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January 2, 2013


Replies: 10

Copyright Question

Castaway-battles Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
So, I'm on Tumblr as are a lot of people but it's come to my attention that lately there has been a lot of 'It's my picture I can do what I want with it' going around. Now, most of this is in the horse end of it and with younger(younger being 13-16) kids with really nice cameras taking pictures at horse shows of people and then posting these pictures on Tumblr and other sites claiming that it's 'their' picture.

From what friends have told me that are Professional photographers and from what I've gathered from speaking to professional photographers, if the Copyright is not registered in the state/with the US whatever in which you operate within, you canNOT do what you wish to with the image. Especially if this image is of another person.

Now this whole debate started when I saw a photo of a friend on a site having a 'mishap' if you will and made an off handed comment of 'I wonder what they'd say if they knew their face and horse were plastered all over Tumblr' and personally, I know they're going to be livid when they find out.

I guess my question/debate topic is, if the copyright is NOT registered, do you reserve the rights to do whatever you wish with the picture of another person? And this is revolving around unregistered/amateur/non-professional teenagers taking pictures of anyone, editing them and posting them on multiple sites claiming it's their 'Photography Business'.

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Devious Comments

Depends where you are, before you take it.

If private property, no permission... Eggshells most cases Tog turns out on top, but ideally
You need to get permission really because although the image is yours if the owner disputes permission they can have it destroyed if it breaches their rights or proves to be a breach of national security in certain countries.

Authorised then only Tog has the rights! (Registering in what ever country is BS) on your RAW DATA should be your name, camera type, date date taken etc, and if not set it because it's all you need to sue.

Also as a side note if someone takes part of your "art" Including, straight up output, drawn on, edited, or manipulated photo and takes even a part of it for texturing or as a back drop and you can prove it, you can demand royalties and if it's non profit at least reference.

The community isn't here to sue every other person, it's here to give credit where it's due, and if someone takes credit for your work, they need to be held accountable.

First port of call is recognising the plagiarism.
Proving it
Communicating with the publisher
Everything after that is either getting your dues.
If they took the photo it is their's and they own the copyright to it. Simple as that. Nothing you can do about it. It is THEIR image. HOWEVER, without a model release they cannot use your likeness for commercial gain outside something called 'fair use'.

For example here are a few hypothetical situations they can, and cannot do without a release:

They CAN sell those images to a publication for use in an article about the event. (this is how sports photographers and journalists make a living)
They CAN post those images on personal properties to showcase their skillset in shooting events.
They CAN share those images on social networks
They CAN print those images and sell them as prints of the event.
They CANNOT sell those images to royalty free stock photo agencies
They CANNOT sell those images to a company to use in an advertisement or branding
They CANNOT post those images to a network which requires a model release such as Deviant Art
They CANNOT sell those images to be used in instructional material

Also bear in mind that in order for a model release to be required at all your likeness has to be definable within the frame. Which in most cases means that your face has to be visible. If there is no concrete way of determining that it is you in the photograph from elements within the photograph then they can pretty much do as they please with it.

Copyright registration has nothing to do with what a photographer can do with their own images. It only defines what OTHERS may do with intellectual property owned by another. Furthermore, as soon as a piece of intellectual property is created the creator instantly holds copyright to it. Registering said intellectual property merely makes it much easier to go after infringers (in the US)

In the case of your example unless Tumblr has specific rules about posting photos of others without releases there is really nothing you can do. Legally speaking Tumblr is an editorial medium and thus them posting those photos on it falls under "fair use" and since the photos are "their" images they are within their legal rights.

Take for example this image:

I took this photo at a horse event a couple years ago. I own this image. I own the copyright, and I can virtually do what I want with it. Because the subject is not definable within the frame I don't even need a model release to post it here or as fate would have it to be published in a magazine as it was. The cowboy in the frame has absolutely no say in what I do with this image, legally speaking.

However, I cannot use this image commercially because while I do not need the cowboy's permission, I would need the permission of DC Comics because their trademark (the superman logo) is visible on his clothing. If I were to remove that logo with Photoshop though I could use that image for anything I wanted and no one would be able to make any legal claim to prevent that as the photo is my intellectual property.
Yenneferx Jan 3, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
The very important thing is to notice that all what you wrote here is true in US. In Europe the law is other. But still the part about you photo is the same in most of the country in Europe. :)
In Europe you can not use personal face without permision, even if the photo was made on public place. And there are a lot of difrence between countries.
Yes very true, I was really only focusing on US law since the horse events she speaks of are happening in the US and the kids photographing them are likely local american citizens.
Yenneferx Jan 3, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
:) i was very suprised first time when i read about US law. But if i use European rules i wouldn't break the law in US. In the other side somebody can do it, that's why i try to emphases the difference:)
Ya, internationally speaking it is very hard to combat copyright abuse. Most countries have some sort of law regarding it but the platform to internationally combat it is quite non-existent unless you have deep pockets. Furthermore, China pretty much has functionally no enforced copyright protection and it represents a HUGE percentage of the global population. Even companies the size of Apple or Microsoft are constantly trying to figure out how to stop Chinese companies from ripping off their products.
Cinestress Jan 3, 2013  Professional Filmographer
Great post!!
Cinestress Jan 2, 2013  Professional Filmographer
It's a grey area, really. Technically, the person that took the photo owns the rights to the photo. Additionally, the person in the photo owns some rights as well. It's generally polite to get model releases to cover your ass, but in a public setting, they aren't really necessary. If it was a private horse show, then the answer is more black and white... but if it's a public show, then you can't do much other than say, "Please take that down."

And really, no one will even look at your case unless money is involved.

Bad things happen at horse shows occasionally... and in this day and age, they WILL get immortalized. There's not much you can do about it other than shrug it off and do better next time... or hope that people have the decency to respect you.
Castaway-battles Jan 3, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
I understand both of you, thank you for clearing it up really. My thing is(and it has happened to me) it was taken at a major horse show(Devon to be exact) which is part of the Brandywine Summer Series and the picture of me was posted as a 'fail' along with this one, only difference was people were criticizing me because I was jumping a little ahead of my horse in a speed and power class. This one of my friend, the horse had a misstep and jumped funny.

Now, it took me getting Tumblr involved to get the image removed of myself even after I proved that I was the rider and so on and so forth. I've told my friend and if this girl doesn't take it down, is there anything that can be done?

The show is considered a public show, it's The Devon Horse Show which is an A/AA level horse show and open to horse people and non horsey people alike. I just hate the whole 'It's mine and I can do what I want' snarly comments I keep getting from the young, up and coming equestrians on Tumblr.
Cinestress Jan 3, 2013  Professional Filmographer
No, there isn't anything that can be done aside from trying to convince the photographer to respect the person in the photo. As annoying as it is, the photographers are right that it is their photo and they can essentially do with it what they want. It sucks to be on that end.

Though, if they start selling the photos, you can get them in trouble with Devon as their website states, "Any other commercial photography, or advertisement thereof, taken of subjects within the confines of the show ring without prior written consent from show management is expressly forbidden."
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