Inspired by the case of Senator Lamar Smith violating SOPA rules on his own website, I decided to see if Sean Sherlock would stand up to the same scrutiny... and guess what - he has done the exact same... not once, but twice on his own site!

01 - Icons

Here is the front page of http://www.seansherlock.ie/




On the left, you'll notice the this "Map Search" icon on the bottom left column. (There's actually a lot more on the page (have a look) but this is fine for demonstration purposes)


This icon belongs to a ‘FREE’ online icon set called Farm Fresh by a company called Fat Cow which is released under Creative Commons license. If you’re not aware of CC licensing, think of it as simply ‘copyright’ for the enlightened, web-ready generation. Allowing free use and manipulation of materials found online in return for a simple credit and link. In other words, a bit of thanks and respect to the original author. No fees, no lawyers, just sharing. Here below is Fat Cow’s explicit note which appears just under the download link on their site.

These icon sets are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. This means you can freely use these icons for any purpose, private and commercial, including online services, templates, themes and software. However, you should include a link to this page in your credits. The icons may not be resold, sub-licensed, rented, transferred or otherwise made available for use. Please link to this page on fatcow.com if you would like to spread the word.

Now, I have looked over Mr. Sherlock’s site many times and I cannot find a single reference to Fat Cow or Farm Fresh or even the Creative commons license model - his legal obligation for ‘FREE’ use of these icons. This is an obvious breach of the rights of the creator.

I have reported Sean Sherlock to Fat Cow, so hopefully, he’ll hear from them or their legal representation very soon.
And, just to show Mr Sherlock and his team how it’s done properly, I would like to thank Fat Cow for the rights to use their icons in this post, as allowed under the Creative Commons license.

02 - YouTube Clips

This gets a bit more complicated.

On Mr Sherlock’s blog, labelled “What I said in the Dail” he embeds 2 clips from YouTube, crudely recorded from RTE, documenting the business of the Irish parliament. I assume that, because Mr Sherlock is speaking in both clips, he assumes that he has the rights to use them by default. This is not the case.



Here are the links to the two videos respectively
Minister Sean Sherlock speaking on special educational needs during Private Members in the Dáil
Minister Sean Sherlock speaking on the Social Welfare Bill 2011


Let’s start with RTE. I spoke to a very nice lady down at Library Sales who told me in no uncertain terms that nobody has the rights to use any footage, either archive (officially provided by RTE) or recorded from the live broadcast (onto your own PC or DVD recorder, for example) without EXPLICIT permission from RTE. This also involves a fee. Sometimes, depending on your situation, you may also have to give credit to RTE in some manner. You might recall often reading “Footage courtesy of...” at the bottom of your screen when you see old archive footage.

Surprise, surprise, Mr. Sherlock has not attributed any rights to RTE relating to the usage on his site of material to which he has no legal rights. But, I hear you say, this clip was uploaded by the Labour Party youtube channel, not the honourable Mr. Sherlock. That, thankfully, doesn’t matter under the terms of the impending legislation.

Also, Youtube’s own terms and conditions explicitly forbid this kind of usage. You cannot upload a video if you do not own the rights. In this example, clearly RTE own the rights and there is no legal notice to attribute the rights to RTE either on Mr Sherlock’s site or the YouTube content pages (links above). In fact, they have even chosen the ‘Standard YouTube License’ which implies that the Irish Labour Party is the copyright holder.

I have reported the Irish Labour Party and Mr Sherlock to both YouTube and RTE regarding these miscellaneous violations so hopefully, he’ll hear from them or their legal representation very soon.

I don't wish Mr Sherlock or his party any ill will, but I do not take kindly to people dicking around with the Internet when they obviously haven’t got a clue what they’re doing and no understanding of the implications of their actions.

The world wide web was designed, and is improved by people far more clever than Mr. Sherlock or myself for that matter. People like Tim Berners-Lee who created and gave the internet to us, all of us, for free. Think about that for a second... All this cool shit that we have, was designed by a few clever people who had the wisdom to realise that the Internet could only work if it remained free to all. 

Free to create, free to own, free to police itself. Just free...


UPDATE 01

I just visited the site again and I see that Mr Sherlock has already changed some of the graphics on his site - (maybe he doesn't realise that I have screen grabs of his whole site for posterity?) - You can see that the icons have been hastily replaced and judging by the pretty poor quality of the graphics, I can only assume that they have again been stolen using Google Images or some similar method. It's sad really. All you had to do Sean was credit the authors and you would have been in the clear. But you didn't, which, to me, only goes to prove that you have no real respect for or understanding of copyright and issues surrounding intellectual property.


UPDATE 02

I just got a correction from Gavan Reilly, a journalist with The Journal, a reputable Irish news site.

The videos on that page aren't from RTE, they're internal Oireachtas feeds and are pre-cleared for news reporting. The timers on the videos are telltale of internal Oireachtas feed. Oireachtas gives blanket licence for non-satirical usage. If it's a news-style report of parliamentary proceedings there is no infringement of copyright... Not sure I agree with you re: YouTube T&S - 7.4 and 7.7. It's not "own the rights", it's 'permission'. Legal entitlement from Irish Statute Book clears 7.7's 'legally entitled'... 

... Quick afterthought: aren't you breaching copyright by having a screengrab of not-your-website?

So, it seems that Sean is off the hook for the youtube videos, but unfortunately, his website is still using art from various designers.


UPDATE 03

A very cool guy called Steve Kay just sent me this pic on facebook. Click the link to view it full screen. It was uploaded at 5pm today (26.01.2011) so I assume it's really recent. It seems I'm not the first to catch Sean Sherlock using the work of others.

Sean Sherlock changes his website, STILL in violation of copyright law.

Image by Steve Kay

 My name is Barry Prendergast. If you want to sue me, google me. 

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