copyright infringement question

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by robr, Dec 1, 2007.

  1. robr

    robr TPF Noob!

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    I'm looking for some advice for a friend, if you have some practical experience in these matters, I'd appreciate any advice I might pass along.

    My friend is a professional photographer and one of the things he does is sells his photos through one of the online websites where anyone can license his photos for use and is limited in the number of times they can use the photo based on the license they purchase.

    Recently he saw his photo in a print ad campaign for a major chain store, the picture however was being used on a product manufactured by a major electronics company that was being advertised by this chain store. He went to the major electronics company's website and it's shown on their product there as well. He's trying to find the product in a store to see if the photo is being used on product packaging as well. The picture in question was not purchased with this sort of license (I have asked him to get documented specifics about exactly what sort of license was purchased).

    Now, this guy is upset at the moment and his first instinct was to pick up the phone and call the electronics company. I explained this isn't the way that things are done and that's the last thing he wants to do until he gets the advice of an attorney. They'll just sick their legal department on him and those guys are experts at shutting down the layman. I guess I'm wondering what the next step should be. Has anyone here dealt with this sort of situation before and if so, any recommendations on an experienced intellectual property attorney that would take this kind of case on contingency? Given the size of this company, there is potential money if a suit was successful, it's not like he'd be suing "Joe's website". For purposes of where the suit would be brought and where he'd likely need representation, the electronics company's USA headquarters is in NY and the photographer is located in CT.

    Thanks, Rob
     
  2. Paparoksguitar

    Paparoksguitar TPF Noob!

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    I really don't have a lot of idea about all that stuff, but i would try to do the least bit as possible over the phone, unless you can record the conversations. Because if you can't record the conversations if they say something useful to him, he can't prove it. Good luck.
     
  3. monkeykoder

    monkeykoder TPF Noob!

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    If he isn't selling through his own website he needs to contact the website he is selling through other than that I have no advice to give.
     
  4. Mike Jordan

    Mike Jordan TPF Noob!

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    If he didn't register his images, then there isn't a lot he can do unless he has a lot of money to take it to court. If he has registered his images, he has a lot of teeth in anything he asks for from the company.

    Don't confuse copyright with registration. In the US, the person that creates the image has the copyright automatically. But it's the act of registering the images that gives the copyright holder a lot of legal power... including if they have to sue them for infringement and win, the person infringing gets to pay all court and legal fees for both parties. That's one heck of a big incentive for the infringers to settle out of court. If the images are not registered before an infringement, then your friend would have to pay all his costs out of his pocket, which can run into the 10's of thousands up to $50k or more to get to court... and even if he won, he might not be awarded anything at all.

    Also, by going through a agency like that, he might have signed away more of his rights than he realizes. As it was suggested, he needs to talk to a IP (intellectual property) lawyer. A lot of IP lawyers will do a 15 minute free consulation to give the person an idea if it's worth persuing. I've made a lot of money from infringements of my images, but it's only because I register all of mine.

    Suggest to him that he find a IP lawyer soon and find out what he's up against.

    Mike
     
  5. abraxas

    abraxas No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Regardless of anything else right now, register the image immediately.

    Depending on the time of the sale and the first incidence of infringement, it may not be too late.

    Start here:
    http://copyright.gov
     
  6. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    A different approach is to send the company an invoice for their current use of your shot to their accounts receivable department. If they pay it, then you have got off with minimal time, effort and cost. If they don't, then it is a further strike against them, if you decide to sue.

    skieur
     

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