Using Photographs Without Permission on eBay is a Crime!

Discussion in 'Photography and Art' started by photopro, Jun 30, 2007.

  1. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    I received a disturbing note from a grower in Hawaii this afternoon. Someone on eBay has been using one of her photos to sell a Philodendron sp. They told her they got the photo from me. If they did, I'm not certain how!

    From time to time people do ask if they can use one of my photos. I almost always say yes. And from time to time I find my photos on eBay without anyone asking for permission. I send a gentle scolding note to the user asking for credit. That usually ends it!

    This grower does allow me to use her photos from time to time and I credit her as do I with all the other good folks who loan me photos for the website. I've got notices at various points on the site that the photos are copyright protected and ask to be contacted before any reuse. Apparently, many folks now believe if it is on the internet it is public property. That is simply not factual! Starting today I'm adding this message to every page on the site:
    Images on this website are Copyright protected. They are not in the public domain! Contact us before attempting to reuse.

    All photos anyone creates are the copyrighted property of the creator at the moment it is taken. There are steps you must take under Federal Copyright Law to protect your copyright in a court of law but you legally own it the moment you take it! By not protecting your copyright all you loose is the right to sue for attorney's fees in addition to damages. That's all! You do not loose the right to sue!

    I'm a retired professional photographer and use without permission is a big no-no in the pro photographer community! Photographers make their living with their camera. If you steal a photograph it is the same as stealing property! I know of one lawsuit that ended it a court ordering a payment of many thousands of dollars for using one image without permission!

    I'm relatively certain most people that use this board are descent folks. But I know some do sell plants on eBay. Please understand, if you wish to use one of my photos I'll almost certainly give you permission provided you give me credit when and where you use it. If someone else owns the photo on my site I'll give you a contact and you need to ask their permission before just using it! There can be legal costs if you don't!!

    This is absolutely no threat! But you should know that I have sued folks for using my photos and have settled out of court for fees of as much as $5,000 for unauthorized use. Other photographers have received much more! I once had to go to court and the user was forced to withdraw his advertisement, pay damages, pay all legal costs, destroy all his original ads, and pay me a large fee. He didn't even use my actual photograph! He hired another photographer to duplicate my photograph! But the second photographer did it so well the court ruled it was theft of my copyright! The user was out the cash to duplicate my image plus all the costs including model's fees. It got very costly for that company! A simple "may I" along with the payment of a fair fee would have saved them a lot of cash! And the loss of the cost of the ads!

    So if you are considering using someone else's photo, any photo, get permission! And give them credit if you get the permission to use it!

    It may seem like a trivial thing to many people, but photographs are created works. Legally, it is just like stealing a computer program or other body of created work. And there is a major body of Federal law written to protect unauthorized use. Be kind. Ask first!
     
  2. Liz

    Liz Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Am I right that it is ok to use a picture you like on your personal computer at home. I change screens about once a month. This falls into the same category as a personal use photocopy from a book out of the library???? Your problem is commercial use???

    Liz
     
  3. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Not just federal! Most countries have copyright protection laws — in theory, all do, but unfortunately not much attention is given to them in some parts of Asia and Africa.
     
  4. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    Most photographers I know of have zero objection to use on your personal computer. The complaint comes when it is used for "commercial" use without credit and/or payment. eBay would certainly fall in that group. The problem is, even though the sale is usually for a small amount of money, a creative work has been hijacked for personal gain (cash). And most photographers get really upset when a website just elects to grab a photo and use it without asking permission or credit.

    Many novice photographers are not aware their photographs have "value" and they legally own them with a large body of legal rights attached. That "value" attaches at the instant you click the shutter! You can read it in US. Copyright law. As a result, they don't often say anything when someone "borrows" their photograph. But using a photograph without permission or credit is legally the same as theft.

    Michael F is certainly right. Copyright laws are on the books of most countries. The problem is protecting your copyright in countries outside the US and the internet has made that difficult. I did once defend for a photo stolen in Mexico. It took some effort and cash but I still won. But decent people won't knowingly break the law and just steal someone else's property. Hopefully, we can keep the world of plant nuts descent.

