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eHo.st Provides Automatic Attribution for Shared Images – Copyright Concerns Remain

September 4, 2011

A new image-sharing site, “eH0.st,” is hoping to break ground as a “more ethical” host.

Currently, image hosting mainstays like imgur.com allow users to submit photos, and get a shortlink for sharing on reddit or twitter.

So how is eHo.st different? First, to upload to eHo.st, users simply append the eHo.st URL to the URL of the image. Second, when an image is sent to eHo.st, the original is automatically linked, and an attribution link is posted alongside the image. [see this informative comic].

The ethical advantage is clear: rather than simply stealing content and reposting it to a new host, eHo.st provides the creator the moral satisfaction that comes with attribution and (potentially) increased traffic. But does this assuage any legal concerns? Not completely.

While attribution may help avoid the copyright lawsuit by making the creator feel better, infringement is actionable even when the content is attributed. To avoid liability for copying protected content, you should seek permission, or be sure you have a valid fair use argument.

eHo.st does, however, provide a great avenue for sharing Creative Commons content. Many artists who post content to sites like Flickr do so under a Creative Commons license, which can specifically allow the resharing of their work so long as it is attributed. eHo.st provides the attribution automatically.

eHo.st has taken steps to protect itself from liability for vicarious infringement, which allows copyright holders to sue companies for inducing others to infringe on copyrights. Generally, a host allowing users to post content can escape this type of liability by having a specific notice and takedown procedure in place that complies with the DMCA. The host must also have a designated agent in charge of receiving copyright complaints. The eHo.st Terms of Service track the DMCA requirements pretty closely.

The bottom line is that eHo.st is a step in the right direction, and definitely an improvement.

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