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Designer Accused of Copying His Own Work By Stock Art Website

Soulskill posted about 5 years ago | from the only-so-many-ambulances-can-be-chased dept.

Media 380

the_harlequin writes "A successful designer, who has a showcase of his own work available online, has had a stock image site accuse him of copyright infringement over his own illustrations, citing damages of $18,000. The story doesn't end there; the stock photo site hired lawyers, who have contacted the original designer's clients. The lawyers told them the designer is being investigated for copyright infringement and their logos might be copied, thus damaging his reputation. 'My theory is that someone copied my artwork, separated them from any typography and then posted them for sale on the stock site. Someone working for the site either saw my [LogoPond] showcase or was alerted to the similarities. They then prepared the bill and sent it to me. The good thing is that the bill gives me a record of every single image they took from me. That helps me gather dates, sketches, emails, etc. to help me prove my case. The bad thing is that despite my explanations and proof, they will not let this go.'"

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hit them back (5, Insightful)

downix (84795) | about 5 years ago | (#27464843)

They play hardball, hit them with a DMCA letter, pull all of the work down or else, and of course file for the maximum penalty per-hit on the stock images.  They don't want to play nice, then don't play nice.  "

Re:hit them back (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27464859)

I agree, let's use the DMCA for it's intended pupose for once.

Re:hit them back (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27465071)

By "intended purpose" you mean, of course, the exact same purpose it's always used for, but as done by a party you sympathize with for some unknown reason.

Re:hit them back (4, Insightful)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 5 years ago | (#27465153)

If a criminal accused his victim of a crime, you sympathize with the victim more than you would normally with either a victim of false accusation or a victim of the crime. The audacity of it adds up.

(Also, these people are profiting off the copied art, claiming it as their own, and slandering the creator - it's not like some personal homepage being slapped for using clip art, or a movie excerpt being taken off Youtube. Plagiarism is a lot, lot worse than copyright violation.)

Nuke the suckers with the powers of law.

Re:hit them back (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27465329)

While that is true, we have no proof or anything that this guy is telling the truth. Either the stock photo site OR this guy may be in the wrong. It's not like either one of them is going to admit it.

Re:hit them back (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27465183)

You haven't been following the DMCA abuses, have you?

Re:hit them back (5, Informative)

Qzukk (229616) | about 5 years ago | (#27465449)

By "intended purpose" you mean, of course, the exact same purpose it's always used for

Except for when it's used to remove material that isn't infringing the complainant's copyrights, either submitted by some sort of drooling subhuman (against a file manager [slashdot.org] ) or a pissed off lawyer (numerous takedown notices for parodies) or at random (like this tutorial video [slashdot.org] ) or by someone who just has no clue how this copyright thingy is supposed to work (Protip: unless you design furniture from cardboard boxes, pictures of furniture from cardboard boxes do not infringe your copyright [slashdot.org] ).

It's a slashdot bias, actually. We only hear about the fuckups here. Letters used for their intended purpose come and go all the time without notice.

Re:hit them back (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27465455)

Welcome to the world of the so-called enlightened, intelligent people: Trivially easy to revert to a primal state of "if it's bigger than I am, it must be a predator". Or, in this case, "If it's smaller than I am, it must be prey and thus not a threat".

Re:hit them back (1)

scientus (1357317) | about 5 years ago | (#27465457)


the DMCA has many, many parts. Probably the only one that doesnt totally suck is the take down notice part, which is great except for limitations on frivolous notices meant to harass. There are many much more ugly parts, such as "circumvention of copy protections" parts that stifle innovation for example.

Re:hit them back (4, Informative)

Len (89493) | about 5 years ago | (#27465629)

No, "intended purpose" means protecting someone's legal copyright.

As opposed to:
- sending takedown notices for content that clearly doesn't infringe copyright
- warping copyright law to stop sales of compatible hardware (e.g. printer ink cartridges)
- preventing security researchers from publicizing software flaws that are putting users at risk

Re:hit them back (5, Informative)

MrLint (519792) | about 5 years ago | (#27465637)

I feel that both your comment and its moderation are woefully ignorant of the point of the parent's comment. I refer you to the previous slashdot story. [slashdot.org]

Google notes that more than half (57%) of the takedown notices it has received under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act 1998, were sent by business targeting competitors and over one third (37%) of notices were not valid copyright claims."

So, no its not the "exact same" purpose its "always" used for. In this case it appears it would be used for be used for its proposed intention. As for the "unknown reason" for sympathy, it appears that its not the the use that more than half would be being used.. to diminish competition.

