Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Geek Wins Copyright Lawsuit Against Corporation

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the david-1-goliath-0 dept.

The Courts 616

Chris Gregerson writes "I work as a stock photographer/web developer. I saw a photo of mine used in Vilana Financial's full-page phone book ad. They wouldn't pay the licensing fee, and I wrote about it online (mirror). They sued me for defamation, producing a sales agreement signed by one ' Michael Zubitskiy' (who they said took the photo and sold the rights to them). I sued them for copyright infringement, and they added claims against me for trademark infringement, deceptive trade practices, and tortuous interference. There was a trial I'll long remember on the 5th of November, and the judge recently issued her verdict (PDF; mirror). She ruled Vilana Financial forged the sales agreement and willfully infringed my photos, and awarded me $19,462. All claims against me were denied. I represented myself during the litigation."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

I just won an Oscar! (-1, Flamebait)

Asshat_Nazi (946431) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541594)

For the biggest cock on Slashdot!

No you didn't. (5, Funny)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541612)

The story's author did, for having the balls to stand up to a thief by himself.

If I told you what I think you were, this post would be modded down as flamebait.

Re:No you didn't. (2, Informative)

aeschenkarnos (517917) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541806)

"Copyright infringer", not "thief".

Re:No you didn't. (3, Interesting)

Asshat_Nazi_v2.0 (989409) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541852)

legally a "copyright infringer", but in the spirit of the law, a "thief". they took something they didn't have permission to take. i personally don't give a shit about semantics, what they did was steal.

Re:No you didn't. (4, Insightful)

Courageous (228506) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541948)

The Slashdot community has this amusing mix of copyright haters and copyright lovers. See, we're supposed to be all geeks, so if someone takes (pardon me, "duplicates") our stuff, it's not longer "copyright is not theft!" but rather "get a goddamn rope!"

C//

Well done! (4, Insightful)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541602)

Justice was served, and you got the shysters to pony up 11 times what they would have paid if they'd just purchased the photos in the first place.

People like to dis the "IANAL" posters here, but I have found that a little bit of amateur legal knowledge, even stuff picked up from Judge Judy and the intarweb, can take you a long way in life. At a minimum you should know the basics of how contracts are enforced, what kind of evidence is acceptable in court, and how not to piss of a judge. Common sense will get you most of the way, but you need to know just a bit about the lingo and the process.

Re:Well done! (0, Troll)

kemushi88 (1156073) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541634)

even stuff picked up from Judge Judy and the intarweb, can take you a long way in life

Don't forget Law and Order. :-)

Re:Well done! (1, Redundant)

gmack (197796) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541776)

I think I'd be as unlikely to trust Law and Order on legal matters as I would be to trust CSI and Numb3rs for science lessons. Shows produced by Hollywood need to make money even if it's at the expense of factual correctness.

Re:Well done! (0, Offtopic)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541804)

Actually all three of those shows have high viewer numbers because they do try for factual correctness. CSI does speed things up, and Numb3rs does take some liberties with the math, but for the most part they're pretty accurate.

I am not a lawyer, I just play one on slashdot... (1, Troll)

fsckr (965056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541888)

n/t

Re:Well done! (4, Insightful)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541912)

The biggest problem I have with CSI is that they act like they have unlimited funds to solve a crime. Every man-hour spent on a case is billed. Every test they do costs money. At the end of the day, do you really think they'll run a $100k tab to solve the murder of a hooker or bum?

The sad fact is that after a few days, most cases are sent to the bottom of the pile. Not due to lack of evidence, but due to lack of funds.

Re:Well done! (4, Interesting)

Architect_sasyr (938685) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541920)

And they all take some liberties with the computer side of things!

As someone who trained for a year to become a Lawyer, I find Law and Order to be at least partially gratifying for the way things are put down in the show. It's not entirely accurate but it's not entirely inaccurate as well. The same applies to CSI or Numb3rs... nobody likes to sit by the geeky things so sure it's not all canon, but it puts the right spin on things.

Note I used to date a forensic scientist for the Australian police, watching a show like that with her was like listening to Bill Gates tell me how awesome Linux is ("that's not right!", "we can't do that!!!", "BULLLLLSHIT!" etc.).

My $0.02 AU, Ignore at will

Re:Well done! (1)

gmack (197796) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541970)

You can't be serious.. CSI once had someone "enhance" a low resolution CCTV feed zoomed in far enough to see a barcode. How do you extrapolate data that isn't there?

