[Slashdot] Why the Photos On Wikipedia Are So Bad

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[Slashdot] Why the Photos On Wikipedia Are So Bad

K. Peachey
Why the Photos On Wikipedia Are So Bad
---------------------------------------------------------------
"The NY Times has an article investigating why, unlike the articles on
Wikipedia which in theory are improved, fact checked, footnoted, and
generally enhanced over time, the photos that go with Wikipedia
articles are so bad[1] and in many cases there is no photo at all for
even well known public figures. Few high-quality photographs,
particularly of celebrities, make it onto on Wikipedia because
Wikipedia runs only pictures with the most permissive Creative Commons
license[2], which allows anyone to use an image, for commercial
purposes or not, as long as the photographer is credited.
'Representatives or publicists will contact us' horrified at the
photographs on the site, says Jay Walsh, a spokesman for the Wikimedia
Foundation. 'They will say: "I have this image. I want you to use this
image." But it is not as simple as uploading a picture that is
e-mailed to us.' Recent photographs on Wikipedia are almost
exclusively the work of amateurs who don't mind giving away their
work. 'Amateur may be too kind a word; their photos tend to be the
work of fans who happen to have a camera,' opines the Times's author.
Ultimately the issue for professional photographers who might want to
donate their work is copyright. 'To me the problem is the Wikipedia
rule of public use,' says Jerry Avenaim, a celebrity photographer. 'If
they truly wanted to elevate the image on the site, they should allow
photographers to maintain the copyright.'"

[1]. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/20/arts/20funny.html
[2]. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image_use_policy
[3]. http://tech.slashdot.org/story/09/07/20/0044240/Why-the-Photos-On-Wikipedia-Are-So-Bad

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Re: [Slashdot] Why the Photos On Wikipedia Are So Bad

Lennart Guldbrandsson
2009/7/20 K. Peachey <[hidden email]>

> Why the Photos On Wikipedia Are So Bad
> ---------------------------------------------------------------
> Recent photographs on Wikipedia are almost
> exclusively the work of amateurs who don't mind giving away their
> work. 'Amateur may be too kind a word; their photos tend to be the
> work of fans who happen to have a camera,' opines the Times's author.
> Ultimately the issue for professional photographers who might want to
> donate their work is copyright. 'To me the problem is the Wikipedia
> rule of public use,' says Jerry Avenaim, a celebrity photographer. 'If
> they truly wanted to elevate the image on the site, they should allow
> photographers to maintain the copyright.'"
>
> [1]. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/20/arts/20funny.html
> [2]. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image_use_policy
> [3].
> http://tech.slashdot.org/story/09/07/20/0044240/Why-the-Photos-On-Wikipedia-Are-So-Bad
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>

And if we truly wanted to elevate the text on the site, we should allow
*writers* to maintain the copyright?

This is, I am sorry to say, sloppy thinking. The images have been improved
greatly, but that is not as visible as on the text side - one minute there
is no picture, the next one there is a bad one, and the next minute there is
a better one, and soon somebody comes along and uploads a truly great one.
It takes a little bit more time, because it's a bit harder to contribute a
picture than it is to contribute with proofreading or fact checking - you
actually have to meet the person you want to portrait or go to the
geographical area you want to show. But improvement is certainly on the way
- and I am confident that this trend will improve as a) more amateurs have a
chance to meet celebrities (statistically, even blind chicken find their
food...), b) Commons becomes better known, and c) chapters can learn from
each other how to get museums and archives to donate their pictures.

Best wishes,

--
Lennart Guldbrandsson, chair of Wikimedia Sverige and press contact for
Swedish Wikipedia // ordförande för Wikimedia Sverige och presskontakt för
svenskspråkiga Wikipedia
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Re: [Slashdot] Why the Photos On Wikipedia Are So Bad

Stephen Bain
In reply to this post by K. Peachey
> Why the Photos On Wikipedia Are So Bad
...
> 'To me the problem is the Wikipedia
> rule of public use,' says Jerry Avenaim, a celebrity photographer. 'If
> they truly wanted to elevate the image on the site, they should allow
> photographers to maintain the copyright.'"

We should definitely take advice from a professional photographer who
doesn't understand what a licence is.

--
Stephen Bain
[hidden email]

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Re: [Slashdot] Why the Photos On Wikipedia Are So Bad

Huib!
In reply to this post by Lennart Guldbrandsson
Hello,

I think the writer should have looked on Commons longer and he would have
find beautifull images.

We work on Wikimedia with a lot of people doing the best the can, and the
message read above is disrespectfull to our volunteers. Nobody start with
perfect photo's, even the best photographer starts with bad pictures and
grows slowly to perfect pictures.