Re:hit them back (4, Interesting)

v1 (525388) | about 5 years ago | (#27464881)

I say he should have waited for them to level all the charges they could against him, before turning the arrow the other way. Or maybe he did. Either way, it'll be really hard for them to back down on the bill after they themselves calculated it. (realizing the biller and the infringer are not the same entity, but they're acting together it appears)

Re:hit them back (4, Insightful)

gtoomey (528943) | about 5 years ago | (#27464895)

This would be the most obvious starting shot. But it sounds like this could be awfully expensive in lawyer fees.

A lawyer can be just another enemy. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27465029)

"... awfully expensive in lawyer fees." Apparently there are almost no lawyers in the U.S. who are true partners of their clients. Their clients are just a way to make as much money as possible. Getting involved with a lawyer is often just making something else bad happen to you. Most lawyers have no caring whatsoever if they handle the case poorly; there just is no quality control. Lawyers commonly lie about how much work they did.

Re:hit them back (5, Insightful)

hrvatska (790627) | about 5 years ago | (#27465205)

This would be the most obvious starting shot. But it sounds like this could be awfully expensive in lawyer fees.

The only ones smiling at the end of all this will be the lawyers.

Re:hit them back (2, Insightful)

homey of my owney (975234) | about 5 years ago | (#27464985)

And since they have acquired the art from somewhere/one, you can have have them produce the proof that they own it. Once that's done, its damages time.

Re:hit them back (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27465003)

Legal offices know that if they are going to drop a case, often prolong the ending just to rack up billable hours.

They are dishonest. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27465179)

Exactly. They are dishonest. See the comment above [slashdot.org] .

Re:hit them back (5, Informative)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | about 5 years ago | (#27465207)

Looks like stockart are good at doing this sort of thing. See this blog post [whatdoiknow.org] for more info.

Re:hit them back (4, Insightful)

emandres (857332) | about 5 years ago | (#27465501)

Sounds to me like they're a struggling company with a less than marketable product. Add into that the ease of copying a product from them, and you're left with a company that's hardly pertinent in a a ruthless economy. So their solution? Turn into the bottom feeders of the economy, suing anything they lay eyes on. I personally hope this guy sues this company for everything they're worth, and maybe he'll rid the world of another copyright infringement shark.

Re:hit them back (5, Interesting)

TigerNut (718742) | about 5 years ago | (#27465479)

He needs to talk to the Blue Jeans cable guy who previously was a lawyer: the Monster Cable incident [bluejeanscable.com]

Re:hit them back (4, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 5 years ago | (#27465723)

This is completely, sort of generally, off topic, but the Blue Jeans Cable site is pretty funny. The letters you cite are interesting and informative, but some of his comments about cables are priceless...

HDMI is a digital signal format, developed primarily as a platform for the implementation of HDCP (High Definition Content Protection) to prevent consumers from having complete access to the contents of high-definition digital recordings. As one might expect from a standard that was developed to serve the content provider industries, rather than the best interests of the consumer, HDMI is something of a mess.

Besides, they sell OK cables and have good support. What's not to like?

that was fast (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27464845)

It's slashdotted before any posts are here.

Re:that was fast (1)

sgbett (739519) | about 5 years ago | (#27465037)

It was on firehose 3 hours ago - when I looked about an hour ago he had 300+ posts and it was already doing the rounds on digg, stumble, reddit etc

Rightly so. This kind of crap needs stamping on hard.

Re:that was fast (4, Insightful)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 5 years ago | (#27465081)

    It wasn't Slashdotted. It was already hit by several other big sites. Slashdot's a day behind on knocking his site down. :)

    There's a link for the cache in the comments here. A blog posting, and lots of comments most of which saying the same thing. Get a good lawyer.

    They probably bought his images from a 3rd party, so they believe they own them. They'll hold onto that belief until it's gone through court. It'll probably turn out that it's almost impossible to track down the 3rd party, so all he'll eventually get is for the stock photo site to take down his work.

Re:that was fast (2, Insightful)

aliquis (678370) | about 5 years ago | (#27465263)

Why should they only remove them?

Can I claim I believed everything I downloaded to be legal downloads since it's a crime to spread copyrighted work so it must have been ...

And then get away with it except for removal of my copies?

Sounds like an acceptable penalty but I doubt the copyright holders would agree in most cases.

Anyway, he'd already told them how it was and they kept pushing it.

