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When photographers sue after Creative Commons Licenses go awry.

The scam works a little like this:

A photographer posts their work online under an outdated Creative Commons license, such as version 2.0, that does not give licensees the right to fix license problems within 30 days of notice, as do the current CC 4.0 licenses.

The photographers lurk until someone unwittingly posts the photograph online without proper attribution.

Then, they sue. And they sue. And they sue.

This is the topic of my most recent legal research paper, “Rise of the Copyleft Trolls: When Photographers Sue After Creative Commons Licenses Go Awry.” …

The mapping app can provide surprising solace for grieving loved ones

Photo courtesy of the author.

There are dead people on Google Street View.

“My grandpa passed away a few years ago. We didn’t get to say goodbye to him,” Leslie Yajaira (@yajairalyb) recently tweeted. “Yesterday we found out Google Maps finally drove through his farm and as we were curious going through it, where the road ends, there is my grandpa, just sitting there.”

Accompanying the tweet (and the crying-face emoji) was a short video of someone clicking down the roads of Labor de Guadalupe, Mexico, on Google Street View, ending as it focused on a man wearing a small hat, holding a cane, and…

At last, the end of sketchy compression

Credit: Eric Ravenscraft

Social media is ruining the internet, but not in the way you think. (Okay, not solely in the way you think.) Every time an image is uploaded to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, it gets compressed, degrading its overall quality. If an image is downloaded and re-uploaded — which happens constantly to memes — the effect grows even more drastic. Eventually, if an image is shared too many times, it can become unreadable. But now, Twitter’s taking a small step toward fixing the problem.

This week, Twitter engineer Nolan O’Brien announced that the site will now “preserve JPEGs as they are…

We went stargazing with product manager Alex Schiffhauer to learn more about the new phone’s astrophotography mode

Illustration: crimson_bones-animations

The stars were up there — that we knew. We just couldn’t see them, much less take their picture.

In my pocket was a brand new Pixel 4, the one with the Snapdragon 855 processor, the F2.4 telephoto lens, 16MP sensor, and enhanced Night Sight mode developed explicitly for capturing celestial bodies. I’d made the trip to Goat Rock Beach, in a state park some two and a half hours north of Google’s Mountain View offices, to meet Alex Schiffhauer, the 28-year-old product manager for the Pixel’s computational photography.

The idea was to give the new phone’s astrophotography capabilities a…

Old tech like disposable cameras inadvertently reinforced the vitality of real life, but modern cameras now create a superior virtual world we don’t feel good enough for

John William Waterhouse, “Echo and Narcissus.” Public domain.

They always seemed like enchanted objects to me. The disposable cameras we stuffed into our cheap handbags in the late 1990s and early 2000s were really just empty plastic containers with a lens on one side. And yet, within that sealed box, there occurred a kind of alchemy, all the more miraculous for being mechanical, that gave us the power to freeze time. We could slice slivers off the shifting visible world, like doctors performing biopsies of living things, and keep the specimens to be pored over whenever we liked.

Through cassette tapes and VCRs, our dominion was extended beyond…

Sharing photos outside of social media made me feel good about photography again

Credit: Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash

It’s never been easier to share a photo with others than it is today. You can share photos of your vacation with friends on Facebook, perfectly frame that shot for your Instagram followers, or broadcast a moment as it happens live with your audience on Twitter. Social media has taken over how, and why, we take photos.

It has become second nature to think of the medium or the person a photo will be shared with before we even stare through the camera’s viewfinder. …

A program just can’t tell what’s ‘interesting’

Credit: The Washington Post/Getty Images

Google just pulled the plug on its Clips camera, a tiny device that was supposed to capture photos of the little snippets of your day that would otherwise slip by.

Maybe it would snap a picture of your baby smiling as you went to pick them up, or your dog wagging its tail as you walked in the door. But when reviewers and consumers got their hands on the device, that fairy tale didn’t pan out.

“I wore the camera on the collar of my shirt while playing with my daughter hoping that it was capturing all her smiles at…

By systematically distorting the images we see and create, A.I. is shifting perceptions and ultimately changing our relationship with the physical world

Credit: The Washington Post/Getty Images

Earlier this year, I hiked with my family to Claigan Coral Beach on the outer edge of the Isle of Skye in Scotland. We wanted to see the impressive stretch of coral we’d seen on Google searches for the area, but instead of the pristine white beach and turquoise sea from the internet, what we found was a rather grubby stretch of crushed coral. I felt similarly when I saw the fairy pools, the crystal clear rock pools fed by small waterfalls. I used to love discovering these kinds of places, but seeing the photos online before we set off…

As smartphones increasingly compete on photography, an additional lens gives the iPhone significantly more information about the world around it

Apple executives present the new photography features on the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro line at the company’s keynote event on Tuesday.

The new iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max now have three big, chunky cameras.

Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of global marketing, announced the new smartphones at a keynote event on Tuesday, boasting that the addition of a new lens adds the potential for greater creativity when shooting images and video with the smartphone. The three cameras are outfitted with a 13 mm ultra-wide-angle lens, a 26 mm wide-angle lens, and a 52 mm telephoto lens.

That allows for 4x optical “zoom,” Schiller noted, between the widest 13 mm camera lens and the longest 52 mm lens. …


Our shared photographs now create nostalgia in real time

Photo by Rachael Crowe on Unsplash

I remember, as a child, pulling my grandmother’s yellowed Polaroids from the dusty shoebox I’d found high up in her closet. That afternoon, we sat next to each other on the couch, pulling old photos from the box one by one.

Although she couldn’t recall exactly where and when each one was taken, every photo triggered a story. My grandmother brought the images to life. We laughed and we cried as she relived every picture, and I learned more about her than I’d ever known before. …


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