So yes we have pictures that are not so good, but the people that made
that photo will grow grow grow and make a perfect picture in a few years.
Commons is good in stimulating people to grow, you start with a fan
picture than you want a QI and after that you want a FP.

Huib

Http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/user:Abigor



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Re: [Slashdot] Why the Photos On Wikipedia Are So Bad

Huib!
In reply to this post by Lennart Guldbrandsson
Hello,

I think the writer should have looked on Commons longer and he would have
find beautifull images.

We work on Wikimedia with a lot of people doing the best the can, and the
message read above is disrespectfull to our volunteers. Nobody start with
perfect photo's, even the best photographer starts with bad pictures and
grows slowly to perfect pictures.

So yes we have pictures that are not so good, but the people that made
that photo will grow grow grow and make a perfect picture in a few years.
Commons is good in stimulating people to grow, you start with a fan
picture than you want a QI and after that you want a FP.

Huib

Http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/user:Abigor



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Re: [Slashdot] Why the Photos On Wikipedia Are So Bad

David Gerard-2
In reply to this post by Stephen Bain
2009/7/20 Stephen Bain <[hidden email]>:

>> 'To me the problem is the Wikipedia
>> rule of public use,' says Jerry Avenaim, a celebrity photographer. 'If
>> they truly wanted to elevate the image on the site, they should allow
>> photographers to maintain the copyright.'"

> We should definitely take advice from a professional photographer who
> doesn't understand what a licence is.


He does - he's a Wikimedia contributor! I'd suggest a quote got
over-compressed there.

The Slashdot coverage appears surprisingly clueful - i.e., that
reusability and a proper free license comes first.


- d.

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Re: [Slashdot] Why the Photos On Wikipedia Are So Bad

Marco Chiesa
In reply to this post by Stephen Bain
On Mon, Jul 20, 2009 at 12:38 PM, Stephen Bain<[hidden email]> wrote:

>> Why the Photos On Wikipedia Are So Bad
> ...
>> 'To me the problem is the Wikipedia
>> rule of public use,' says Jerry Avenaim, a celebrity photographer. 'If
>> they truly wanted to elevate the image on the site, they should allow
>> photographers to maintain the copyright.'"
>
> We should definitely take advice from a professional photographer who
> doesn't understand what a licence is.
>

I think that when we're dealing with celebrities, it is both in our
and their interest to have a good photo on Wikipedia or Commons. They
look very happy to pay a good photographer to get a good photo of
them, why can't they pay a bit more so that the photographer releases
some photos under a free license? Is the lobby of photographers really
so powerful?

At the moment the only alternative celebs have is hoping no random
Wikipedian takes a photo of them and once they're dead a nice
copyrighted photo can be uploaded on the projects that allow
fairuse... I don't think many celebs really want this ;)

Cruccone

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Re: [Slashdot] Why the Photos On Wikipedia Are So Bad

Peter Gervai-5
In reply to this post by K. Peachey
> Ultimately the issue for professional photographers who might want to
> donate their work is copyright. 'To me the problem is the Wikipedia
> rule of public use,' says Jerry Avenaim, a celebrity photographer. 'If
> they truly wanted to elevate the image on the site, they should allow
> photographers to maintain the copyright.'"

Apart from the clueless phrasing (which may or may not be due to the
news reporter instead of Mr. Avenaim) what he doesn't seem to
understand is that the pictures are what they are BECAUSE HE does not
want to release EVEN ONE of his photographs to make it better.

Basically he says "I do not like the look of it but I do not offer my
work but you have to change your rules instead". And I'd basically say
"it is as bad as it is because YOU have the means but not the will to
enrichen public content", and I may have added that "calling those
people names who offer their resources, time and money to make
Wikipedia better while you don't is hypocrisy".

But I guess they aren't really care.

As a sidenote I always wonder what amount of money would a
professional photographer lose to release only one quality photo for a
topic. He must be credited, so his name would be still famous if the
picture ever would find its way into the mainstream media; and I it
doesn't s/he didn't lose money but the community wins. Usually I do
not get it why people choose NC licenses all the time while there's
usually a low probability to actually _lose_ money by making it
public.

But maybe I'm wrong and people get heaps of cash for these pictures,
and every bit counts.

