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Newspapers suing over usage of articles/photos...

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by sypher, May 8, 2011.

  1. sypher


    May 24, 2006
    Cougar Country
    The article is essentially about a newspaper organization that has hired a company to search the web for articles, photos, excerpts that are being used on blogs and other websites. Then said company goes and obtains copyrights and sues the indivual(s). It appears in most, if not all, instances that the people being sued didn't even receive any sort of a warning. They eventually dropped a suit against one person once they found out he had autism, diabetes and lived on disability checks with his mother.
    I know that as photographers this is a sensitive issue, but I have mixed feelings about how they are going about this and would like to hear what you have to say on the subject.
    For those who don't read the article it was written by a reporter who works for a newspaper that is owned by the organization that has hired the company to "hunt" these offenders down.
  2. I'm all for it. It actually affects the little guy more than the big guy. A lot of websites especially in countries with little to no copyright laws, steal photos, print them and sell those images in their local magazines. A lot of these 'small' websites do steal photos purposefully with the intent to make profit. It's a problem in the PJ market.
  3. jjdesanto1


    May 1, 2005
    Warwick, N.Y.
    John DeSanto
    Since I work in the newspaper industry, I can tell you this has been an huge issue for newspapers for the last couple of years. Here is why:

    The newspaper and its employees create the content. There is cost involved in creating this content since we essentially pay reporters, photographers, editors and graphic artists to create it. There are other costs beyond the pay scale including health and liability insurance and costs to run the building and heat it. Of course, you could argue that these costs are already covered by advertising sales and the buck you pluck down to pay for the product. And you would be right. But we are only obligated to share the content for free with our partners (think wire services like the AP) Everyone else must pay to use it. (You listening, Google?)

    So if anyone else wants to re-purpose that content for their own need - then they need to get approval in writing from the people who created it and then pony up for it. If you don't want to pay, there are other options: Like go hire your own reporters, photographers, graphic artists and editors and produce it yourself. (You listening, Google?) Essentially, the person or organization who created the content gets to decide who has access to it. (And we, as photographers, already know: Free is not a valid business plan. Or we should know that by now.)

    All of this stuff is really only skirmishes in what will be a bigger battle. (Of course, the little guy always gets hurt in a battle between the big boys and that's not a cool thing.) But I mention Google for a reason. The newspaper industry has been grating over Google's unauthorized usage of content for some time now. Since Google's business plan is to essentially "scrape" content from other websites and repurpose it for their own profit - and a huge profit at that - this is exactly where the battle lines will be drawn. Google has a great idea and it is tremendously useful to all of us but sooner or later the people whose content is being "scraped" are going to want a piece of the money pie.

    As you can guess, it means we will all be paying for internet content in the future. The only question is how soon.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2011
  4. Lurker


    Jul 21, 2007
    Fair use. As defined by law. Which is also why this case pretty much got laughed out of court.
  5. Been seeing this more lately on several other forums I am a member on, where political discussion etc is common...the admins have prohibited posting anything other than hyperlinks from news articles for fear of being sued.
  6. sambo.


    Mar 20, 2011
    imho: it's about <insert forum innappropriate expletive of your choice> time.

    it costs a considerable sum of money to produce news content. for example, if i drive from my home to another town in the district to shoot the footy, the paper i work for is paying not only my wages, but also the mileage on the vehicle, the equipment used to both capture and edit the images (camera + computer), software (have you seen the price of CS5?) and various other sundry expenses (insurance for one).

    pictures are not 'free'.

    when bloggers can just pinch any picture they feel will illustrate their idea and run it with no recompense or credit to the people that actually produced said image, they are STEALING. simple as that.

    if mum'n'dad blogger wants a picture of someone getting a pat-down at an airport, then they can pick up their own camera, go to the airport (pay the carpark charges themselves) and take their own picture.

    if they want to use someone elses picture, they can pay for it. heck, if they'd contacted the newspapers in question and asked, they could probably have legally bought non-exclusive web-rights to use the pic on their blog for ~$50 or less.

    i'm constantly being asked if i can 'just e-mail me the picture'. to which my stock standard response is: no, but you can buy it from me. giving away free pictures does not pay for the $60k worth of equipment i own, nor does it pay for my rent, food and make provisions for my retirement.

