nhk steal 1

This week’s large earthquake that struck Nagano, Japan was unfortunately quite damaging. The magnitude 6.7 quake brought down over 140 houses in the area, injuring at least 40 people. When an event like this occurs, everyone switches on their TVs to see how bad things were and where it struck. In Japan, people will often turn to NHK, their nationally funded broadcasting service. Normally a trusted news source, NHK decided to expose the conditions of an otaku’s room where his unique collection was scattered across the floor.

How did they get such an in-depth look at the damage done to a local resident? Was there a connection with someone within the TV station? Did they rush to his home to capture the footage first hand? Nope, they simply pulled the photos “From Twitter” without asking for permission. Can NHK actually do that?

The short answer is…no. At least if this was the US. In a court decision back in January 2013, it was ruled illegal to use photos posted on Twitter from the 2010 earthquake in Haiti without the permission of Daniel Morel, the photographer. Damages were paid to Mr. Morel and it really should have come as no surprise as Twitter has always maintained that users own their photos.

Are we going to see something similar in this case? It’s hard to tell how far @tomy_itaita is going to take this. His original photos were uploaded after the earthquake, showing the state of his extensive collection in ruins. He lamented that many of his items were either gifts from friends or limited editions and just very important to him in general.

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In his mourning state, he was surprised to discover that his pictures were appearing on TV! He quickly posted a tweet asking if anyone else had seen his pictures being used by NHK.

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He reached out to NHK to ensure they knew where to “send the paycheck”. But just like the destruction of his collection, the news didn’t look good for @tomy_itaita when they responded to his inquiries with a ridiculous blanket statement.

“[…]As we aim to provide impartial reporting, we cannot pay you.”

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Further correspondence from @tomy_itaita to NHK produced no better responses.

“[…]Due to our broadcasting regulations, we will not be able to pay you.”

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NHK seems pretty confident in their refusal to compensate @tomy_itaita for using his photos without permission. However, most net users in Japan are already getting out their torches and pitchforks saying things like:

“This is bad! Using a picture without the person’s permission…what are they thinking? Doesn’t NHK have any morals? It’s an infringement/violation of rights!”

“If companies want to use pictures, they should get the person’s permission first.”

“It’s just like NHK to bully people into getting what they want.”

Some people stood by the mantra of “As soon as you upload it to the internet, it becomes public property.” A fairly lawless view of the Internet, but Twitter’s Terms of Service clearly indicates that those photos belong to @tomy_itaita. It will be interesting to see what kind of legal leg NHK has to stand on in Japan.

Further action is squarely up to @tomy_itaita. Will he take it to the highest courts in the land, or just spend the time putting his collection back on the shelves?

Source: My Game News Flash, Twitter (@tomy_itaita)
Additional Information: Twitter Terms of Service, The Verge
Top image: Twitter (@tomy_itaita)