Peter

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Re: [Slashdot] Why the Photos On Wikipedia Are So Bad

Yaroslav M. Blanter
In reply to this post by K. Peachey
I think there ate two issues here, not one, even though all the replies
concentrate on just one issue: 1) why (good quality) pictues do not make
it to Commons, or make it insufficiently; 2) why they do not make it ot
the articles. I tried to make the point in the recent thread on the
purpose of Commons, but somehow it did not draw enough attention.
Realistically, if somebody uploaded a good picture (not necessarily of a
person, it could also be a landscape, a PD piece of art or smth else), and
if this somebody is an active editor of only one Wikipedia, this picture
has very little chance to make it to other Wikipedia articles, except may
be for the ones which are created after the file has been uploaded.

I believe that this problem is a meta issue and can be solved (i) either
by the Commons itself actively promoting newly uploaded files or (ii) by
writing a bot updating all Wikipedias on newly uploaded files (for
instance, if the article exists and does not contain any illustrations).

Cheers
Yaroslav


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Re: [Slashdot] Why the Photos On Wikipedia Are So Bad

Nikola Smolenski
Yaroslav M. Blanter wrote:
> it to Commons, or make it insufficiently; 2) why they do not make it ot
> the articles. I tried to make the point in the recent thread on the
> purpose of Commons, but somehow it did not draw enough attention.
> Realistically, if somebody uploaded a good picture (not necessarily of a
> person, it could also be a landscape, a PD piece of art or smth else), and
> if this somebody is an active editor of only one Wikipedia, this picture
> has very little chance to make it to other Wikipedia articles, except may
> be for the ones which are created after the file has been uploaded.

There are tools such as http://toolserver.org/~magnus/fist.php that
address this, perhaps they could be more advertised.

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Re: [Slashdot] Why the Photos On Wikipedia Are So Bad

Sage Ross
In reply to this post by Peter Gervai-5
On Mon, Jul 20, 2009 at 7:05 AM, Peter Gervai<[hidden email]> wrote:

>> Ultimately the issue for professional photographers who might want to
>> donate their work is copyright. 'To me the problem is the Wikipedia
>> rule of public use,' says Jerry Avenaim, a celebrity photographer. 'If
>> they truly wanted to elevate the image on the site, they should allow
>> photographers to maintain the copyright.'"
>
> Apart from the clueless phrasing (which may or may not be due to the
> news reporter instead of Mr. Avenaim) what he doesn't seem to
> understand is that the pictures are what they are BECAUSE HE does not
> want to release EVEN ONE of his photographs to make it better.
>
> Basically he says "I do not like the look of it but I do not offer my
> work but you have to change your rules instead". And I'd basically say
> "it is as bad as it is because YOU have the means but not the will to
> enrichen public content", and I may have added that "calling those
> people names who offer their resources, time and money to make
> Wikipedia better while you don't is hypocrisy".
>

Hold up!  This is User:Jerry Avenaim, and he has contributed some of
his low-resolution photographs, and even a higher-resolution one of
Mark Marmon that is a Featured Picture on en-wiki.

-Sage

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Re: [Slashdot] Why the Photos On Wikipedia Are So Bad

Gerard Meijssen-3
In reply to this post by K. Peachey
Hoi,
It is great to find issues with MediaWiki. The solution is often not obvious
and, there are often solutions available, some of these solutions do not
scale and some of the solutions are not invented here.David Shankbone is one
of the solutions for our lack of high profile people. David does important
work, his pictures are great but he does not scale.. We need more people
like David.

The Wikiportrait project is another solution. It has been developed by the
Dutch chapter, it works but it is in Dutch. It is software and it needs
internationalisation and localisation. It needs either money for the
internationalisation and then we can hand it over to translatewiki.net.

The last solution is to write to the publication agents and ask them for a
picture of their clients for use in Wikipedia. When we throw in an extra
bone by featuring high quality publications shots.. They are relevant,
encyclopaedic and are at least as relevant as all the bugs and panoramas we
habitually feature.

The best approach would be to promote all three solutions. This would allow
us to be true to our missions and address the issue at the same time
Thanks,
       GerardM

