Guy Sued For $4,000. Over Using $10. Pic, Sans Permission

roughy

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So, if you've taken an image from a site claiming that all of the images are provided for free by the rightful owner, is there any ground for legal actions against you? You've done everything in good faith.
 

jimbobo2779

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So, if you've taken an image from a site claiming that all of the images are provided for free by the rightful owner, is there any ground for legal actions against you? You've done everything in good faith.

I dunno about the rest of the world but in the UK if you upload an image that is copyrighted you have infringed whether you did so knowingly or not. That is how it is I am afraid, Ive become quite familiar with the laws recently and it is really messed up.

I do however think if you had uploaded an image under extreme circumstances such as reassurances from another website owner you could argue that in court and a reasonable judge would only make you cover court costs or something. However the law clearly states if you uploaded it you have infringed.
 

oxonbeef

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So If I take a photograph, place it a site that I don't submit to the searchengines, links are made naturally by people finding my site and digging it or other means.
Can I sue google if I find my pic on images?
I didn't submit my site or give them permission to spider it.
Just because I don't have block all spiders on it, it doesn't give them permission
to invade my data. If I did that to google it would be called hacking.

Just because I leave my door unlocked it doesn't give people the right to come in and steal my furniture.
 
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Lush1

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You should try doing this. You make an insightful point, and I agree.


So If I take a photograph, place it a site that I don't submit to the searchengines, links are made naturally by people finding my site and digging it or other means.
Can I sue google if I find my pic on images?
I didn't submit my site or give them permission to spider it.
Just because I don't have block all spiders on it, it doesn't give them permission
to invade my data. If I did that to google it would be called hacking.

Just because I leave my door unlocked it doesn't give people the right to come in and steal my furniture.
 

comparco

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Sorry to hear all that, one thing I have notced is webmasters using images and not even changing the image name!
I wonder?, if I take a few good generic shots, beach, landscape etc... put them on the web with an unusual name or code, wait awhile and then do a google image search, see if they have been used and then send out a few legal looking letters and see if I get paid.
 

zebrahat

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Clearly some ambulance chasing lawyers are getting the idea that suing over infringement is easy pickin's due to the expansiveness of DMCA, low level of proof needed to proceed with an accusation, and (perhaps) a case record of website creators who give up and settle quickly once charged. Playing the game and getting copyright permission doesn't seem to prevent things, as above posted, it just makes it easier to track you for purposes of threatening litigation.

What to do? Perhaps the simplest remedy is to get good at using a photo editor to modify, morph or apply special distorting effects to images to make them uniquely 'yours' regardless of where you got them from. Another may be to do the 'offshore domain here, while site is on an offshore server there' approach to make you harder to pin down and contact. Get a maildrop in a county more resistant to the IP/copyright/DMCA lawyer trap madness, and make that your only offical contact address. That kind of thing.
 

hollaholla

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lol robbed. this type of shit is akin to the parasites that target downloaders.

We had a phone call once. We took image down, then ignored them. They went away.

They try to get you to 'settle'. Very rarely if ever does these types of things go to court. They have software that flags matches. Then they chance it. If of the 10k emails/phonecalls 100 settle. thats $600,000. Not chump change!

Id be polite, take it down then ignore. Don't click any links in emails or confirm/deny anything. A simple ill look into it call back later is sufficient. Just give them the run around. You need to speak to so and so. They are in a meeting etc etc. They will soon move on.

People like this should have their money grabbing hands cut off.
 

carlito

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Modify all the pics you download (invert, rotate, etc), and then use http://www.tineye.com to be sure the original pic is not findable from you pic on the web
 

Monrox

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So If I take a photograph, place it a site that I don't submit to the searchengines, links are made naturally by people finding my site and digging it or other means.
Can I sue google if I find my pic on images?
I didn't submit my site or give them permission to spider it.
Just because I don't have block all spiders on it, it doesn't give them permission
to invade my data. If I did that to google it would be called hacking.

Just because I leave my door unlocked it doesn't give people the right to come in and steal my furniture.
The latest BS from them that I read somewhere is that they put the user above all and if your content is relevant it will get indexed. Also an argument was made that "If you don't want that, you shouldn't be putting it up in the first place".

This is crazy of course but if you decide to sue they will simply drag it out for the next 20 years and until there is a definite court decision, nobody else will be able to effectively complaint as well.