Numb3rs is the worst of them.. equations are only as good as the data that can be fed to them yet somehow they manage to figure out pretty much anything by throwing a bunch of numbers up on the board.

Now I'm not saying they aren't good shows I enjoy both CSI and Numb3rs and I'm not saying there isn't some good science in both but a lot of the science is implausible and the average joe on the street won't notice the difference they just like being entertained and made to feel smart at the same time.

They are wrong about half the time they talk about something I actually know about so I would generally assume the same goes for things I'm not familiar with.

Re:Well done! (3, Informative)

Wordplay (54438) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542036)

I think the OP's point (and I agree) is that the shows tend to use fairly reasonable devices, they just don't always use them correctly.

Numb3rs' equations are generally appropriate to task, at least insofar as I can follow them. The equipment they use on CSI does by and large exist, even if it's much rarer and considerably less slick than they make out. Law & Order usually references at least halfway appropriate legal doctrine, and House is at least usually (not always, but usually) fact-checked/consulted to the point of distant plausibility, even if they do often represent extremely rare situations or exaggerations as predictable lifesavers.

As for the rest, I'm OK chalking it up to dramatic device. Sometimes I'll see something headslap-worthy (normally something computery, given my usual focus) but I can generally maintain some level of distance from reality. All fiction takes shortcuts.

Re:Well done! (-1, Flamebait)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541770)

Justice was served
What justice was that exactly?

you got the shysters to pony up 11 times what they would have paid if they'd just purchased the photos in the first place.
Yes, that certainly sounds like justice.

Someone should buy this guy a cape.

Re:Well done! (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541808)

Yes, that certainly sounds like justice.
Yep, sure does. The whole point of punitive damages is to punish offenders for their wrongdoing. Otherwise, they'd only be risking the actual value of whatever they're ripping off in the first place.

Re:Well done! (-1, Flamebait)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541868)

What are they being punished for? Using a photo that Chris Gregerson willfully posted on the web? His entire business model is only possible because guys with guns are standing behind him saying you have to pay him if you want to use his stuff. He's the same kind of vermin that the RIAA and MPAA represent. In fact, he's worse.. taking a photo of a cityscape is hardly a skill.

Re:Well done! (4, Insightful)

T-Bone-T (1048702) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541904)

Just because it is viewable by the public does not make it public domain. You should leave. You clearly don't know anything about this discussion.

Re:Well done! (0, Troll)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541946)

I know the law, I just think it is non-sense.

I thought I made that pretty clear.

Re:Well done! (1)

_KiTA_ (241027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541952)

What are they being punished for? Using a photo that Chris Gregerson willfully posted on the web?
So, um. Wait.

You're honestly saying... that... by posting this photo to the web... he gave up all copyright on it? That by allowing people to see a piece of art that he created, he somehow gave up all rights to it?

Think about what you're saying carefully, because if you honestly believe that, you are a complete and utter fool.

3) "If it's posted to Usenet it's in the public domain."
        False. Nothing modern and creative is in the public domain anymore unless the owner explicitly puts it in the public domain(*). Explicitly, as in you have a note from the author/owner saying, "I grant this to the public domain." Those exact words or words very much like them.


Fool, educate thyself. [templetons.com]

Re:Well done! (0, Troll)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542026)

No, I'm saying copyright is a load of shit.. Are you honestly saying that you replied to me without reading the rest of the thread? Can I quote you some Usenet FAQs too?

Re:Well done! (5, Insightful)

evanbd (210358) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542006)

taking a photo of a cityscape is hardly a skill.

If the photo had no value, then they wouldn't have felt like using it. There are lots of bad cityscapes; producing a decent one requires at least some skill -- and there is certainly labor involved in taking the time to do it. Your lack of appreciation does not mean there is no skill, or that the photo has no value.

Re:Well done! (5, Insightful)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542008)

What are they being punished for? Using a photo that Chris Gregerson willfully posted on the web?
They're being punished for using it without his consent. Now, I ran a WHOIS search on your linked domain (biodome.org), and am operating under the assumption that you're Canadian, so we'll run with the idea that you're living in a society that respects copyright for the duration of my reply.

His entire business model is only possible because guys with guns are standing behind him saying you have to pay him if you want to use his stuff.
Sure, and I'm totally fine with that. Your country's right to exist hinges on the fact that lots of guys with guns would repel an armed invasion. People are motivated to respect all sorts of laws because guys with guns (the police) will come and get them if they rob a bank, for instance. What's your point?

