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Posts: 2702
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Reply From Webshots

Wed Jan 31, 2001 10:55 pm

Below is a copy of the mail I got this morning after having sent them a "Cease and desist" letter that included a request to have them automatically scan for our footer (black banner on the bottom of every photo) in the same way as they scan for porn.

Not very positive reply I'm afraid.

/ Johan

Dear Mr. Lundgren:

Upon receipt of your message, Sara deleted from the Webshots Community the postings in which asserted copyrights and sent warning messages to the users responsible for the postings. I believe that this process is familiar to you as Sara has previously deleted the postings you have contacted Webshots about, and she has either sent warning notices to the responsible users, or in at least one case that you reported to us, terminated the user's account because the user had been the subject of repeated complaints.

Sara has asked that I respond to the other demands contained in your message. As you may know, the Webshots Community is an online forum for users to share their photographs with each other. It contains more than 6 million images today, and this number is rapidly growing. We cannot review each posting for possible copyright infringements, and in most cases would not be able to determine whether a posting infringes a third party copyright.

Moreover, under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (the "DMCA"), which governs online forums like the Webshots Community, we are not legally obligated to conduct such a review or make such determinations. The DMCA explicitly states that "monitoring its service or affirmatively seeking facts indicating infringing activity" are not expected of an online service provider. 17 USC Sec. 512(m)(1). Additionally, the legislative history of this provision states that a service provider is not required to "investigate possible infringements, monitor its service or make difficult judgments as to whether conduct is or is not infringing." H.R. Rep. 105-551)II), 1998 WL 414916 at *154.

Your assertion that Webshots sells photos is mistaken. Users upload and download images to and from the Webshots Community free of charge. Webshots does not print or sell photos; for the convenience of users, the site offers links to the web pages of Ofoto, which provides photo development services. User transmissions of photos from the Webshots Community to Ofoto are governed by Sec. 512(a) of the DMCA. Ofoto has its own copyright policy; questions regarding it should be directed to Ofoto.

As I believe Sara has told you previously, Webshots is prepared to promptly delete from the Webshots Community any photos identified as infringing the copyrights of and to warn the responsible users or terminate their accounts in appropriate circumstances, just as it has done in the past. Moreover, while we cannot agree to monitor a rapidly growing forum that currently contains more than 6 million images for possible infringements, I can assure you that whenever Sara or any of her colleagues become aware of a posting which contains indications that it has been taken from the site, they will delete the posting and send the responsible user a warning notice.

John J. Sullivan
Associate General Counsel
Senior Director of Intellectual Property
Working on the site from morning 'till night that's livin' alright (1997-2007)
Tommy Mogren
Posts: 897
Joined: Wed Dec 20, 2000 9:30 pm

RE: Reply From Webshots

Wed Jan 31, 2001 11:25 pm

Hi Johan,

Well, not too bad either....

They just put the effort on us, to scan (continually browse) for our shots on their site.
At least they're willing to cooperate and delete any found copyrighted photos.

/Tommy Mogren
Flightdeck Action - Cockpit Videos on Blu-ray and DVD - Flights In The Cockpit- You're Invited!
Posts: 2383
Joined: Wed May 24, 2000 10:55 am

RE: Reply From Webshots

Wed Jan 31, 2001 11:28 pm

Not very positive indeed!!!

For me it still looks like that WEBSHOTS is hiding behind the "IRON CURTAIN" and I don't like that.
They have always been pushing the responsibility to either the user or now in this case when it comes to prints to Ofoto.

This is the biggest aviation site online with so many viewers all over the world. I
Isn't there one person in this whole community who is a lawyer and familiar with the copyright laws?

There has to be........

In order to stop all this wouldn't there be a possibilty to restrict users to download / save the "big" picture.

It still can be viewed but not downloaded anymore.
I know that this would hurt a lot of honest people here but maybe that is the way to go in order to stop this ongoing problem.

Any ideas?