    just quietly, if i had an IP lawyer who would work on a no-win, no-fee basis, i'd be sueing the pants of a number of media companies myself.

    this is one of those things that's going to take a little time to drill into people's heads. people are used to getting free content (hello Napster/LimeWire/etc). but if no-one ever pays for content, a lot of companies will have to seriously rethink their business models.

    be careful, there's 'fair use' and then there's what people think is 'fair use', but is actually wholesale copyright theft.
  7. RDW1


    Jan 16, 2009
    In this particular case, it's been suggested that the little guy is often getting it in the neck, and some might say there's a (not very) fine line between legitimate action against infringement and cynically opportunistic legal bullying that tramples on fair use. Allegedly. I of course have no opinion on the matter (or the desire to be sued for anything).


    Well, there is a simple fix for that:

  8. Actually, if I'm repurposing newspaper content for my blog or website (which garners income from ads or the like), this would fail all 4 of the provisional considerations for fair use for US copyright law and I could very well be liable for infringement.

  9. sambo.


    Mar 20, 2011
    all copyright enforcement action is 'opportunstic legal bullying' to some extent or another.

    the question of 'fair use' is one that i don't think many people actually understand properly. it's not a blank slate to rip of anyone and everyone elses work without recompense.


    when i get my pix website up, i'll be doing that. my reasoning is that the people i'll be trying to sell pictures to will all have my business card anyways, so i won't need SEO to help garner sales.

    it's also a MAJOR plus as i cover a lot of children's sport.
  10. Thorsten

    Thorsten Moderator Moderator

    Are those the same newspapers that used the photo of the girl from the Arizona shooting without approval from the photographer who owned the copyright? And then bullied the photographer into dropping his lawsuit? :rolleyes: 
  11. sambo.


    Mar 20, 2011
    if the photographer was dumb enough to drop the lawsuit, that's their problem.

    when i find my pic in a paper and they havn't checked with me first, i just send in a bill for 5x what i 'would' have charged.

    generally, they just cough up.
  12. Thorsten

    Thorsten Moderator Moderator

    The media started a propaganda campaign against him, saying he was exploiting the shootings for personal gain. His business took a dive, clients went elsewhere, and the only option he saw to save his job was to drop the suit and effectively give his photo away. Yeah, real dumb. :rolleyes: 
  13. sambo.


    Mar 20, 2011
    aha, i've just read up on it. it was a studio portrait taken some time before, not a live news picture.

    imho: as a photographer, you generally have to cop those on the chin when it happens.

    i thought we were talking about a news pic of the shooting, not a paid-for studio portrait session.
  14. jjdesanto1


    May 1, 2005
    Warwick, N.Y.
    John DeSanto
    The media started a propaganda campaign against him...?

    Sorry, you are obviously living in the wrong country.

    The campaign against this photographer was started by the family of the slain young girl who were outraged by the $125,000 fee he was trying to extract from each of five news outlets. Did the Arizona Republic break ethics rules by running the photo without the photographer's approval? Absolutely. Bad move on their part. But normal thinking people everywhere came down pretty hard on the photographer for his actions and in my opinion, rightfully so.
  15. sambo.


    Mar 20, 2011
    dear lord. he was being greedy.

    if he'd sent in a bill for one days casual work to each of the news outlets, they probably would have just coughed up.

    if i were the parents, i'd be ****** off too. that is just blatant profiteering.
  16. Thorsten

    Thorsten Moderator Moderator

    Ah, I see, if the price is too high, then it's ok to steal the image. Or maybe it's ok to steal the image when it depicts a shooting victim. By the way I just googled it and found this, with a quote from the girl's father:

    I don't know if this report is accurate, but either way there is no doubt about one fact, which is that newspapers stole the image.
  17. sambo.


    Mar 20, 2011
    hmm, the plot sickens.

    hard to know who/what to trust here.
  18. Thorsten

    Thorsten Moderator Moderator

    Me neither, but I wasn't actually trying to bring up again or discuss the photographer's side or his actions, but what the newspaper has done, as per this thread's topic. And no matter what one thinks about this photographer, the newspaper's side is very simple and clear: They printed a professionally taken photo without obtaining a license, knowingly breaking the law and calculating they would get away with it. As it turned out, they were right about that part. It's all too easy to divert attention from that.
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