Blogging Bayport Alameda

April 19, 2011

Fight for your right to party

Filed under: Alameda, City Council — Tags: , — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

I figured that if I didn’t talk about the dreadful “Otaez Series” dun dun duuuhhhhh on Action Alameda “News” that someone would accuse me of ignoring the topic.   On the other hand, I hate to give prominence to something that is really a non-issue, but what made it an issue was the disproportionate reaction to it.

Let me back up for those that don’t actually read Action Alameda.  But wait, I might need to back up a bit further than that.   So back after the November election, on  election night  there was  Victory Party at Otaez, honestly I don’t know who hosted the party, but it really is secondary to the story.   At the party there were a lot of familiar faces present in the Alameda politics scene, it probably was the only party hosted at a public place as well.   So at the party someone came with a camera and snapped candid and posed shots during the course of the event.    That person posted the photos on her personal Facebook page.   Someone — let’s just say that person probably didn’t vote for Marie Gilmore for Mayor since his father was running against her — downloaded the photos and posted them on a Facebook page he created and passed the link around to non-Marie Gilmore voters.   The original owner — who had not given permission to the other person — marked the photos as “Private” and requested that the other person remove the photos, which he did.

Fast forward to last week when David Howard over at Action Alameda decided after “months of consideration” that he would post a curated selection of photos from the Facebook set and  “let the public determine their significance, if any.”   Given the readership of Action Alameda, naturally the “public” over there determined that there was great significance in the photos, including calling Marie Gilmore “immature” and “lacking a sense of self” because she dared to, gasp, have fun (shudder) at a Victory Party where she was trending to win the election against an evenly stacked field.   *clutch the pearls!*

The presence at the event of key union officials led some posters to wonder if there were any firewalls between the City Council and negotiations with unions.   Of course I have paraphrased it a lot nicer than the commenter.  Of course that person should know that the City has a labor negotiator and an HR director to handle these issues and the the City Manager would oversee those negotiations as well.     Of course these City Council members are not the first — nor will they be the last — elected officials that have received endorsements from union leaders so I imagine that the same firewalls are in place for these unions between the City Council as would have been in place had Frank Matarrese been elected Mayor and his endorsement from the union that represents non-public safety City Employees.

So what made this an issue was not the fact that they were posted or that they exist, but what gave the issue prominence was the reaction by the Firefighters Union.   Because honestly, I wouldn’t even be interested in this topic had the Firefighters not contacted David Howard to take down the photos.   Denise Lai over at “Raising Hell for Good” surmised that the Firefighters were “doing Marie Gilmore’s bidding” when someone reached out to David Howard at Action Alameda asking that he remove the photos.   But the original owner of the photos is actually a…wait for it…wait for it…firefighter.   So the more logical explanation is that much like the original owner requested that the person-who-did-not-vote-for-Marie-Gilmore-because-a-relative-was-running-for-Mayor-as-well remove the photos from his Facebook page, the original owner didn’t want her photos on Action Alameda either.   Given that Domenick Weaver, the president of the Firefighters Union has a relationship with David Howard of Action Alameda perhaps he thought that a simple request would be sufficient, but apparently it devolved into what David Howard termed a “threat of legal action.”

So a few issues here with the photo set, first, this photo:

Which incorrectly identified Jon Spangler as being a part of the “city manager selection committee” I’m not sure who he was confused with, but very wrong nonetheless.   Then there was this photo:

Which posted photos of these two kids, I actually created the blur on their faces because it’s pretty  smarmy to post photos of kids without their parent’s permission and given that they have no relevance to the photo it’s just good ethics as a news person, even a “news” person, to do so.