Re:that was fast (5, Interesting)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 5 years ago | (#27465585)

    I'm not saying it's right, but it's the way it will probably work out.

    Here's how I understand the case. If you step back a little, it will all be clear.

    "A", the artist, created the work.
    "B", the 3rd party thief, posed as an original artist, and submitted them to "C" for sale.
    "C", the stock photo site.

    "C" purchased the images from "B", probably under an exclusive license. "C" therefore has legitimate claim to the images. They found out that "A" has the same images on his site, so they filed the complaint. This is perfectly legitimate.

    "A" countered the claim saying that he was the original artist.

    "C" is still sitting on an invoice, a paid receipt, a signed (electronically, probably) contract saying that they own the photos.

    Who do you believe? The person that you've done business with, or a third party?

    This unfortunately happens all the time. I was talking to someone who showed me their "original web site, created by a local graphics art firm." I immediately recognized several images as stock photos, and the layout looked like a template. A few days later while doing unrelated work, I found the template on templatemonster.com. Ahhh, it was a template, that the local firm populated with their specific details (we do.. our number is.. email us at..). They confronted the local firm about it. They insisted that it was all original work, even though it was easy to see otherwise. The site owner chose to believe the local firm. Why? Because they had done business with them, and I was just a new guy in the picture.

    I could copy down a handful of photos from a stock image place, upload them to somewhere that I had cooperation with, that would put whatever timestamps I wished on, and then say "Oh no, I made those last year". Does that make me right? Nope.

    A good thief wouldn't turn around and say "oh ya, I stole it, sorry 'bout that." They would defend their story until it was proven completely wrong. I worked in a jail once (long long ago), and I was told on day 1, "every person in here will tell you how they're innocent." Either the legal system is really screwed, or liars and thieves are frequently one in the same. Heck, even in a traffic stop, people lie.

    "Do you know how fast you were going?"
    "ya, about 55."
    "no you were doing 85. 30mph faster than the rest of the cars on the road."

    Is "C" really liable for damages on property that they bought in good faith? No. They can be sued. They will probably agree to remove the copyrighted images and turn over the contact information "B". That won't necessarily get you very far though. What if the only contact information on "B" is a Hotmail address, and a PayPal account, which indicates the owner is in Russia? Good luck suing him.

    Good faith goes a long way in court, especially where there is a paper trail.

    The same applies to other things.

    If you go online and buy say a new computer. It's 20% less than retail, so you assume you're dealing with a legitimate wholesaler. As it turns out, that person worked in a computer store, stole the computer, and sold it online. Do you believe you are criminally or civilly liable? Because it is stolen merchandise, you may have to forfeit the property, but you likely won't be criminally liable because you bought it in good faith. On the other hand, if you knew the person was a thief, you'd run into a long list of legal problems.

    Another way to look at it is, go buy something at a pawn shop. How do you know that "B", the person who sold it to the pawn shop, was actually the owner of that property? You don't. You do hold onto the receipt, just in case. It proves your innocence (or at least helps to establish it).

Re:that was fast (3, Interesting)

davolfman (1245316) | about 5 years ago | (#27465645)

At least once upon a time stock photography had a decent argument. "I've got negatives, what do you have." Not that film is impossible to fake, it's just that it's a pain to do and very difficult to do well.

Re:that was fast (5, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | about 5 years ago | (#27465769)

"C" therefore has legitimate claim to the images.

No, "C" thinks it has legitimate claim to the images. Not the same thing.

Whether or not "C" was tricked by "B", they still have no claim against "A" (the actual author). And by going after "A"s clients, they threw away any chance to settle their mistake amicably, so now "A" is perfectly justified in releasing the lawyers on "C".

Re:that was fast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27465535)

Well, not to mention considerable damages for libel.

jjhkajhklsdfjkl (3, Insightful)

Tei (520358) | about 5 years ago | (#27464847)

this laws are supposed to help this dude, or people like this dude, if this dude fail to protect itself, then our system has failed, and we don't need any protection. If the force of the strong is the one that prevail, theres no need for laws.

Re:jjhkajhklsdfjkl (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27465031)

Dude alert.

Countersuit (2, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | about 5 years ago | (#27464871)

Sue them back for damages and that all their customers cease immidiately from using his work. That should get you a very concerned lawyer on the other side of the table who's probably ready to settle.

