I’ve been keen to write a post about a leading motor sport site that provides live timing for certain motor races. To help illustrate it I wanted to use a few screenshots of the timing screens to show how interesting the information is and how useful it can be to have it running on my laptop while watching a race on TV. Then I thought I’d better just check their copyright notices before using the screenshots.
To paraphrase the conditions*, it said that I could make a copy of the content for my personal non-commercial use, provided that I kept all copyright and other proprietary notices intact and that I agreed not to modify, copy, reproduce, republish, upload, post, transmit or distribute any material downloaded from the site without prior written consent from them.
So on 17th June, I sent the following e-mail to the site’s admin e-mail address:
Being a keen follower of [the featured motor sport], I would very much like to draw my readers’ attention to your web site, particularly the live timing. It’s great to have it alongside me on my laptop during each race and I’d like to illustrate my piece with three screenshots I’ve taken – you can see them here:
(Links to the three screenshots were provided here)
I can assure you the piece will be wholly positive. There is no commercial involvement – it’s my personal blog. I just want to enthuse about it.
Could I have your permission to use them, please?
Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.
I received this reply today, 12 days later:
Dear Mr Kingsley,
Thank you for your enquiry. The Terms & Conditions of the site clearly state: “This Site as a whole is protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. All rights are reserved.” We have considered your enquiry and must inform you that you are not permitted to make use of the sites content and material.
[the site name]
As it’s likely to take them another age to reply, I really can’t be bothered to write again pointing out that while the line they’ve quoted is, indeed, included in their copyright notices, the details equally clearly state that it is permissable to make copies of the content for personal non-commercial use, and that even though the stuff is protected by copyright, they could have given their written consent instead of simply refusing. I’m a very keen motor racing fan who did the right thing by seeking permission before publishing an article that would have been a very positive review of their site. Now I feel like they’ve kicked me in the teeth. What did they think I was going to do with the screenshots? Pass them off as my own work? Sell them on E-Bay? For heaven’s sake. Putting “kind regards” on the end of their e-mail is hardly going to make me feel better about their response.
*I’ve paraphrased their conditions because I now have to assume, given their attitude, that quoting them verbatim would also have infringed their copyright. And I’ve also removed my blogroll link to their site in case that’s infringing their precious damn copyright too. If you want to try the site out, you’ll have to find it yourself. I certainly don’t feel like recommending it now.