Need Help With A Copyright Violation!

Sat Oct 13, 2001 2:24 am

Ok, it breaks down like this...

I work for a pretty well known airline. A little while ago, I realized that my airline was using 2 of my photos on their in flight crew tags. When I looked closer, I noticed that they downloaded them off The tags have the logo and a "copyright John Sweeney" printed on the bottom on that little back bar.

I sent an email to the head for our marketing department. In it I requested $1000 compensation. This is based of a prior deal I made with another airline for a similar use of one of my photos for $250. Times 2 photos would be $500. I'm charging an additional $250 for unlimited use (they have been making as many as they want for a while now, and this would guarantee that they can still use my photos) and a $250 fee for not asking my permission. Bringing the total to $1000. I think this is a fair amount.

She replied and basically said she didn’t have anything to do with this and I was shit outta luck. It really disappoints me that my own company would do this to me. What steps should I take? What recourse do I have? I don’t feel that just because I work for them they can take advantage of me. I think what I was asking is fair. What do you think, and what can I do?

Your insight is appreciated,
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RE: Need Help With A Copyright Violation!

Sat Oct 13, 2001 2:39 am

The amount you are asking for is probably irrelevant - under copyright law you are entitled to compensation for use of your material.

I think you have done the obvious first step. I suspect that you will get no further on a personal basis. The next step is to send an invoice to the accounts department, with the fees outlined pretty much as described, though at this stage I would leave out the penalty payment. Why? a) if the charges are clear and reasonable payment may be made with no further questions - adding a "penalty" clause MAY result in the whole thing being queried and payment stalled.
b) I'm not sure how LEGALLY sound this permission penalty is, esp. with electronic media - perhaps they sent you an email which got lost - can you prove they didn't?

If this fails, then your only recourse is a solicitor. Obviously you must keep as much evidence of the whole proceedings as possible. It should be possible to find one with a free consultation.

However, since this is your own company, you may want to balance your position in the company and the result of possibly being branded a "troublemaker" against exerciseing your rights - not how it should be, but in these cases it is always as well to bear in mind the real-world practicalities


Colin K. Work, Pixstel
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Joined: Sun Jun 03, 2001 6:24 am

RE: Need Help With A Copyright Violation!

Sat Oct 13, 2001 2:44 am

Hi John,
You work for an airline. Did you take the photos while you were on airline business (airside, for example)?
If you were outside the fence like the rest of us, then you should be entitled to payment, but if you were up close to the aircraft as part of your job, I would proceed with caution.
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RE: Need Help With A Copyright Violation!

Sat Oct 13, 2001 3:00 am

I agree with Craig. if you took the pic on company time then you may not be entitled to anything.

Also, if you were on your own time and took the pic from a place that is restricted to employees, like the ramp, then you COULD be in trouble. They may look at that and say, taking pictures for your own profit using access granted to you as an employee is illegal and may be grounds for termination.

Technically, they look at ramp access as something you should only have during the time you are working - you shouldn't be there if not on the clock - and making a profit off that, well, its not good.

If you took the pic from a public viewing area or terminal on your off hours then they should pay you for it.
Bruce Leibowitz - Jackson, MS (KJAN) - Canon 50D/100-400L IS lens


Sat Oct 13, 2001 3:18 am

No, they never sent me any email or invoice. They have nothing saying that they have my permission.

To be honest, the photos were taken so long ago that I cant remember if I was "on the clock" or not, and they would have no way of proving that I was. It's kinda irrelevant to me, cause they have compensated me in the past for using my photos. Heck, one of the VP's himself has bought photos from me.

I'm just not sure what to do at this point.

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Joined: Tue Jan 23, 2001 4:07 am

RE: Need Help With A Copyright Violation!

Sat Oct 13, 2001 9:36 am

Craigy/Bruce's comments are good, and should be heeded. If you still want to pursue this, you might consider a letter to the company's General Counsel, pointing out that there is an organization in the company creating potential liability, and possible bad publicity, as well, by engaging in copyright violations. The fact that they "appropriated" copyrighted material from someone who happened to be their own employee is probably accidental. If they had done this to a non-employee, there clearly could be financial liability, which the Legal department probably would like to avoid.

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