And speaking of permission in general.   What the fuss is more than likely about is over consent to post the photos in the first place.   While David Howard is framing this as a “fair use” issue there is also the issue of ownership of the photos and how he received a copy of this.   The question about whether photos on personal Facebook pages are fair game because they exist somewhere on the internet was actually answered here.   The biggest issue is that of copyright, Action Alameda runs its “news” site actively with advertising and “sponsored links” (aka links people pay to have posted) and — while it’s unclear if any money is currently being made on the site — the issue is that they have, hypothetically, trampled on the original owner’s ability to sell the photos if there was some market value to them.   Here is an except from this journalism professor on the issue of Facebook and permission:

Two issues come up in this scenario – one legal, one ethical.  Legally, I see a huge copyright issue here.  Whoever took that photo has a copyright in it, attaching the moment the photo button was pushed.  It’s an original work of authorship in a fixed medium of expression.  The copyright act couldn’t be clearer on this.

The question is, does it just become public domain by virtue of being posted on facebook? Of course not…

So, moving online, is that unfortunate photo of you in the sombrero from college tagged on someone else’s facebook account fair game for use by anyone – friend or otherwise – who can access it? Perhaps they could make a nice greeting card from it?

And I don’t think this qualifies as fair use either. A use for news purposes would meet the first threshold for review under fair use guidelines, but under the four-part balancing test applied by courts in looking at fair use, I don’t see how any one favors the republisher: The use is for-profit, the entire photo is used, it most likely is a significant element of the news story, and it harms the market for the original copyright owner by giving away for free what the owner could legally sell.

Onto the ethical ramifications here.  While facebook users may not have any privacy rights guaranteed by the law, they do have reasonable belief that the service is to share their information with friends.   As a journalist, would you have any ethical issues with rifling through the photo album of a citizen after he or she had been arrested or implicated in some huge news?

And he wraps up with:

In short, facebook photos aren’t posted with the intent of becoming public domain and usable for any purpose, news or otherwise.  Journalists should know better.  And for those who don’t, some day, the hammer will come down.  I tell my students, “don’t let this be you.”  I offer the same advice to journalists everywhere.

To sum up, the photos are no biggie, it ranks up there in the “who cares” territory.  Like 85% of the photos on Facebook, it’s just sort of “meh.”    Posting them without permission was sort of jerky and unethical without the permission from the original owner.   Firefighters overreacted, hopefully cooler heads have prevailed and they have backed off.  Action Alameda should remove them because they don’t belong to Action Alameda and Facebook is not BitTorrent.   Although if the owner wants to take action, the owner could just follow the steps suggested in the article above (file a copyright on the photos then take Action Alameda to court — minimum statutory damages for copyright violation is $750 — or issue a takedown notice to his ISP under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act) which would be much more efficient if you ask me.

In other Firefighter related news, David Kapler (remember him?) has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the City and some of its officers including former City Manager Debra Kurita and former Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant.   More on that tomorrow.



  1. About $175k to Kapler. Zero to your professor. Once material is on Facebook it belongs to the ether.

    Comment by Jack Richard — April 19, 2011 @ 7:34 am

  2. I think they are just raising a stink because they are envious that they didn’t get invited to one of last year’s funnest parties!

    Comment by Dan W. — April 19, 2011 @ 8:01 am

  3. It reminds me of her political campaign literature from her last year

    Comment by Dr.Poodlesmurf — April 19, 2011 @ 8:08 am

  4. Well, David Howard is certainly being consistent when he mentions me in (In)Action Alameda – consistently wrong, that is. Perhaps a new nickname – Inaccuracy Alameda – is in order?

    It would have been very simple – even for a non-journalist – to check the city’s official records or to read either of our weekly newspapers on the composition of the committee I was NOT on.

    Knowing how intelligent Mr. Howard is, I am surprised and saddened that he is apparently unwilling to take even common-sense steps to ensure the accuracy of what he publishes as “news.”

    I suspect that Mr. Howard published the photos – illegally and unethically – in order to “prove” that there is an improper relationship between the public safety unions and the City Council.
    How my picture was supposed to buttress that conspiracy theory, I do not know. ( I am not a firefighter, nor am I a major financial contributor to any campaigns these days.)

