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  • Copyright

    I was running a Copyright action on a batch of images on my desktop. After it was completed, I noticed that several images in fact were not mine and were copyrighted by others. However, when I went to File Info, the copyright was now under my name.

    How then is original copyrighter protected from others using their image and changing the copyright?


  • #2
    In most if not all jurisdictions putting a little copyright symbol on a picture does not do any more than claim or remind people that the image is copyright. The fact that you took the photo (for non-business purposes- treatment of photogrqaphs taken under a commercial contract is much messier, varies from country to country, and at least in Australia changed in the last copyright Act a couple of years ago!) is likely to be enough to give you copyright; the fact that you put a little c symbol on someone else's images (although in error) does not change their ownership of copyright either. Of course proving who took the picture first is much harder, particularly if it is purely digital. (and the issue of who owns manipulated images is even thornier)

    Susan S

    PS I'm not a lawyer, but I did spend a long couple of weeks proofreading one of my husband's books on Intellectual Proerty earlier in the year so I know a little about it.


    • #3
      Being I just had some of my work ripped/stolen and the eprson was trying to sell prints of them yet to boot... I highly recommend if posting on the web keep images 640x480 or smaller.. stick with a medium compression for the jpeg... As annoying and displeasing as viewing them is.. use a semi transparent watermark on your images in a spot hard to remove.. you can also go as far as using systems like Digimarc (but alsl can be easily cirumvented).. you can also use techniques in Adobe PS and other image manipulation programs to add an extra "layer" inside a jpeg that can only be seen when the image is highlighted in IE or IE based browsers.. Works nice to prove ownership along with orinial camer files, etc. After what I just got done going through I will no longer post an iimages that are not watermarked across the image. Using an image can udnerstand.. but atleast ask permission.. but to steal them and sell prints.. gimme a break.


      • #4
        Its really funny that this was brought up. I have been wondering about this a few days here too. So a photo - photographer pwns the copyright, correct? But at what point is that copyright not a problem? Like how old does the picture have to be. I know that when we had pic of my daughter made they said something like 6 months because after that point they do not keep them in their files so we could copy as we see fit. And if someone brings me something that is a photo of their kid taken by someone else for prints or retouching, what do I do? Is it a problem and at what point is it no longer a problem?


        • #5
          This website explains copyright in a very straightforward manner, and is actually devoted to digital copyrights.

          I highly recommend it.

          - Noel


          • #6
            I checked out that site and maybe it helps with Duv's questoin, but I am still wondering about mine. Like I was sayign about the photographs of people. My daughter was 6 months old we took her to Sears to get pics made and they said after 6 months we could print our own copies of the pics, but not before that. So I am wondering about this stuff. I have been working on some baby pic of my sisters and I, and I am wondering about that. I don't think my mom even knows where the pics were taken. I am sure some of htem were Sears or JCPenny or even Walmart - lol. And whereas I am not too concerned about fixing and printing copies of our own, I do wonder about pics that other people may bring to me. I don't want to be having any bad business pracitices here. But how do I know if its okay?


            • #7
              Here is the nitty gritty on copyright. I am not a lawyer, so don't think this is absolute legal advice, just basic info.

              When a studio or person takes a photograph, they own the copyright to that photograph unless they transfer the copyright to a new person (normally in writing). This is automatic, no copyright symbol needs to be applied. This applies to anything that was made from 1977 on and retains copyright for the life of the creator plus 70 years.

              If the original work was created between 1923 and 1963, the copyright must have been renewed to still be in effect. How do you know? A lot of times you don't know if it has been renewed. You can search copyright records, but that could take a long time.

              If the original work was created between 1963 and 1977 and wasn't ever published, then the copyright expired 12-31-2002.

              (having fun yet??)

              Time for an example. A person comes into your work and has a picture taken by a studio from 1979. That studio still owns the copyright to that picture. You may need permission from the studio to do anything with the picture.

              Person comes into your work with a picture that they themselves took, they can then authorize you to work on that picture.

              If the picture was taken between 1923 and 1963 by a studio, that studio may still own copyright unless they didn't renew it. If they didn't renew it, it is now public domain.

              If the picture is older than 1923, it is considered to automatically be in the public domain and you don't have to worry about copyright.

              If the picture was taken by a relative, and that relative is deceased, copyright goes to the next closest living relative.

              Now how do you protect yourself? I would include in my contract with the clause that the customer can certify they personally own the copyright to that image or the image is in the public domain. Beyond that, if it looks like a studio portrait, I would be very careful until you know the pictures history.

              Unfortunately you are going to find a lot of people that don't realize, that just because they paid a photographer to take a picture, doesn't mean they actually own the rights to that picture. Unfortunate, but that is how the law reads right now.

              In the end, remember this also protects your works. You do a restoration, that is considered a derivative work of the original and you own the copyright to that work unless you assign it elsewhere.

              It is a lot to digest Please let me know if I wasn't clear on any of it. I've had to do a lot of research on copyright because I also do custom printing on items and had to know where the line was for that business.

              - Noel


              • #8
                Noelf - remember this is an international forum! I'm not sure what jurisdiction the rules you posted are from but they are NOT what pertains in Australia. In Australia, section 35(5) of the Copyright Act provides that a person who commissions a portrait (including a photograph) for private or domestic purposes owns the copyright NOT the photographer (and weddings are specifically included). However for photographs taken for commercial purposes under a commission the copyright remains with the photographer. I'm sure many photography studios would make sure their clients sign agreements so that the photographer retains copyright, but in the absence of a written agreement, the situation in Australia is as above.

