Copyright protection for posted images

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by kallisti, Mar 2, 2014.

  1. kallisti, Mar 2, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2014

    kallisti macrumors 65816

    kallisti

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2003
    #1
    I vaguely remember this being discussed in the past here.

    Are images posted here (or in other web forums) protected under US (or international) copyright law from being downloaded and used for commercial purposes without the consent of the author?

    My understanding is yes. I seem to remember that the act of posting a photo creates a de facto copyright on the image, without the need to do anything else. Is this true?

    While many of the images posted here are too small to be printed, they could be used in blogs, webpages, advertisements, etc. on the internet.

    Would welcome feedback (and possibly a sticky thread at the top of the forum!) outlining the legal rights/protections of members for the images posted here.
     
  2. themumu macrumors 6502a

    themumu

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    #2
    It's not the act of posting, but the act of capturing a photo that creates a copyright. In most countries the law is that you own the copyright to the images (or other creative works) that you create, unless you specifically sign a document re-assigning the rights to another party. The legal protections are outlined in the countries of people who participate in a copyright dispute, not in the forum rules.

    That said, de facto many people do no care about the legal status of images they find online and will go ahead and use them for their purposes. Legitimate businesses will typically not do that, but the shady ones are unlikely to care about legal aspects of what they are doing.

    If you are concerned about shady businesses abusing your images, your options are: low resolution and/or ugly watermark, or not posting at all.

    Of course, you can always try to pursue legal action in case of copyright violations, but how much time/effort/money it will take and how successful it would be is hard to predict.
     
  3. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #3
    No-one should use your images for commercial (or any other) purposes without your permission, and payment (if required). I license stock pix through an online agency, and get paid (99 times out of 100) by the people involved. The problems start when these pix are published on the web, and then 'nicked' by third parties.

    To go after all infringers would be almost a full-time job. There's not much point, IMO, in going after bloggers, or the kind of 'junk' websites that 'hoover up' content from other websites. But commercial uses are a different matter.

    Check out this page for some very useful ideas about steps to take...
     
  4. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

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    #4
    Copyright is extremely simple to understand. If you create it you own it and all the usual rights of ownership apply.

    But then everyone seems to disregard the simple these days. They seem to believe they can think it into whatever they want it to be. At least that's what happens to every copyright discussion I've come across.

    Dale

    BTW: Do the tutorial links for this month at post one ask you to sign in to Google? They did for me and should be Public. So as to not hijack the thread, PM me an answer.
     
  5. needfx macrumors 68040

    needfx

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  6. kallisti thread starter macrumors 65816

    kallisti

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    #6
    Thanks for the clarification. Anyone think it would be helpful to have a sticky at the top of the forum outlining this issue? Not with the expectation that it would only specifically apply to this site, but just as a reminder that all images posted here (or anywhere) have copyright attached to them?
     
  7. themumu macrumors 6502a

    themumu

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    #7
    Copyright protection for posted images


    I think it would be redundant.

    People who care, know it already, people who don't, still wouldn't pay attention.
     
  8. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #8
    I am not a lawyer, so this is lay opinion, and very US-centric. There's a WIPO treaty that's global, and individual countries have their own laws.

    In the US, any image is copyright when it's taken- not when it's posted. There is 'fair use doctrine' that allows some uncompensated use.

    Commercial use generally requires a license, however if the image wasn't either previously registered with the Copyright Office prior to publication or release, or registered shortly thereafter as a previously-published image, then your remedies are limited to actual damages. If you register your work before you post it, then you're allowed massive statutory damages if anyone uses it without a license. In general, those sorts of things are settled out of court for major infringers like media outlets, advertising agencies and the like for around $60-80,000 an infringement the last time I looked, which was admittedly about 6-8 years ago.

    Derivative works and works similar to other's photos muddy the waters and may require actual legal advice to understand or figure out.

    http://copyright.gov/ holds a bunch of US-centric information.

    Paul
     
  9. kallisti thread starter macrumors 65816

    kallisti

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    Apr 22, 2003
    #9
    I respectfully disagree. I care about it, but was confused. I imagine there are others who have never thought about it. Possible there are readers of the POTD thread who out of ignorance aren't sure if it is kosher to use images for personal use (like copying an image to their home screen) or think it may be okay to post images from here on their web page or Facebook. While all of these uses may be "minor" in the grand scheme if things, it might be helpful to have a sticky that outlines "fair use."

    Honestly, this is a photography forum where the expectation is for people to post their creative work. Shouldn't there be something stickied reminding everyone of what "fair use" entails?
     
