Copyright & Legal

Government Organizations Can Grab Photos Without Paying

By Jim Pickerell | 454 Words | Posted 6/19/2019 | Comments
The Texas Appeals court has ruled that the state can infringe upon copyright without risking punishment under the state’s or federal government’s “takings” clause. More than two years ago, photographer Jim Olive discovered that his aerial photo of the Houston skyline (titled “The Cityscape”) was being used by the University of Houston, a public university, on its website to promote its C.T. Bauer College of Business without requesting permission or making payment.

Unauthorized Use Dilemma

By Jim Pickerell | 1006 Words | Posted 6/13/2019 | Comments
A reader asked about un-vetted contributions to microstock sites. She has discovered that her work is widely copied on the Internet and says she was unaware that microstock sites allow people to post images that are not their own. She asked if I could provide a list of microstock sites that don’t follow up to determine if the person submitting images or footage really created what they are submitting. Finally, who should she chase up if there is an infringement?

Dreamstime’s Case Against Google Continues

By Jim Pickerell | 539 Words | Posted 6/10/2019 | Comments
In an opinion issued June 5th federal Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted only one part of Google’s motion for partial final judgment on the pleadings regarding the breach of contract and breach of implied covenant claims by Dreamstime.com that relate to a Google Play agreement.

PicRights Adds Partner In South Africa

By Jim Pickerell | 305 Words | Posted 6/4/2019 | Comments
PicRights, a global leader in copyright enforcement, has added a new partner in Johannesburg, South Africa to monetize copyright infringements for the world’s leading news agencies, stock image agencies and independent photographers. No other copyright compliance service offers its clients as much geographical coverage of key markets around the world.

MAXPPP Pursues Unauthorized Uses

By Jim Pickerell | 298 Words | Posted 6/4/2019 | Comments
The photo news agency MAXPPP has selected two partner companies to monitor, recover and prosecute the use of its content on the internet, the newspapers and the magazines. The goal of the partnership: to increase by at least 50% its revenues related to fraudulent uses.

Microstock – The Dark Side Of Image Licensing

By Martin Lisius | 744 Words | Posted 6/3/2019 | Comments
There are often two sides to an industry. The side the customer sees, and the "inside" that industry people see. This article is about the inside of the stock image industry and how Microstock has changed. It also offers photographers and videographers some ideas how to deal with the issues.

Small Claims Bill Moves Forward In Congress

By Jim Pickerell | 845 Words | Posted 5/8/2019 | Comments
The CASE Act (Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement) was first introduced in 2017, but the bill expired without being passed at the end of the last Congress, as is the normal process for all bills not passed. On May 1, 2019 the bill was re-introduced in both the House and the Senate.

The VCG Story Takes Another Turn

By Jim Pickerell | 1105 Words | Posted 5/8/2019 | Comments
Selling-Stock has managed to gather more information about what has been happening at VCG. According to sources sometime after the Corbis acquisition VCG decided to copy Getty’s Premium Access strategy and launch a PA plan of its own. In addition to all the Getty and Corbis creative and editorial images, the iStock images are also available to the customers who purchase a PA plan.

Fair Use Claim Rejected

By Jim Pickerell | 215 Words | Posted 5/6/2019 | Comments
On April 26, 2019, the Fourth Circuit Court overturned a Northern Virginia District Court decision that allowed Violent Hues Productions, LLC’s to use a cropped version of a photo to promote a Film and Music Festival without compensation to the creator. Violent Hues had made no effort to request permission or compensate photographer Russell Brammer for the use and claimed “Fair Use” in court. (See July 2018 story.)

Future Of Copyright In The US

By Jim Pickerell | 88 Words | Posted 4/23/2019 | Comments
On April 8, 2019 there was a roundtable discussion at the Copyright Office’s with regard to the immunity Internet Service Providers are entitled to under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act if they comply with various provisions. The content creator community has been hoping that the U.S. might follow the lead of the European Parliament and provide some additional protections for creators.

European Parliament Approves New Copyright Rules

By Jim Pickerell | 361 Words | Posted 4/2/2019 | Comments
With its “Copyright in the Digital Single Market” directive the European Parliament took a giant step last week toward empowering creatives and news publisher to negotiate with the Internet giants for a share of the revenue received as a result of their distribution of creative content they do not own. The new copyright rules also contain safeguards on freedom of expression.

Winning Copyright Infringement Cases Gets Harder

By Jim Pickerell | 161 Words | Posted 3/15/2019 | Comments
Two unanimous opinions of the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, March 4, make winning a copyright infringement case more difficult. See a full report on the Digital Media Licensing Association website here.

