't tell you what that he thinks he's saying with it. other than 'KerChing!').
Normally I don't read the comments that follow articles because they tend to confirm my worst suspicions about human nature. However, I was interested to find out what other people thought.
The opinions ranged from 'it's legal so I don't see anything wrong with it,' to 'he should be strung up in public.' What was more interesting, though, was the confident way in which people presented information that was totally wrong.
For instance, one wrote, "The person doesn't have the copyright on her photo. To get copyright, you have to register the work and pay a fee. Otherwise, it's fine for anybody to use it in whatever way they want."
As you may know, that's totally wrong. You get copyright the moment you take a photo, paint a painting, or write a short story or novel. Yes, it can be helpful to register your material with the Copyright Office. For one thing, it helps you prove when you created it, should you take legal action against somebody who you think stole your material.
I won't get into all of them here, but there were a host of other apparently factual statements about copyright, trademarks, and intellectual property that the people commenting expressed as facts; in some cases they reacted indignantly when they were corrected by others (including lawyers who specialize in this kind of law).
I'm thinking of taking a screenshot of those comments, blowing them up, printing them on canvas and calling it The Confidence of Misinformation. I'll charge $90,000 but if you get in early I might consider a discount.