To insure a steady stream of "accidental infringements," "trolls" put up images on free wallpaper sites. "But if that image is used for any commercial purposes whatsoever," the lawyer "swoops in with a lawsuit."
Perhaps some of the attorneys in the audience (Cal? Adam? Laura?) can weigh in on whether this behavior is ethical.
• Three-legged dog walks into a bar. He's wearing a six-gun. Bar goes quiet. Dog says, "I'm looking for the man who shot my paw."
• Bunny Yeager, the pioneering pinup and nude photographer who was part of the "sexual revolution" of the 1960s and the early days of Playboy magazine, died on May 25th at the age of 85. Resource Magazine has a nice article about her. (Link is not safe for work [nudity]. —Ed.)
• Dyslexic man walks into a bra.
• Stanley Roberts' People Behaving Badly. Moral of story: when you're being a jerk, don't make it worse for yourself by threatening the cameraman. (This is pretty amusing, especially if your taste runs to schadenfreude.)
• Submarine sandwich walks into a bar. Bartender says, "Sorry, we don't serve food in here."
• Has Magnum taken a page from TOP's book? Its current print sale looks an awful lot like ours!
• A rabbi, a priest, and a minister walk into a bar. Bartender says, "I've heard a lot about you guys."
• The reputation of the late Saul Leiter is vaulting ahead of many of his contemporaries who were more famous in his own time because his work seems so suited to now. We've received news that the long-awaited new book Saul Leiter: Early Black and White (the companion to the now-famous Early Color) finally shipped to distributors this week. Amazon's listing as of this writing seems befuddled (the link leads to the wrong book), but it can be ordered from the Book Depository for worldwide shipment. Might sell out fast*. Mine's ordered and I can't wait.
• Horse walks into a bar. Bartender says, "hey buddy, why the long face?"
(Thanks to many readers, and Scott)
*Early Color sold out notoriously quickly but later received a much larger second printing and remains in print. No telling what will befall to this one, but demand will be fierce at least at first.
Ctein adds: Okay, I'm having a lot of trouble making sense out of the first item (about copyright trolling). There's a hell of a lot of smoke, that is, myriad complaints…but I can't find the fire—namely the "honey pot" or the "free wallpaper" websites that are enticing people into downloads. Maybe one of the other readers here can point me to the sites that are supposedly enticing people into unwitting copyright infringement?
What I do come up with is Vincent Taylor's website where he talks repeatedly (and sometimes forcefully) about offering photographs for sale, not for free. There are prominent homepage links to stock usage, about copyrights, products, and right at the top of his "about me" page there is this: "(Click HERE for information regarding Copyrights." If he's enticing anyone to download his stuff and misuse it, I'm missing it.
So I went looking for the other supposed culprit, Hawaiian Art Network. Which by itself does not have a webpage of the sort that people are getting het up about, but it does lead me to this:
Which starts off with this paragraph:
Which seems pretty clear to me. Appropriate information is even on their not-especially-cluttered homepage:
The first paragraph reads:
HawaiiPictures.com hand selects the best stock photography from all of the Hawaiian Islands. Each tropical location is brilliantly represented in high-resolution detail for personal or professional use. Buy and download Hawaii photos, video footage, wallpapers, and more. Fine art prints are also available.
And at the bottom of the not very long nor cluttered page, there are links for:
NO COMMERCIAL SHARE USE ALLOWED WITHOUT A LICENSE
Which I think makes it pretty clear what business they're in and their policies.
Mind you, I'm not saying I have any idea what's actually going on with the alleged trolling. But, if there is real copyright trolling going on, there has to be some source for innocent (or at least plausibly ignorant) infringement or misinterpretation of the conditions of use, or there aren't any unintentional victims out there, just people complaining because they got slammed for doing something they were clearly informed not to.
I don't want to see genuine trolling going on, of people who are entrapped or at least seduced into getting themselves sued. But, I'm happy to see aggressive, even vicious enforcement, when people should genuinely know better. The whole "but you should just ask them nicely when they infringe on you, or bill them a reasonable usage rate" approach fails badly—it doesn't provide any disincentive for the thieves, and it's not cost effective for the content creators to try to chase them down.
Omer replies to Ctein: "The images shown here are stripped of any copyright info."
Chris: "For copyright trolling, you can start reading here."
Original contents copyright 2014 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
John: "As a motorcyclist, I find the video segment 'People Behaving Badly' to be extremely funny. It's difficult to come up with a plausible reason why the rider thought that confronting the cameraman, Stanley Roberts, could possibly be a good idea. Suspended license, no insurance, flagrant traffic violation. Wearing a full-face helmet guaranteeing anonymity. I think I'll go with this: a few clowns short of a circus."
Mark Roberts: "In my humble, non-legal (but experienced—more on that later) opinion, both parties in that copyright lawsuit need to get real.
"First of all, anyone running their own web site, especially a commercial one, is obliged to do at least a little reading about copyright issues before putting someone else's images or other content on their site. It's not 1994 any more. And the claim that someone is 'copyright trolling' simply by offering images free for use as desktop backgrounds but demanding payment for commercial uses is fatuous: plenty of photographers, myself included, offer our images free for such use as a form of publicity that one hopes will lead to future sales.
"That said, the demand for $9,500 for a single use on a website looks like copyright trolling to me. As does initiating proceedings with a lawsuit rather than a simple request for payment.
"I base these opinions on my own experience: A couple of years ago I received a notice from Getty Images about unauthorized use of one of their photos on my site. Puzzled, I looked into it and found that a book I had reviewed had incorporated one of Getty's licensed images as part of its cover design and my link for readers to purchase the book used Amazon's thumbnail image of the book cover. Getty Images billed me $750 (less than 1/10 of what this unknown photographer in the story you reference is demanding). So I phoned them up, their representative looked at my web page (up to this point everything had been done by automatic image recognition software) and instantly determined there wasn't any issue with my use. No bill. No problem. All handled quickly and professionally.
"Both parties in that lawsuit need to take chill pills and settle this for a couple of hundred dollars.
"The book I recommend to my students on using other people's materials (and licensing their own) is Getting Permission: How to License & Clear Copyrighted Materials Online & Off. [There's a Kindle version too. —Ed.] The information in it is fundamental enough that it's unlikely to get significantly outdated. The author, Richard Stim, has a great blog on the subject of IP matters."