CEPIC Disappointed With Aspects Of EU Copyright Directive

By Jim Pickerell | 278 Words | Posted 2/25/2019 | Comments
CEPIC expresses its extreme disappointment at the EU copyright Directive as we see that last minute compromises were reached that will directly hurt CEPIC members specialized in fine art, history and vintage photography. Some of these libraries are attached to cultural institutions and contribute to their financing – this not only by “selling postcards” as the agreed compromise text implies.

EU To Modernize Copyright Rules

By Jim Pickerell | 389 Words | Posted 2/15/2019 | Comments
The European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the Commission have come to a political agreement to make the copyright rules fit for digital era in Europe. This will bring tangible benefits to all creative sectors including the press, researchers, educators, cultural heritage institutions, and citizens.

Dreamstime vs Google

By Jim Pickerell | 431 Words | Posted 2/8/2019 | Comments
U.S. District Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California recently granted Google's motion to dismiss the antitrust claim filed by Dreamstime.com LLC but allowed claims of breach of contract and breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing to move forward.

Copyright Office Outlines Challenges Facing Visual Creators For Congress

By Jim Pickerell | 226 Words | Posted 1/22/2019 | Comments
The U.S. Copyright Office has submitted a letter to Congress detailing the results of the Office’s public inquiry on how certain visual works, particularly photographs, graphic artworks, and illustrations, are registered, monetized, and enforced under the Copyright Act of 1976. The document is entitled, “Copyright and Visual Works: The Legal Landscape of Opportunities and Challenges.”

Copyright Thief

By Jim Pickerell | 279 Words | Posted 1/14/2019 | Comments
A reader called my attention to an article I wrote in 2010 where the “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that online rights infringements costs the U.S. economy roughly $58 billion in total output every year.” The reader wanted to know how much that might be today.

Photos Found On Social Media Aren’t Free To Publish

By Jim Pickerell | 654 Words | Posted 12/12/2018 | Comments
In the case of Jonathan Otto vs. Hearst Communications, Inc. in the Southern District Court of New York, Judge Gregory Woods has found that news organizations may not use personal images posted on social media without permission. In the event that personal images are use the infringer is legally liable to pay damages to the creator.

Masterfile Not Paying Royalties

By Jim Pickerell | 401 Words | Posted 11/25/2018 | Comments
According to photographers Masterfile has been unable to make any royalty payments to photographers since January 2018. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2017. Payments to the bankruptcy lawyer are prioritized ahead of payments to photographers. It appears the company has not been generating enough revenue to cover fixed expenses and still pay royalties.

Google Images Displays Copyright Info

By Jim Pickerell | 805 Words | Posted 11/9/2018 | Comments
In late September 2018, Google announced that it had been working with two photo industry consortiums, CEPIC and IPTC, to integrate some image ownership-related metadata into search results. Now Google images desktop view has a new “Image credits” link below the image. This information is collected from IPTC Creator, Credit and/or Copyright information if it exists.

Australian Online Piracy Survey

By Jim Pickerell | 561 Words | Posted 11/2/2018 | Comments
For the last four years the Australian Government has published an annual "Consumer Survey on online copyright infringement". The 103 page report focuses on the unlicensed use of Music, Video Games, Movies, TV, e-Books and PC software. Unfortunately, it does not deal the unlicensed use of photographs.

Sports Photographers’ Win Appeal Against NFL

By Jim Pickerell | 253 Words | Posted 10/29/2018 | Comments
The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reinstated copyright infringement claims by sports photographers against commercial users of their photographs, finding that the licenses that the photographers had granted to one of those users did not permit it to grant a sublicense to the other to use those photographs for free. Spinelli, et al. v. National Football League, et al.Case No. 17-cv-0673 (2d Cir. Sept. 11, 2018) (Lynch, J).

Image Creator Locator Update

By Jim Pickerell | 2563 Words | Posted 10/26/2018 | Comments
The following is an update of information I have supplied previously about the Image Creator Locator concept. The previous stories can be found here, here, here and here.

Dilemma: Chasing Unauthorized Uses

By Jim Pickerell | 1194 Words | Posted 10/19/2018 | Comments
Photographers trying to earn a portion of their living from the images they produce get very upset when they discover that someone has used one of their images without permission or compensation. But, pursuing and collecting from such users can be a very complex process and raise some difficult issues.

Are You A “Copyright Troll?”

By Jim Pickerell | 1258 Words | Posted 10/12/2018 | Comments
Creators take note. Are you a “Copyright Troll?” For people in the tech industry and many Internet users this as a term of derision implying that the troll has no right to expect compensation for small uses of their copyrighted material. On the other hand, for those trying to earn a portion of their living creating the images that people need to promote their businesses and the services they offer, maybe this should be a badge of honor. Maybe you should be proud to be referred to as a “Copyright Troll.