Open Thread Wednesday

What’s on your mind? Comment away!

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  • Heights Independent

    Thank you, Alabama!!!!!

  • Cranberry Beret

    @Teresa: At the risk of beating a dead (or 21-day old) horse, I just noticed your comment to Andrew in the thread about the possible BBP park entrance from Montague Street.

    (He had posted 2 historic photos of the old Montague St ramp, which was crossed by the Penny Bridge before leading to the waterfront. A week after he posted the pics, you wrote: “Hi, Andrew. If these photos are available for public use, they still need to be credited and sourced. If they are not available for public use, they need to be taken down.”)

    I really don’t get the point of jumping all over Andrew for posting what were obviously 90-100 year old photos, credit or no credit.

    Yet I see no public comment from blog admins about certain participants on this site who regularly rant (or worse), post off-topic, and hijack nearly every thread.

    I thank you for the volunteer time to help admin the blog, but if you’re going to step forward, then at least get the priorities straight.

  • Teresa

    Copyright violation is illegal. That’s a pretty high priority for me.

    I don’t admin the blog. I contribute to it, and it’s in that capacity, and a teacher/writer myself, that I bring copyright issues to light.

    As for telling certain commenters to desist…do you really think that would work? Because that’s about all that I can do.

  • Andrew Porter

    Once again, here’s an Old BH postcard, part of a batch showing the Hotel St. George a Long Time Ago. This is one of those images in which the surrounding buildings are pretty much made up. Click on it to see it full size.

  • Andrew Porter

    The power to block obnoxious posters really rests with Disqus. As I’ve mentioned before, Homer took many passwords for procedures here literally to the grave.

    Most of the images I’ve harvested over the decades are not clearly sourced (with the exception of those from the Brooklyn Historical Society, which uses watermarks). I suspect many such images are now available in much larger sizes.

  • Teresa

    If you don’t know where they come from and who owns the rights, best not to post them. Even with watermarks, it may not be permissible to post them.

  • MaggieO

    Just curious why you don’t think that Andrew’s postings here would qualify as “fair use” (

  • KXrVrii1

    I used to think this website was family friendly. But my son just looked over my shoulder, saw this picture and said “That’s cool.”

    I then informed him it was possible this old postcard might have been illegally posted, and he should be ashamed of himself for enjoying it.]

    Seriously, think of the children!

  • AEB

    I would counter that anyone who posts on the Internet, and believes her or his material to be copyrighted, to be exclusively owned, shouldn’t post that material on the Internet.

    Otherwise, given the nature and function of the Internet–in effect, it’s raison d’etre–one is asking for a special privilege it would be foolish to expect.

  • KXrVrii1

    Well, to be fair, Teresa is taking objection to the fact that someone other than the content owner is scanning then posting a picture to the internet, without permission from the content owner, and / or without doing reasonable diligence that it is in the public domain.

    And one concern from the content owner is exactly the consequence you describe – once posted to the internet, they lose even more control.

    She isn’t wrong legally. But practically speaking, given the nature of Andrew’s posts and the limited scope of this blog, it is more akin to jaywalking than speeding or burning a red light.

  • KXrVrii1

    Fixed link, as the closing paren was causing problems:

    I think the key problem with fair use here is this test: “Amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.”

    A picture is itself the entirety of the work. It was sold for people to enjoy. Scanning and posting a picture for people to enjoy for free is probably not fair use.

    There is, of course, a more common law concept of “who really gives a crap that some old dude is posting scans of old postcards (that may be in the public domain, or where identifying the owner would likely be very difficult) to a local blog.

    Or maybe Andrew just likes flouting the law.

  • MaggieO

    Thanks. Fixed it in my post as well.
    I was thinking the issue might be more whether the use of the photos on a blog constitutes commercial use since the blog has advertising.
    i’ll have to ask my lawyer friends about the “who really gives a crap” law.
    in the meantime, Andrew Porter is a scofflaw!

  • Rick

    Kinda like saying that anyone who parks their car on a public street, and believes her or his car to be their property, to be exclusively owned, shouldn’t park that car on a public street.

    Otherwise, given the nature and function of public streets–in effect, it’s raison d’etre–one is asking for a special privilege it would be foolish to expect.

    Copyright law pertaining to the internet is well established, and internet usage of material is no different than in newspapers or magazines, with penalties for usage without permission.

    And while only some photographs actually have a registered copyright, all photographs are presumed by law to have an owner copyright from the moment they are taken (even while still in the camera or phone).

    There is the concept of public domain for old photos, and Andrew’s photos may well lie within that concept, but that is not something I know much about.

  • Arch Stanton

    Though you may be right on some level it’s quite a bit of an overreach. You want to see copyright violations galore, just go to YouTube or Facebook, not too much is being done to curtail that. Old postcards of BH? LOL give me a break, no one cares.

