Image copyright infringement

Splinter2

Participant
Joined
Dec 9, 2017
Messages
90
I've just come across a case where a tech blog has been told to pay a large license fee claim for using an image in an article without a license and it's a large amount of money.
My question is regarding a forum owner's liability regarding this issue. Let's say a member innocently uploads a copyrighted image for illustration purposes, who would be liable if a claim was made?
 

Ryan Ashbrook

IPS Developer
Joined
Jan 26, 2004
Messages
3,556
Note, not a lawyer.

Typically, however, in this case the copyright owner will simply send you a DMCA takedown request, and all you have to do is remove the image.
 

Nabix

127.0.0.1
Joined
May 20, 2010
Messages
568
So, I work in web hosting (dedicated IaaS to be specific). Looking at this from a web host stand point. You are responsible for the content on your site. As is the web host 'reseller' if there is one. We primary deal with resellers wanting to use our servers to scale their business. if for example, you were a client of theirs, we would hold them responsible, which it turn they would hold you responsible.

The abuse complaints normally come to the web host us which we contact you (or reseller) and ask for content to be removed. Majority of the time its just them asking for the content to be removed. Going to court and filing lawsuits over copyright isn't very common with small website owners. The cost is so high to do so.

The key is your Terms of Service and being a vigilant moderator of your content. Obviously, its difficult to remove everything and its difficult to know what is and isn't copyrighted. But again, a vast majority of the time, the copyright owner will issue a take down complaint with the webhost and simply ask for it to be removed. You comply and all is good.

Some people/businesses will use a service to hand out these copyright complaints. I'm not going to name names, but, there is one online service that does this for Anime... They are really really pushy. Almost instantly they contact you with remove or we file lawsuit. Even trying to say they will sue us lol Which they never do. It's all talk to get you to remove the content. (not saying you shouldn't listen to them, just stating how abrasive they can be).
 

Splinter2

Participant
Joined
Dec 9, 2017
Messages
90
In the case I referred to, the agent acting on behalf of the copyright holder/s is ImageRights International. Inc. who demanded payment.
 

LeadCrow

Apocalypse Admin
Joined
Jun 29, 2008
Messages
6,759
All content submitted by a user is his responsibility, and redressment of any tort confirmed or alleged must include closing the matter with its removal, wether its performed by the user or staff after notifying them removal is performed to protect them from claims.

Anyway, even if you fancy claims to a payment, it normally wouldnt be a high sum for display on communities but be wary that paying once will make you liable to be shaken down afterwards. Heck, accomplices of or bots from that licencing outfit could be regularly plant images on your community to entrap you into a literal subscription payments. If you regularly cover editoral content, better picking up a cheap subscription to royalty-free images or produce your collections internally or populating them from friendly sources and content creators.
 

Splinter2

Participant
Joined
Dec 9, 2017
Messages
90
In this case it was a blog and an article written on it containing the copyrighted image, with a demand of $2500.
 

LeadCrow

Apocalypse Admin
Joined
Jun 29, 2008
Messages
6,759
Very high rate even for commercial use of a really high resolution photo on a frontpage, and way more than community-type websites would be charged even for frontpage articles. Even 50$ wouldve been pushing it.

If the use of images on your forum results from copypasting articles produiced by another site, its that site they shouldve been chasing and generally reproductions of that source material for discussion ought to be covered (wether its hotlinked, screenshotted or screencast as part of a youtube video commentary).

Simplest fix should be replacing the disputed images, replacing them and/or taking down the article until its edited. Even if they complain to your webhost the disputed material would already be gone and theyd file this as resolved.
 

zappaDPJ

Administrator
Joined
Aug 26, 2010
Messages
8,092
The correct advice would be to consult a solicitor.

I've had a couple of these and for what it's worth I didn't pay out a penny or enter into any dialogue with the legal firms concerned. I did however remove the offending images.

It's common practice for shady legal firms to conduct reverse image searches and issue a huge number of demands in the hope that a proportion will be frightened into paying up. However paying up maybe taken as an admission of guilt and form the basis of further threats and litigation.

It's unlikely a legal firm would go all the way to court for $2500. They have to prove their case as well as being able to demonstrate loss that equals the level of compensation asked for e.g. How much does the copyright holder actually sell the image for? Has the blog owner made a profit from the image?

ImageRights are well known on the Internet. Their name usually sits alongside the phrase 'copyright trolls' and for good reason in my opinion. That said, I stand by my original advice, consult a solicitor.
 

TrixieTang

Custom Usertitle
Joined
May 4, 2007
Messages
8,563

mysiteguy

Migration Expert
Joined
Feb 20, 2007
Messages
3,441
In the USA, a provider (be that the host, forum owner, etc) is not responsible and cannot be held liable if they properly respond to legitimate DMCA requests and remove the offending content. The person who posted it, however, can be held liable in various cases. Whether that's actually pursued is another matter.

It's very well established law in the USA, and the Copyright office provides basic legal information about it.
See the Safe Harbor section.
 

