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Dear Derek Draper – Labour List and putting your name to your opinions

The beta version of the new Labour List web site and its editor continue to entertain many bloggers.

Personally, I am glad the site has launched, the Labour party have not been good at learning about the digital world and they clearly have plenty of ground to make up on the Conservatives and some other parts of the population.

The effort from the Labour team looks as if it was impressed by what Barack Obama learned from Howard Dean’s Democratic party primary campaign of 2004. No coincidence that Dean helped run Obama’s successful digital campaign effort as chairman of the Democratic Party National Committee.

But to come back to Labour List, at least one of the new site’s practices is faulty – and it would be good to see that an independent site, albeit one closely aligned with the government, could change it easily.

The site does not appear, at present, to require submitted artwork to be attributed to its creator(s). If this is the case, I think this is wrong and for two reasons;

A. It is important for clarity because if you are going to have a public and possibly controversial opinion, you should be prepared to put your name to it.

This video could easily have been something like the Swift Boat veterans efforts in the US. This was a rather shadowy organisation, perhaps affiliated to The Republican election effort of 2004, which slandered the Democratic candidiate in that year’s presidential election. Much of the activity was digital and unattributable, just as this video on Labour List is.

B. The convention of naming the creator of published creative work is equally important for the law on copyright and image licensing. Abuse of these laws, directly affects people who work in the creative industries. Unlicensed use of imagery, (knowing or unknowing) is illegal. The laws were made as protection for people who make their living in small manufacturing businesses dealing in something called intellectual property – or, in simple language, ideas.

I understand Labour List are asking people to submit their work for free – and that of course, is up to them, but if Labour List are now republishing them in a high profile digital publication, I think it is necessary for them to be clear about who is supplying their imagery. A name and a link to any relevant digital site or home would do it for any piece of art they choose to republish.

So, please could Labour List make sure it attributes work and inspiration for visual content it promotes on its website? This especially applies to work bashing the Tories – we all do want to do it sometimes – but it is really important to know who is doing the bashing, so we can work out why they might be doing it.

For those who are keen to learn a bit more a bit more about these issues, there are many cases of outright ‘borrowing’ of copyrighted and licensed material. You can find recent examples, here, here and here featuring unsolicited borrowing of images made by Andy Davey, Morten Morland and myself. I should say at this point, Guido Fawkes appears a much improved character in this respect nowadays and even pays, I understand, his current cartoon contributor – the Monday morning view. I was delighted to hear this and hope it sets a happy precedent for the rest of the political blogosphere (and many others).

UPDATED: Edited for grammar (bound to have missed something else though) on Saturday 17th Jan 2009.

Leave a Comment

  • Rich Johnston

    Sadly unpaid in actual cash, though I do enjoy a Christmas lunch with the fellow, and get various scuttlebutt that even he dare not publish. And plugs for my other work to a massive audience, something I very much appreciate.

    It’s a relationship I consider a very profitable one. Of course, if the Telegraph want to reprint something, then I want tons of cash.

  • Morten

    Hear hear…
    Important point well put Matt.

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