  • Arch Stanton

    Worst case scenario, you get a notice to cease and desist from posting a photo, you delete the photo.

  • Arch Stanton
  • DIBS

    Keep on posting!!! And thanks.

  • DIBS

    Helicopter much???? I hope that was sarcasm.

  • KXrVrii1
  • Teresa

    Artists, writers, and photographers don’t have much choice about posting their work on the internet. It’s the main publication vehicle for many of us. And when people without authorization take it and post it elsewhere, it poses a threat to their work and livelihood. Just as with any other kind of theft, just because it’s there doesn’t mean that it’s OK to take it.

  • Teresa

    Absolutely: this is small potatoes. But I don’t think it’s a bad idea to try to make sure that people understand best practices and the law around here. It’s kind of akin to saying that it’s not OK to steal a computer, but stealing a pack of gum isn’t really such a big deal.

  • KXrVrii1

    I think the complexity of the copyright laws, combined with how their duration has been consistently extended over the year (lots of lobbying from Disney) make this even different from stealing a pack of gum.

    Copyright terms in the US have been extended to extremely long periods, far longer than patents. To get the benefit of the longer periods requires registration, notice and renewal.

    So even if you agree that the longer periods are justified, it leaves lots of other older content in a gray area where it is difficult to reasonably ascertain if it is still subject to copyright.

    So to put the burden on someone like Andrew, a non-commercial user, to find the owner, or diligence whether the old post cards have entered the public domain is a bit extreme, and just means that lots of historical documents like this are going to languish and eventually get lost.

    And if the content owner is still around and cares, they have legal remedies.

  • B.

    The question is, Does Andrew Porter make money from showing newer arrivals to Brooklyn what our borough looked like back when?


    Nor do, for example, teachers who xerox excerpts from books to supplement their students’ reading, or who show their students film clips or period photographs. Some people say that educators get a pass on copyright law, but I’ve heard over-zealous types complain anyway about infringement.

    At this point, no one is losing any money when an old postcard is put up on this site.

  • Teresa

    Nope. That’s why there’s no problem with his posting them.

  • Teresa

    Agree about the post cards. Other images, not so much.

  • StudioBrooklyn

    Dear Cranberry Beret et al:

    Just wanted to chime in to own up to my own off-topic posts in the last few months; in every case they were either meant in good humor or fell under the umbrella of a little sort of campaign I started to, uh, get to know one of our neighbors a little better, since he was hijacking threads.

    I hope that none of the rest of you minded or were upset by any of my posts and if so, I apologize.

  • William Gilbert

    There is is a problem in that the web is worldwide and copyright in, let’s say, Europe is much different than in the US. What was once an simple thing was complicated by The Sonny Bono law. The same recording that was once public domain in the US has now gone back into copyright in the US, though it remains in the Public domain in Europe. Do we search tourists coming in with CDs from Europe? (It was suggested.) The reinstatement of copyright in the US was not used to benefit artists, but rather Corporations such as Sony. Example: Sony found one small element of recording that was still under copyright and used it to restrict all disk recordings going back over 100+ years. Now, you and I know that Sony is not going to pay royalties to any of the long dead artists that made those recordings, but rather use it to enrich their corporation only because they inherited this small aspect in the recording process. Interestingly, this restriction does not apply to any Edison Cylinder recordings, which remain in the public domain. So the Edison cylinder recording of “Yankee Doodle Dandy” is public domain, but the Victor of the same song by the same artist is not. Sounds like a legal loophole to enrich a greedy corporation to me.

  • William

    I found these photos a few years ago, but can’t remember where. It’s the mansion that was demolished to make way for the apartment building at 245 Henry St. on the north west corner of Henry and Joralemon. The second photo shows it on the right as you’re looking north. I live across from this building so every day I wish this is what was still there.

  • Andrew Porter

    Many of the postcards I scanned in and posted were published by the old Brooklyn Eagle. I’ve freely shared them with the current Eagle, Brownstoner, and other sites and publishers.

    I have photographed many people over the decades, especially when I was doing a news magazine. Those I’ve sold to some publishers, and others have been put on line for free.

    I recently sold rights on my photos to a film about Ursula K. Le Guin for PBS, to a publisher of books by Octavia E. Butler, to another documentary about Star Trek.

    Here’s a photo I took of Jack Biblo, now deceased, former co-owner of the used book store Biblo & Tannen and proprietor with his wife Frances of Biblo Books, which used to be at the NW corner of Hicks and Middagh:

  • Andrew Porter

    I’ve actually had a photo I shot swiped by CBS. But photos of buildings are frankly a different matter, although some famous buildings, like the Empire State, try to control the use of images.