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Copyright Infringement

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by PLPhoto, Aug 30, 2008.

  1. I know we get a few of these threads here and some may be tired of them, but I need some help.

    I recently found an image of mine in a full page ad that was used in two separate magazines. The same image was used in two other mags awhile ago, but I charged for those.

    Here’s some background;

    A year or so ago, I entered into a verbal agreement with a semi-pro surfer to photograph him surfing. He said his sponsors were looking for some pics for their ads. He said he couldn’t afford a pro photographer for each and every shoot.

    Seeing as I could make my money from the ads, I shot him for free. I never gave him any full rez images…save for one and you guessed it, it’s the one that was used without permission. It technically was not given to him, but sent through an email for him to give to his sponsor.

    I kept the emails between us where I explained he was not to use them for ads or publication without my permission and his replies with understanding.

    Though it’s an image of HIM surfing, does he have partial copyright?

    I've contacted the company (his sponsor), but have not informed them of my concern. I only asked where the ad was being run.

    Written contracts from here on out for me.
  2. Also, register your images with the US copyright office. It can be done via electronic submission for a mere $35 or 45 (I forget which.....and that price is the entire submission of LOTS of zipped files, not a 'per photo' charge). If it's registered, its very easy to pursue. If not registered......I think you're going to have a much harder time.
  3. No, he doesn't share in the copyright of your images. He has rights of publicity, which restricts what you can do with the photo as far as using it commercially, but you own the copyright unless you specifically signed it away to him or the sponsor, which you didn't.

  4. So what's my next step, seek payment from both, him and the sponsor?
  5. iLLMaCK

    iLLMaCK Guest

    So to do this, you have to submit your images in? it doesn't include anything you take, just what you upload?
  6. GoGo


    Apr 20, 2006
    New York

    Find an attorney that handles this kind of case.
    Your first contact with the copyright infringer will set the tone for the entire dialog.
  7. Thanks Giorgio, that's what I pretty much thought I'd have to do.
  8. I agree - there are several ways of approaching them, and an attorney can eyeball the situation with experience.

  9. pirahnah3


    Feb 22, 2008
    Most certianly i would go after them for this. The only problem is finding the proof that the images are yours and were not taken by someone else at the exact same location (i bleeive you im just pointing out osmthing that could be used by another party in defense is all) if you have some very good proof that they are yours ie the fact that they were published elsewehre and you were paid for them then i would go after them for it.

    I have also heard that should you have these images that you mgiht print what you can always do is sign them and mail them to yourself, do not open the envelope and if anything ever happens you can go back and use the sealed postmarked envelope as proof as to the fact that you took the images on the dates you specify. A postal mark is considered proof as long as the packaging has not been opened or tampered with.
  10. Thank God for EXIF data.

    But I'll post the images here in a bit for everyone to compare.
  11. The very rough/dirty answer is: photos you take ARE copyrighted to you (automatically), but if they're not registered, you have minimal "automatic" protection. If they're registered and used without permission, fines are collected without any angst on your part, and can very large (automatically), i.e. over $10k

    I'm sure you can find more info via Google.
  12. So stupid question, if I register the image in question now, then it's probably too late?
  13. Perhaps. You have 90 days after the first publication to register. After that you are losing the automatic protection (and statutory damages), but it's still beneficial to do so. Without registration, your case won't even be heard in court, according to a lawyer specialized in these matters, which was a guest on Scott Kelby's blog and/or weekly video show a while back, at photoshopusertv.com
  14. pirahnah3


    Feb 22, 2008
    i agree, btw being a newenglander, what did you happen to shoot?
  15. I shot this guy while I lived in San Diego.
  16. Thanks Philippe, someone sent me that link earlier, good info in there.

    I'll be sure to register the image asap.
  17. genera


    Oct 6, 2005
    Your statement is a bit misleading.

    United States Copyright Office, "Copyright Basics", p7
    My interpretation:
    • Your work is automatically protected if you register it or even if you don't until the copyright expires (usually 70 years after the death of the works creator).
    • If you register within 3 months you may be able to collect statutory damages without providing proof of the amount of damages and you don't have to prove in court that the work is yours unless the copyright infringer challenges it. Not having to provide proof of the amount of damages is the key reason to register within 3 months.
    • If you register after 3 months but within 5 years the registration becomes evidence that the work is yours, you don't have to prove it in court unless the copyright infringer challenges it. You do have to prove the amount of damages.
    • If you register after 5 years you not only have to prove the amount of damages but you also have to prove the work is yours.
    • You have to register to take your claim to court but you can do that at any time while the copyright protections are in effect.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 31, 2008
  18. The interpretation of the lawyer I was referring to (not my interpretation, and IANAL) is that you need to register to have your day in court. Without it, most judges will throw the suit out, altogether (in the US).

    I don't see how what I said conflicts with what you quoted and how you interpreted it. I only mentioned 2 of the things covered in your excerpt from the Copyright Office... Thanks for putting the whole thing though.
  19. pirahnah3


    Feb 22, 2008
    hoenstly i would just approach them nad see if nothing else maybee you could at least get them to publish your name with it and get them to use your work legitimently?
  20. genera


    Oct 6, 2005
    Agreed that you must register to pursue the case. I don't really have any issues with what you said. I realized that you were probably paraphrasing or quoting the lawyer. I just wanted to make sure that people see that there are options if you don't register within 3 months.
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