Wednesday 1 August 2012

Yes, you can be sued for stealing intellectual property

Have you ever looked for a news item, only to find the entire article embedded on some dang site that features way too many Google ads? This is theft. Plus, it forces readers, researchers and consumers to weed through endless crappy webpages to find the actual article or information for which they search. You must be vigilant, both as producer and consumer of Internet work!

Theft of intellectual property includes photos!
This includes photos on Pinterest and Facebook! I think it criminal that people 'pin' photos on that site, the image is stored on the Pinterest main drives, or they post it on Facebook, where Facebook has its own invented rights to reproduction. I go to Facebook to see what my friends are up to, not photos that interest them.

Public domain, Fair Use, Fair Dealing (Canada, UK), does not mean you can use anything you find. I have written much about this since 1989, when I first encountered students printing out an entire CD Rom on their major project topic, and calling it their own. 

Fair Use (US Law)
Fair use is a limitation and exception to the exclusive right granted by copyright law to the author of a creative work. In United States copyright law, fair use is a doctrine that permits limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders. Examples of fair use include commentary, criticism, news reporting, research, teaching, library archiving and scholarship. It provides for the legal, unlicensed citation or incorporation of copyrighted material in another author's work under a four-factor balancing test.

Fair Dealing (Canada)
The Canadian concept of fair dealing is similar to that in the UK and Australia. The fair dealing clauses[1] of the Canadian Copyright Act allow users to engage in certain activities relating to research, private study, criticism, review, or news reporting. With respect to criticism, review, and news reporting, the user must mention the source of the material, along with the name of the author, performer, maker, or broadcaster for the dealing to be fair. 

Read more from a US lawyer: Nine Copyright Myths of the Online World.

There are many high-profile bloggers who run ads and take sponsors for their blogs, but most, like me, take photos for fun. I have sold a couple. It irks me to see photos stolen and used by someone else. We must take great pains to credit photographers and teach our readers that we have sought permission to post such photos.

You have to do the legwork, searching for photo credits, determining if the photos are Creative Commons, or not. Ed, a Muskoka blog buddy, has a fabulous 'Photo Use' page that outlines proper protocol, as well as good Netiquette.

I have had my photos stolen, as have my friends.
Read about Ed's issues:
I recently discovered my photos showing up on a Facebook page promoting a local Muskoka magazine. How I ended up on that Facebook page is another story. They opted about 3500 people into their group without anyones knowledge or permission, very surreptitious.  Anyhow, I am honored that people like my photos and share them with friends however in this case I noticed something rather peculiar. The watermarks I normally use to promote this blog were missing and replaced with someone else’s name.  That’s odd I thought and started thinking maybe someone took a similar photo but as I continued to search I found additional photos of mine with someone else’s name.
It takes substantial energy and cost to go after people who use photos without permission.
But some, with money and power can go to great lengths to do so. Have you read about BlogHer's issue? She was sued, and bitterly regrets her ignorance. Ignorance, however, is no excuse. She has come clean and writes a warning:
One of the things I learned early on was that a post with a photo always looked nicer than one with just text. So I looked at what other people were doing for pictures.  And mostly it seemed that everyone was grabbing pics from Google Images and pasting them on their sites. Sometimes with attrib…

There is a service to help photographers who have been ripped off.
ImageRights will check the sites it monitors against all of the photos you upload to your account.  Upload one time and your work is done.  We will report back to you when we find them being used online.

Check out Copyscape! Another useful resource.


Ed said...

Thanks Jenn for posting this information. I think most people borrow other peoples photos and share them quite innocently because they enjoy them. Personally I have no problems with that.

Then there are the outright thieves who take the photos and use them for brochures, websites or advertising campaigns. They sometimes modify them and add their own watermarks claiming ownership. Most photographers who publish on-line have had this happen and it can be a little disheartening.

Last year I discovered one of my Muskoka photos used in a poster for a Hollywood production. It was nice that they thought so much of my photo but would have appreciated that they ask to use it. I received an apology after I chased them down but no offer of compensation or even an acknowledgement.

Kay said...

Wow! This is an eye opener. I've tried to be careful, but now I'm wondering about those Forwarded helpful hints I've gotten. I've posted those on my blog. I'd better go back and check on those. I've gone through my blog (4 years worth) and I think I've been pretty careful... I hope. Thank you so much for this post, Jenn!

Linda said...

Thanks so much - in my post for tomorrow, which is my Thursday Theme Song, I have changed the words of the song as I used my photos to illustrate it, hoping I have done enough to escape the clutches! I certainly don't want to get in trouble with anyone! I have never used any photos other than my own, or my husbands (and always because he took them for me!)...

Red said...

Thanks for the info. This is a post I will have to come back to.

Christine said...

very good info Jenn, thanks. Although I love Pinterest.

Jenn Jilks said...

I get so angry for people like us, Ed. We volunteer and have things stolen...