Posts: 1478
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RE: Reply From Webshots

Wed Jan 31, 2001 11:33 pm

They are legally correct. And morally/ethically empty.
Posts: 5027
Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 5:55 pm

RE: Reply From Webshots

Thu Feb 01, 2001 12:29 am

Hi all

That is a good idea from Vasco about right clicking the image and downloading.

I am coming across more and more sites on the Internet that comes up with a message that says something like 'This image is copyrighted - please contact the photographer for download details'

Hey, I would like to kmow who in the World is looking at my shots. For example, a shot downloaded approx 300 times, you (I) might get say 10 mails about it.

What about the rest?

Who are the rest?

Newspapers, Webshots and the rest??

Gary Watt
Aberdeen, Scotland


RE: Reply From Webshots

Thu Feb 01, 2001 12:46 am

Sounds like the Napster debate.

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Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 3:26 am

RE: Reply From Webshots

Thu Feb 01, 2001 12:52 am

Gary: Using JavaScript to disable right-clicking only prevents Web novices from copying stuff. There're loads of ways around such barriers. For example, do the VIew Source thing, figure the URL of the image and download directly! Nothing can be hidden on the Internet.

Those 300-10=290 users prolly download yer shots for putting on desktops and stuff  Smile. Well, most of them, who're a decent bunch.
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RE: Reply From Webshots

Thu Feb 01, 2001 1:10 am

Hi Alexander

Yes, I am familiar with the downloading ways you mentioned.

The only real way to stop people using the shot is to add some sort of logo to the picture, like the one on the attached shot:

Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © Gary Watt

I have overlayed this on one of the corners but this could be placed just above the fuselage, but it doesn't look good that way and I don't think Airliners likes it either.

It then could be cropped or 'cloned' out.

So what next?

Gary Watt
Aberdeen, Scotland

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RE: Reply From Webshots

Thu Feb 01, 2001 1:30 am

What about embedding watermark information into pic's code, then have some utility to scan the web for all occurencies of yer pic. I heard of such a method, although due to the size of the Web, I doubt it's very effective at finding. But watermark is still proof that the image is yours, not the guy's who posts it. But I guess he/she can resave after removing watermark... and that reduce the quality of image (JPEG compression). Hmm...
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RE: Reply From Webshots

Thu Feb 01, 2001 2:32 am

The web is such that we cannot effectively prevent downloads without introducing a barrier of some sort (eg. insert your credit card details!) which of course many people won't like. I think the choice is between a large viewing audience with the possibility of being ripped off or a secure system with a small viewing audience.

Personally I can't believe that pics downloaded from have much comercial value simply because the quality (in printing terms) is so poor - furthermore, because they are in .jpeg format, any post-download manipulation will normally result in a further reduction in quality. Don't get me wrong, I am very much against copyright theft but we should measure any response or counter measures against our actual loss.

Possibly we do not have the right view of this - perhaps it would be better to say "this image may be downloaded for personal use and displayed on non-commercial web sites provided full credit is given to both Airliners Net and the photographer".

In doing this we a) lose very little as I don't think this sort of usage is much of a revenue generator in itself
b) gain free publicity
c) perhaps get a little kudos from the educational and similar communities.


Colin K. Work, Pixstel

RE: Reply From Webshots

Thu Feb 01, 2001 7:14 am

Noted Colin..

"..quality (in printing terms) is so poor.."
Yes, if a color reproduction is used, but if a newspaper
wishes to use any photo in a black & white format
the downloads are sufficient. It doesn't take much
for and newspaper officeworker to crop, reduce,
sharpen and lower the saturation to (black & white) to
head or illustrate with any article. That will be even harder to find or prove. I'd be curious if anyone has noticed their shots used in this manner.

I've already resigned myself to knowing that anyone can
right click my images or find it in their cache if there is
a disabling java-script fitted to prevent right-clicking.

Moral: If you don't want to be right-clicked, then don't upload.

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RE: Reply From Webshots

Thu Feb 01, 2001 10:37 am

Agreed that Webshots is once again hiding behind the DMCA and shifting responsibility to its users and Ofoto.

