Texas institutions can use your copyrighted photos for free, court rules

Jun 17, 2019

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Texas institutions can use your copyrighted photos for free, court rules

Jun 17, 2019

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Join the Discussion

Share on:

After the University of Houston used a photo by Jim Olive without permission, the photographer decided to sue. However, Texas appeals court has now ruled out that the University doesn’t have to pay the photographer for the use of his image. As a public institution, the university claims that it has sovereign immunity, so it can’t be sued.

The story goes two years back. Olive performed an online image search only to find one of his aerial photos on the University of Houston’s website. Other than online, Olive found out that the photo was also used in printed materials. The photographer claims that the university removed copyright markings from the photo and didn’t give him credit.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Olive sent the university a bill for $41,000 (16,000 for the frequent use of the photo and $25,000 for removing his credit line). Reportedly, the university removed the image from its website within days. However, they only offered to pay Olive $2,500 for unauthorized use. Olive then threatened to file a lawsuit. But, the university reportedly said that it had sovereign immunity as a state institution, so it couldn’t be sued.

The court of appeals has now ruled out that the University of Houston doesn’t have to pay Olive for the use of his image. Mike Rosen, University of Houston’s executive director of media relations, said to the Houston Chronicle:

“UH has great respect for artistic talent and federal copyright protections and has routinely paid, and will continue to pay, market value for images provided by artists and professional photographers.”

However, Olive doesn’t seem to share the opinion. He was reportedly never paid by the university. As a matter of fact, he has been ordered to pay the legal fees.

“It just doesn’t seem fair to me,” Olive said to the Houston Chronicle. He said that this decision is a bigger issue for the creative community, because it “means that public institutions in Texas – including public hospitals, universities and government agencies – don’t have to pay for photographs and other creative content.”

“With this, they can just run rampant over copyright and take intellectual property with impunity.”

Although this is an isolated case, its implications could indeed pose a problem to the creative community. As Olive noted, this practically means that public institutions in Texas can use your work without permission, credit or compensation. And it could be applied to all sorts of creative work beyond photography.

If you want to read the details, the court documents are available at Case Text.

[via DPReview]

Filed Under:

Tagged With:

Find this interesting? Share it with your friends!

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Join the Discussion

DIYP Comment Policy
Be nice, be on-topic, no personal information or flames.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

22 responses to “Texas institutions can use your copyrighted photos for free, court rules”

  1. Kryn Sporry Avatar
    Kryn Sporry

    Photographers can get free money from Texas courts, photographers rule…

    1. Kryn Sporry Avatar
      Kryn Sporry

      Actually, since Texas is a gun slinging state I say shoot them bastards. It’s legal because what they do is blatantly illegal and in Texas illegal stuff allows the public to Lynch the offending parties. So the court and the university can both be legally shot to death.

    2. Ryan Bartek Avatar
      Ryan Bartek

      Kryn you got some issues man. Maybe you should look into getting help for them.

    3. Kryn Sporry Avatar
      Kryn Sporry

      Ryan Bartek yeah, sorry, I know it’s an overreaction. But this power abuse stuff so winds me up.

      Then again, the US president gets away with such behaviour too. So I guess you can see what role models do for us.

    4. Ryan Bartek Avatar
      Ryan Bartek

      This power abuse happens with whoever is in office from
      President down to “local”. Happened with Clinton, bush, Obama, trump, they are all pawns for corporate America it does not matter the side. They should all be representing the people, but they aren’t.

  2. W Douglas LeBlanc Avatar
    W Douglas LeBlanc

    Texas can suck it.

  3. Johnny Martyr Avatar
    Johnny Martyr

    Haven’t had any issues with TX yet but I’ll keep looking…

    https://johnnymartyr.wordpress.com/2019/06/13/battling-copyright-infringement/

  4. Jarek Niskiewicz Avatar
    Jarek Niskiewicz

    Great so I can use anything of theirs same way, just walk in and take whatever you want.

    1. Alexandre Ayoubi Avatar
      Alexandre Ayoubi

      Jarek Niskiewicz yay ! Free education !

    2. Jarek Niskiewicz Avatar
      Jarek Niskiewicz

      Alexandre Ayoubi that is already here, Google and Udemy. No idea why people are stupid to pay so much for outdated information and useless papers :p

  5. Christian Concha Avatar
    Christian Concha

    This is America…

  6. R Christian Anderson Avatar
    R Christian Anderson

    A lot of Texas laws are ridiculous.

    1. David Addams Avatar
      David Addams

      This isn’t a Texas Law. It’s a general principal when it comes to Government.

      Government can only be sued if it consents to the suit. (The thing is, there’s this little phrase in the United States Constitution that mandates compensation if a Government Entity takes property for public use. That is what the University did here and that clause is grounds for a lawsuit. Sovereign Immunity does not prevent lawsuits to force compliance with the Constitution. The Constitution constitutes “consent” by the Government.)

      1. suruha Avatar
        suruha

        Still, they would have to pay fair market value, wouldn’t they?

  7. Kevin Cheung Avatar
    Kevin Cheung

    I hear research is the currency most universities trade on. I’d like to hear what tune the university sings when people from other “sovereign institutions” plagiarise their research.

  8. Lis Thomsen Avatar
    Lis Thomsen

    Legalised stealing >:(

  9. David Addams Avatar
    David Addams

    Really?

    So a public institution can just take property without paying for it?

    Has this court ever heard of the Takings Clause?

    When the Government (public institution) takes property for public use they MUST compensate the property owner. Here, they took intellectually property, but that still qualifies as property under the Takings Clause.

    The question isn’t should they pay, it’s how much.

  10. Liam Avatar
    Liam

    …I can promise you that if this Texas ‘sovereign’ tried to do this to a photographer from outside the US, they’d face their due penalty! It seems only Americans condone law braking by those with more ‘power or money’…!

  11. Dan Sulla Avatar
    Dan Sulla

    I’m pretty sure the federal laws disagree. But you do you Texass

  12. Nahush Mokadam Avatar
    Nahush Mokadam

    So much for intellectual property. Good to know that parents are irrelevant there.

  13. Raj Avatar
    Raj

    Take that to the Supreme Court. Fight it all the way. They are wrong about this!

  14. Jo Wilkens Avatar
    Jo Wilkens

    Seriously!?! Don’t give up!! That is outrageous!!