                With retouching there are also issues with the moral rights of the original photographer not to have their artistic integrity damaged by a clumsy retouch - these may also have some legal protection even if the photographer does not own the copyright.

                Caveat - I'm not a lawyer. My husband is....

                Moral - make sure that you know the rules in the jurisdication where you are going to be working, and if you take on work that involves trnasfer of images internationally be vary wary as the rules can change across borders!
                Susan S


                • #9
                  Wish I lived in Australia - lol. Seriously - how much for a decent home down there?

                  I wish it wsa like that here, and if you ask me it shoudl be. Because from what I can gather and has been saud about copyright in the US I am wrong for making copies of my baby pictures. Taken 1978. Shoot. I wish the folks who did those pics would say something. They are some of the worst pics I have ever seen from a "pro" studio. All of the pics she had done at whatever place it wsa all have turned red. All over. Luckily I was able to bring the color back to them easily (scanner caught more color than you can see with your naked eye and just a cuves adjustment after that).

                  About the part where if I make some restoration I own the copyright to it. But what about retouching pics that were done by one of these studios, including but not limited to Sears, JCPenny, etc. Is there a clearcut line there? Or just all this fuzziness?

                  Hey - hows about we all get as many folks as we can to support copyright change to if you pay for the pics you own them. Or am I the only one who thinks that would be a good thing?


                  • #10
                    Susan you are correct I should have been more clear That information pertains to US copyright.

                    As for the derivative works, if you profit from a derivative work and you don't have either the copyright or permission of the copyright holder you are then in violation of said copyright.

                    So basically, you can definitely get into trouble doing a restoration on a photo whose copyright is held by someone else including someone like the JC Penny photo mills.

                    As for the fairness of the issue I can see both sides. The photographer wants to keep control over the quality of work that they have done. If you take a photo of theirs and manipulate it the photo can lose perceived value.

                    On the other hand, I personally feel that if I pay for a photographer to do work for me (such as taking my picture) that is work for hire and I should own the copyright to any work product produced there.

                    It is definitely a sensitive issue on either side of the fence.

                    - Noel


                    • #11
                      Hi Guys!

                      There's some great stuff addressed here and some real concerns. Copyright is an important issue. But can someone try to address my concern directly which is this. I take a "digital" picture and apply my copyright info to it in Photoshop. I've copyrighted it, right? It's on my website, someone else downloads it and runs it thru their copyright stamp. At some point I discover this other person is using my pic for personal gain. How would I PROVE Copyright infringement in court? I have a copyrighted pic and the other person has a copyrighted pic. I have no other backup other than the pic I took and copyrighted.



                      • #12
                        This is from that rights ofr artists site:
                        "So how do I legally copyright my work?

                        In the United States, applying for registered copyright is done through the U.S. Copyright Office.

                        The actual registration process can take up to 8 months to complete. Be patient.

                        You can find all the forms online for download at the U.S. Copyright Office Forms page.

                        Be sure to send your copyright forms and materials by registered or certified mail and requested a return receipt from the post office.

                        The basic filing fee per registration is $30.00. "

                        From what I gather from above and from other info on the rights for artists link up there a ways, legally you would have a big fight and no guarantee unless you actually have it officially copyrighted. But seriously though if you have not already you should ckeck out that site. They even have sample letters and stuff that you can send to someone who is stealing your stuff.


                        • #13
                          Would anyone really go thru this process to copyright a picture. It doesn't even have to be that great but you still want your rights protected.



                          • #14
                            As with so many things it comes down to how much you are willing to spend on defending your copyright.

                            If someone is using your image on the web, normally a letter to their ISP will take care of things.

                            If it is being published somewhere in "real" mediums, you can always show that you have the original file (normally people that snag pictures alter them in some way).

                            The unfortunate reality within Photoshop is that including your copyright information in a file isn't going to do much against someone bent on stealing images.

                            One little trick I have, is somewhere in each of the images I display on the web, I put a little "tag" in the picture where it isn't noticeable. That way if I ever have to show proof, I can reference that tag (in my case, it is a little tiny Nomi hidden somewhere normally).

                            For web, I keep things as low rez as possible DPI wise, and make sure that any pictures I am concerned about have a watermark across them.

                            Now if you do have a collection of photos, the copyright office does make an exception and will normally allow you to submit a collection as one copyright (so you don't pay per image).

                            In the end, is it going to keep someone from stealing my work if they want it badly enough? Unfortunately probably not. But my theory is if someone is passing my work off as their own, and then is asked to do the same process they'll be found out.

                            Welcome to the wonderful world of the digital medium All those ones and zeros are just too easy to duplicate.

                            - Noel


                            • #15
                              Just a couple of fine points as I interpret them.
                              -- In the US, the issue Susan refers to is known as 'Work for Hire' and can be applied by agreement between artist and client before work begins. It also applies to individuals, like a photographers, shooting on their employer's time. The employer owns the rights, not the shooter.
                              -- The copyright symbol is basically a point for argument in court, anybody can apply one to a print or a digital image file. What you have to do, if you wish to pursue an infringement in court, is build your case before you need it. Shoot multiple similar (preferrably not identical) shots and keep them on file with you original so you can show that you indeed have the original set of photos, A thief won't have that and your arguement becomes very convincing... not always possible but, you can invent strategies to have more information than the picture stealer.

                              Originally posted by Noelf
                              Welcome to the wonderful world of the digital medium All those ones and zeros are just too easy to duplicate.

                              - Noel
                              Haven't you heard? Bill Gates filed copyright on ones and zeros...


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