Thursday, August 23, 2007

Stealing the Scene

Recently, I became aware that some of my Spokane Night Scenes images were being used by others who had no permission to do so. Initially it was a shock to me, when I saw my images being used commercially and privately without my permission.

In one case, I found one of my images being used by a private party as a part of his blog, on the Internet. After my informing him of his unauthorized use of my image, his reply was,

“I'm very sorry. I have removed the picture, much to my regret. It was a stunning picture.”

How difficult would it have been to send me an email requesting use of my image? Was this person really sorry for using my work, or were they sorry that I found out they were using it? Seems to me that if the image he was using was that impressive to him, he would have made the same contacts with me that many, many others are making when they begin the process of using Spokane Night Scenes images.

Then there is the case of a web design firm who took one of my images and used it on a website designed for one of their clients. Yep, they used it commercially, without permission, even though they were being paid to build a website for a client of theirs. When I discovered the unauthorized use, I contacted them immediately, and got this response. “If you decide to take legal action, I sincerely ask that you involve only myself and my company, ___________ _________. The owners of ____________ are a grassroots company just starting out and trusted me to comply with copyright laws - which I thought I had.”

Come on, I mean really….”THOUGHT I HAD?” How can this be the case? Using something for commercial gain that you don’t own is not exactly a proper use of copyrighted materials.

In the second case, when it was brought to the attention of the web design firm, they bought the limited use rights, allowing them to continue the use of the image owned by Spokane Night Scenes. Sure, this would have and should have been done up front. Ethics, professionalism, and business to business relationships are built on doing things right, and in this case, they finally purchased the use rights.

To own and operate a business, must be the most misunderstood thing around. People just don’t seem to realize all of the costs and liabilities that go hand in hand with operating a business. There are licenses, insurance issues, corporation costs, State and Federal tax issues, Better Business Bureau membership costs, photographic equipment costs, administrative hardware and digital office equipment costs, and the list goes on and on. Yet, in the previously described cases, none of this was important to the former users of the work done by Spokane Night Scenes.

Amazing….. You would think that the web design business had an idea about all the costs to running a business, as well as what it takes to keep the business going…such as income to pay for all of the costs…… Yep, amazing.

Then there are those requests I get, asking to use Spokane Night Scenes for free…for one reason or another. I am as responsive to the needs of some requests as I can be, but bills don’t get paid by giving away everything we produce…. So, I have to limit what is “donated, or given away.” I would much rather donate my time as a photographer, than to compromise the product line of images used to run a business…. Even so, there are those who want, and will, take advantage of that…..

Yep, amazing…

John

(No, I will not ID the people or company involved in these cases….since these issues have been resolved).

2 comments:

Eric said...

Hello John,

I have actually emailed you before telling you how much I enjoy all of your photos of Spokane. I am the one that lives in Tampa FL. I have never used your pictures commercially but I have save them as my desktop image a time or two. I hope this is ok. If not please leave me a comment on my page so I know not to do so again.

My wife and I think you do a great job and we hope you keep posting pictures. Spokane is a long way away from Tampa FL. :o)

Anonymous said...

This has happened to me as well from my images listed at www.SpokanePhotos.com I have put a water mark on my photos and added a Creative Commons link below each photo that states what the usage limitations are for the photos on my site.