  10. themumu macrumors 6502a

    themumu

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    #10

    If you really care, you should research relevant legal documents, not forums' stickies. Creating a sticky that is comprehensive enough to actually be useful would be a lot of work, because like many legal issues, it's complex and strongly dependent on circumstances/jurisdictions etc. Who is going to keep monitoring the changes to the laws in the US, UK and elsewhere and make sure the info is accurate and up to date? There is a reason lawyers charge hundreds of dollars an hour for their services ;)

    If you are making a living with your photos you should seek professional legal advice. It's a subject that's both very broad and deep and in my opinion, falls outside the scope of this forum.
     
  11. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #11
    Yes... it's a big subject (made more complex by laws, in different countries, on copyright, copyright theft, attribution, 'passing off', etc). The only way to avoid our pix 'going walkabout' is never to post on the web... which takes away a lot of the fun of digital photography. My pix have been 'stolen' thousands of times by people who think that anything they find on the internet is free for the taking. The availability of online imagery is one reason why the value of stock photography is on a downhill slope.

    I can't get too outraged about this, because I have downloaded music I haven't paid for, watched films and sport for free on dodgy streaming websites, etc. The only times I get upset are when my pictures have been stolen and then used on commercial websites. Basically, if people are using my pix to make money, then I'd like my share... :)
     
  12. rolsskk macrumors 6502

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    Sep 1, 2008
    #12
    So let me get this straight - you expect those who don't understand/know/want to comply with copyright and fair use laws to read a sticky, and then magically understand/comply?
     
  13. Cheese&Apple macrumors 68000

    Cheese&Apple

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    Toronto
    #13
    I think you've got a valid concern kallisti but the mumu is right:

    In an ideal world, people would read things like sticky reminders and follow instructions. In an absolutely perfect world, you wouldn't have to post this information at all.

    Of course we live in neither so, as Doylem mentioned, the only way to truly and completely protect yourself is not to post images on the internet.

    Would I like to be asked for a copy of an image before someone grabs it? Yes. Would I like to receive credit or acknowledgment for creating that image? That depends on destination and use. However, I'm realistic about this issue and post with the understanding that my images are not secure.
     
  14. MCAsan macrumors 601

    MCAsan

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    #14
    If you are afraid of your image being highjacked....very simple....don't publish it. But if you do publish it, put a watermark on it.
     
  15. kallisti thread starter macrumors 65816

    kallisti

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    Apr 22, 2003
    #15
    Nope, that would be naive. Also don't think it would be helpful or possible to have an extensive post attempting to outline the legal ramifications, even in an abridged form.

    Was really just thinking of a short, one-paragraph post stating that posted images have implied legal protections and are the property of the owners. I imagine that there are honest but ignorant readers of this site who have never really considered whether it's "right" or "fair" to download images from here and use them in various ways.

    All of the replies are valid. It probably is redundant and wouldn't accomplish anything tangible.
     
  16. Bending Pixels macrumors 65816

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    Jul 22, 2010
    #16
    In order for copyright to hold up in court, you'll need to have them filed with the US copyright office.

    Most pro photographers will do a bulk upload on a regular basis (I think the charge is something like $35 for each upload - no limit on the number of images). If you're a member of NAPP/KelbyOne, they have some great courses on copyright.

    Once an image is copyrighted, if someone uses it without your permission (and you hope it's someone like an Exxon or Microsoft), you can legally go after them for damages.
     
  17. Captpegleg macrumors member

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    Jan 19, 2009
    #17
    If you're really concerned about someone taking your image the only protection is don't make it available. Remember that if someone wants it badly enough they're gonna get it. After all, Putin just did it with a whole country.
    If you just have to post it, watermark it and embed your copyright info with the photo. And don't post the photo in a resolution greater than you have to. That should prevent easy commercial use or at least make it less attractive for that purpose.
     
  18. mtbdudex macrumors 68000

    mtbdudex

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    #18
  19. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Redondo Beach, California
    #19
    Never say "some one should..." YOU make the "sticky". Be sure and hire a real lawyer and don't just re-word stuff you read on some forum. Also make sure to include sections in the "sticky" for each country. US laws are different from German or New Zealand laws.

    But even if you hired an expert to write a summary for you, what's the point? No one would bother reading it. In real life if you post something on-line it is "gone" people will do what they want with it and it is out of your control. Your best option is to give permission for stuff you put on the web.
     
  20. kallisti thread starter macrumors 65816

    kallisti

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2003
    #20
    I concede. Thought having a general post stating that images posted here (just like anywhere on the web) might have real or implied copyright protection could serve a purpose. Seemed like a good idea at the time. I ran it up the flagpole and no one saluted. In hindsight, probably for good reason.

    Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
     

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