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Harrasment and Attempted Extortion by Image Company
Does not identify Copyright & then attempts to intimidate small businesses
hermosa

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3190260 posted 5:07 am on Dec 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

There is a company, I wont say which one but let's call it imagelibrary.com. They post their images on a popular site that I will call popularimages.com where people can download images from a variety of sources for screensavers and a host of other uses. In my opinion imagelibrary.com DELIBERATELY DOESN'T identify any of the images as belonging to them or identify themselves as the copyright holder. Then, when a small business uses any of their images, they contact them say they are in violation of copyright and attempt to get them to pay $6000 or more as a fine for using the images and threaten you with a lawsuit if you don't pay them within 10 days.

They don't identify themselves as the copyright holder, they don't contact and say "perhaps you were aware we hold the copyright, please remove the image". Instead, they attempt to threaten and intimidate small businesses into paying them large sums.

If they were serious about protecting their copyright, all they would have to do is add this (c)imagelibrary.com to each image

Has anyone else run into this? What is the best course of action? I removed the image IMMEDIATELY when I was made aware of the problem. When the lawyer for the company started trying to get heavy with me, I just cut off all communication with him, blocked his e-mails and refused his correspondence.

 

abbeyvet

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3190260 posted 9:12 am on Dec 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

Are there terms and conditions at the site from which the image was downloaded? Did you you agree to them? Do they specify how the images can be used? What made you think that the image was available free of charge/copyright for commercial use?

hermosa

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3190260 posted 2:49 pm on Dec 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

At the time the site had some photos that were identified as being from specific photo galleries (shall we say I don't want to call any names). It also accepts photos from the public and indicates thatby submitting the photos people realize that the photos may be used by other visiotrs. I searched in the section for photos submitted by the public. The photos I used did not contain ANY (c) indicating that photolibrary.com owned them. In fact, I recently checked the site and they STILL don't. I think that this is an out and out scam. I want to know if others have encountered this and what they have done.

I removed the photos as soon as photolibrary.com contacted me and now they are threatening me and trying to extort money from me.

Leosghost

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3190260 posted 2:55 pm on Dec 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

The photos I used did not contain ANY (c) indicating that photolibrary.com owned them

They don't have to ..the only ones you can use are those specifically marked as being " copyright free for personal and / or commercial use" ..

Tapolyai

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3190260 posted 3:22 pm on Dec 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

If the popularimages.com distinguishes between Copyright protected and non-protected material, wouldn't it fall on imagelibrary.com to mark it as such?

I think abbeyvet questions need to be answered first.

hermosa

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3190260 posted 4:01 pm on Dec 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

I answered the question. The site has some photographs that are submitted by professionals and some that aren't. The terms of use indicate that the photographs submitted by professionals are copyrighted. The kicker is that they don't clearly identify a lot of the photos submitted by profesionals. Everything is mixed in together as I am now discovering.

I have just filed a complaint with the FTC re: misrepresentation, unfair and misleading business practices. If others have had this experience, I encourage them to do the same.

The bottom line is this. If they have copyrighted photos for sale, then they need to clearly identify them as such and give people an opportunity to purchase them. This way they are deliberirately misleading people, coming in through the back door and attempting to extort funds after the fact.

hermosa

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3190260 posted 4:03 pm on Dec 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

Leosghots, none of the photos on that site have the marking copyright free and for personal and commercial use. The site deliberately posts terms that are misleading and ambiguous. This is not right or fair.

Oops there is a site by the name of one of the fictitious names I used. From now on lets call them:

widgitphotolibrary.com

and

popularwidgitphotos.com

Moderators, can you please edit. My Allowable time to edit post has past. Thanks.

abbeyvet

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3190260 posted 4:23 pm on Dec 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

none of the photos on that site have the marking copyright free and for personal and commercial use.

In that case you MUST assume that all photos on the site are subject to copyright restrictions.

The onus is NOT on the site to tell you this, copyright must be assumed unless it is explicitly stated that none applies. It is YOUR reponsibility to determine the copyright status of any image you plan to use and to ensure that you have the right to use it.

some photographs that are submitted by professionals and some that aren't

Whether an image was created by a professional or not has no bearing at all on its copyright status.

There is absolutely no requirement for anyone to mark an image in any way in order to assert copyright. Nor is there any need for them to specify that copyright is not available - those things must be assumed.

Having said that, most sites of the type you describe have terms and conditions that state quite clearly what can and cannot be done with images that are downloaded.

Was use of the site and the images on it subject to terms and conditions? Did you agree to these terms and conditions when you used that site and downloaded the image? Was your use of the image within these terms and conditions?

hermosa

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3190260 posted 4:29 pm on Dec 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

In that case you MUST assume that all photos on the site are subject to copyright restrictions.

The onus is NOT on the site to tell you this, copyright must be assumed unless it is explicitly stated that none applies. It is YOUR reponsibility to determine the copyright status of any image you plan to use and to ensure that you have the right to use it.

But the terms and conditions when members of the public SUBMIT photos indicate that the photos can be used. The site is DELIBERATELY being misleading. They are mixing everything in together and not identifying clearly those that can be used and all of those that have copyright restrictions. They only identify SOME of the photos that are copyrighted. Do you get what I am saying?

The terms and conditions indicated that there are SOME professional photos that can't be used BUT they don't identify them clearly. THAT is the source of my concern. I am not clairvoyant.

Have we reached the point that no one should use photos on their website unless they were taken with their own camera? It's going to be a mighty boring an lack lustre internet of the future.

RedWolf

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3190260 posted 5:26 pm on Dec 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

Have we reached the point that no one should use photos on their website unless they were taken with their own camera? It's going to be a mighty boring an lack lustre internet of the future.

We have always been at that point legally. There are three ways that you can be sure you are legal.

1) Photograph or draw the image yourself.

2) Buy the rights to use the image on the web. Just buying a photo or graphic and scanning it is not a legal way to get redistribution rights.

3) Get explicit in writing permission from the copyright holder to use the image. And be sure that they are the real copyright holder. I have seen a lot of taggers try to claim copyright to graphics that they have stolen.

maccas

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3190260 posted 5:41 pm on Dec 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

So they have terms saying that photos submitted by the public are free to use but photos submitted by professional photographers are not? And they don't tell you which photos were submitted by the public and which are not? .. if so sounds dodgy to me.

[edited by: maccas at 5:42 pm (utc) on Dec. 16, 2006]

abbeyvet

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3190260 posted 5:41 pm on Dec 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

indicate that the photos can be used

Used for what? You mentioned screensavers - are those who upload images consenting to people using those images as screensavers or for other personal use, or are they consenting to completely waive copyright?

Do the terms say that some images may be freely used for commercial purposes, some not? That would be strange and misleading. Or are they referring to personal use?

If there are indeed images that can be used, reproduced, publised and so on, and others that cannot, that too is very misleading.

Without seeing how they define 'use' it is really hard to know. It would be MOST unusual to have those uploading images waive all rights, though it is quite common that people would be allowed use images for personal purposes - eg screensavers or the like - but not to use them commercially.

hermosa

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3190260 posted 5:51 pm on Dec 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

I don't want to go into more detail or I will be identifying the site.

I have removed the image and temporarily uploaded an image taken with my own camera and cropped it to the same size. Thank God I am going to the part of the world where the image came from and I will take my OWN photos. In the meantime, I have asked my designer to just replace that spot with a block of blue and the name of my company.

I have been planning to take a professional photography course for a LONG time. This has just motivated me to sign up for January and invest in a top rate camera before I go. I have HAD it.

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