    As regular readers of this news blog know, I would have been biased against considering John Russo for CM on the basis of his political nature and history – had I been even considered for the selection advisory committee, which I was not.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — April 19, 2011 @ 9:35 am

  5. There are 2 things I wanted to comment about.

    Facebook pictures. You do know if you don’t know how to use facebook, then you shouldn’t use it at all. Out of the box, facebooks puts all your information public… you can google yourself and your facebook profile is about the first thing that comes up. You have to set your privacy settings to private or friends only so other people cannot see it, even if you get tagged in a photo.

    Once in public domain, your pictures are public use, I think the law churns too slowly compared to what happens on the internet. Unless a recent bill was passed about this (That could very well be the case and I don’t remember it).

    Of course, ETHICALLY this is wrong no doubt.

    As for my second point, you did not post the most interesting of shots that Action Alameda had on its website. That is of which MG seemed a bit too cozy with DelBono. Also, the photo of John Russo being there as well.
    – David Howard set out to make a point and I think he did… to question MG and her alligence. Not that this is proof or anything, but he’s successful in putting that doubt in people’s minds.

    I don’t like to follow politics that much, but I looked at a couple of the photos and I took pause to them.

    Most of them are tame, defintely blur or edit out kids faces – that is not necessary.

    Comment by hobnob — April 19, 2011 @ 10:24 am

  6. You didn’t post the best one!

    This is a fun week for you, Lauren. How much time can you waste defending the indefensible? Keep up the good work.

    Comment by Adam Gillitt — April 19, 2011 @ 10:46 am

  7. Oh, poop. your crappy site doesn’t let people imbed images.

    <a href="; title="I love you, Jeffykins!"

    Comment by Adam Gillitt — April 19, 2011 @ 10:48 am

  8. whatcha afraid of Lauren?

    Comment by Adam Gillitt — April 19, 2011 @ 10:52 am

  9. If you do not know that liberal politicians hang with public employee union bosses, what planet have you been living on? Otherwise, life is short, lets party!!!

    Comment by Schoolsupporter — April 19, 2011 @ 2:08 pm

  10. 6-8, here we go again … acting like immature middle schoolers. This bloke actually wanted to be on the city council???

    Comment by alameda — April 19, 2011 @ 2:46 pm

  11. Will they let you say bloke at Starbucks?

    Comment by Adam Gillitt — April 19, 2011 @ 3:15 pm

  12. only if he’s a likable chap and not an strine mate

    Comment by Jack Richard — April 19, 2011 @ 3:22 pm

  13. Alameda, fortunately there is a huge difference between wanting to be on the council and actually getting any one to vote for you.

    Comment by John P. — April 19, 2011 @ 3:25 pm

  14. True that, John. I miss Jeff Mitchell.

    Comment by Adam Gillitt — April 19, 2011 @ 4:01 pm

  15. @14. Let’s see … dude decides to run for council, abuses senior citizen, spews spam, gets banned, loses city council election bid, starts website that goes nowhere (other than brown-nosing his BFF’s site), no business/job prospects … small wonder the man is so cranky. Perhaps open7days (aka Gillico) should get out more often or at the very least, spend more time on grindr than here.

    Comment by Jakster M — April 19, 2011 @ 5:10 pm

  16. If my fan club spent half as much time trying to solve Alameda’s problems as y’all do hanging on my every word and batting your goo goo eyes at me, I could only marvel at the utopia we would be living in.

    Comment by Adam Gillitt — April 19, 2011 @ 5:31 pm

  17. @16. Delusions of grandeur … all that brown nosing can’t be helping either.

    Comment by Jakster M — April 19, 2011 @ 5:34 pm

  18. Shut up and kiss me, you fool.

    Comment by Adam Gillitt — April 19, 2011 @ 5:56 pm

  19. Lots of brown nosing in the party photos

    Comment by Dr.Poodlesmurf — April 19, 2011 @ 9:10 pm

  20. @18. Yuck … perhaps you are confusing this site with grindr? You need to get out more often dude. But your reputation could be a deal breaker.