2009/7/20 K. Peachey <[hidden email]>

> Why the Photos On Wikipedia Are So Bad
> ---------------------------------------------------------------
> "The NY Times has an article investigating why, unlike the articles on
> Wikipedia which in theory are improved, fact checked, footnoted, and
> generally enhanced over time, the photos that go with Wikipedia
> articles are so bad[1] and in many cases there is no photo at all for
> even well known public figures. Few high-quality photographs,
> particularly of celebrities, make it onto on Wikipedia because
> Wikipedia runs only pictures with the most permissive Creative Commons
> license[2], which allows anyone to use an image, for commercial
> purposes or not, as long as the photographer is credited.
> 'Representatives or publicists will contact us' horrified at the
> photographs on the site, says Jay Walsh, a spokesman for the Wikimedia
> Foundation. 'They will say: "I have this image. I want you to use this
> image." But it is not as simple as uploading a picture that is
> e-mailed to us.' Recent photographs on Wikipedia are almost
> exclusively the work of amateurs who don't mind giving away their
> work. 'Amateur may be too kind a word; their photos tend to be the
> work of fans who happen to have a camera,' opines the Times's author.
> Ultimately the issue for professional photographers who might want to
> donate their work is copyright. 'To me the problem is the Wikipedia
> rule of public use,' says Jerry Avenaim, a celebrity photographer. 'If
> they truly wanted to elevate the image on the site, they should allow
> photographers to maintain the copyright.'"
>
> [1]. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/20/arts/20funny.html
> [2]. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image_use_policy
> [3].
> http://tech.slashdot.org/story/09/07/20/0044240/Why-the-Photos-On-Wikipedia-Are-So-Bad
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>
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Re: [Slashdot] Why the Photos On Wikipedia Are So Bad

Peter Gervai-5
In reply to this post by Sage Ross
On Mon, Jul 20, 2009 at 17:43, Sage Ross<[hidden email]> wrote:

> Hold up!  This is User:Jerry Avenaim, and he has contributed some of
> his low-resolution photographs, and even a higher-resolution one of
> Mark Marmon that is a Featured Picture on en-wiki.

Thanks for the info, for I was able to actually check the discussion
on the Hale Berry deletion page; so Jerry seems to be a good fellow
because he actually considered the effect of the license and uploaded
smaller pictures instead of removing them all. (Still some pictures he
uploaded are below the usable size, like
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Phil_1.jpg which is 250 × 342
pixels, and not good for anything including illustrating an article
apart from having a thumbnail. Most of his picture seems to be just
perfect for use, around the 1-2 Mpixel range which is a good
compromise to make them available for real use while preventing them
to be used in real printed media, which I guess provide Jerry a
living.)

So it seems just what I have guessed: the reporter misinterpreting someone.

Still if not, then Jerry isn't right, since IMHO 1-2 Mpx images aren't
bad [instead of having no image at all], and he contributed to that
pool. (If he'd believe these are bad then he's uploading bad mages,
which is, erm... I won't repeat myself.)

And in my opinion uploading a reduced resolution image, like 1-5
Megapixels is completely good and acceptable for our mission. These
are already quite useful resolutions, while they still aren't fit for
mainstream media. (Of course if people aren't worried about loss of
profit, should it ever could have been existing, then the original,
maximal resolution is preferred.)

--
 byte-byte,
    grin

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Re: [Slashdot] Why the Photos On Wikipedia Are So Bad

metasj
In reply to this post by Nikola Smolenski
On Mon, Jul 20, 2009 at 8:03 AM, Nikola Smolenski <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Yaroslav M. Blanter wrote:
> > it to Commons, or make it insufficiently; 2) why they do not make it ot
> > the articles. I tried to make the point in the recent thread on the
> > purpose of Commons, but somehow it did not draw enough attention.
> > Realistically, if somebody uploaded a good picture (not necessarily of a
> > person, it could also be a landscape, a PD piece of art or smth else),
> and
> > if this somebody is an active editor of only one Wikipedia, this picture
> > has very little chance to make it to other Wikipedia articles, except may
> > be for the ones which are created after the file has been uploaded.
>
> There are tools such as http://toolserver.org/~magnus/fist.php<http://toolserver.org/%7Emagnus/fist.php>that
> address this, perhaps they could be more advertised.
>

That's a great idea.  Having a prominent link to "recently uploaded images"
(I'm thinking of something like [[Special:NewFiles]] that shows more than 50
entries on a page with rc-style metadata, combined from the local wiki +
commons) next to "recent changes" on wikipedia would make quite a difference
-- we currently have an extra barrier to entry for people who want to get
involved with media.

Is this sort of change being considered by the usability project?

SJ
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Re: [Slashdot] Why the Photos On Wikipedia Are So Bad

metasj
In reply to this post by Peter Gervai-5
On Tue, Jul 21, 2009 at 8:51 AM, Peter Gervai <[hidden email]> wrote:

> And in my opinion uploading a reduced resolution image, like 1-5
> Megapixels is completely good and acceptable for our mission. These
> are already quite useful resolutions, while they still aren't fit for
> mainstream media. (Of course if people aren't worried about loss of
> profit, should it ever could have been existing, then the original,
> maximal resolution is preferred.)
>

Agreed.  There is a lot of mileage to be gained by approaching major
archives and clearinghouses and asking for wholesale free licensing of short
identifying clips of audio, Mpx images, and low-res video.  They would get
classification, usage data, supplementary information and recognition; and
would be losing almost none of their existing revenue streams.  Plus they
would be contributing to our shared culture, which the founders of some of
these organizations do care about.

