Photographer wins $135k settlement for unauthorized use of Hotel pic

6 comments
Source Title:
Photographer Wins Settlement for Images Used on Travel Web Sites
Story Text:

A Dallas photographer who discovered an image of his being used by a travel website (and then 1400 other websites, naturally) sued the parties involved for copyright infringement. After a year and $55,000 in legal fees, they settled and he got $135,000. That's $80,000 for the use of ONE photo of the exterior of a hotel.

Interesting to note the importance of registering photos with the copyright office *before* publication. Also interesting to (once again and allegedly) see a corporation ignoring complaints or otherwise not taking the claimant seriously.... only to end up on the expense end of a settlement.

Seems pretty clear that the use of the image on 1400 travel websites (affiliates?) played a large role in the determination of the settlement amount.

BTW archive.org shows the Bradford website has changed the photo used, but the Harness image can still be found in various places (like here hereand here) NOTE DISCLAIMER: I have no idea of these are properly authorized uses of Mr. Harness' image or not).

Isn't it scary that it might be more cost effective to pursue such infringement claims than actually work hard at your job, thanks to the Internet!

Comments

and a comparison

Isn't it scary that it might be more cost effective to pursue such infringement claims than actually work hard at your job, thanks to the Internet!

Hey, he at least had to take the picture!

Gotta be at least as much work as putting up automated adsense pages or blogging.

Good on him

Theft is theft. If it is so easy why did they have to steal his work? :O)

As someone who has been on the shitty end of IP/copyright theft it isn't ever very funny, just glad it was never any risk to my livlihood.

It's stories like this that

It's stories like this that really hammer home the need to have custom or licenced photos, or else copyright-free such as from YotoPhoto.

not quite

Nice link drop, but not worthy IMHO. No AboutUs info, no accountability, and a disclaimer:

Quote:
If you use any of the stock photos or images found through this site, it is your responsibility to verify the copyright status and usage conditions on the site where the image was found. The information and links on Yotophoto are provided on an as-is basis with no guarantees. We are not responsible for any third-parties use of images and photos located through this service

Not much better than nabbing images randomly... which is probably less of a target, too.

It's Canadian whois, but here in the US we have something called an "implied warranty". There are many kinds, one of which is an "implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose". Another is an "implied warranty of merchantability". If that image site is trusting webmasters who put Creative Commons licenses on their sites, interpreting that to mean the images thereupon are "available", then claims like this one (from the beta launch announcement):

Quote:
We currently have over 50,000 free stock photos in our database

and this one:

Quote:
Yotophoto is the first and only internet search engine for finding free-to-use stock photographs and images

and this one

Quote:
We are now indexing over 100 000 Creative Commons, Public Domain, GNU FDL, and various other free images

probably exposes them to liability claims... despite the disclaimer. They are taking responsibility for having determined the images themselves are free (I AM NOT A LAWYER).

So if you use images found on "free" image websites, you still have to worry about getting sued by the photographer/copyright holder. At least you can try and spread the blame around to services like that, I guess.

By the way I side with the photographer on this. He clearly made the effort and played by the rules. I wonder though if this case and others like it will spur the creation of more businesses solely interested in collecting settlement fees from casual violators (as happened with software patents).

Indeed, as with any such

Indeed, as with any such service, you have to be careful - YotoPhoto (which I have nothing to do with) seems to source a lot of its photos from material uploaded to the Wikipedia as copyright-free.

I think the issue at hand in the story is not simply the us of intellectual property, but additionally the disregard of justified claims of of intellectual property, and royalty-free commercialisation from it.

YotoPhoto

Remember posting about that back in June - good site imo

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