    Comment by Jakster M — April 20, 2011 @ 6:14 am

  21. I was at that party and all I saw was a bunch of people celebrating a nice way out in front victory for Marie and Rob and Lena’s getting to stay on the council which gave Alameda a new 3 person majority. A new day for us and the culmination of a long and very nasty campaign. It did not differ from other victory parties I have been to. Fun and celebration for those who worked hard to get their preferred candidates elected. I am sorry it is being made out to be something that it clearly wasn’t. I am sure that if Mr. Howard’s preferred candidates had been elected, there would have been similar joyous celebrations in that camp. So my response to these “shocking” photos is “so what?”

    Comment by Kate Quick — April 20, 2011 @ 7:55 am

  22. What about those nasty political ads that were freely circulated, the election was not really a fair process or an honest contest. So the winners have nothing to be proud of, many view that as a shallow victory.

    Comment by Dr.Poodlesmurf — April 20, 2011 @ 8:04 am

  23. Ho Hum Poodlesmurf.

    Comment by Kate Quick — April 20, 2011 @ 8:25 am

  24. Poodlesmurf, the losers have nothing to be proud of either. Doug and Frank split their vote — who was thinking here? What did Marie’s opposition expect? A clean sweep?

    Comment by Jack B. — April 20, 2011 @ 8:35 am

  25. Update to #4: To my amazement – and, to my knowledge,for the very first time – Action Alameda published the following apology and correction after spreading inaccuracies about me:

    “Action Alameda
    April 18, 2011 at 5:27 pm
    CORRECTION: The caption on the first picture in this post incorrectly identified Jon Spangler as a member of the City’s City Manager selection advisory committee. This caption has been corrected and we apologize to Mr. Spangler for the error.”

    Comment by Jon Spangler — April 20, 2011 @ 9:34 am

  26. Jon & Kate, if U think your comments add dignity to this thread, you’re wrong! U know what day this is Kate-better hit the confessional! What is the name of this journalism “professor” & where does he teach? I’d like to know, ’cause he’s dead wrong abt copyrights & Facebook!

    Comment by not mayberry — April 20, 2011 @ 11:42 am

  27. I already have taken care of my religious obligations in preparation for my Easter observance, thank you very much. I did not include anything I have noted on this or other blogs, not that it should matter to anyone else.
    I rather dislike all the personalization that those who disagree with me feel is necessary – unless it has to do with my direct actions or words of opinion, my personal life is my own as are the lives of the other commenters. I simply state my opinion as levelly and fairly as I can.

    What day is this? I’m ready!

    Comment by Kate Quick — April 20, 2011 @ 2:24 pm

  28. Didn’t realize ‘dignity’ was the standard. All this time I thought we were supposed to aim for pithiness.

    Comment by Jack Richard — April 20, 2011 @ 6:16 pm

  29. Pithy = o.k.
    Slander = not necessary
    Character Assassination = Not Ever
    Flat out Lying = Only if you are sure you won’t get caught. If you are, you have to “man” or “woman” up and admit it.

    Comment by Kate Quick — April 20, 2011 @ 10:19 pm

  30. In other words, you are willing to lower your standards, to suit your needs. Thank You for defining last years election in this town.

    Comment by Dr.Poodlesmurf — April 21, 2011 @ 7:34 am

  31. Gee, Poodlesmurf, you don’t get jokes I guess. Thru a glass, darkly.

    Comment by Kate Quick — April 21, 2011 @ 7:29 pm

  32. kate
    Your not funny, thats no joke.

    Comment by Dr.Poodlesmurf — April 21, 2011 @ 7:35 pm

  33. Zzzzzzzzzzzz

    Comment by Kate Quick — April 21, 2011 @ 10:02 pm

  34. I can understand people wanting to comment on controversial subjects anonymously but when personal attacks are made anonymously, that’s a different story.

