Copyright infringment - how to deal?

brighteyesphotos

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As I work at building my reputation as an affordable portrait photographer in my area, I've run into an issue with a former client suddenly becoming a "photographer." Mind you, she's copying another local photographer's style (and badly at that). While I could care less about her suddenly being a photographer with her little point and shoot, I'm more bothered by the fact she has taken portraits I have done of people she knows as well (myspace can be a good networking tool and it has gotten me a few clients). She has "edited" them and is now putting them up on a new MySpace page where she is claiming them as her "work." There is no mention of who actually took the picture. The closest thing she has to a disclaimer is the title of the album "pictures I've edited." She has pictures she took herself as well as pictures she snatched off her "friends" pages and edited them in Paint Pro.

I shot her wedding and gave her a disc of pictures for her personal use. If she wanted to play with them, fine. But now those pictures are on her "commerical" page where she is actually offering her services as a "photographer" with no credit given. At the very least, there are two pictures I want removed for sure. The ones from her wedding, I want at least credit saying I took those pictures, she just "played" with them.

I'm too nice for my own good sometimes (efergoh can vouch for this) and I'm not sure how to tell her to remove those pictures without being rude or mean. Even if I'm honey-sweet, I know she will be offended and will probably start talking crap about me.

Where's a good site to quote?
 

Jeff Canes

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She either don’t understand or care that the different between "commercial" and “personal”. She needs a little educating.
 

craig

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Telling her to take down your work is not being rude or mean. It is the right thing to do. I trust she understood the usage of the images when you gave her the disc. Now she is just being malicious.

Love & Bass
 

DHammer

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I would ask her how she would react if someone took her work 'made improvements' then claimed it as theirs at the same time give her some info (links to sites, printed literature) about copyrights and what they mean to a photographer. You can do it all under the guise of helping her get her photography career started. Also when people use her and expect the quality work they saw on her web site and don't get it she won't be around long.
 

Alpha

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Ask nicely.

Then send a cease and desist letter.

Then send a cease and desist to the website's hosting company.

Then threaten suit.
 

skieur

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Ask nicely.

Then send a cease and desist letter.

Then send a cease and desist to the website's hosting company.

Then threaten suit.

Slightly different approach.

1. Explain copyright and ask nicely.

2. Send an invoice for the photos along with conditions for their use which
must be returned signed along with the money with a 2 week time limit.

3. Send a cease and desist to the website hosting company along with a
copy of the invoice sent to the infringer.

4. Then file in small claims court or sell the invoice to a collection agency.

skieur
 

MarkCSmith

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DESTROY HER! :grumpy:

I wouldn't jump right to legal action. Have you e-mailed her privately and told her you don't think it's right? I'd do that first, and politely inform her that it is NOT her work and you will be seeking legal action if she continues to claim your photos as her own
 

Alpha

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2. Send an invoice for the photos along with conditions for their use which
must be returned signed along with the money with a 2 week time limit.

This might work as a bully tactic, but doesn't have any legal bearing if there wasn't a contract beforehand for the original shots spelling out usage rights.
 

Mike Jordan

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You don't need a contract to request money for use of your images. Not when there is copyright infringement involved.

But to be honest, unless you have your images registered, you probably won't be able to afford to do a thing, Donna. You can't take someone to small claims court over copyright infringement... they don't have small claims in Federal Court. Also, you could end up spending thousands on a lawyer just to get her to stop using your images.

You do have one tool you can use though, even if your images are not registered... you can use the DMCA law to have her web site taken down. But to do that you have to follow the guidelines of the DMCA or her hosting site doesn't have to pay attention to it.

Your best bet is to get your images registered before you start using the "infringement" word.

You can get more info at the Copyright Website:

U.S. Copyright Office

And you can find out more about the DMCA at: FAQ about DMCA Safe Harbor Provisions -- Chilling Effects Clearinghouse

Here is another site with some info:
http://www.chillingeffects.org/piracy/faq.cgi

The key to everything though, is to register your images soon after you take them. It's what puts the bite into our copyright.

Mike
 

skieur

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You don't need a contract to request money for use of your images. Not when there is copyright infringement involved.

But to be honest, unless you have your images registered, you probably won't be able to afford to do a thing, Donna. You can't take someone to small claims court over copyright infringement... they don't have small claims in Federal Court. Also, you could end up spending thousands on a lawyer just to get her to stop using your images.

You do have one tool you can use though, even if your images are not registered... you can use the DMCA law to have her web site taken down. But to do that you have to follow the guidelines of the DMCA or her hosting site doesn't have to pay attention to it.

Your best bet is to get your images registered before you start using the "infringement" word.

You can get more info at the Copyright Website:

U.S. Copyright Office

And you can find out more about the DMCA at: FAQ about DMCA Safe Harbor Provisions -- Chilling Effects Clearinghouse

Here is another site with some info:
http://www.chillingeffects.org/piracy/faq.cgi

The key to everything though, is to register your images soon after you take them. It's what puts the bite into our copyright.

Mike

Well, an american sports photographer that I know regularly checks the Internet for HIS photos and if he finds them, he sends out an invoice with a time limit. If it is not paid, he automatically files in small claims court and he has almost always been successful and registering the copyright has not been not necessary.

skieur
 

Mike Jordan

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Skieur, I suspect he was not basing their small claims case on copyright infringement. Probably a usage fee or something like that. Copyright infringement is a Federal law. They might be pushing the contract or some other aspect like that. If it works for them, fine, but all anyone that knows copyright law would have to do is just ignore them unless they did have a contract of some kind and that was what the small claims suit was about.

He also wouldn't be able to be awarded money on the infringement either or damages. By taking it to Federal Court and filing a copyright infringement, you can be awarded a lot of money, even without showing damages. If you can show damages, then you can get a lot more. I've made thousands and thousands through copyright infringement and I use the Federal laws. They have a lot more bite to them and it doesn't cost me anything other than the original registration of my images. The only time I even had to get my lawyer involved, the infringer ended up paying for him as well. I didn't even mind it coming out of my payoff. :D

Mike
 

NathanJK

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I'd start with the cease and desist letter...then when I expected that she was going to receive it that day or around then drop her a "friendly" e-mail stating. "Per our contract for your wedding, images taken by X studio were only permitted to be used for personal reasons. Your usage to promote your business constitutes commercial usage and is unacceptable. I've had my lawyer send you a cease and desist letter and I expect it followed, let me know if you have any further questions."
 

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