Splinter2

Participant
Joined
Dec 9, 2017
Messages
90
I must point out that the image was posted in a computer blog article. Either way, all of your replies are very helpful indeed, for which I thank you. I only wish that I had posted here first because it appears that the website owner has already paid the $2500, which came as a shock, quite frankly.
If it had been me, I would either have taken legal advice first and/or referred Image Rights to the Safe Harbor section of DMCA as quoted by mysiteguy .
Here's the edited text of the email sent by Image Rights which doesn't really contain any veiled threats, except the use of the word 'liability'.
To me it has the smell of extortion.
ImageRights International (www.imagerights.com), is a copyright and licensing agent to professional photographers, photo agencies, media companies and publishers who discover unlicensed uses of their works. xxxx's copyrighted image (Image ID: xxxxx) was discovered on the website xxxx dot com for which there is no record of a license. If the image was licensed under an alternate company name (dba) or in the name of a third party, please reply to this email with information on the sales order, invoice or other pertinent licensing information.



However, if a valid license for this use of the image does not exist, a fee of $2,500.00 is required to resolve this matter.

Please understand that we are acutely aware of the impact that COVID-19 is having for all businesses and their employees. Our clients are enduring these same hardships, so we must continue to serve them the best we can while being mindful of current realities. As such, we will do our best to work with you and xxx, LLC to find a resolution that is acceptable to you both.

As the site is under your control and direction, you are liable for any unlicensed use of the work therein, including cases in which a website designer, employee or intern is responsible for the inclusion of this image on your website. If your use of this image without a license was unintentional, for example if the image was found on the Internet and believed to be available for free use, it is still in violation of copyright law (Title 17 of the US Copyright Act) and ceasing use of the image now will not release you or your organization from liability in this regard.

To resolve this matter, please follow these steps:

1. Review the case documentation, including a screen shot of the infringed image(s) displayed on your website, at ..... Your Case Access Code is xxxxx.

2. Once you have reviewed the documentation, confirmed that a valid license for this use is not in place, and reviewed the Settlement and Release Agreement, then please select Request Invoice to Resolve Claim.

3. Once you have removed the infringing uses of the image(s) from your website, please confirm by replying to this email.

If you would like to speak with one of our ImageRights License Compliance Specialists regarding this matter, please email us at irlc@imagerights.com or call (617) 356-1814 and ask for Gina Bringman. Alternatively, please provide the contact information for the appropriate person to whom we should address this matter, if someone other than you.

IN ALL COMMUNICATIONS WITH IMAGERIGHTS, PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR CASE NUMBER IN THE SUBJECT LINE OF THE EMAIL. YOUR CASE NUMBER IS xxxx.

This mail is for settlement purposes only and is issued without prejudice to any rights or remedies available to ImageRights, xxxx, LLC, and xxxx, all of which are expressly reserved.

Sincerely,

Joseph Naylor
President & CEO
 

Square Wheels

Aspirant
Joined
Sep 15, 2021
Messages
23
I guess I've been lucky. I've had several people contact me over the years and politely ask me to take down an image. I complied immeidately and let them know.
 

Nev_Dull

Anachronism
Joined
Apr 27, 2010
Messages
2,496
I had one of those from a different "firm" a couple of years ago, concerning an image of an art piece on my site which also appeared in a magazine article. I ignored the first polite email. When the second, polite but more insistent email came, I replied.

I pointed out the image was not on the forum, but only a linked reference from another site. I also noted the post text and referenced image were posted by the artist who made the thing and provided the photo to the magazine, and as the copyright holder, he could do as he liked with it. I perhaps went a bit far when I suggested the firm pursue a different line of work as they were obviously not particularly adept at what they were doing (or less polite words to that effect).

I didn't receive a third email.
 

TrixieTang

Custom Usertitle
Joined
May 4, 2007
Messages
8,563
I only wish that I had posted here first because it appears that the website owner has already paid the $2500, which came as a shock, quite frankly.

They got scammed. That email is also 100% lying about the law.

I had one of those from a different "firm" a couple of years ago, concerning an image of an art piece on my site which also appeared in a magazine article. I ignored the first polite email. When the second, polite but more insistent email came, I replied.

I pointed out the image was not on the forum, but only a linked reference from another site. I also noted the post text and referenced image were posted by the artist who made the thing and provided the photo to the magazine, and as the copyright holder, he could do as he liked with it. I perhaps went a bit far when I suggested the firm pursue a different line of work as they were obviously not particularly adept at what they were doing (or less polite words to that effect).

I probably would have ended the email with "Shove it."
 
  • Like
Reactions: FTL

we_are_borg

Administrator
Joined
Jan 25, 2011
Messages
5,771
Never ignore emails with claims in it, the first thing you’ll check if the party has the right to complain. Second if its Getty Images never ignore them they will go after the smallest infraction. Copyright is also strange law because you are the one that needs to prove you are not to blame.
 

FTL

Adherent
Joined
Nov 4, 2021
Messages
317
I perhaps went a bit far when I suggested the firm pursue a different line of work as they were obviously not particularly adept at what they were doing (or less polite words to that effect).
Nah, it was perfect. 😉👍
 

Mesca

Aspirant
Joined
Oct 31, 2016
Messages
29
In the USA, a provider (be that the host, forum owner, etc) is not responsible and cannot be held liable if they properly respond to legitimate DMCA requests and remove the offending content. The person who posted it, however, can be held liable in various cases. Whether that's actually pursued is another matter.
In France we have the same system. But please note, that if you moderate before posting and not after you receive a report (or saw the post / picture), you are not a host anymore, but you select the content, so you are an editor and can be held liable in this case.
 
Top