    Comment by Jack Richard — April 21, 2011 @ 10:07 pm

  35. Do you also include political attack ad’s in your line of thought??

    Comment by Dr.Poodlesmurf — April 22, 2011 @ 8:42 am

  36. Attack ads have no place in civil society. Unfortunately, they are much beloved by many and pollsters say they get traction, as a lot of folks just love “dirt” over factual, impersonal discussions about issues. We have some folks here in Alameda who just love to wallow in this stuff, and I don’t like it. I don’t participate in it, contribute to it, and decry it when I see it, from whatever side it comes from. It makes me heartsick when it comes from people who support the same folks I support, and I let them know how I feel about it. If we all did this, maybe such nonsense would lessen. I don’t think it will stop, because there are those who just think smearing is a lot of fun. The postings on Action Alameda are meant to do just this; make people look as bad as possible and impute evil when no evil happened. Susan Davis’ remarks are so true. It was a party. People were glad and celebrating a nice outcome for their “side”. Nothing nefarious happened.

    Comment by Kate Quick — April 22, 2011 @ 8:51 am

  37. Still a badly stained election. Nothing to be proud of.

    Comment by Dr.Poodlesmurf — April 22, 2011 @ 8:59 am

  38. The venue doesn’t matter. My feeling is that if someone makes a personal attack, written or verbal, that person should have the common courtesy to reveal his identity when making the attack so the recipient of the attack has the pleasure of knowing upon whom he can seek redress. Even Abe Lincoln participated in a duel over written personal attacks, which almost upset his political career.

    Comment by Jack Richard — April 22, 2011 @ 9:12 am

  39. Thanks Jack, that was a thoroughly entertaining story. I enjoyed the bit about the 10 x 12 pit.

    Comment by Lauren Do — April 22, 2011 @ 9:44 am

  40. Yeah, thanks Jack. I thought I was very knowledgeable about Lincoln and that era, but I also had never heard that story.

    I wonder how common it was to set up favorable dueling conditions like that, other than the usual choice of weapons?

    Comment by Make it go away — April 22, 2011 @ 10:04 am

  41. 37 — Having participated and lived through over 30 elections in Alameda, 2010’s election tame. There was a lot more nastiness when Don Roberts and Barbara Thomas broke into City Hall to try and get documents to smear Camicia and others when they were running for City Council.

    Comment by Dennis V. — April 22, 2011 @ 10:48 am

  42. #41 You are right, and don’t forget the one where the two men in the race engaged in very high level mutual character assassination and Anne Diament walked in and became a very good Mayor, having taken no part in the nastiness.

    Comment by Kate Quick — April 22, 2011 @ 11:20 am

  43. If you want to read a really good book on Lincoln, try Carl Sandburg … but you wont find that story in there.

    Comment by Dr.Poodlesmurf — April 22, 2011 @ 12:28 pm

  44. What Lincoln actually wrote that sparked the duel episode was the second of three letters to the editor of the “Sangamo Journal”. It was written under one of Lincoln’s Aunt Rebecca series of spoofs to Sheilds and was actually quite mild compared to some of the stuff written here.

    This from the Sangama Journal (CWL) “Abraham Lincoln: A Life” Buringame, Vol. 1 190

    Lincoln ridiculed Shields as a “conceity dunce” and “a fool as well as a liar” with whom “truth is out of the question, and as far as getting a good bright passable lie out of him, you might as well try to strike fire from a cake of tallow.” The letter also poked fun at Sheilds’s manliness and vanity, having him say to a group of young women: “Dear girls, it is distressing, but I cannot marry you all. Too well I know how you much you suffer, but do, do, remember it is not my fault that I am so handsome and so interesting”

    There’s some speculation that Mary Todd actually wrote the offending letter and that once Shields sought redress, Lincoln felt compelled to protect Mary Todd and claimed he was the author.

    Comment by Jack Richard — April 22, 2011 @ 1:24 pm

  45. Thanks
    Have you read Carl Sandburg? Any impressions?

    Comment by Dr.Poodlesmurf — April 22, 2011 @ 1:56 pm

  46. No I haven’t read Sandburg’s Lincoln. I barely have time to read history written by historians and when I read historical fiction sometimes the made up stuff gets mixed in my brain with documented history written by historians.

    That’s not to disparage Carl Sanburg’s work. He’s just not my cup of tea, history wise.

    Comment by Jack Richard — April 22, 2011 @ 2:47 pm

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