They said before they had a screening process to filter out porographic images, that same screening process could easily look for the banner that's included at the bottom of every image. They just don't want to.

I recall reading something a few years ago, in Macworld Magazine I believe, about an electronic image watermarking program that while invisible to the eye, could always be detected, no matter what cropping or editing was done to the image -- even being printed.

I don't have access to my old Macworld collection (I don't even know if I still have it), but perhaps this is something we ought to be looking for.

And I still think we should avoid Excite services (except for searching Webshots for our photos). Visiting Excite sites earns them revinue from the ads they display, and the less traffic they get the less they can charge for those ads. I like Google for web searching and usually use Yahoo for the rest of my basic portal functions (weather, calendar, tv listings, etc).
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RE: Reply From Webshots

Thu Feb 01, 2001 12:01 pm

Colin is right. Why lose any sleep over this? WebShots IS good at deleting photos when they are detected and advised. I do not remember seeing any banner on these pages that say "I TOOK THESE PICTURES". Downloading and using them again in their unedited form is annoying, as most do not edit-out the banner at the bottom. However, even if they dont, the banner DOES indicate who 'owns' the copyright.

Since this whole thing started several months ago, the violations have dropped to practically nothing. I think these people just see some pictures that they like and include them in their photo albums. Many albums aren't even 100% dedicated to aviation, and their other albums range from anything - like fire trucks fo animals.

I seriously doubt that any of these 'webmasters' are making any money off of the photos in question. After all, what respectable publication or agency is willing to waste the time and money to search through a ton of albums and 25,000+ aviation pictures in WebShots to generate income? If somebody really wants the picture to be used, they will contact the photographer personally, and NOT use a low resolution image found at WebShots IF they are even lucky enough to find what they want.

Agreed they are doing a 'bad thing' (on paper), but searching for more pics downloaded from here is now a "Witch Hunt"...
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RE: Reply From Webshots

Thu Feb 01, 2001 2:12 pm

That's the Excite@Home conglomerate for you... they aren't very friendly, especially in things like Webshots and even in our @Home cable internet service which we get from Excite@Home under the AT&T@Home name.

They are notorious from hiding behind the smallest things, they annoy the heck out of me. I won't fault them though, they know how to read legal documents.

Head in the clouds... yet feet planted firmly on the ground.
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To Hawaiian717

Fri Feb 09, 2001 7:58 am

Ok, if they have software that can scan for our banner or watermark, then webshots would have to scan for every company's logos. Its not fair to make them do it just to find "" photos.

what about if I uploaded a pic of a Corvette from Chevy's website? THat's also copyright infringement - they'd have to scan for every kind of registered copyright trademark.

I'm in favor of each photographer putting their own "logo" on each picture, like Gary Watt did, since you (the photographer) are the copyright holder. So, if anyone does download your picture from any source, at least your name will be on it. I don't think there's much else we can do except keep checking for your photos on webshots.

Bruce Leibowitz - Jackson, MS (KJAN) - Canon 50D/100-400L IS lens
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RE: To Hawaiian717

Fri Feb 09, 2001 9:11 am

Hawaiian717 says - put your logo on the pic and it will be safe. WRONG. Logos can be painted out...
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RE: To Hawaiian717

Sun Feb 11, 2001 10:05 am

Planeboy wrote:
Hawaiian717 says - put your logo on the pic and it will be safe.

Please tell me where I wrote this. I just reread my own post and can't find it.

Agreed it is not terribly hard to erase logos off pics. Depending on placement it could be a simple image cropping job or require some work with a tool like Photoshop's clone.

I don't remember exactly how the image watermarking program worked, nor have I used it so I don't know for sure that it actually did work as claimed in Macworld.
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RE: To Hawaiian717

Sun Feb 11, 2001 10:34 am

OOOPPS - I think Bruce wrote something to this effect - sorry for the misunderstanding !!! By the way, Bruce, I like your homepage !

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