Thursday, August 09, 2012

Finding Photos on the Web: Are You Infringing?

I'm cross-posting this from another blog.

A few weeks back, I shared the story of an author who learned an expensive lesson after she posted a photo she found on the web on her blog. In short, the photographer sued for copyright infringement, and from the angst of her blog post, I gather he won.

Copyright infringement is rampant these days, with many believing, "If I find it on the web, it's fair game". Not true.

During a discussion on this subject yesterday, a friend provided me with the following link to an article on copyright myths. If nothing else, read the headings and the summary below:

She sent this to me because I'm struggling with the owners of a website who posted a picture of mine, which they found via Google Images (images of which do not belong to Google at all. The search engine just finds everything "out there" based on the search terms). I ask the website owners to remove it, and they refused believing it was public domain because it's visible on the web.

And therein is the crux of this post.

Photographers whose work is being used with or without credit--and definitely without permission--are fighting back. It's easy to tell when a photo has been accessed; statistical reports such as Google Analytics or Blogger Stats display pages visited. From there, a photographer need only to go to Google Images and click on the camera in the search field:

Photographers can either upload a photo from their desktop, or paste in the photo URL. Within seconds, every page on the web displaying that photo is listed

The photographer may send a note (or a bill) to the blog/website owner. However, some may contact the webhost (who may have forbid such copyright infringement in the terms of service) and request something called a DMCA Take Down Notice. The webhost's contact information is fairly easy to find. Others, like the photographer in the aforementioned case, sue.

So to those who like to find photos via sites such as Flickr or Google Images, take them down and quickly. As for the site using my photo, I've requested a DMCA Take Down Notice and I'm okay with that. It's far better they learn a free lesson with me than an expensive one with an attorney.

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