It wasn’t too long ago that Kodak filed multiple patent infringement lawsuits against Apple in a scramble for life-giving cash, but now the tables have turned. Less than a month after Kodak filed for bankruptcy and announced the end of its camera business, Apple is reportedly in the process of asking the court for permission to sue bankrupt Kodak for infringing on Apple’s patents in its printers, digital cameras, and digital picture frames. This back and forth IP fight is one that Kodak might not be in for long: the company is still trying to sell off its portfolio of roughly 1,100 imaging patents.
(via Bloomberg via Ars Technica)
Image credit: Knockout by What What
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.
Telegraph’s picture editor caught in copyright infringement blunder [BJP]
Image credit: journalist by alexgamela
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.
Photographers Face Copyright Threat after Shock Ruling [Amateur Photographer]
Kodak might be on its deathbed, but that’s not stopping the company from launching a new volley of lawsuits over patent infringements. Already trying to milk $1 billion from Apple, the company has filed new lawsuits against smartphone makers Apple and HTC, alleging that Apple violated four of its patents and HTC five. The lawsuits center around technology for transferring photos on and off devices. While today’s lawsuits might simply be a creative marketing effort in Kodak’s attempt to sell off its patent portfolio, the market seems pleased with it: the stock price jumped nearly 40% today.
(via Foss Patents via Engadget)
Image credit: Two Against One by Alistair Knock
So this was the first sunset I captured in 2012. It cost me $6,612 to take this photo.
Wedding photographer Joe Simon learned about copyright the hard way recently after his video of Tony Romo’s wedding went viral on YouTube. He had used the song “Fix You” by Coldplay without permission, and was forced to take down the video and pay a settlement to avoid a costly lawsuit. David Walker of Photo District News has an illuminating article on the issue:
“It’s nearly impossible and I’ve never heard of a wedding photographer successfully being able to license a mainstream song for synchronized use,” [wedding photographer David Jay] says. “I’ve spent a long time trying to make it possible. Photographers want to pay a reasonable fee to use the music so when they can’t they’ll just do it anyway.”
The problem, Jay explains, is that you have to get a license from three or four different people, including the lyricist, the composer, and the recording artist and/or their record company. While rights licensing organizations such as ASCAP and BMI make it easy to license music for broadcast, they don’t offer synchronization licenses for “small” users like wedding photographers.
Wedding Photographers Face the (Copyrighted) Music [PDN]
Image credit: Music Note Bokeh by all that improbable blue
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!
Src Img (via dvafoto)
Singer Bob Dylan is being accused of plagiarism after several paintings in his recent art show were found to have “striking resemblances” to works by photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dmitri Kessel and Léon Busy. An example is Dylan’s painting titled Opium (above left), which appears to be directly copied from Busy’s Vietnam (above right). A Flickr user also found that Dylan had copied six photographs — one of which an artificial Photoshop edit — from his Flickr stream.
The debate over David LaChapelle copyright infringement lawsuit against Rhianna rages on — lawyer John William Nelson has written an article on why copyright should extend only to the literal copying of a photograph and not the elements within the photo:
A photograph is a mechanical representation of facts. This is unlike a painting, which is a non-mechanical representation of something—be it facts, such as an attempt to paint an outdoor scene or create a portrait of someone, or imagination in the form of how the artist sees the world, such as the Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night painting. Paintings, therefore, are pure expressions of ideas or facts. Photographs, however, are mechanical expressions of facts.
[...] extending copyright protection beyond the mechanical copying of a photograph (i.e., scanning it and sending it to all your friends) is extending copyrights in photographs too far. The expression of a photograph cannot be separated from its factual reproduction of actual events. Attempting to do so leads to absurd results.
Therefore, a bright-line rule should reserve copyright protection in photographs only for the reproduction of those photographs. Copyright protection should not extend to the elements within the photographs themselves—doing so results in copyrighting facts, which is beyond the scope of copyright law.
It’s a pretty length piece, but well worth a read. What’s your opinion on this issue? Should the elements within a photograph be covered by copyright protection?
Photography Copyright, Rihanna, And Why We Need a Bright-line Rule (via Techdirt)
Here’s an update to the whole monkey copyright story that’s been swirling around the blogosphere as of late: TechDirt points out that works that aren’t the product of human authorship cannot support a copyright claim. Section 503.03 of Compendium II of Copyright Office Practices published by the US Copyright Office reads:
503.03 Works not capable of supporting a copyright claim.
Claims to copyright in the following works cannot be registered in the Copyright Office:
503.03(a) Works-not originated by a human author.
In order to be entitled to copyright registration, a work must be the product of human authorship. Works produced by mechanical processes or random selection without any contribution by a human author are not registrable. Thus, a linoleum floor covering featuring a multicolored pebble design which was produced by a mechanical process in unrepeatable, random patterns, is not registrable. Similarly, a work owing its form to the forces of nature and lacking human authorship is not registrable; thus, for example, a piece of driftwood even if polished and mounted is not registrable.
Is a photograph taken by a monkey the product of human authorship? On one hand, the monkey pressed the shutter, but you also can’t argue that a human author didn’t contribute, since they had to have provided the camera in the first place (unless the monkey stole it or something…). TechDirt believes the photos are in the public domain.
(via TechDirt via Boing Boing)
Image credit: Driftwood Eagle by Port of Tacoma