Oakland PD Lifts Flickr Looting Photos


Photo by Thomas Hawk

Photographer and blogger Thomas Hawk is helping the Oakland Police Department apprehend looters. He didn’t agree to that, mind you. When reading a San Francisco Chronicle article about police trying to track down looting suspects in the aftermath of BART cop Johannes Mehserle’s manslaughter conviction, Hawk recognized his own photos in the batch. It seems that, to aid their police work, the Oakland PD took photos off Flickr from the riots and released them to the media.

The legal issue here is hazy – at least Hawk’s photos were under Creative Commons, which means people are able “to copy, distribute and transmit the work” with the condition that attribution is given. But the Oakland PD did not give attribution and, seemingly, released them as their own. To cover themselves, the Chronicle uses the credit “Obtained from Oakland Police.”  

Does it seem weird to you that law enforcement are essentially breaking copyright law to aid in their police work? How hard would it have been to include the photographers’ names with the photos?

Post from Thomas Hawk

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2 Responses to “Oakland PD Lifts Flickr Looting Photos”


  1. 1 photography August 13, 2014 at 9:06 am

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Exceptionally well written!


  1. 1 Here’s a Quandry « Prison Photography Trackback on July 16, 2010 at 12:55 pm

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