Re:Countersuit (5, Interesting)

aitikin (909209) | about 5 years ago | (#27464891)

If you have the finances to go for a lawyer (which you'll need in order to send such a threat in this society) you better take them for all its worth. If they contacted his clients with paper or left them voicemails (and they still have it) then he better be suing for libel and if it was merely phone calls, slander. Either way this is the type of case that you'll win unless you either are up against someone with a big legal department or be trying to lose

Re:Countersuit (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27465437)

Problem: The clients don't want anything to do with the guy and are unlikely to be cooperative when proving libel. It'll be his word against the defence, unless he has a few friends among his clients.

I found this out first hand when I took a former employer to court and tried to get a other former employees to back me up. Everyone disappeared under a rock, as no one wanted to get involved with courts, lawyers or risk getting dragged into someone else's fight. It's less trouble for them to just hold their tongues. The only people who would back me up were personal friends. (Fortunately I won the case without these people's help: the employer destroyed his credibility with the judge by falsifying records.)

The law may be on this guy's side, but I don't envy him one bit. He's in for a lonely fight.

Re:Countersuit (1)

GooberToo (74388) | about 5 years ago | (#27465495)

One of the key elements required for proving either slander or liable is proof of damage (loss of income or reputation). To which, that's typically very hard to prove a direct link.

If, however, he is able to prove damages and the facts as he presented them are true, it does sound like he is in an excellent position to collect some big bucks from these guys; including damages and all earnings they have made off of his works.

Re:Countersuit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27465517)

You don't need a lawyer to send a DMCA, thats easy, and useful.

Re:Countersuit (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 years ago | (#27464919)

IANAL but AFAICT It doesn't really work that way. First you go after the guy who actually committed the violations. THEN you go after the people who paid him, and are redistributing your content. THEY can then go after the original guy AS WELL because he exposed them to liability.

Re:Countersuit (5, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | about 5 years ago | (#27465273)

IANAL but AFAICT It doesn't really work that way. First you go after the guy who actually committed the violations. THEN you go after the people who paid him

No. Copyright is a strict liability issue, even if the stock photo agency did not know they are still liable but with lower damages. From 17504(c)(2): "In a case where the infringer sustains the burden of proving, and the court finds, that such infringer was not aware and had no reason to believe that his or her acts constituted an infringement of copyright, the court in its discretion may reduce the award of statutory damages to a sum of not less than $200."

I don't see why I was modded troll. Sounds to me like this company is trying to get almost 20k$ and is going after his credibility and business relations which will surely cost him much more in the long run. This is already far past what can be resolved quietly, this will have to end up in court or he can kiss his career goodbye. And once you're already there, I see no reason to hold back. Even if you can't prove all that it'll get them scrambling to find out if it's true or not - maybe their internal will figure out this is something they'd better settle.

Re:Countersuit (1)

Gorobei (127755) | about 5 years ago | (#27465375)

A stock photo firm is going to have a hard time convincing anyone that they had "no reason to believe." They deal with copyright every day, and had better have processes in place to handle disputes fairly.

At the least, the copyright owner should consult a lawyer and consider chucking a DMCA takedown notice at them to wake them up a bit.

Re:Countersuit (1)

gtoomey (528943) | about 5 years ago | (#27464935)

Lawyers dont get concerned, they get paid either way. And lawyer letters are a dime a dozen. The only way you will get settlement is after it reaches court, by which time much has been spent by both parties in legal fees.

Re:Countersuit (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 5 years ago | (#27465293)

Don't the side who lose pay the other sides lawyer fees?

If you decide to fight even if you was guilty and make the other side have to pay more money it makes sense.

Simple, counter sue. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27464877)

If you have all of the original files of the art, file a DMCA notice to them to remove your art from their site and if they continue to be a problem, counter sue them for each image for maximum damages.

He needs to get a good lawyer, countersue... (2, Insightful)

EXMSFT (935404) | about 5 years ago | (#27464899)

and begin selling stock images through the site he pwns as a result of the countersuit. A good lawyer should be able to get him some serious money (gratis) if he has adequate proof that the works are his.

Re:He needs to get a good lawyer, countersue... (5, Interesting)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 5 years ago | (#27464993)

I don't think he should "get a lawyer"

He should contract a law firm. This is too big to cheap out on, and a diverse set of skills will be needed to maximize the severe punishment that can potentialy be levied against these guys.

You don't want the countersuit to be a single-shot weapon. You want it to be an agonizing series of laser guided charges that simply wont go away no matter how this company tries to weasel out of the situation they have put themselves in.

