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Thread: How does not prove Photo Ownership?

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    How does not prove Photo Ownership?

    Background. A friend has a web site. He received an email that one of the photos on the site was owned by X. However, Y also said he owned the photo.

    This brings up the question, how does one prove they "own" the picture, eg. are the photographer and copyright holder. Unless the photo is officially copyright, then I do not see how anyone can really prove original ownership.

    I guess having the RAW original would be the best, but how do you use that to force someone to pay you for the work?


    I am looking thoughts on this issues, but a hard and fast legal opinion would be nice.



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    First line defense is the metadata. If the thief didn't bother changing it, it's pretty easy to prove it's yours.

    You can also try fourier watermarks.

    As for what to do, you can always sue the offending party if you have the money to spend. Even winning the case may not prove to be a financial windfall...... you'll still need to collect.

    I also have seen websites that advertise 'archiving' your website, so you basically have 'evidence' that on a certain date, the photo was on your site.
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    Sure was a lot easier having an original negative.
    cuezombies likes this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by imagemaker46 View Post
    Sure was a lot easier having an original negative.
    I don't see how having a negative would be any more helpful than having a RAW file. It was easier in the past mostly because you didn't post your shots in the internet, you'd just pin them to your wall
    photospherix likes this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drake View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by imagemaker46 View Post
    Sure was a lot easier having an original negative.
    I don't see how having a negative would be any more helpful than having a RAW file. It was easier in the past mostly because you didn't post your shots in the internet, you'd just pin them to your wall
    Because it is very difficult to copy a negative and pass it off as the original, especially if the original is in a strip contianing other similar shots. Having possesion of the original negative goes a long way to proving ownership of an image. For a digital file just copy and paste

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    Quote Originally Posted by chris View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Drake View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by imagemaker46 View Post
    Sure was a lot easier having an original negative.
    I don't see how having a negative would be any more helpful than having a RAW file. It was easier in the past mostly because you didn't post your shots in the internet, you'd just pin them to your wall
    Because it is very difficult to copy a negative and pass it off as the original, especially if the original is in a strip contianing other similar shots. Having possesion of the original negative goes a long way to proving ownership of an image. For a digital file just copy and paste
    Negatives or RAW files, I don't give the original shots to anyone.

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    Were I to be called upon to prove an image is mine, I would present the following as evidence:

    1. The majority of shots I post have at least a few associated shots I didn't post. I retain those shots, even if I never plan to use them. Those go a long way to proving I shot the one in question; saying in effect, I was actually THERE shooting THOSE PHOTOS.
    2. I retain the original RAW in full size, the detail of which can't be duplicated using the small jpeg I posted.
    3. I usually crop at least a tiny bit from the original shot, often with exactly this in mind. Having possession of the missing edges in my RAW file shows it originated with me.
    4. If a model is involved, I have a model release, naming me as the photographer and the model's signature as witness.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmtx View Post
    Background. A friend has a web site. He received an email that one of the photos on the site was owned by X. However, Y also said he owned the photo.

    This brings up the question, how does one prove they "own" the picture, eg. are the photographer and copyright holder. Unless the photo is officially copyright, then I do not see how anyone can really prove original ownership.

    I guess having the RAW original would be the best, but how do you use that to force someone to pay you for the work?


    I am looking thoughts on this issues, but a hard and fast legal opinion would be nice.
    A photo is officially copyrighted as soon as the shutter is released (actually as soon as the image data is written to the memory).

    Enforcing that copyright becomes a lot easier if the copyright is registered with the US Copyright Office. www.copyright.gov

    The copyright Office issues a numbered certificate authenticating copyright ownership.

    If your friend's web site is used for a commercial purpose, and the web site is using photos copied off the Internet without the permission of the copyright owner, the copyright owner could sue your friend for copyright infringement.
    To sue for infringement the copyright for the photo(s) has to be registered with the US Copyright Office. 17 USC 411 (That's - Title 17 of the United States Code, Chapter 4, Section 11, if you want to read the specifics. http://www.copyright.gov/title17/)
    If the copyright was not registered before the suit was filed, the suit would likely be immediately rejected.