    If you are an eBay seller, and want to use a photo you find on the net to illustrate the plant you are about to sell, just do the right thing and ask for permission. Only a few photographers will deny you that permission. Generally, all you need do once permission is granted is state who owns the photograph in your copy. But if you use it without permission I know for certain eBay will lift your privilege to sell on their site once it is reported. That is why the little logo is placed in the corner of every photo used on eBay. They are watching and don't appreciate unauthorized use.

    As for web sellers on other sites, it's the wild frontier out there still! One guy I am aware of recently harvested a bunch of rare plant photos from the net and began to sell them as his own on a CD rom as a rare plant collection. Unfortunately, he even gave a bunch of bogus information to explain the photos! That one went to court and I don't know yet the outcome. Another one tried a similar trick on eBay and they canned him immediately! He is not allowed to sell on eBay again.
     
  5. Durgan

    Durgan Contributor 10 Years

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    I post a lot of photos and anybody can use them as they see fit. Unless one makes a living from photography, I cannot see how using net pictures can be an issue. To me personally in general it is a petty issue.

    http://www.durgan.org/Blog/Durgan.html
     
  6. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    You have a right to your opinion. But those of us who make a living with a camera would see it otherwise. I just today had to report a seller to eBay when they refused to take photos down that were lifted from my site. Call me anything you want, they stole my work! Petty? Perhaps. But would you approve of someone coming into your home and taking things to sell on eBay? It is exactly the same thing!
     
  7. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    How do you discover the infringements? I've got various pics on the web, and have no idea whether anyone is using them or not, unless I happen to run into them by chance.
     
  8. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    Well, you're just like the rest of us! It mostly takes a bit of luck to find an infringement. But if you have good photos of plants that might end up on eBay that is a good place to start looking.

    The friend who put me on the alert in the first place sent me several eBay links earlier this week with my photos. And one was a person I had already asked very kindly not to use them without permission! You won't find them now! eBay took every one of that seller's auctions down. Both the person who alerted me and I complained about this user. The process is complicated. You have to download a form and fax it back. And there is some protection against people who are simply trying to cause trouble for a seller. That was not my desire. I just don't like my photos being taken without permission.

    Do I feel bad? No! Is it trivial! No! I no longer make my living with a camera, but I do still sell a lot of photos. So they do make money for my retirement income. The original of every photo on my site is stored on a separate hard drive in 10 megabyte resolution at 300 dpi. If a magazine or advertiser wanted one I could ship it out tonight for a reasonable fee!

    So why do working photographrs even care? When I was a working photographer I owned 7 cameras and 14 lenses. I had multiple systems to make sure if a system went down while on assignement I had a backup. The cheapest camera was right at $1000 and the most expensive was well over $5000. In total, including lights, I had over $50,000 invested and 25 years of experience learning to use them. Many good photographers have far more equipment than I did. That has value! And that value is included in each and every photo. Think about it! If someone wanted to use one for a website or web sale there was a reason. They thought the photo had value to them in some way. Otherwise they would have found another.

    Today people take descent photos with a $200 camera. And I applaud them. But they have the right to protect what they create The working photographer who has spent thousands of dollars on equipment and years learning to use that equipment well, should be at least asked before one of his/her photos is "borrowed". Problem today is everyone seems to think the laws just don't apply to them. Does Paris Hilton ring any bells?

    I started this as a friendly reminder not to just grab photos off the net. It was never my intention to get into a dissertation about professional photographers. I want to end this as a friendly reminder. If you sell on eBay take your own photos. If you wish to use one that was created by someone else and posted on the web, simply ask! I've already said this, but I'll say it again. In most cases I'll give you permission, gratis. I'll just ask you to give me credit for my work. Is that asking too much? Don't think so!
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2007
  9. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    This very interesting link was posted on the Aroid l discussion board today by Tony Avent of Plants Delight Nursery. I am fairly well versed in US Copyright law but was unaware this law had been voted into effect by the US Senate and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. Europeans have also adopted the statue. According to Tony, entire websites have been taken down for unauthorized use of copyrighted media.

    http://en.wikipedia.org:80/wiki/DMCA
     

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