He's the same kind of vermin that the RIAA and MPAA represent.
Not by a long shot. He made a simple case for an instance of copyright infringement, and didn't appear to paint some morbid picture of the issue being worth millions and millions of dollars. Your position on this point is just idiotic.

In fact, he's worse.. taking a photo of a cityscape is hardly a skill.
I suck at photography, and so do most people I know. The guy's work obviously had some commercial appeal, because it was considered good enough to be in the advertisement. Let's see your portfolio of cityscapes, buddy. If you happen to be okay with other people using for work for whatever purposes they like without compensating you, that's fine by me. Just don't try and force that view on society as a whole.

Re:Well done! (1)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541936)

Since this was a civil case, could he now turn the evidence over to the FBI and get the company charged under Federal Copyright laws? I'd love to see another $250,000 fine and the CEO spend a few years in jail...

THis is Good, but file sharing is Good too? (4, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541794)

Sometimes I struggle understanding double standards on /.

So ripping off a stock photo is Bad and this guy did good by pushing for his rights and winning.

But pirating copyright music via p2p etc is OK because nobody got hurt right.

ENOCOMPUTE

Re:THis is Good, but file sharing is Good too? (-1, Flamebait)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541810)

Dude, there's a lot of people in this story who have posted support for this sue-happy douche, go ahead and look at their posting history to see if they have recently been defending file sharing. If not, STFU about the double standard. Slashdot != one person.

Re:THis is Good, but file sharing is Good too? (5, Informative)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541872)

Sometimes I struggle understanding double standards on /.

There is more than one person posting here.

So ripping off a stock photo is Bad and this guy did good by pushing for his rights and winning.

Yes. And more importantly, without a lawyer. IMHO that alone makes it a respectable achievement, regardless of how I might feel about this particular law.

But pirating copyright music via p2p etc is OK because nobody got hurt right.

Not the same thing. This company used his images for profit. What would have been analogous to file sharing might be if the defendant had photocopied the image, put it on his wall for his own personal enjoyment, and given some copies to friends for the same purpose.

Conversely, there does not seem to be much sympathy for people who _sell_ pirated songs or attempt to use them for some purely commercial purpose.

Re:THis is Good, but file sharing is Good too? (1)

spyder-implee (864295) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541918)

Exactly, why not equate copyright infringement to armed robbery? Two completely different things dude. Congrats on the victory.

Re:THis is Good, but file sharing is Good too? (5, Funny)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542020)

There is more than one person posting here.
I don't know about you, but I'm just a CmdrTaco shell account that posts random shit from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] . I thought everyone else was, too, and we were all just trying to make it look like we're on a successful site so that CmdrTaco can earn lots and lots of money from an evil corporate overlord while being able to DOS people and not get blamed/prosecuted.

Re:THis is Good, but file sharing is Good too? (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541908)

Use of P2P is not plagiarism for commercial gain. While I'm all for the abolishment of copyright, laws against plagiarism are still needed as this case clearly shows.

Re:THis is Good, but file sharing is Good too? (5, Insightful)

Gideon Fubar (833343) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541960)

It's all about the perception of who is on the other end, and how they go about enforcing things. Big established guy squashing little guy vs. little guy sticking up for himself against a bigger guy.

Emotional arguments aside, there are some real issues with the way recording companies operate.

Also, there's a significant difference between downloading a song for free and listening to it on your mp3 player and downloading a song by an unsigned artist for free, and then using it on a TV or radio ad, and then trying to claim that the artist sold you the rights when you're queried on it.

Re:THis is Good, but file sharing is Good too? (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542030)

Its not about taking or not. Its about size. A company worth billions suing 100,000s of people isn't cool. A mother getting charged 200k+$ to give to some rich guy with a porsche. On the other hand big companies turning around and breaking the rules, a company with deeper pockets. Being deceitful, dodging the guy then forging evidence. Them getting charge 20k$ is a victory even if a minor one. /. is NOT particularly anti-IP. But we are pro-reasonable and anti-'non contributing corporations who leach off other peoples hardwork'. The reason most people have a problem with copyright laws is very much in line with supporting this guy.

Feel free to mod up parent insightful though, he made me honestly think about my reasoning on the two issues.

Nice! (-1, Redundant)

cesman (74566) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541624)

Congrats on your victory!

Re:Nice! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22541800)

Whoever wasted a mod point to mod you redundant is a pig-fucking cocksucker.

Re:Nice! (0)

T-Bone-T (1048702) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541940)

You really are an anonymous coward.

