The Boston Globe is encouraging readers to send in Photoshopped versions of their favorvite Red Sox players for publication on its Website. Dozens of poster-type images have been e-mailed to the Globe and then posted Online. All in good fun? I guess.
The bigger issue here is that in an age of questioning the credibility and authenticity of digital images, especially in journalism, why shouldn't the newspaper think twice about promoting the practice of photo fakery?
Encouraging the public to rip-off copyright protected images from the Internet and then digitally manipulate them does very little to help people understand the importance of intellectual property rights as well as ethics in a digital age.
The Globe has been careful to make sure it covers itself though. According to a notice on the submission page, the Globe reminds readers that they must have the appropriate permission to use any of the artwork submitted and that the work is original.
By submitting your Photoshop image(s) to Boston.com, you agree that such Photoshop image(s) and the accompanying information will become the property of Boston.com and you grant Boston.com permission to publicly display and use the Photoshop image(s) in any form or media for any and all purposes. You also warrant that (i) the Photoshop image is your original work, or is properly licensed, and does not violate the copyright or any other personal or property right of any third party, and (ii) you have obtained any and all releases and permissions necessary for our use. Your submission also allows Boston.com to edit, crop or adjust the colors of the image(s) on an as needed basis.
This raises the issue of what constitutes a copyright violation when the creator is appropriating other images to construct a collage.
It's highly unlikely that the creator of this Photoshop masterpiece actually owns the rights to the faces of the ballpayers in the collage. Therefore, it appears that the newspaper must be viewing the submitted work as illustrations and not pictures composed of multiple works that are copyright protected.
All in all, the practice of encouraging readers to take material off the Web and alter it, speaks to the slippery slope we are traveling on in terms of not only the veracity of what is seen, but of how really easy it is to manipulate how we see it.