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Copyright Protection Under Airliners.Net

Mon Nov 18, 2013 7:19 am

A while ago I had encountered the fact that one of the US companies running business in aviation uses my photo as a profile picture for their website without any permission or credits (its name can not be disclosed). A fleeting study of the US copyright law let me find out that unless your image is registered at US Copyright Office you can not be eligible for a very specific monetary compensation known as statutory damage which might range up to $150,000 if the infringement was proven willful. Otherwise you have to prove you have sustained a loss to get any compensation. Am I right?

What does signature "All rights reserved" placed under our images actually mean? In the case you have no US Copyright Office certificate, does it mean that the infringement is worth the risk? And the companies stealing your images can feel themselves safe as they could only be forced to pay the same fee for illegal use as they would otherwise do for a legal one?
 
ckw
Posts: 4586
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:26 am

RE: Copyright Protection Under Airliners.Net

Mon Nov 18, 2013 9:26 am

A few points:

1- registration is only necessary for works of US origin

2 - registration means you can claim for statutory damages, without registration you can only claim for actual loss (which you would need to prove). Statutory damage is variable. The current figures are I think between $750 up to $30,000. I'm pretty sure for a single image you'd be looking at the lower end of the scale.

3 - perhaps more importantly, registration allows you to recover legal costs. The sad fact is that if you are not registered (and US based) it is likely that the cost of pursuing a claim for an unregistered work will exceed any compensation.

4 - having said that, you are entitled to compensation, so you should contact the company, if necessary with a solicitor's letter stating your intention to sue. The company may or may not call your bluff. The trick is to be realistic in your claim. What is the loss to you (really), remembering that the likely legal amount will be under $1000. It is quite possible that a reasonable claim will succeed (as the company will face legal costs as well as you).

5. "all rights reserved" technically means that the image cannot be used under any circumstances. Actually, copyright notices are no longer a legal requirement under the Berne convention. However, if a copyright notice is present, the law will disallow any infringement defence based on ignorance of the existence of copyright on the work.

Cheers,

Colin
Colin K. Work, Pixstel
 
ckw
Posts: 4586
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:26 am

RE: Copyright Protection Under Airliners.Net

Mon Nov 18, 2013 12:45 pm

Been doing a little more checking and discovered something a little disturbing.

The US is now part of the Berne convention. According to the Berne, copyright claims must normally be filed in the "country of origin". Here's the catch. The country of origin is defined as the country of first publication.

Almost certainly (partly due to A.net T&Cs and the fact it is an "edited" work) anything placed on A.net would be considered to be published. Hence any infringement case (unless you'd published elsewhere beforehand) would need to be pursued through the US courts.

This makes a certain amount of sense, as it would normally be the publisher pursuing a copyright violation claim. However, I'm not sure that Demand Media would act on your behalf.

If I am right in this (and please do check for yourself, or better yet, lets get an expert response), anyone outside the US needs to seriously think about their copyright position. While you are still entitled to compensation, there is probably no practical (ie. affordable) action you can take to enforce this. Moreover, if A.net is your first place of publication, that will apply to the life of the image regardless of where else it is used.

Fortunately most infringers won't realise this, so a scary solicitor's letter will often get the required result. But it may be that publishing on A.net has a hidden cost for those who are pursuing photography at a professional level.

Cheers,

Colin
Colin K. Work, Pixstel
 
axelesgg
Posts: 193
Joined: Sat Jan 09, 2010 9:37 pm

RE: Copyright Protection Under Airliners.Net

Sat Nov 23, 2013 3:48 pm

What? This is really scary!
Imagine if all photographers on a.net knew about this...
Fly Draganair
 
LH526
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Posts: 1961
Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2000 2:23 am

RE: Copyright Protection Under Airliners.Net

Mon Nov 25, 2013 10:06 am

So? just publish the photos on your private website first, THEN upload to A.net. Given the servers are in your home-country, that would make it first published in your home-country.
Trittst im Morgenrot daher, seh ich dich im Strahlenmeer ...
 
axelesgg
Posts: 193
Joined: Sat Jan 09, 2010 9:37 pm

RE: Copyright Protection Under Airliners.Net

Mon Nov 25, 2013 5:08 pm

Well I don't have my own website.
And I suspect some people upload pictures to a.net because they don't have their own website.
Fly Draganair

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