Good! (2, Insightful)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541636)

Finally a little man stood up to a corporation and won! And on Guy Fox day nonetheless. I'm just wondering where all the money for attorneys came from.

Re:Good! (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541670)

Quoth the story summary: "I represented myself during the litigation."

Re:Good! (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541758)

Yeah I kinda realized that and know I'm getting dinged for it. Thanks for the reminder.

Re:Good! (5, Interesting)

Fat Casper (260409) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541838)

Guy Fawkes, you philistine!

The photographer represented himself, so he didn't pay any lawyers.

The defendants took the money that they saved by not paying the photographer in the first place and spent it on lawyers. Then they got to pay the photographer anyway. I love it when business plans have to take regular people into account.

Re:Good! (1, Funny)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541916)

My mother was a Philistine you insensitive clod!

Sorry for the misspelling. I don't get to see the name written very often (never) in the United States.

Picture (5, Funny)

cdrdude (904978) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541644)

Could you post which picture it was? Preferably with any watermarks removed, and in the highest resolution you have, just for...informational purposes ;-)

Re:Picture (2, Funny)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541760)

Here's the photo [blogpuzzles.net] , in full resolution. Thanks for asking!

$19,462 (3, Insightful)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541648)

The old saying goes: "A man who represents himself in court has a fool for a client."

You are a shining example of the fact that there is an exception to every rule. Good job!!!

Re:$19,462 (5, Insightful)

smack.addict (116174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541866)

Sorry, no, he was a fool.

If he had had a lawyer, he would have:

a) Been awarded a lot more money
b) Stuck the defendants with attorney's fees

Re:$19,462 (1)

Faylone (880739) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541966)

A fool who gets lucky and ends up rich is still a fool, and if he remains so, he will generally be parted with that money quite soon.

Re:$19,462 (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542034)

Point well taken.

The copyright holder wins (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541650)

umm, what a great big surprise. Anyone would think the copyright system was designed to grossly bias the copyright owner or something.

Re:The copyright holder wins (3, Informative)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541704)

Quoting the summary:

They sued me for defamation, producing a sales agreement signed by one ' Michael Zubitskiy' (who they said took the photo and sold the rights to them). I sued them for copyright infringement, and they added claims against me for trademark infringement, deceptive trade practices, and tortuous interference.
The story here is that the defendant tried to pull some hard-core legalistic intimidation bullshit in response to the original lawsuit, and the plaintiff still stood his ground and pushed forward.

Re:The copyright holder wins (4, Insightful)

caitsith01 (606117) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541734)

The story here is that the defendant tried to pull some hard-core legalistic intimidation bullshit in response to the original lawsuit, and the plaintiff still stood his ground and pushed forward.

Nevertheless, if the story were in essence reversed and it was about a faceless company suing an unrepresented guy and getting a hefty award of damages for some relatively minor IP infringement, we'd get a bunch of bearded geek hippies rambling on about how "information wants to be free" and "I don't believe in imaginary property" and so on.

Not disagreeing that this is a good outcome, or with the bearded geek hippies per se. Just sayin'.

Re:The copyright holder wins (3, Insightful)

gmack (197796) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541818)

If said "bearded geek hippie" infringed copyright to push his business I would hope most slashdotters would applaud his being thrown to the wolves.. I certainly would.

Re:The copyright holder wins (3, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541874)

Agreed, although you definitely understated the underhandedness of the loser in this case. Anybody who has a problem with this story should take a few moments to read the ruling. The devil here is in the details.

Re:The copyright holder wins (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541982)

Well, I don't believe in "imaginary property" either. The real issue to me was that somebody else claimed to have taken the picture. I wouldn't be as sympathetic if proper attribution was given.

Re:The copyright holder wins (1)

coppro (1143801) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542024)

Nevertheless, if the story were in essence reversed and it was about a faceless company suing an unrepresented guy and getting a hefty award of damages for some relatively minor IP infringement, we'd get a bunch of bearded geek hippies rambling on about how "information wants to be free" and "I don't believe in imaginary property" and so on.
True, but in the same scenario, the legal branch of a large company would likely have:
  • Sued for millions in punitive damages, rather than mere thousands
  • Sued the phone book for the same
  • Attempted to get an injunction preventing further distribution of said phone book
  • Attempted to force recall of all phone books actively out there
  • Sued Michael Zubitsky, just in case he actually did sign an agreement for them.

