How does not prove Photo Ownership?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by dmtx, Apr 14, 2011.

  1. dmtx
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    dmtx New Member

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    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.
  2. 480sparky
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    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator

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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.
  3. imagemaker46
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    imagemaker46 Well-Known Member

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    Sure was a lot easier having an original negative.
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  4. Drake
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    Drake New Member

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    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 ;)
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  5. chris
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    chris Member

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    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
  6. Drake
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    Drake New Member

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    Negatives or RAW files, I don't give the original shots to anyone.
  7. Buckster
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    Buckster Well-Known Member

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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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  8. KmH
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    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish

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    My Photos Are OK to Edit
    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: Apr 15, 2011
  9. Buckster
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    Buckster Well-Known Member

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    I've read through copyright law several times, and I don't remember ever seeing that stipulation. Please point it out to me?
  10. o hey tyler
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    o hey tyler Well-Known Member

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    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.
  11. Garbz
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    Garbz New Member

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    My Photos Are NOT OK to Edit
    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.
  12. Rocan
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    Rocan New Member

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    My Photos Are OK to Edit
    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.
  13. scorpion_tyr
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    scorpion_tyr New Member

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    My Photos Are NOT OK to Edit
    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."
  14. KmH
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    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish

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    You bet.
    To quote from Section 11:

  15. Buckster
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    Buckster Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Keith. Much appreciated.

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