Monday, September 20, 2010

Beware Your Copyright Infringements - Case in Point

Your copyrights, and those of your colleagues, are under constant attack. It's critical to not just police yours, but to help out your fellow photographers, where it seems likely an infringment might be possible.

Today, while in-between assignments, I was in Washington DC's Union Station. There, I stumbled upon Images 4 View (listed here), a kiosk operating a green screen business. Most of the images appeared to be snapshots they could have taken themselves, or, in a few cases, White House public domain images. However, one image stood out for me - the image from the cover of Sarah Palin's book. Set aside your opinions of Sarah Palin, the fact is, this was the one image I thought was a candidate for having been infringed.

First, I made several images of the booth scenery, and it being operated.

(Continued after the Jump)

Then, a quick online search turned up the photographer - Seattle photographer John Keatley. Fortunately, his cell phone was listed there, and a quick call to him confirmed what I suspected - he was being infringed. While no one likes learning this, I think what they like even less is that people are profiting off of their work and they are not being compensated. What's interesting here - is that while locations like Union Station must be certain that their vendors are not selling illegal drugs, and are operating with a license to do business, they should also be making sure that their vendors are not violating federal laws like Copyright. I get this same type of frustration when I see a kiosk in the mall where a sketch artist has "sketched" famous images like John Lennon with his arms crossed, or other iconic images of celebrities. I can't wait to stumble upon one of my images that has been infringed - I will have a field day with that vendor.

In this case, I sent along all of the images I shot of the booth. Next, I went to the hourly photographer working the booth, and asked for the company owner's name, and she provided it, and his email address, which I promptly sent along to Mr. Keatley.

If each of us, when we see what could well be an infringement, or, well, just looks odd, spend a few minutes on your smart phone, make a few images, and help out. The more we police this, the better our community will be.

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.


Rose Santuci-Sofranko said...

Amen! Despite the fact that I have my website and full name clearly posted right across the center of each of my photos on my site, I still see (via my StatCounter account) that they are being downloaded by others. It makes me glad that I took the time to put my "mark" across them, but I worry for other photographers when I see their beautiful portfolios online and their names are not even on the pictures, or, if their names are on there, the photos are still sometimes shown full size and can be easily downloaded. I noticed one of my photos of the Peace Bridge on somebody's site and wrote to them about it...they promptly took it down, but never responded to my note.

Simon said...

Just yesterday I emailed someone about an image of mine, which I found on his website (via a google search). I know exactly where he got the image as I only provided it to one event organiser who put it on their website. I retained copyright and all other rights. The offender's website makes liberal use of other photographers' work - all with credits, as was mine.

I would love to look out for other photographers, but in this situation I have no way of knowing whether permission has been obtained in these cases and my case is the odd one out (he may have obtained what he thought was valid permission from the event organiser). I'm not going to start throwing around accusations without proof.

I'm still waiting for a reply about my own image!

DC Discombobulated said...

Bravo on the post. I think there is a similiar tourist "photo business" in the Old Post office food court area. I will have to check that out next time I am there!

Steve said...

Man, i have had to email 3 or 4 people in the last 2 weeks for a couple of shoots. Not only do they steal the images but they dont even give photo credits at all... and these are businesses, not kids on facebook...

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