Bullshit. (3, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542032)

Nevertheless, if the story were in essence reversed and it was about a faceless company suing an unrepresented guy and getting a hefty award of damages for some relatively minor IP infringement, we'd get a bunch of bearded geek hippies rambling on about how "information wants to be free" and "I don't believe in imaginary property" and so on.

Do you seriously think that if a geek used a company's photo without a license & when caught, fraudulently filed suit for defamation, following it up with trademark infringement, deceptive trade practices, and tortuous interference, that geek hippies would equate this with information wanting to be free?

Seriously? Or perhaps you were just wanting to have a pathetic little dig at your perception of slashdot groupthink.

Re:The copyright holder wins (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541740)

No, the story here is that one of "us" took on "a corporation" and won, and he didn't need no stinkin' lawyer to do it neither!

Re:The copyright holder wins (1)

Duhavid (677874) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541750)

I have to invoke Shannon's law here:

It is only information ( a story ) when it is unexpected. :-)

so this is a good thing? (0, Troll)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541652)

What happened to Imaginary Property Rights???
Why is it okay for a geek to sue for this?
I mean data wants to be free and that picture is just data.

Re:so this is a good thing? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541674)

Of course he thinks it is a good thing and is happy to post a story to Slashdot claiming so, but it doesn't mean all of us agree it is a good thing.

Re:so this is a good thing? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22541710)

(a) It's not necessarily okay. Slashdot is a discussion site. Things are discussed here.

(b) Note all imaginary property monopolies are equal. Patents are far more evil than copyrights are far more evil than trademarks. The term "IP" is designed to conflate them and make nuanced debate difficult. Even parodies of the term, it seems, may have that effect.

(c) There is a difference between plagiarism and restriction on redistribution. In the complete absence of laws restricting redistribution (COPY rights), plagiarism could still be illegal/fraudulent. i.e. I could be permitted to go "here's a copy of the image LWATCDR's took. He sure is a talented photographer", but you could sue if I went "here's a copy of a cool image I took, I'm such a cool photographer", and I was trying to pass off your work as my own. Artists are generally concerned about plagiarism. Distributors care about distribution monopolies. If distribution monopolies exist, it's certainly fairer that the artist hold them (modern copyright law) rather than the distributor (old english common law design to keep the king's cronies powerful) - but that doesn't say whether distribution monopolies should exist at all. I say they shouldn't, but simultaneously say the penalties for plagiarism should be strengthened (they're particularly weak in the USA, ironically enough).

 

Re:so this is a good thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22541854)

Slashdot is a discussion site. Things are discussed here.

Wow. Good thing you posted AC, otherwise you'd never live down such a stupid fucking statement. Dude, you need to get out more, check out lifestyles that exist beyond your Slashtard mentality...

Re:so this is a good thing? (2, Insightful)

wasabii (693236) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541718)

Intellectual property is just as imaginary as physical property. In both cases the government stops me from coming onto your property and shoving you off. In a purely natural world, I'd have the right to come in, shoot you, and suddenly have a nice plot of land.

However we WILLINGLY give up that right up to the government for the furthurence of society. Just like we WILLINGLY give up the right to be able to copy other people's ideas.

Some of us in fact DO agree with IP.

Re:so this is a good thing? (-1, Flamebait)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541792)

Some of us in fact DO agree with IP.
Some of you is a fuckin' moron. Seriously, if you actually believe there should be laws against "copying other people's ideas" then there is no hope for you. I wish you to be instantly transported to such a society so that you can see the result first hand, but unfortunately, people like you are going to drag the rest of us along into this dystopia.

Re:so this is a good thing? (1)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541830)

The difference being that with physical property when you take something you have clearly deprived someone of something else.

When you copy data you contribute towards diminishing it's "value", but the question must be raised: "if no one will pay money for something they can duplicate free-of-charge, does it have 'value' in an economic sense ? If not, is it 'right' for the government to enforce value by giving it's creator absolute legal control over it's distribution" ?

I don't have an answer to either question.

Re:so this is a good thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22541842)

However, people would think you an asshole because land, unlike ideas, is scarce and rivalrous. Two people can have the same idea, they can't live on the same land (well, even that's not entirely true). Imaginary property is fundamentally different to real property, because real property is the best known (I mean mathematically provably so given the idealizations of conventional free market economics) means for dealing with scarcity and rivalrousness that exists naturally. Imaginary property is a means of imposing scarcity and rivalrousness where none exists naturally,for the benefit of the few (mathematical modelling - e.g. the 2007 not-nobel-economics-prize "mechanism design" theory - has shown that generally, imaginary property should be strictly limited, much more so than it is currently, and is, at best, very seldom beneficial. This conflicts strongly with the typical propaganda on the issue of course).

