‘I found it on Google’ +10 other excuses used by photo infringers.

So here is a scenario: your photo was stolen and you want to do something about it. Let’s assume that you send a message to photo infringers with a request to remove it from their website – most probably they won’t even respond. But if they do – brace yourselves.  You wouldn’t believe the logic they sometimes follow.

computer keyboard with copyright button

Photo by: sacitarios

Here are 10 examples of excuses from photo infringers which we, as a company who protects photographers’ rights, are dealing with on a daily basis. Prepare for the bold ones.

1. I found it on Google.

Probably the most common excuse of an ‘innocent infringer’. As you know, people tend to assume that everything they find on Google is free to use. Even though Google Image Search informs clearly: “Images may be subject to copyright”.

When you want to use somebody’s photograph, you are responsible for clarifying the situation regarding the copyright.

… and yes, this rule also applies to Facebook. Social media platforms are not magic “public-domain-creating” machines.

2. There was no copyright mark.

Ok, so you would steal something laying on the ground just because there was no “please don’t steal me” sign printed on it?

Copyright protection is granted from the moment of the creation of a photograph. Photographer or any other visual artist has no obligation to apply a copyright mark. They don’t have to sign or watermark their work if they don’t want to. Even more, those who purchase licences from the photographer are not obliged to mention the artist as the author of the photograph.

Lack of indication of the author or the source cannot lead to the assumption that the photo is available in the public domain.

3. It’s not our fault – a web design company made our website.

The “it wasn’t me” argument is most often used by politicians, but it sometimes happens also in copyright infringement cases. It’s hard to believe that someone can’t understand that being listed as the domain owner makes them responsible for the published content.

4. Only a few people saw my site.

This is one of the most common arguments from the opponents. They steal photographs and publish them in a commercial context. Their purpose is simple: to get money from it.

However, it doesn’t matter if they earned anything, as the damages of the infringement are not calculated on a per-view basis, or on how much the infringer earned from using the photograph, but rather on how much a legitimate licence for this use would have cost.

5. We found the photo on www.another-website.com, sue them!

Thanks for the info! It’s another perfect example of the “it wasn’t me” argument. You are not exempt from obeying copyright law only because you took the photograph from another website. The truth is that the origin of where you found the photograph, or the legality of this source is irrelevant regarding the claim.

6. No damage was done.

Isn’t it obvious that the person whose work has been stolen should determine if damage has been done or not? The artist has a right to decide if and how his name is attributed to his work and it what context it is published. Lack of attribution or wrong indication not only infringes the moral right of an author but also takes away the advertising effectiveness of such an indication for his business as a photographer.

Yes, this is another sad example that so many people don’t even consider photography as a business and a way to live.

7. We did not use the photograph.

That is one of the reasons why you, as a photographer, should be always prepared and have enough evidence of the infringement. Securing the evidence can be done without any special skills, so if you are interested just follow our 5 simple tips on how to secure evidence. However, we came across some infringers who are still claiming that they did not use the photograph even though they received our legal documentation.

What is more, lately they were suggesting that someone else put the photograph on their servers. Some evil master codebreaker perhaps?

8. “You can suggest your photographer to pay us the amount for free promotion on our website. This photo is totally irrelevant to us and was uploaded randomly on our site.”

Yes, this is a quote. We named this explanation the “free advertising argument”. Sadly, it happens a lot.

9. I appear in this photo; therefore, I can use it.

This is called the “Bruno Mars excuse”. If you don’t know why, just read our latest blog post about the famous R&B singer being sued over copyright infringement.

10. “To tell you the truth we have much better photographers here, that can provide pictures of good quality, if we need them.”

Go ahead. But you still need to pay damages.

Learn how to make the most out of copyright law with us.

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2018-12-10T11:57:15+00:00January 14th, 2018|Tags: , , , , |

About the Author:

Case Manager in PhotoClaim. Law graduate and copyright law enthusiast. "One of my goals is to help photographers protect their copyrights so they can focus on what they love doing."