Re:He needs to get a good lawyer, countersue... (1)

Sfing_ter (99478) | about 5 years ago | (#27465267)

Indeed, as to the cost - that will be included in the damages - as will the income he has lost as they have attempted to denigrate his good name and reputation.

Re:He needs to get a good lawyer, countersue... (4, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | about 5 years ago | (#27465461)

It costs nothing more than postage and toner and paper for him to send them a DMCA notice.

Additionally, he should include in his demand a request for all the revenue they've generated from sales and licensing of his artwork, as well as a copy of any contracts in their possession.

They'll have to turn it over to him eventually if he goes to court, and they'll quickly realize that it's not worth going to court over piddling sums. The only one who will want to drag this out is the lawyers ... since they get paid no matter what.

Now if he had stenagrphically embedded an mp3 recording, he could ask for statutory damages of $150,000.00 per copy ...

This is not a bad thing! (5, Insightful)

mark_hill97 (897586) | about 5 years ago | (#27464903)

This will be your chance to make some money off their commercial use of your art, a good chunk of money at that. All you have to be able to do is prove when you created the works and when they started using them.

Go get legal advice now, make sure they have actual experience in IP law.

Good luck with your new found source of revenue!

Re:This is not a bad thing! (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 5 years ago | (#27464981)

Yup - since they themselves submitted an estimate of the value of the copyright that should give him a strong case. I'd think that a lot of lawyers would take something like this on contingency - we're talking about tens of thousands of dollars.

Re:This is not a bad thing! (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27465079)

Even more than that. The lawyers didn't do due diligence when investigating who owned the copyrights BEFORE they went to the defendant's customers. That's slander. And since they're lawyers and should know better, punitive as well.

Re:This is not a bad thing! (1)

yukk (638002) | about 5 years ago | (#27465487)

Yup - since they themselves submitted an estimate of the value of the copyright that should give him a strong case. I'd think that a lot of lawyers would take something like this on contingency - we're talking about tens of thousands of dollars.

Yep, that's tens of minutes of work for a lawyer.

Re:This is not a bad thing! (1)

Dun Malg (230075) | about 5 years ago | (#27465511)

Yup - since they themselves submitted an estimate of the value of the copyright that should give him a strong case. I'd think that a lot of lawyers would take something like this on contingency - we're talking about tens of thousands of dollars.

Don't forget that they also probably have detailed records of how much money they've collected selling his work in violation of copyright. He may have a right to that money as well.

Re:This is not a bad thing! (4, Insightful)

davolfman (1245316) | about 5 years ago | (#27465669)

Actually damages may be limited if he never registered his copyrights. If so this should be a lesson: always file your image copyrights, it's one small fee for as many images as you can cram on a disk.

Re:This is not a bad thing! (1)

rs79 (71822) | about 5 years ago | (#27465771)

Punitive damages vary state by state, and the tendancy is for more, not less states these days to award punative damages, something many lawyers are not always aware of. Never hurts to ask.

Sue them HARD (2, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | about 5 years ago | (#27464943)

so that the damages you get from them for harrassing you about YOUR own creations make them scream hard.

hire a lawyer ASAP (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27464957)

Judging by your description, I'm guessing that you haven't registered the copyright of your images.

Big mistake. If you don't register a copyright within four months of publication, you cannot get statutory damages. You can only recover actual damages, and the burden will be on you to prove them.

1. Hire a lawyer
2. Register your copyrights (you still have to register before you can file suit)
3. File suit (not just for copyright infringement, you clearly have a claim for defamation as well)
4. Send DMCA notices to the site, the site's ISP, and any of the site's customers that are using the images (and the customer's ISPs).

The Evil Batman Did It (4, Funny)

AttillaTheNun (618721) | about 5 years ago | (#27464967)

Timely, as my son is watching a batman cartoon where he battles his alter-ego from another dimension.

The "bad" batman is on a crime spree, framing the "good" batman.

Following this plotline, the solution to the OP's problem is quite straightforward:

He needs to enlist help from the Joker, who is now facing some serious competition in the battle for Gotham.

Re:The Evil Batman Did It (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27465013)

He needs to enlist help from the Joker, who is now facing some serious competition in the battle for Gotham.

you mean, he needs to get some lawyers?

