Back in 2006, a pornography publishing company named Perfect 10 attempted to sue Google over copyright infringement, claiming that the thumbnails displayed on Google’s image search did not fall under “fair use.” Ultimately, the Supreme Court wouldn’t even hear the case, allowing the ruling that thumbnails are fair use to stand and handing Perfect 10 yet another loss (they’ve sustained many in this area). Read more…
In case you missed our earlier post, let’s get you up to speed: in the internet age, the argument is that you don’t own anything anymore. This is relevant because yet another copyright infringement lawsuit has made its way across our computer screens, this time between a student photographer and the Colorado University newspaper The CU Independent that printed and distributed his now famous falling bear image. Read more…
Copyright laws get pretty specific. A photographer can not only give a green light on a work, he or she can license a work for use only during specific years, or in a specific area, or for a specific publication medium (i.e. print vs electronic); and now it looks like massive publisher Pearson Education is in trouble for breaking these sort of terms one too many times. Read more…
I’ve got a little story for you today, and a valuable lesson for photographers everywhere. On the Monday before last, a post that I wrote the week before started to go viral. I was receiving more traffic than I had ever experienced before, and from sites that I had never heard of. Fantastic. Only, along with the good news, we have some bad news. Read more…
Photo-sharing site Pinterest, the new darling of social media, has a copyright infringement cloud hanging over its head. The fact that anyone can upload and share copyrighted photographs through the site has prompted many sites — most notably Flickr — to ban “pinning” for copyrighted works. Up to this point, Pinterest has tried to avoid legal trouble by having a Terms of Service that places all the blame for copyright infringement on its users, but a new solution may be on the horizon: mandatory captions. Requiring users to comment on pinned photos may cause the sharing to be protected under “fair use” because it becomes the subject of “commentary”.
One of the new darlings of the Internet world is Pinterest, a photo-sharing social network that has exploded in the past year to become one of the world’s most popular websites. In recent days, however, there has been concern over the fact that copyrighted images can be so easily reproduced and reused on Pinterest without the owner’s permission. A week ago Pinterest launched a special “nopin” HTML meta tag that lets website owners prevent “pinning” on their sites, and last Friday Flickr became the first large photo service to implement the tag, preventing “pinning” for copyrighted and protected photos. Previously Flickr was the third most popular source of pins on Pinterest, so this update will likely have a big impact on both sites.
After discovering his photograph used without permission on The Telegraph’s website, photographer Jonathan Kent contacted the newspaper asking to be compensated for the unauthorized use. He then received an email from deputy picture editor Matthew Fearn, who defended the newspaper’s actions, stating,
[Due to the] ever-shifting nature of news – in particular with the advent of online publishing – [...] it is not always possible to secure copyright clearance before pictures are published.
Our industry therefore adopts the stance that if a picture has no overwhelming artistic value and if there is no issue of exclusivity (ie it is already being published online or elsewhere) then no reasonable copyright owner will object to its being republished in exchange for a reasonable licence fee. The only alternative to such a stance is not to publish pictures at all unless they come from a commercial library, the available range of which will inevitably be inadequate.
[...] In this instance, and in light of what you have told us, we have no reason to doubt that you are the copyright owner for this picture. However the blog from which it was taken gave no indication as to the copyright owner and no contact details. We therefore used it (in fact we inadvertently used it again for some four hours this morning) in the normal way, which is to say that we were always prepared to pay the industry standard rate.
Fearn has reportedly offered Kent £400 to settle the case, arguing that it is a higher amount than Kent would be awarded by the court.
If you’re a photographer in the UK, you might want to think twice about shooting and selling a photograph that has a similar composition to an existing photo. Souvenir company Temple Island Collection has won a copyright infringement case against tea company New English Teas after a photo of a red London bus was used on tea packaging. Photo copyright expert and lawyer Charles Swan states,
His honour Judge Birss QC decided that a photograph of a red London bus against a black and white background of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, with a blank sky, was similar enough to another photograph of the same subject matter to infringe copyright.
The decision is perhaps surprising, given the commonplace subject matter of the photographs. The judge himself admitted that he found it a difficult question, but in the end he decided that a substantial part of photograph one [Temple Island's image, top] had been reproduced in photograph two [New English Teas', bottom].
Although the photo itself wasn’t copied, the judge ruled that the similarity of the ‘visual contrast’ of the red bus and B&W background infringed on the original photographer’s ‘intellectual creation’. The case is reminiscent of photographer David LaChapelle’s lawsuit against Rihanna for infringing upon his style in one of her music videos. Rihanna ended up paying an undisclosed sum of money to LaChapelle to settle the case.
Src Img is an uber-simple bookmarklet created by Jarred Bishop and Hayden Hunter that lets you quickly do a Google Image search for any online photograph with just two clicks. It’s a simple link (i.e. bookmarklet) that you drag into the bookmarks bar of your browser. Whenever you want to search Google Images for a particular photograph, simply click the bookmarklet. It’ll overlay all the photos on the page with a “?¿” square. Click this to search for that photo. Voila!