Tag Archives: Copyright

Steal This Photo (But You’ll Pay in the End)!

This is a picture taken (obviously) on the beach of Cape May, NJ. Nice right?

I’ve posted this photo on my blog a few years ago and people seem to like it.

So much so, that one website decided to feature it in a travel article on Cape May.

Only one problem with that: This photo is copyrighted was used without my permission.

Most people are apparently ignorant of what a copyright means, and the fact that if you post someone else’s image on your website, blog, Facebook or other social media sites, you will contend with ownership issues and rights. You can’t just copy and then post an image on your own site without permission–even if you give that person a photo credit. You can’t grab someone’s copyrighted photo for your personal use without permission.

A photo doesn’t need to have a watermark on it to be copyrighted. The copyright info can be embedded in the data file of the image, as I do. I also have a copyright disclaimer within my site. And, this and other images are registered with the US Copyright Office–and that’s what gives you the means to litigate for monetary damages.

It’s pretty difficult to discover someone using your images without permission on the web because there are infinite sites out there.  I happened to discover this unauthorized use because I did a Google search on Cape May and found this  photo on someone else’s site.

I contacted the site’s owner and the first reply back was: “hey, sorry, I don’t usually post copyrighted photos and do give photo credits”, and that they took the image down after I wrote them. And, to paraphrase: No harm, no foul, we don’t get much traffic to our site anyway.

The fact that a site doesn’t get much traffic doesn’t negate that you ripped off my property! Imagine, someone steals your car and returns it to you a couple months later and says, “hey, all cool now, right?”. Don’t think so. And the photo credit crap doesn’t wash. I can’t tell my bank to let me slide on my mortgage payment this month because I’ve told all my friends on my Facebook page I have a mortgage with their bank–think that’s going to wash?

Rather than the bother of litigating, I settled with the website’s owners and they paid me for their unauthorized use of the photo. Lessoned learned for them.

People have been conditioned to think that photos, music, movies and other intellectual property that’s posted online is free for the taking. It’s not. If you haven’t paid for it and gotten the property owner’s permission, it’s theft, plain and simple.

On a happier note, I had two different Canadians contact me about buying photos I posted on my website from the Tartan Day Parade a few months ago, where I photographed their bagpipe bands. They didn’t even think of trying to rip my photos for their sites. Maybe more Americans should take lessons from Canadians on the honesty front.

All photos are © 2010 RZF Images. All Rights Reserved
Unauthorized distribution of any of these photos or other content, including without limitation through email forwarding, copying or online reposting is prohibited by law. Please contact RZF Images for licensing of any of these or other images on my sites