Re:The Evil Batman Did It (1)

weaponx71 (524109) | about 5 years ago | (#27465209)

But in this example the Lawyer would have to be for only good and ONLY for the common person. As this is not true in this dimension and it probably not true in any other dimension either, the Lawyers are the perpetual motion machines of the entire universe. They never work like they should or be what they claim to be. Throwing Lawyers into this type of scenario would doom all known universes to a quantum legalese paradox that would tear a hole across all known and unknown dimensions and blink them out of existence. Maybe we need to put all the Lawyers in a dimensional Blue parabox, and the rest of us in a Yellow dimensional parabox and pull each other through the other to keep each dimension from destroying itself.

Suprised this isn't more common (4, Insightful)

olddotter (638430) | about 5 years ago | (#27464999)

I'm surprised this isn't more common. Sadly this will probably cost him in legal fees, and both he and the company are victims of a 3rd scam artist.

That they won't back down with presented with proof, ways against them. Do they think he is making it up or are they afraid of losing face?

Re:Suprised this isn't more common (1)

psnyder (1326089) | about 5 years ago | (#27465113)

Do they think he is making it up or are they afraid of losing face?

Both sides probably think they're in the right. The stock image place most likely doesn't believe his proof yet.

Re:Suprised this isn't more common (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27465171)

Really? The stock image firm must know that they didn't create these images--they bought them from someone. I would hope they know who. Have they talked to this person? Done any checking to whether he in fact at some point worked for the person they're suing?

I'm not saying they should have known this before they filed the suit, but at this point some reasonable and verifiable allegations have been made. When someone accuses you of theft, I'd hope you investigate.

Re:Suprised this isn't more common (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27465623)

I accuse you of theft.

Re:Suprised this isn't more common (3, Informative)

Tsu Dho Nimh (663417) | about 5 years ago | (#27465677)

It is EXTREMELY common for a good photographer or graphics artist to find their work under someone else's name on a microstock site.

sxc.hu has some excellent photographers, and they have to patrol photolia and other sites to keep the image thieves from uploading works they didn't shoot.

They didn't take the images from you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27465001)

The good thing is that the bill gives me a record of every single image they took from me

If they had really taken the images from you, you would have known about this a long time ago. Instead, they made unauthorized copies of them.

Brought to you by the Please Don't Refer to Copyright Infringement as Theft department.

information wants to be free (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27465017)

Stop hoarding your mind's creations. You were inspired by others, let others derive from your work.

Slashdot's not what it was 10 years ago. Bunch of Randroids living under fascism and thinking they're free (bailout of the rich funded by the working man to preserve the class hierarchy? that's what it's all about...).

Stock Photo (1)

Exception Duck (1524809) | about 5 years ago | (#27465055)

The problem is that some people get so excited about representation that they will sign anything handed to them. And then complain when they find out what it means... Just be careful what you sign in the future and try to settle this away. There is a difference if you grant them exclusive rights to something or just sign away all your rights to said work.

Re:Stock Photo (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | about 5 years ago | (#27465605)


This guy didn't sell his art to the stock company, somebody ELSE stripped his mark from the pieces and sold them to the stock company. The stock company was scammed by a 3rd party and has been collecting money for them (note that does NOT absolve them from doing thorough enough verification, at least as I understand things).

Not only is this guy entitled to all of the income for these photos, he's entitled to any punative copywrite damages on top of that. Assuming he wins, of course. If he has the proof he says he does it's a no-brainer though, so it's a safe bet. Since the stock photo company probably didn't actually know the photos were stolen, they'd get lesser punative damages levied against them, but it's still on top of any money they've already received.

Re:Stock Photo (1)

Exception Duck (1524809) | about 5 years ago | (#27465655)

Yes, the article was slashdotted when I tried reading it. This is just wrong. Like stealing a bike from someone and then charging him rent for the time he owned it. I think he actually has some money coming to him if said company is not going bankrupt. Would check that before going for a countersuit. This sounds like some last measures someone would resort to before going over.

How do you prove you created the content (4, Interesting)

nibbles2004 (761552) | about 5 years ago | (#27465061)

if i take a photo, put a CC license on it , but someother party take a screenshot of it and passes it off as owned by them, is there any effective way to prove i took the photo. Yes i could upload to say flickr and that would prove i had the photo at a particular date, but it doesnt really prove i took the photo. What in your opionion is the best way to protect your work. I give all my public photo's a CC license anyway but i would'nt want someone else passing them off as theres.

Re:How do you prove you created the content (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27465083)

The artist generally produces a much higher-quality version of the content than that which gets uploaded. So just show up in court with the high-quality version to prove that you authored it, particularly if you have a vector version and the one in the wild is bitmapped.

