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Another copyright question: posting others' photos on Flickr
Old 08-19-2005   #1
iggers
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Another copyright question: posting others' photos on Flickr

I've been tempted more than once to bounce a photograph that is up on the internet into my own Flickr site, so that I can look at it whenever I want, in my "album." Its so easy - just click on the email icon on the top left corner of the photo, and then email it to my Flickr site. Its very tempting to do this with news photos, posters and even photos that people display here.

I usually add a reference to what the image is and where I found it, in order to give proper credit and to "bookmark" the site where I found it, so that I can, and so that theoretically someone browsing my album, can go to the source.

The impulse seems innocent enough to me - I'm not presenting the work as my own, just putting it in my virtual scrapbook, much like cutting out a magazine photo and sticking it on the fridge. Sure, a Flickr site theoretically has a wider reach than my fridge door, but in reality, its not much. My recognition of a work in this way does nothing to diminish it, and does not deprive the creator of the work of anything. In fact, it potentially exposes the work to a wider audience.

I can see it now: Someone having a hysterical conniption because I used their image without permission, possibly complaining to Flickr or even threatening me with a lawsuit.

Realistically? I don't think anything like that is likely to happen, and my abuse of copyright - if that is what it is - will never be noticed.

As a practical matter, I suppose I should simply mark all such images as "private", so that others who are perusing my site will never see them.

What do people think? Am I the only one who likes to "scrapbook" and clip images in this way?
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Old 08-19-2005   #2
Kin Lau
 
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Mark it as private, since "publishing it" is what will get you in trouble. That's why we call it "publishing a webpage".

I usually just email it to myself, and keep a separate mailbox/folder for that stuff.

Dan... aren't you a lawyer?

Last edited by Kin Lau : 08-19-2005 at 09:21.
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Old 08-19-2005   #3
iggers
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Yes, I am a member of the bar, but as you can see (above and below), I'm not an intellectual property lawyer.

I "know" that putting a copyright photo on my publicly viewable album probably amounts to "publication".

I can't imagine that there are any actual damages that flow from such violations (unless the copyright laws specifically set out some quantum that may be claimed for breach of copyright without proof of actual damages.)

I also can't quite imagine a circumstance where it would be worth a plaintiff's while to bring legal action over that sort of violation.

On the other hand, I can imagine efforts by websites such as Flickr to identify copyright images and to remove them, or efforts by some copyright holders, perhaps using search engines, to "protect" their rights by emailing sites to demand that they stop infringing. All unlikely.
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Old 08-19-2005   #4
Nick R.
 
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How about from an ethical viewpoint. I post a photo here because this is where I chose to display it. I may not wish to have you publish elsewhere because I do not agree with their pick one: policies, politics, fees, creeds, web layout, server software, whatever. By you publishing it there, you're removing my choice of presentation.

(not that anyone would do this with one of my photos; just giving an example)
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Old 08-19-2005   #5
Roger Hicks
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I'm with Nick: it's mostly an ethical question. But with my LL.B. hat on, surely you are opening yourself to nuisance suits at the very least?

I also seem to recall -- and I'm not a practising lawyer, and my background is English law not American -- that at least in some states there are provisions for punitive damages, per publication, without necessarily having to prove financial loss.

No doubt someone will correct me if (as is quite likely) I am wrong.

Cheers,

Roger

Last edited by Roger Hicks : 08-19-2005 at 10:16. Reason: mistype
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Old 08-19-2005   #6
pshinkaw
 
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Roger:

With 51 jurisdictions, it is entirely possible that there is a punitive damge statute out there somewhere in the US that doesn't require actual damages. More likely is an equitable action for injunctive relief to force the "publisher" to remove the photograph from the website. Along with that, many US jurisdictions will allow a prevailing party to recover attorney's fees and court costs. Now that I think about it, that may be an easy way to make a retirement supplemental income. Prowling the Internet, filing lawsuits and collecting the fees. I'm a little surprised that someone hasn't thought of that yet.

I'm sure that if an ISP got snared into a lawsuit by someone improperly "publishing" a photogarph, there is something in their service contract or tariff that would let them cut you loose as a customer too.

-Paul
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Old 08-19-2005   #7
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If I ever post others' works to my Flickr, I'll be sure to mark them "private" so that they will not be viewable by people who are just browsing. Seems the prudent course.
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Old 08-19-2005   #8
iggers
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But dang it, it would be tempting, if I had, say, a wildly successful "blog", to post some of the many cool images that I come across. I couldn't possibly justify paying for the privilege, just to decorate a hobby-site. Why can't there be some sort of "de minimus" exception, like a "fair use" exception, to permit casual use of copyright images in circumstances where there is no plausible commercial rationale for going to the expense of paying for a license?
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Old 08-19-2005   #9
pshinkaw
 
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There is an educational exception. Part of the "Fair Use" exception. Perhaps if you had a website designed to educate others on photography you might be able to craft a defensible position.

You might want to research that avenue.

-Paul
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Old 08-19-2005   #10
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I like the "Creative Commons" licenses, that make it easy for copyright owners to publish along with their images terms that grant licenses to permit others to use the work for specified purposes.
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Old 08-19-2005   #11
Roger Hicks
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Dear Paul,

I bow to your superior knowledge. Have you encountered this one?

There was a young fellow called Rex
Who developed a very small sex
When in court for exposure
He said with composure
"De minimis non curat lex"

Anyone know the author of this one? Deserves credit...

Cheers,

Roger

Last edited by Roger Hicks : 08-19-2005 at 13:08. Reason: afterthought
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