Re:so this is a good thing? (2, Insightful)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541756)

What happened to Imaginary Property Rights???
Why is it okay for a geek to sue for this?
I mean data wants to be free and that picture is just data.
1) It is called "intellectual property", and this case sounds to me very much like how it is meant to work. This guy is making photographs for a living, and people should not use it without his consent. The damages also sound quite reasonable to me. Note that a photograph for use in your own publication normally costs much more than an audio recording in a retail shop, which you (and everyone around here) will probably want to compare it against.
2) It is OK for a anyone to sue for it. It is imho in principle even OK for an RIAA or MPAA to sue - as long as they follow the proper legal procedures, which they don't, and the damages demanded are reasonable, which they are not. This guy got like 10, 20 times the original price of the photo. That is a reasonable outcome I think. A price of USD1000-2000 for a photo with reproduction license is quite normal.
3) The expression is "information wants to be free", and this photo may be data, it is not information.

Wouter.

Re:so this is a good thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22541840)

How can something be data, but not information? Look up "information" in a dictionary before saying such nonsense.

I suspect he knows what IP means... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22541994)

1) I assume he's looking for a comment from someone like me. I.E. wondering if those who consider IP to be imaginary can explain why they hold that view in a story like this without hypocrisy.

2) I don't have a problem with him suing these guys because of the fraud angle. I don't care as much about the picture itself, but the way they tried to snow him was very, very wrong.

3) Reread Shannon's Law sometime if you think they're different. You're correct about the usual phrasing, though.

- I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property

Re:so this is a good thing? (5, Informative)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541814)

There are several differences here:

1. The evil corporation started playing hardball first.
2. The evil corporation was infringing the copyright for profit.
3. The evil corporation provably distributed copies of the copyrighted material, and the number of copies could be proven as well.
4. The evil corporation appears to have undertaken actions to attempt to defraud both the copyright holder and the court by giving testimony that a person sold the copyright to the corporation. (The ruling expresses doubt that this person even exists.)
5. The damages claimed were not ridiculous given the extent of the violations, substantially less than the amount available at law.

Re:so this is a good thing? (1, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541986)

The "evil corporation" was a one man outfit.. Chris didn't mention that of course.

Re:so this is a good thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22541824)

um mod down? ...and take out of the comment page cause there is no substance here ...

Re:so this is a good thing? (3, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542002)

In this case, it's the profit involved. I would be upset and feel that someone who charged $50 for an unauthorized copy of Vista should be sued in a similar fashion.

Also, note that this damage award is fairly reasonable. $18,000 is a hefty price for a small-mid sized business, but not a 'this will destroy your business' damage award. Unlike the $100,000+ award given to RIAA over that woman in Duluth when real damages could likely be truthfully estimated in dollars or 10s of dollars and statutory damages of 100s of dollars would be reasonable (if the concept of suing a non-commercial distributor who derives no benefit from the distribution is reasonable at all).

Interns and the production web site (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22541654)

The new slashdot interface sucks big time. Can the interns train on something else?

Re:Interns and the production web site (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541848)

You're always welcome to try another site [digg.com] .

Someone used your artistic work without paying you (2, Insightful)

arse maker (1058608) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541658)

and you sued them? Interesting the first few posts are of support, wonder what the reponse would be if this story was about the RIAA.

Re:Someone used your artistic work without paying (0)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541700)

Agreed. Note that you will now be moderated into the ground. The copyright holder is the underdog in this case.. we must all praise the underdog!

Or at least that's how he'd like us to see it.

Re:Someone used your artistic work without paying (1)

packeteer (566398) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541716)

What if the headline read:

Copyright holder sues bewildered company because of his desire for dirty dirty money.

Re:Someone used your artistic work without paying (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541736)

Mod parent up. I choose to license most of my content (primarily educational resources for parents and teachers) under Creative Commons style licenses, but I fully support the right of copyright holders to choose whatever license they deem fit for their work. How in the hell did the parent post get modded down?!?

Let me put it this way: I'm typing this from an Ubuntu workstation, running Firefox. I appreciate the software I use, and fully respect the fact that it's licensed under the GPL (most of it, anyways). You can't have your cake and eat it too; either you support copyright law (whether it's via "copyleft" licenses or not) or you don't. Make up your damned minds already.