Re:How do you prove you created the content (2, Insightful)

markov_chain (202465) | about 5 years ago | (#27465291)

That's a great idea! I'm glad that I invested into the Nikon D1*V* which takes vector photos.

Re:How do you prove you created the content (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27465607)

you're a moron.

professional photographers shoot either film, which means they have the negatives, or they shoot digital RAW, which is the digital equivalent of a negative.

either way they have the high resolution original.

You could register the copyright (4, Interesting)

JSBiff (87824) | about 5 years ago | (#27465185)

While you don't have to register copyrights to *have* a copyright, there is a mechanism to register copyrights with the US Copyright Office [copyright.gov] (well, if you're in another country, this option would probably not be available to you, though I'm not sure). When you register the copyright, you upload a copy of the work that you are registering.

While it is possible for a copyright registration to be overturned by a court, if presented with solid evidence (as in the SCO vs. Novell case where The SCO Group tried to fraudulently register copyrights), my understanding is that the registration puts the proceedings in your favor - if you hold a registration, the court assumes you own it until proven otherwise - you don't have to prove that you own the copyright, the other party has to prove you do NOT own the copyright). The registration also increases the amount of damages you can get in a court action (I think you can get triple damages plus attorney's fees).

It does cost money to register copyrights though - I think it's $35 for online registration, so if an artist has hundreds of small items they wish to copyright, it could get expensive to register them all individually. It might, however, be possible to collectively register them (that is, to have 100 or 200 photos as part of a single copyright registration), but I'm not sure about that.

Outside of copyright registration, I think the way courts decide copyright ownership is based upon someone providing the earliest proof of publication (though I'm not sure - I am not a layer, this isn't legal advice, etc, etc). If you can prove that you had published the image on flickr or some other site at an earlier date than the other party can show proof of their publication, that might do it for you.

I really think, though, that more open source and creative commons software/content producers should register their copyrights. It really does provide you a certain wall of protection against

Other than, I'm not sure what you can do. Registration of your copyrights is probably the best way to give you a strong case though.

Finishing the sentence. . . (1)

JSBiff (87824) | about 5 years ago | (#27465275)

It really does provide you a certain wall of protection against. . . claims of the sort discussed in this article, by someone else trying to claim your copyrights.

Re:You could register the copyright (1)

ohnotherobots (1448571) | about 5 years ago | (#27465735)

I've also heard that some people will mail a copy of the work to themselves in a sealed envelope so that it has an official post office date stamped on it. They keep it in a safe place and if they ever need to prove ownership they can give it to the proper authority to open up and see that they had possession of the work on the stamped date.

Re:How do you prove you created the content (1)

Cathoderoytube (1088737) | about 5 years ago | (#27465195)

For one thing it's illegal to remove a watermark from an image, so if somebody takes one of your pics then crops out your CC that won't be good for them. Also to prove you took the picture you need a copy of it with a date on it. Digital copies carry that information with them. Also I imagine having the high rez unaltered version of the image would help too.

Re:How do you prove you created the content (1)

GooberToo (74388) | about 5 years ago | (#27465595)

For one thing it's illegal to remove a watermark from an image

Its also in violation of the DCMA which has some rather harsh punishments associated.

Re:How do you prove you created the content (5, Insightful)

kaszeta (322161) | about 5 years ago | (#27465261)

95% of what I post to various photo sharing websites, under any license, is cropped. Mostly since it looks better cropped, but a nice secondary effect of this is that I have part of the image that no infringer can have.

I already have enough problems with images I post publicy

Re:How do you prove you created the content (1)

fermion (181285) | about 5 years ago | (#27465709)

In the olden days there were several ways to do this, though I do not do such work so I never had to do this in practice. Put whatever it is you want to time stamp, put it in an envelope, and mail it to youself. Keep everything sealed until the court unseals it. As already mentioned, many forms are not released in full. If one has a full print, then that can prove ownership. For more technical work, dated and countersigned notebooks can be helpful.

Apologies in advance (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27465167)

I'm not one to normally swear on slashdot, hence posting as AC, but it has to be said that stockart.com are a bunch of fucking cunts.

I hope they get their collective asses kicked bigtime over this debacle.

Let them know what you think (0, Redundant)

LurkingOnSlashdot (1378465) | about 5 years ago | (#27465233)

Everybody email accounts@stockart.com and support@stockart.com to tell them how you feel. You can also call 1.800.297.7658.

