A Guide to Plagiarism and Theft in Photography

plagiarism-in-photography

In 2013 my most popular article (by some distance) was the story of how my most successful image was plagiarised in a rather unusual way; a photographer had recreated the image from scratch. It seemed to me to be a bit of a grey area and I was unsure where I stood legally. The photographer hadn’t stolen my image and wasn’t selling his recreation, but he had stolen my idea and that is intellectual property theft. The problem was resolved rather quickly and painlessly in the end but in that regard, I was one of the lucky ones. It did, however, prompt me to write a comprehensive guide on the subject after I could only find very segmented information spread over several websites. I wanted the relevant information all in one place in an ordered fashion and as that wasn’t possible, I decided to create it myself.

This guide is in 3 major parts; prevention, detection and reaction. Firstly, how to prevent or deter plagiarism or theft of your images. Secondly, how to detect and identify any images or ideas that have been stolen – the internet is vast and finding your images where you hadn’t put them is a daunting task. Finally, the various ways in which you can react if you find one or more of your images or ideas have been stolen.

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Instagram Hub Feature Photo = Copyright Grab? #Instascam

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I recently decided to finally get on the Instagram bandwagon (shameless plug: follow me @jpdanko) and I came across what apparently is the widespread practice of “hub” users taking other user’s images and reposting them to their own feed as a “feature” photo (please forgive my wide eyed innocence…).

At a glance, this practice essentially seems to be a barefaced copyright grab – even if it does technically comply with Instagram’s Community Guidelines.

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Elephant Captures the World’s First ‘Elphie'; Who Owns it?

Elphie

Just when you think you’ve seen every possible form of selfie comes along an elephant and shows that you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Christian LeBlanc was feeding elephants in Thailand and when he ran out of food, the gentle giant took his GoPro instead. Luckily, the elephant aimed the camera at himself and his guest rather than trying to eat it as well.

This photo awakens a copyright dispute instigated by a monkey whose selfies went viral.

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How Richard Prince Sells Other People’s Instagram Photos for $100,000

Money

If you were to take a screen shot of someone’s Instagram account and try selling it, two things would happen. The first is that you’d be told you’re violating the copyright of the photographer whose photo you’re selling, and secondly you’d be laughed at. Extensively.

It turns out, though, that if you’re famous enough you can take such a screen shot and not only bypass copyright but also make a fortune doing so.

The secret: slap some text on it.

Richard Prince has been using this method and some of his “artwork” is said to have been sold for $100,000.

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Facebook Representative Claims They Own Your Photos

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If you use Facebook, you’re not going to be happy reading this post. If you also upload your work to the social media, you’re REALLY not going to like this.

Corey Ann Balazowich of Photo Stealers reports that the worrying message that goes round every once in a while claiming that Facebook’s new Terms of Use strip photographers of any rights regarding uploaded content might not be a hoax after all.

An email she recently received from a Facebook representative states that the company owns any and all content once it is uploaded to their website, and that basically anybody can use it as they wish. They may even take credit for your copyrighted photos.

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Bing Takes Small Step To Protect Photographers From Copyright Infringement; Improve Image Search

gettyIt appears internet search engine Bing and Getty Images have come a long way since Getty filed a lawsuit against Bing last year, accusing Bing of a “massive infringement”. Now, seven months later, the two have announced a partnership which both companies hope will provide Bing users with “image rich” content and internet browsing. In a press release relating to the partnership, Getty Images Senior VP of Business Development Craig Peters explained:

“With our new partnership, Microsoft will use Getty Images’ latest API innovations and our award-winning visual content to take search experiences to a new level. Our technology teams will work together to create beautiful, engaging applications and services for Microsoft users with licensed content and attribution for photographers and other content creators.”

Stemming from the partnership, Bing has also announced several improvements in the search engine’s image search capabilities. These improvements are aimed at raising awareness to copyright and Creative Common laws, with the hopes they will reduce infringement cases. [Read more…]

Garbage Responds To Photographer’s Open Letter After Being Denied Free Use Of His Photos

(Photo by jareed)

(Photo by jareed)

We were all expecting Garbage to reply to the open letter photographer Pat Pope shared yesterday, after he received a request from the band’s management company to use some of his photos in a book for nothing more than “proper credit”. In Pope’s letter to the band, he explained why he felt photographers were just as entitled to payment for their work as musicians were, and asked the band if they, too, felt the same. Check out this story from yesterday to read Pope’s original letter.

Today, the band shared their own open letter to Pope on their Facebook page. You can read at length, here. [Read more…]

FAQ: So Your Company Has Been Found Using Alex’s Photographs Without Permission. What Next?

These are either Belizean Infringement Ants picking a poor photographer to death, or Belizean Lawyer Ants dismantling a copyright infringer. Take your pick

These are either Belizean Infringement Ants picking a poor photographer to death, or Belizean Lawyer Ants dismantling a copyright infringer. Take your pick

In August I hired ImageRights International, a reputable copyright enforcement agency, to assume the routine handling of commercial infringements of my professional work. There are a lot. Starting in September 2014, companies began receiving letters from ImageRights’ partner law firms seeking to resolve these infringements on my behalf.

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Nike Files to Dismiss Air Jordan Logo Copyright Lawsuit

Comparison2

A lawsuit filed against Nike back in January claimed the Jumpman logo was infringing on the copyright of one of Jacobus Rentmeester’s images of MJ.

The company responded on Monday filing a motion to dismiss the lawsuit immediately, stating the photographer’s complaint “presents exactly the sort of meritless case that motions to dismiss are intended to address”.

Nike claims that its photo, on which the logo silhouette is based, and Rentmeester’s photo are not “virtually identical” as the law requires.

Another motion has been filed asking that the company be exempt from having to reveal details regarding the Jordan brand business.

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A Sheer Coincidence Spurs An Incredible Case Of Copyright Infringement On Facebook

scurr In 2006, Sarah Scurr was a still a student, studying abroad while working on a languages degree in Santiago. While on a visit to the nearby San Rafael Glacier, Scurr took the image you see above from the tour boat. Scurr had tucked the photo away until she moved to the UK several years later. Pleased with how her glacier photo came out, she entered into a contest hosted by The Telegraph. The photo made it into the final rounds and was considered by to be one of the top contenders. Scurr was pleased with the success of her image, but didn’t put much more thought into it as she carried about her life. [Read more…]