Re:Someone used your artistic work without paying (5, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541752)

Apples to oranges, really ... this guy had incontrovertible evidence that his rights had been stepped upon, the court agreed with him. The RIAA operates to a much lower standard, both in terms of the "evidence" they present, and their reprehensible courtroom behavior. If this guy had manufactured some evidence out of thin air and used it to sue someone at random, I'd say you'd be closer to the mark.

Keep in mind also, that the creeps who ripped him off used his work to make a substantial sum of money. Indeed, they pretty much pirated his work in the legal sense of the term (this wasn't for personal use, it was for profit.) If the RIAA were suing someone that took a copyrighted work, put their name on it and sold it as their own, I don't think many people here would complain.

Re:Someone used your artistic work without paying (1)

arse maker (1058608) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541924)

Agreed. However thin air is a bit of an extreme way to call their evidence :) Unfortunately It seems we are getting pretty close to fishing net law enforncement though, but you cannot discuss the issues even here without getting modded as flamebait, let alone to narrow minded law makers :)

Reply from author (5, Informative)

Christoph (17845) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541930)

Someone used your artistic work without paying you...and you sued them? Interesting the first few posts are of support, wonder what the reponse would be if this story was about the RIAA.

I personally make a distinction between non-commercial/educational use and use for commercial gain (the RIAA goes after private individuals who shared music with other private individuals non-commercially). I went after a business who had a budget for photography, but cut me out of the loop to increase their profit margin at my expense. I barely make a living at photography, which is why I was pro-se (I couldn't afford an attorney).

I don't know what the fix is for the current copyright system, but anything that allows content creators to earn a living (without having to sue people) is fine with me.

Re:Someone used your artistic work without paying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22541992)

it was used for commercial gain you autistic fuck

Grab their profits too? (3, Interesting)

nacturation (646836) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541660)

The PDF states: "Plaintiff could have sought the profits Defendants derived from the infringement as damages but chose not to do so. Although Plaintiff included a request for this type of damage award in his First Amended Complaint [Docket No. 76], he abandoned his claim for profits in his Second Amended Complaint and did not pursue this theory of relief at trial. Accordingly, Plaintiff's damages are limited to actual damages--that is, the fair market value of Defendants' uses of the Skyline photo."

Now that you've won spectacularly, is it possible to pursue those damages?

Also, this caught my attention: "However, Vilenchik's deposition testimony was that Zubitskiy called him at the following number: 612-963-2900. What would make this phone number particularly easy to recall eludes the Court."

Assuming that 612 is the local area code and doesn't need to be memorized, the rest of the number is quite easy. 963... geometrically, it makes a nice line up the right side of the keypad, and the 2900 is trivial to remember as well. Perhaps 29 has some special significance and, even if not, how hard is it to remember that? Regardless, the rest of the defendant's is basically BS anyways but that point stuck out as being not implausible.
 

Re:Grab their profits too? (1)

theMerovingian (722983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541858)

Now that you've won spectacularly, is it possible to pursue those damages?

That is an interesting civil procedure question but the answer is probably not. [findlaw.com]

IMPORTANT NOTE: I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, there is no formation of attorney client privilege, this does not serve as an offer to represent you, your family, or anyone you have ever met, consult the advice of a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction before taking any action, the forgoing is for informational and educational purposes only, and any and all warranties inherent in this post whether express or implied are hereby disclaimed.

Re:Grab their profits too? (5, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541914)

After reading your disclaimer, I think I may be experiencing severe side effects such as headache, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and death. Must be reacting with my MAOI inhibitors or something.

congrats! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22541680)

I remember reading about this a while back... seemed like an open-and-shut case, glad to see justice was served.

Though, if I recall, the other business (another small business, the word "corporation" gives the wrong impression, by the way) was run by Russian or similar "businessmen". Be careful, because some of the other tactics they might use in the future are a little... unsavory. Just sayin'.

Slow News Day? (3, Insightful)

logicnazi (169418) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541692)

This seems like a pretty boring and routine infringement case. I'm glad the photographer won his case but why is it on slashdot?

Also it strikes me as a mistake not to hire an attorney in a case like this. Almost certainly you could recover attorney's fees and it just seems silly to risk getting blindsided by some legal rule you didn't know about. The courts do give pro se litigants extra room but why take the risk?

Re:Slow News Day? (3, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541726)

This seems like a pretty boring and routine infringement case. I'm glad the photographer won his case but why is it on slashdot?