Destroy them (3, Informative)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 5 years ago | (#27465245)

I'd definitely turn around and sue them for selling your material, harassment, lose of business, etc.

They're trying to destroy him so he has to turn around and crush the scum bags.

People stealing things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27465303)

I had a PHP program on the internet for a while. Released it in 2003 with a certain name.

In 2006, someone came along and named their program with the same name. Normally I would have been okay, but it served exactly the same purpose.

I emailed the author and asked them politely to change the name. They responded back and admitted they saw my PHP program and it's name, but "figured they would use it anyway", and then had the gall to tell me to merge my project with his! I of course turned him down, not only because he was outright stealing the name but also because his program was an outright mess. He then spewed some bullshit that if he got more users and was 'bigger', he would then own the name. He then said that a movie studio can just suddenly own a student movie if they film it with the same script, characters, and actors, but just sell more copies.

Yeah, he was an idiot.

Unfortunately I was poor and didn't have the money to start court proceedings on him. The program I released was free; if he thought he really could take the name away by getting more people to download his, I could just play defense.

Karma was a bitch though, and about 6 months later his forum was just page after page of spambots.

Posting anon because I think he has a well-to-do mommy and daddy and he might try to sue me for libel or somesuch :(

In short, I understand how violated this guy must feel.

Re:People stealing things (3, Interesting)

mikael (484) | about 5 years ago | (#27465593)

I had a friend in college who wrote some spreadsheet templates to help manage oil storage tanks. His system kept track of dates of filling, draining, age, litres added, removed, type of oil and so on. It genuinely helped his customers save money as they wouldn't forget about slightly filled tanks which would end up being drained rather than used.

Next thing he knew, another guy was selling the exact same spreadsheet templates but with a couple of the columns swapped around. There really wasn't anything he could do.

Another story was about a guy who wrote an expert system for fixing the motors of train set engines. His system required that you measure the voltages and currents through different parts of the motor. His expert system would then tell you what was wrong with the motor. He was giving this away for free to hobbyists, until someone else figured out that the same expert system would help identify faults with industrial winches and motors, and was charging consultancy fees.

Why the lawyers won't let it drop (5, Informative)

tonyray (215820) | about 5 years ago | (#27465321)

Something similar happened to me and I knew the lawyers realized they had no case but they wouldn't let it drop as long as their client was paying. My mother was a judge, so I knew how to aproach this. See the lawyers would never bring this to trial because the judge would repremand them when it was so clear they had no case. But that won't stop them from threatening me. So, first, because I wasn't a lawyer, I sent copious letters to the lawyers and their client repeatedly telling them they in as many ways that they had no case. Each letter sent to the lawyer cost the client money. Each letter sent to the client cost the client money when they turned the letter over to the lawyers as they must. Each reply from the lawyer, and they must reply to each letter, cost the client money. You can't wear lawyers down, but you can wear the client down.

Do not have a lawyer send the letters. It is considered unethical for a lawyer to send a letter to the another lawyer's cleint and it is really the client you want to get to.

Source data (1)

janwedekind (778872) | about 5 years ago | (#27465443)

If you have high resolution data or vector files this should be a technical proof that the work is your creation.

Umm... (1)

thestudio_bob (894258) | about 5 years ago | (#27465549)

This one seems like a no brainer. Hire a LAWYER.

I'm no trying to be a smart-ass, but you obviously have a case and the proof. I think you will most likely be able to counter sue for lost profits, maybe damages and all that other fun stuff. They are not playing nice, so you need to protect yourself.

some IANAL suggestions (4, Informative)

RobertLTux (260313) | about 5 years ago | (#27465575)

what your counsel needs to do
1 begin a counter suit in a GO FOR BLOOD type mode

2 file an injunction with the court preventing them from "discussing details of the case(s) with parties not currently involved with the case" (why are they telling your customers that the status of their purchase may be in question??)

3 file a DCMA notice on the images in question

4 get lots of discovery, lots and lots of discovery

what you need to do

1 stop talking about the case! your last post should be that you did the DCMA notice and got your injunction

2 contact all of your clients and inform them of the situation and offer to send them proof of copyright (higher res version with predated meta stamps or whatever)

3 remember your actions should be clean and above the board (but hire a team that speaks MoFo grade law)


You need a lawyer, or a better one. (1)

Animats (122034) | about 5 years ago | (#27465717)

You need a competent lawyer. In the end, you should come out of this way ahead. You can countersue for libel, defamation of character, and copyright violations.

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