    The timing of copyright registration also determines if the suit can seek actual or statutory damages. Statutory damages are capped at a maximum award of $150,000 per infringed image, plus the copyright owners court costs and attorney fees which could add a couple hundred thousand more $$$'s.
    Last edited by KmH; 04-15-2011 at 10:26 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KmH View Post
    To sue for infringement the copyright for the photo(s) has to be registered with the US Copyright Office.
    I've read through copyright law several times, and I don't remember ever seeing that stipulation. Please point it out to me?
    Your honest C&C is always welcome and appreciated. For those with such interests: My Gear
    "Photography's never been merely about photographing what you could see; it's always been about photographing what you wanted to see." ~ Ctein
    Life is like photography... FOCUS on what's important, CAPTURE the good times, DEVELOP from the negatives, and if things don't work out, TAKE ANOTHER SHOT!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by chris View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Drake View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by imagemaker46 View Post
    Sure was a lot easier having an original negative.
    I don't see how having a negative would be any more helpful than having a RAW file. It was easier in the past mostly because you didn't post your shots in the internet, you'd just pin them to your wall
    Because it is very difficult to copy a negative and pass it off as the original, especially if the original is in a strip contianing other similar shots. Having possesion of the original negative goes a long way to proving ownership of an image. For a digital file just copy and paste
    A RAW file IS a "digital negative" in a sense. They shouldn't really leave your computer unless they're to be backed up on or off site. If whoever has the original RAW file can prove that they took it, with their camera. The dispute will be over. If it was taken in JPG then it's a little more of a grey area IMO.
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    It goes without saying if one party can provide a RAW and the other can't then that's fine. But RAWs can be copied, some may post them online somewhere, and also some people don't keep RAW files at all.

    Proving copyright often ultimately depends on who has the most expensive lawyer.
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    everything thats been said has been great, some i never thought of (cropping small corner, for example).

    there should be no reason your uploading your pics at their original resolution. whenever im exporting for online use i drop the DPI and resolution a bit. AS said, shooting raw gives you a "digital negative."

    Not to mention if you have an original copy, metadata will show date as well as camera info. Also you know the shooting location; ask the other claimed photographer to locate the photo, and they'll probably fail. If you took the photo, you probably still have the body/lens it was taken with, and if not that, a receipt or something or other.
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    I always edit my photos, even if it's a slight cropping, or bumping up the contrast just a hair or something. And I NEVER post the original online, or give them to my clients. If anyone ever tries to pass my work off as theirs, all I have to say is "do you have the original, unedited picture? No? Well I do."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buckster View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by KmH View Post
    To sue for infringement the copyright for the photo(s) has to be registered with the US Copyright Office.
    I've read through copyright law several times, and I don't remember ever seeing that stipulation. Please point it out to me?
    You bet.
    Quote Originally Posted by KmH View Post
    To sue for infringement the copyright for the photo(s) has to be registered with the US Copyright Office. 17 USC 411 (That's - Title 17 of the United States Code, Chapter 4, Section 11, if you want to read the specifics. U.S. Copyright Office - Copyright Law of the United States)
    To quote from Section 11:
    ...no civil action for infringement of the copyright in any United States work shall be instituted until preregistration or registration of the copyright claim has been made in accordance with this title. In any case, however, where the deposit, application, and fee required for registration have been delivered to the Copyright Office in proper form and registration has been refused, the applicant is entitled to institute a civil action for infringement if notice thereof, with a copy of the complaint, is served on the Register of Copyrights.

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    Thanks Keith. Much appreciated.
    Your honest C&C is always welcome and appreciated. For those with such interests: My Gear
    "Photography's never been merely about photographing what you could see; it's always been about photographing what you wanted to see." ~ Ctein
    Life is like photography... FOCUS on what's important, CAPTURE the good times, DEVELOP from the negatives, and if things don't work out, TAKE ANOTHER SHOT!!!

 

 

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