Am I being sued?!!!????

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by Tight Knot, Aug 29, 2012.

  1. Tight Knot

    Tight Knot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hopefully if there is an issue, they will see the same thing here, that A. There are no damages, B. I made no profit from this in any way, and C. That it really was nothing more than a totally innocent mistake.


     
  2. 2WheelPhoto

    2WheelPhoto TPF Noob!

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    Nigerian scammer!
     
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  3. unpopular

    unpopular Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    ^^ I agree. The letter from the "curator" doesn't really make any sense. I wouldn't be surprised if you get a letter in a few days demanding some completely outrageous amount, followed by some vague legal threats.

    It seems also very strange to me that the curator would contact you like this, rather than their legal representation. I don't think the curator would have the authority to represent the museum like this.

    The whole thing just seems weird.

    As for derivative work, I think that there is room for appropriation:

    I photographed these Wayne Porter sculptures

    [​IMG]

    Certainly I don't own the likeness of the sculpture, but does the composition add enough to be transformative enough that I own the image? I do not believe the two sculptures were intended to be one contiguous piece, and I feel the landscape plays a vital role to the image.

    But what about this image of, and perhaps more accurately, consisting of another Porter Sculpture:

    [​IMG]

    Certainly, my interpretation of this sculpture varies significantly from Mr. Porters' intent and vision, and if one were not familiar with the sculpture, it would be unlikely that the two would correlate. Only two of the five fingers were used in the image, and major, defining elements are missing. Furthermore the juxtaposition creates a sense of ambiguous scale, while the scale in the sculpture is an extremely pronounced element.

    http://portersculpturepark.com/porter2/content/images/large/pain_and_joy.jpg

    Again, I don't own the likeness of the sculpture - but is this image "transformative enough" to call my own?

    ---

    really, copyright law is a cluster**** of vagueness, and this "transformative" take on derivative work is almost like something taken out of existential philosophy or art theory class. I think it's important that artists are permitted to appropriate, as this is a core foundation to contemporary Western philosophy and the beliefs we hold. But how one may use appropriation and how it fits into fair use and copyright is yet to really be established firmly.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2012
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  4. fwellers

    fwellers TPF Noob!

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    I will stick with the simple:
    1) Photo taken from public place
    2) I am not using it as any advertisement, but just editorial.
    =
    I am safe from the retards and lawyers.
    I will continue to refuse to make my non-pro camera hobby into a complicated legal issue.
     
  5. unpopular

    unpopular Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Certainly us "non-pros" have it easy in the copyright department. You're very unlikely to get into any copyright issues at all so long as you press the shutter and never sell the photograph - even if it were infringement, there wouldn't be any damages - especially as far as I know, a photograph could never, ever be called a "mechanical reproduction" of a sculpture, and even less so a building - it would always be derivative.

    OTOH, for those who do sell their work it gets very complicated.
     
  6. fwellers

    fwellers TPF Noob!

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    Even though I am not a pro, I also will sell any photo I take if someone wants to buy it, and still only apply my two rules.
    It may yet never be an issue for me, because nobody is knocking down the doors to buy anything from me. :)))
     
  7. kundalini

    kundalini Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    The August 2012 issue of Rangefinder magazine discusses this very subject in their regular article of Legal Lens: "How Public is Public Art".

    Rangefinder - August 2012
     
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  8. KmH

    KmH In memoriam Supporting Member

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    There don't have to be any monetary damages, which is in part what statutory damages are all about.

    However it doesn't do the copyright owner much good to sue someone that can't pay the statutory award.

    Selling photos is not always considered a commercial use. Selling photos may also be considered an editorial usage.

    The bottom line is, it's not as cut and dried as, say, traffic laws.

    Plus a lot of copyright infringement disputes never make it to court, because a settlement is made before it gets that far.
     
  9. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Exactly. They threatened you. ANYBODY can type out the words, "my lawyer" and then slap a vague threat behind those two words. But, you've apparently already caved. No worries.
     
  10. fwellers

    fwellers TPF Noob!

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    God, what a depressing article.
    Call me the ugly photographer if you want, but I don't intend to pollute my brain with that kind of stuff. I'd sooner throw my camera in the trash than have to constantly be looking around to see whose copyright I may be violating, apparently just to even post it on my website. Already I am really careful around people. But I like shooting scenes, architecture, urban and rural stuff, and I literally can't be bothered to concern myself with someones petty bs copyright on something I can see from any public place.
    If they don't want it photographed and shared, then they should put it in their attic.
     
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  11. mjhoward

    mjhoward TPF Noob!

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    I think the OP's question was mainly whether or not it was even a possibility that he'd broken any laws since the art was in a public place, not whether the curator would actually go through with a lawsuit. Whether or not they actually go through with a lawsuit is only going to be speculation and time will tell. Whether or not the OP infringed on copyright is NOT speculation and he apparently DID infringe on copyright giving them grounds to sue him if they wanted.
     
  12. unpopular

    unpopular Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I was under the impression that statutory damages are only awarded in the case of mechanical reproduction, not derivative work. I'm pretty sure that's the case, I could be wrong.

    Not all copyright violations are the same.

    Also, what constitutes an "editorial"? KMH - you kind of make this all out like it's cut and dry: that if you register your material you can pretty much just bank on $100,000 coming in through your door whenever anyone comes even close to a copyright violation. This couldn't be further from the truth.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2012

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