There was a little brouhaha this week regarding Lane Hartwell's copyrighted photography being used without permission in a recent YouTube video by an acapella group called the Richter Scales. Derek Powazek has a great rational write-up explaining all the details.
The important takeaway for me is that as the community of folks creating collaborative media [i really like that term, Derek], has gotten larger and the tools that enable distribution get easier to use and more widely distributed, it is less likely that the originator of the work will actually know the person who is 'sampling it'. As a result they may just not feel as beholden or even think about the original creator. Not acceptable. Additionally, we live not only in an increasing era of collaboration but in an environment of curation as well. For a safe environment of curation and collaboration to flourish it is critical to maintain respect for the individual who created the original work. This respect can come in many forms [ from payment to link love] depending on the nature of the work [copyright, CC, free- flowing ideas off a blog post or presentation or speech].
In the old days, you may not have cared if you were 'stealing' from the big bad media guys - heck they are making a fortune and there seems to be no individual person with skin in the game [whether or not what you might be doing is illegal]. Well, in the era of social media there is often an individual person affected. They may be trying to eek out a living directly from the sale of their work or building a reputation based on their ideas. It definitely ups the ante on the rules of reciprocity and respect.
I have to say, I am a stickler for this stuff whether copyrighted material, Creative Commons or whatever. I do my best to link and cite and stick to the use originally intended and identified by the original creator. This is not to say I don't sometimes make mistakes as well [please call me on it], but I am conscious that we do indeed live in a collaborative environment. [I am also the daughter of a librarian and think proper footnoting is embedded in my DNA]. I often go so far on my preso's to put an "inspired by" note on the bottom of any slide that uses a single bullet or even idea [graphic or text] from something I read on some one else's blog or website. Not so hard and the effort goes a loooong way. It's about reciprocity and respect for another individual's work.
And, if that is too touchy feely for ya--well--if nothing else there is the practical knowledge that this stuff travels! It is just good internet karma.
[Update: I forgot that I myself am guilty of having linked to the disputed video, until I had this needling in my head and went back and looked at it. Amazing. This even further proves the point of how important it is for the original collaborator to just 'do the right thing'. Even those of us who should know better don't often catch this stuff. There is just too much info out there and it travels really fast!]