If you read our articles frequently you already know how to find out if someone is using your pictures. In this piece, we shed light on how to find out if someone understands copyright law and is willing to pay damages when they answer our claims. Check out the most common excuses for image theft.
This article was originally published on March 31, 2021
Let us start with one of the most popular ones: ’I found the picture on Google, so I thought I can use it for free.’ It still shocks us how many Internet users have no clue how things work online. Is it that difficult to figure out that Google is a search engine and the pictures it displays need to have their sources?
’There was no copyright sign or any mention about the photographer‘. Just because you cannot see it, that does not mean it does not exist. Copyright is a right that a photographer receives as soon as the image is created. There is always a creator behind every piece of work and the copyright belongs to them unless it expired and/or is in the public domain. It is crucial to always check the terms of usage. If done unlawfully, such practices classify under the category of image theft and receiving an email from us should not come as surprise.
’My website was designed by a freelancer, so it is them to blame for the copyright infringement.’ Alright, now let us ask a question: is it the freelancer or the company owner responsible for the pictures published on the website? Unless stated otherwise, it is the person who stands behind the business accountable for the content on their website and we are going to claim damages from the owner of the company.
’When I took the picture is was available in an open-source library‘. If the photographer does not confirm it was indeed the case and the opponent also does not have proof, we cannot count it as a legitimate excuse.
’We did not edit or change anything in the picture‘, but if it was used without the photographer’s consent it classifies as image theft. There is also another group of online photo users who claim that when they edit a picture it becomes a new, separate photo that can be easily used without the photographer’s consent. None of them is right.
’We only reposted the photo found in social media, there was no copyright mentioned‘. Reposting a picture for commercial purposes requires a clear status on its copyright. It is regulated by copyright law, to always check the copyright owner and make sure if or under what conditions their work can be used.
’We deleted the picture right after we received the email from PhotoClaim.’ We are glad there is a will to not keep up with the unlawful practice of copyright infringement but what is done is done and the consequences need to be faced. Some photo rights infringers also try to weasel their way out by claiming that they have a very small audience – not many spotted the infringed picture on their website and did not contribute to any income, hence ’the damage was minimal‘. Well, when caught by police for speeding, a promise to slow down or explanation that the speed limit was only exceeded by a little, will not cancel the fine.
It happens often that we receive emails in mixed languages (we will spare you the bizarre details) or the opponent’s mother tongue. Even though English is the lingua franca and there are hundreds of online tools for translation, some infringers refuse to answer our claim if we do not address them in their language.
’I have no money, Corona got me broke, my business went down.’ It has been already a year since the global pandemic outbreak. Nobody expected that. Photographers were also not ready. Due to the pandemic most of them had to cancel travel plans, international jobs, seminars and workshops, forget about boosting their image galleries with new pictures taken in remote locations and get ready for a decrease in income. Covid-19, international economic crisis, remote work are the issues we all struggle with. We surely understand the infringers’ position but want to make sure everybody realizes we are all in this together and both sides should play fair. The infringers do not need to pay the entire sum of photo copyright infringement at once, we offer instalments, negotiations are also possible. After all, it is the photographer that makes the final decision.
’I did not notice the watermark in the picture.’ Receiving emails saying that there was no watermark or disclaimer makes us feel as if we were still in the 80s. In one of our previous articles, we explain why watermark is passé in the 21st century and how it has not much to do with photography protection. When receiving such excuses for image theft from the opponents, we start having doubts… Alrighty, let us make this clear, we try to get back the money from every image copyright infringement so there is no need for ruining your visuals. Stick to taking pictures and we will keep fighting for your rights.
This short recap is proof enough that copyright law awareness is, unfortunately, still not that widespread. We saved you the nasty replies we also receive often. The best we can do is to keep on spreading copyright knowledge, and we will stick to it!