Small claims get bigger… and supposedly easier!

As an author of any work, be it written, illustrated or photographic, there will usually come a time when somebody has used it either without your permission at all or gone way beyond what was agreed.

Just recently, a photographer friend of mine found one of his most beautiful black + white nude images on a crappy ebay site selling crappy tanning products.  This image has been published in some of the world’s finest photographic magazines alongside Herb Ritts, Bruno Bisang and Andreas Bitesnich and there it was with purple discount stickers, dollar signs and tacky stars on the breasts (so as not to upset Ebay) all over it.

Oh, and then there were a couple of pics of Adriana Lima… I’m fairly certain she didn’t give permission for her face to endorse this Ebay site either.

The vendor was asked to remove the image and invoiced for a (nominal) fee for the breach of copyright and unauthorised use of the image.  They removed the image after a few days without a word and have never even acknowledged the invoice or the wrong-doing.  This is obviously how they operate and just move from image to image as and when they are caught.

So… the photographer’s choice now is to leave it be and ‘don’t worry’ that one of his best images (or any image) was used with complete disregard, or take the legal road.  In it’s current state, the legal road would cost him a whole lot of money, a ridiculous amount of time and no guarantee of what the outcome would be and whether any of those fees would be recouped.  This is usually enough of a deterrent to prevent authors taking action.

This article popped up on A Photo Editor yesterday, and it would seem (in the US at least) that something is being done to make this process a more viable option.

From A Photo Editor:

Remedies for Copyright Small Claims

If you’re taking some time off this week and next you might consider this interesting copyright development that Josh Blumental pointed me to:

The Copyright Office has been asked by Congress to study the obstacles facing small copyright claims disputes, as well as possible alternatives. Specifically, the Office is to undertake a study to: (1) assess the extent to which authors and other copyright owners are effectively prevented from seeking relief from infringements due to constraints in the current system; and (2) furnish specific recommendations, as appropriate, for changes in administrative, regulatory and statutory authority that will improve the adjudication of small copyright claims and thereby enable all copyright owners to more fully realize the promise of exclusive rights enshrined in our Constitution.

The want to know “how copyright owners have handled small copyright claims” and look into obstacles and possible alternatives to the current process. That’s because, not all copyright holders have the resources to bring a federal lawsuit if there is infringement (more here).

There is a Submission Form that closes on January 16, 2012.

by A Photo Editor on December 19, 2011

Written + Posted by Meg @ IB