Photographers based in the UK now have an easier and cheaper legal path to take if they discover someone infringing upon their copyrights. Chris Cheesman of Amateur Photographer writes that photographers can now receive do-it-yourself justice without having to hire a lawyer:
Intellectual property disputes can now be resolved using the ‘small claims track’ in the Patents County Court (PCC), following a Government announcement of a ‘simpler and easier’ system last month. Photographers can pursue damages for breach of copyright, for up to £5,000, without even appointing a solicitor, unlike before where they may have been put off by a potentially long, and expensive, legal fight.
Furthermore, the damages limit may rise to £10,000 under Ministry of Justice proposals, possibly as early as next year. Crucially, under the new system, photographers can avoid the prospect of a lengthy court battle and the fear of having to pay the legal fees of the successful party if they lose.
Donalee Moulton over at The Lawyers Weekly has an article describing how EXIF data is beginning to be accepted as valuable evidence in courtrooms — at least in Canada:
Traditionally, a photograph was a picture of one point in time. It could only tell what someone was doing, or not doing, at a particular moment on a particular day. What came before or after was unknown. This uncertainty meant that even what appeared to be a damning image had little value as a piece of evidence because there was no context [...]
Digital photography does not pose the same problem. In some cases, the metadata are enough to counter the snapshot argument by demonstrating that an activity was performed repeatedly or for a lengthy period [...]
Apparently judges are considering EXIF data to be relevant in personal injury lawsuits, in which photos could “prove” that the plaintiff isn’t too injured or depressed to function properly. Hopefully the courts are aware of how easily EXIF data can be faked.
Copyright infringement of photographs is anything but uncommon in this Internet age, as countless images are published all across the web every day without the owners’ consent. The problem is so widespread that virtually everyone gets away with it. The ones that don’t, however, are occasionally in for a good deal of pain.
Case in point: the viral-content aggregation site BuzzFeed is currently being sued for $1.3 million by a photo agency after publishing nine — that’s right, nine — of the agency’s photographs of celebrities. Read more…
Apple is constantly engaged in its fair share of courtroom battles, but its latest one hits a little closer to home for photographers. Swiss photographer Sabine Liewald has filed a lawsuit against Apple for using her “Eye Closeup” photograph to promote the 15-inch MacBook Pro’s Retina Display. Read more…
Back in 1992, Los Angeles-based photographer Laura London lived down the street from the singer of the rock band. The singer’s name was Axl Rose. The band was Gunz N’ Roses.
Flash forward twenty years, and London is currently holding a photo exhibition for her project, “Once Upon a Time … Axl Rose Was My Neighbor,” at Coagula Curatorial in LA. The show features photographs from the time London spent living a stone’s throw away from a man who is now considered one of the greatest hard rock singers of all time, along with portraits of Rose wannabes and band photo recreations. One particular image in the show attracted the attention of Rose, and not in a good way — it led to a lawsuit threat. Read more…
Freelance paparazzi photographer Paul Raef was arrested back on July 6th after chasing Justin Bieber on 101 Freeway, becoming the first person charged under a new anti-paparazzi law signed by former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Raef is currently facing four misdemeanors, with two of them being “following another vehicle too closely and reckless driving, with the intent to capture pictures for commercial gain.” The punishment is up to one year in jail and $3,500 in fines.
The Los Angeles Times reports that his lawyers are now trying to have the anti-paparazzi law declared as unconstitutional, saying that it specifically and unfairly targets a certain group of news gatherers. Read more…
Here’s a quick update by Gary Fong on the wedding photographer who’s being threatened with a $300,000 lawsuit by a client who says that he didn’t like the images. The photographer’s name is Nelson Tang, and we learn that Tang has received a followup letter that appeared at first glance to be a lawsuit, but lacked a necessary court stamp at the bottom. This messy case has going viral online and has everyone shouting “extortion”.
Photographer and entrepreneur Gary Fong was recently contacted by a wedding photographer who found himself in a pickle: after doing a “great job” (in Fong’s opinion) in shooting a wedding, he received a menacing letter from the couple threatening him with a $300,000 lawsuit. The video above shows Fong reading the letter — which sounds an awful lot like blackmail — and explaining some of the mistakes made by the photographer. The main takeaway: always sign a contract!
The University of California has agreed to dish out a $162,500 settlement to David Morse, a 43-year-old photographer who was arrested back in 2009 while covering a student protest. The SF Chronicle writes,
[The suit] an officer told Morse, “We want your camera. We believe your camera contains evidence of a crime.”
The officers ignored his press pass and arrested him and seven others on suspicion of rioting, threatening an education official, attempted burglary, attempted arson of an occupied building, vandalism, and assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer, the suit said.
Morse spent the night in jail. Prosecutors declined to file charges.
But police obtained a search warrant and used several of his photos in brochures and online in hopes that the public could identify individuals.
As part of the settlement, the police department has also agreed to modify its procedures regarding seeking materials from journalists and will be conducting training sessions teaching its officers about media rights.