SJ
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Re: [Slashdot] Why the Photos On Wikipedia Are So Bad

Sage Ross
In reply to this post by Peter Gervai-5
On Tue, Jul 21, 2009 at 8:51 AM, Peter Gervai<[hidden email]> wrote:

> So it seems just what I have guessed: the reporter misinterpreting someone.
>

The slashdot summary includes the choice quotes that are a bit out of
context, but in the original article it starts off the section with
Avenaim by noting his contributions.

-Sage

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Re: [Slashdot] Why the Photos On Wikipedia Are So Bad

wiki-lists
In reply to this post by Peter Gervai-5
Peter Gervai wrote:
>

> Usually I do not get it why people choose NC licenses all the time
> while there's usually a low probability to actually _lose_ money by
> making it public.
>

This may come as a shock to you but its not about money. When I take
photographs it is in my free time, and outside of the commercial system.

If you have a personal use, want to illustrating an article or blog that
is not Adsense rich, have an academic use, or a small scale fundraising
non-profit fine take what you want. If on the other hand you are share
cropping with Google Ads, using the images to tart up an otherwise
tawdry commercial web site, are involved in online selling, are a
commercial advertising or publishing house, then kiss my arse.

The NC license serves very well.


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Re: [Slashdot] Why the Photos On Wikipedia Are So Bad

Gerard Meijssen-3
Hoi.
True but not in the context of the WMF.
Thanks,
        GerardM

2009/7/21 <[hidden email]>

> Peter Gervai wrote:
> >
>
> > Usually I do not get it why people choose NC licenses all the time
> > while there's usually a low probability to actually _lose_ money by
> > making it public.
> >
>
> This may come as a shock to you but its not about money. When I take
> photographs it is in my free time, and outside of the commercial system.
>
> If you have a personal use, want to illustrating an article or blog that
> is not Adsense rich, have an academic use, or a small scale fundraising
> non-profit fine take what you want. If on the other hand you are share
> cropping with Google Ads, using the images to tart up an otherwise
> tawdry commercial web site, are involved in online selling, are a
> commercial advertising or publishing house, then kiss my arse.
>
> The NC license serves very well.
>
>
> _______________________________________________
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> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
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Re: [Slashdot] Why the Photos On Wikipedia Are So Bad

David Gerard-2
In reply to this post by wiki-lists
2009/7/21  <[hidden email]>:

> If you have a personal use, want to illustrating an article or blog that
> is not Adsense rich, have an academic use, or a small scale fundraising
> non-profit fine take what you want. If on the other hand you are share
> cropping with Google Ads, using the images to tart up an otherwise
> tawdry commercial web site, are involved in online selling, are a
> commercial advertising or publishing house, then kiss my arse.
> The NC license serves very well.


Certainly. I don't release every pic I take under a free license ...
hardly any of them, actually.

For Wikimedia purposes, though, one has to really let it free.

Explaining this to professional content creators and media companies
leads to exploding heads. Pointing out that giving it all away has
made Wikipedia a top-ten website and must be doing all right from it
isn't enough to convince them ... it goes so much against everything
they think they know about the world.


- d.

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Re: [Slashdot] Why the Photos On Wikipedia Are So Bad

wiki-lists
David Gerard wrote:

> 2009/7/21  <[hidden email]>:
>
>> If you have a personal use, want to illustrating an article or blog that
>> is not Adsense rich, have an academic use, or a small scale fundraising
>> non-profit fine take what you want. If on the other hand you are share
>> cropping with Google Ads, using the images to tart up an otherwise
>> tawdry commercial web site, are involved in online selling, are a
>> commercial advertising or publishing house, then kiss my arse.
>> The NC license serves very well.
>
>
> Certainly. I don't release every pic I take under a free license ...
> hardly any of them, actually.
>
> For Wikimedia purposes, though, one has to really let it free.
>


I only ever release under an NC license, so the wildlife photos,
architectural, historical, and medieval art images appear on academic
and educational sites, sites like nowpublic, and others, but will never
be on wikipedia due to the commercial use licensing policy.


> Explaining this to professional content creators and media companies
> leads to exploding heads. Pointing out that giving it all away has
> made Wikipedia a top-ten website and must be doing all right from it
> isn't enough to convince them ... it goes so much against everything
> they think they know about the world.
>

And in turn there are those of us that will not give anything to these
media companies. I'll see a company like News International rot in hell
first.


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