A University of Illinois student and Dennis Kucinich-For-President supporter named Firas Alkhateeb uploaded a satirical caricature of President Obama to Yahoo’s (YHOO) photo-sharing site Flickr one night last December.
A few months later, Flickr deleted the image from Firas’s account, telling him in an email that it did so “due to copyright-infringement concerns.”
Valleywag’s Ryan Tate doesn’t buy Yahoo’s explanation, calling the image “a transformative political satire” and pointing out “there are all sorts of copyrighted and often doctored images involving George W. Bush (and others – NSFW) on Flickr.”
Ryan offers something of a conspiracy theory instead — that Yahoo execs don’t want to displease the Obama White House because of a “lucrative” government contract the administration signed with Yahoo and a bunch of other content-sharing sites.
We’re inclined to believe that the problem stems not from such a conspiracy — a few government owned “pro” accounts can’t be that lucrative — but from some Yahoo employee’s limited understanding of fair use and clumsy enforcement of copyright law.
It’s also likely lots of Obama supporters who rushed on to Flickr to get upset over the photo punched the “Report Abuse” button and flagged the image for review, increasing the odds that it would get deleted.
Still this is the second time Yahoo has censored Flickr users seemingly on President Obama’s behalf. That won’t help Yahoo keep a hold of Flickr’s notoriously noisy — and subscription-paying — users.
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