Nowadays you can do almost anything you want provided you can afford good lawyers and the other side cannot. In the OPs quoted precedent, if the threatened company had millions, no crappy lawyer would be able to get even $4.
 

lexblast

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I think domain privacy will wipe out 99.9% of anyone trying to make claims like this because I think they are more based on scare tactics than sound legal standing.

I wonder if OP's story would have ended more like jimbobo2779's if he had held out or said something like "image was placed by a third party and has been removed, go away.".

C&D letters and threats are cheap, actually pulling someone into court is very expensive so when someone threatens suit, most of the time its a bluff.

Anyway, privacy all of your domains, its worth it and the clowns can't get your information without a court order which isn't easy or cheap to get.

I can see these lawyers with big lists just calling people and firing off letters all day wondering who will be next to fold and be their meal ticket for the week.
 

12inchpianist

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The one thing I didn't hear in all of this was where everyone was located? Is someone going to pay an attorney to fly across the country or to the next state just to get a judgment? Would the judgment be worth anything? There are a lot of reasons I would've told the attorney to go screw himself but the one thing that would screw all of that thought process up is the client. You can't tell the attorney to piss off because he'll just go after your client.

FYI, Tineye (a firefox addon) is great at finding similar pics. I use it to see if an image I like is being used. If it's being used by 30 to 40 different websites then I feel better about grabbing it.
 

blue_wings

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This is funny. I want to see what an US lawyer can do to me if I am not in US.

Thewaybackmachine is zero. None of my active websites is archived there. If I remove now something from my website, there is nothing in the world that can tell you what I changed. Not in 6 minutes, nor in 6 months.

I guess you should ignore such letters and remove the images or text involved. And then answer back something like: "What are you talking about?"
 

tankr

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The first thing to do is demand proof that they own the copyright. I would think most Judges would find a case like this a waste of everyones time and dismiss it upon request (pic is down, no one was damaged).
 
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Go black hat with it and purchase a nice MP camera... take some beautiful photos etc and then post them online so that Google images can find them. Within a year or so find the folks who copied the picture onto their site and file $1,000 lawsuits and C&D of image. Pretty sure you could come out with $50k by the end of the year. Even though I wouldn't sue anyone it seems to be some easy money if you like mind fucking people and emptying their bank accounts.
 

CyberDilemma

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This nifty little website has become my friend.

Code:
http://www.tineye.com/

I use a firefox plugin for it.


HTML:
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/tineye-reverse-image-search/
 

GreyWolf

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If I was caught using a photo like that I probably would have just removed the image and called the letter of apology good enough. Copyright lawsuits are expensive to pursue and you had a reasonable belief it was a pd image and you immediately complied when you were notified otherwise. Everything I understand about copyright law, much of it from those same sources as you referenced leads me to believe that those facts (and a few others) would have been sufficient for you to prevail if it did go to court. I doubt the plaintiffs attorney would have recommended pursuing it.

Having said that you were in a much different situation. You had provided that photo to your client when you designed his site, and the attorneys might have felt there were deep enough pockets to make it worth pursuing further. In that case you really didn't have much option but to take responsibility over your clients infringement and settle as you did.

Sorry had to cost you a bit. Unfortunately things like that can happen sometimes.
 

The Scarlet Pimp

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be aware that many images contain comments which can be used to prove ownership.
the site myimager.com used to have a feature that would delete these comments but they took it off the screen.

the program 'gimp' can delete comments, and it might be a good idea to do so.
 

jamesbelaugh

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I've seen this happen to several of my clients. I was also guilty of using copyrighted images until I've experienced this. I've gone as far as to call up past clients and offer to change the images for free. I figure a hundred bucks up front is better then thousands later.

It's not worth the trouble when you can purchase good images for a couple of bucks each from sites like fotolia and istockphoto.

It's good that he's sharing his experience with us. Lesson learned!
 

seobizwiz

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I have been hit a few times for copyright crap, I have been lucky enough to remove the content without being legally extorted, know you know why everybody hates lawyers.
 

12inchpianist

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Go black hat with it and purchase a nice MP camera... take some beautiful photos etc and then post them online so that Google images can find them. Within a year or so find the folks who copied the picture onto their site and file $1,000 lawsuits and C&D of image. Pretty sure you could come out with $50k by the end of the year. Even though I wouldn't sue anyone it seems to be some easy money if you like mind fucking people and emptying their bank accounts.

Hell, you wouldn't have to look very far for a good lawyer!
 
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