Tuesday, February 03, 2009

[copyright] and the nastiness of litigation

An issue has arisen which needs to be raised with fellow bloggers.

At Bloghounds, we don't have copyright problems at this time but we might have if we don't act now. What has brought all this on is that a friend's friend has been sent a demand for thousands of pounds because she used an image some time ago which is now owned by someone else.

The implications for both my personal blog here and for many of your blogs are clear. My blog, nourishing obscurity, is a heavily image-intensive blog, as everyone knows and I have tried to use images from either Wiki or where I reasonably thought, from checks, that they were able to be used legally at that time. Sometimes I've had to do deeper checks.

Now the thing which should worry you here is not that many images are copyright and that there are implications for then using them without paying royalties - everyone knows that. The thing you should worry about is, for example, if you have an image up on, say, a post on California from 2006. At the time, that image was able to be used but now another company has bought it and are able to send you a letter that you have been using a copyright image.

Even if you immediately remove said image, their angle is that you have used it in the past.

That this is going on is just plain wrong - I mean, not letting you have a reasonable time to remove it stems largely from our current financial climate when people's incomes are under threat and the more unscrupulous are looking around for ways to produce new revenue.

What a society we're living in.


  1. Money is the new GOD all business bows down before it and will invoke any law to make it.

  2. They would have to inform you that you were using an image they owned the copyright to and would then have to give you the opportunity to remove it. Pre action protocol is crucial in a case and for them to simply disregard that would likely scupper their successful outcome,with them owing you costs.

    Many sites advertise they own copyright images and they will sue anyone who use them without consent. That's their preaction protocol,whereas sites that don't do this would have to engage in the pre action protocol on an individual basis.
    There are very strict Civil Procedure Rules one has to abide by.
    One could infer from lack of copyright identification , or warning not to use their images,that it is public property, accessible to all.

  3. And the first rule of litigation is only sue people who have money to pay,or the Claimant could even get stuck for their costs,even if they win and are awarded costs only.

  4. James: Like you I use a lot of images. I just take what I want from the internet. Sometimes I post a link to the source, sometimes not. Sometimes it accompanies an article and I will link to that. Ubermouth is right about the new Civil Procedure Rules, and as I've told you before, it is pointless trying to sue a "man of straw".

    Yesterday, I searched for and posted a photo on my blog. Awhile back, as I scrolled down my posts I noticed a blank white square where the photo should have been. I clicked on it thinking it just had not opened the link. I received a message "Forbidden. You are not authorized to access this site". It is a US military site. I copied the URL, went to "Go back one page" to get out of there, and pasted the URL in the address bar as opposed to a Google search. Once back in the site, instead of copy image location I did a save image as, and downloaded the stolen image. If they want to come after me, let them.

    My view is, if it's out there on the internet it's freely available. I know that there are many sites that simply steal all the content of my blog, and when I click on the headline which I have written it does not go to my blog but instead to this index site.

    I draw the line at written text, and will quote the source. Photos, I don't have the same rule. I simply take the photo.

  5. They'd have to find me first... look up Iscariot on 118?

  6. YEP, cases are won and lost on the Civil Procedure Rules governing Pre Action Protocal which must, by law,precede all civil action.

    Most people who threaten lawsuits have never been involved in protracted and costly litigation,both finacially and emotionally,and have no clue what it entails.

    No one in their right mind, even with copyright warnings ,would sue anyone over unauthborized use of an image published online.Unless someone was reproducing and selling them on a large scale, without paying royalties to the copyright holder.
    Those are the people they are concerned with,not you ,me or JHL who are not altering,selling or reaping profits from their images.

  7. * We just had to write to a lawyer and put him on formal notice that if he did not produce documents that we request in 5 days we will apply for a court order, at is clients' cost, to compel them to produce them.

    Even in the middle of litigation one is legally obliged to give the other side an opportunity to comply to a request, time frame to do so, and then state course of action if they do not.Otherwise they jeopardise themselves and are going to incur costs for not following the CPR's,even have their case thrown out.

  8. A lot of what I could add has already been said by Uber and JHL.

    I would add though that both photos and text are subject to copyright. Professional photographers would be most unhappy about inappropriate use of their photographs.

    I always try to quote the source of either unless it truly is public domain and the original source can't be found.

    RE: Bloghounds, I am sure we can find a suitable (creative commons) image. There should be a good image. Flickr is a good place to try and we can double check with the photographer to see if they would be happy with us using their image.

  9. BTW you are always welcome to use any of my images. I only put the copyright logo on so that random people don't nab them off flickr and use them for monitory gain.

  10. This is not about the rights of photographers. Small agencies offer selected images from some photographers, with agreement from them as royalty free as a "taster" to promote the portfolio. The photos get used in various catalogues and web sites.

    Along comes well funded mega-corporation and buys the agency, absorbs the portfolio and changes the rights. Mega-corporation has special software that trawls the internet looking for images in its now extended catalogue and sends the people who have used them a legal extortion demand far beyond "fair use" value.

    This is a con. The photographers get between zero and a pittance.

    Don’t be fooled by the fake arguments of these American carpet-baggers. Don’t pay them a penny, they don’t have a legal leg to stand on in the country.

  11. I read all of these very carefully. I'm making a word document of your comments and will look at them again later. I have limited internet time just now.

  12. Yes, I need to comment, comment by comment.

  13. Wolfie - thanks for that information it fills in the last piece of a puzzle for me.

    Just over a year ago I transferred some information I had on a web page onto a blog platform. Shortly after that the page was bombarded with loads of hits on all it's digital media (there is a lot).

    I traced the ISP back and found that it was someone checking up for copyrighted media. To my knowledge there is nothing illegal on the website. I considered their action to be dodgey behavior and as the site is hosted on a friends server I allowed them to block the ISP ;-)


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