Because he wants to gloat, and because slashdot loves a david geek vs goliath megacorp fairytale ending.

- Most people who represent themselves end up in a mess because they don't know or understand procedure or the relevant case law.
- Most of the time, large companies get away with this sort of behaviour.

Re:Slow News Day? (1)

theMerovingian (722983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542012)


david geek vs goliath megacorp

It looks like they have already prepared a press release. [goliathcorp.com]

Other side of the story (1)

slashqwerty (1099091) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541772)

From reading Mr. Gregerson's web site it seems like the defendant changed his side of the story. He originally claimed Mr. Zubitskiy sold him the photos. He later claimed Mr. Gregerson hired Mr. Zubitskiy. That Mr. Gregerson's co-conspirator sold him the photos then Mr. Gregerson came back and demanded more money for allegedly infringing copyright.

This is what I love about the law. One side always makes up a remarkable and entertaining story.

Re:Other side of the story (-1, Troll)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22542000)

Sounds likely, seeing as Chris' business obviously depends heavily on the copyright protection racket.

Re:Slow News Day? (1)

Mostly a lurker (634878) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541896)

... it strikes me as a mistake not to hire an attorney in a case like this ...
While I would hire a lawyer if I was ever the target of a criminal charge, the only way I would ever risk hiring a lawyer to pursue a civil case in the US is if the lawyer was being paid on a contingency basis.

If Chris had lost this case, he would certainly not have been pleased. However, life would have gone on. If he had delivered himself into the clutches of the lawyers, he would have risked years of pain and possible eventual financial ruin.

Re:Slow News Day? (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541972)

It's not like he had much to lose except for time if he made a mistake. He was wholly in the right so there is no way the claims against him would be substantiated. He probably doesn't have a 9-5 job and has the freedom to pursue this sort of thing for the challenge and learning experience. Believe it or not, most judges are not idiots. They can generally see who is in the right from early on but they have to follow procedure and give everyone due process.

Congrats! (1)

ChePibe (882378) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541706)

I'm a law student, and I'm not so sure I'd have the guts to represent myself on much! (Granted, I haven't studied this particular area of law yet)

So, not only did you win, but you'll get to pocket most of it yourself! Way to be!

Truth is an absolute defense to libel (3, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541768)

The defendants tried a counterclaim for defamation. The court commented:
Similarly, the statement that Defendants were suspected of fraud and forgery was a true statement of fact reflecting Plaintiff's belief that Defendants fabricated Zubitskiy and forged his signature on the 3/19/04 Agreement, which was also fraudulently notarized. Accordingly, Plaintiff did not engage in deceptive trade practices in violation of Minn. Stat. 325D.44,
...
Defendants' counterclaims against Plaintiff are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

Reading the decision, it's clear what the judge thought of the defendants. They tried forging a notarized document. They couldn't produce the person whom they claimed took the picture. From then on, it was all downhill for the defendants.

Why weren't the defendents arrested at the trial? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22541876)

Since they obviously perjured themselves and presented falsified instruments. If this trial would've happened in Texas, the defendants would've been charged with the crimes and escorted out of the courtroom in handcuffs by the bailiff, yes, even though it was a civil trial. Civil court judges have the power to do this here in this state.

Re:Truth is an absolute defense to libel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22541998)

Truth is an absolute defense to libel

Actually, in some jurisdictions, truth isn't a defense to libel.

They tried forging a notarized document.

Now that is a serious offense. It also shows bad faith and lying to the court.

You're Very Lucky, and Don't Try That Again (4, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541774)

You are extremely lucky that you had a judge who wanted to help you. It's an old truism that anyone who represents himself in court has a fool for a client, and you were a mega big - but lucky - fool this time. You had some sort of false belief that Justice - something that is not often seen in a court room - would prevail, and you probably still do. The worst part about this is that you are probably going to convince some other poor slob to try this, and he'll lose his home, his car, his bank accounts, and his freedom.

I'm not a lawyer. I know when to use one.

Bruce

Russians do this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22541780)

I'm Russian and I live in Chicago. It seems that all Russian communities are essentially the same. Backstabbers and thieves are overrepresented by a mind boggling margin. The story you tell sounds all too familiar. It feels good to know that for once a honest person was able to use the court system with success. Best of luck with your photography and your business!

Hooray (1)

TychoCelchuuu (835690) | more than 6 years ago | (#22541796)

Now you just have to hope the Russian mafia doesn't break your legs!

Woot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22541844)

That is all.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?