Family Misunderstands Open Source, Panics, & Sues the Wrong Person…

Open source is supposed to be a way of simplifying licensing issues and sharing your software/music/video/other content with the masses — freely and magnanimously. Problem is, what happens when something open source is found to be a (possible) violation of some else’s rights? What happens to its derivatives? Do they just pack up shop and find something else, or are they legally responsible for their actions? In what seems poised to become a landmark case on this issue, we’re about to find out.

A Texan family is now suing Virgin Mobile for using a photo of their daughter, Alison Chang, in an ad campaign – the catch is, it was released by the photographer on Flickr under the Creative Commons Attribution license, and that’s where Virgin Mobile got the photo from. The problem is, the girl featured in the photo had no idea her photo was being used – or that it was released under the Creative Commons license.

As the case currently stands, the Changs are suing consumers of open source works and not the original party responsible for the release of the work as an open source material without a proper media consent form.

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