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  [Aroid-l] flowersforme123- another photo stealer
From: Steve at ExoticRainforest.com (ExoticRainforest) on 2008.01.07 at 11:36:04(16927)
I find it very interesting we are having this same discussion again in just a few months. In June of 2007 we covered this pretty well. You can find that entire discussion on the Aroid l achieves. http://www.hort.net/lists/aroid-l/search.cgi

As many of you know, I am a retired commercial photographer. I have successfully sued a variety of corporations and others in Federal Court for copyright theft and won every time. Most of the time, as soon as the person who used the photo without permission hires an attorney, they just offer to pay a settlement out of court. The U.S. Copyright law is very, very clear and any lawyer who can read will advise an offending client to settle. The punishment can be severe.

The very moment anyone clicks a shutter on a camera, they have created a legal copyright. Only if you wish to file a lawsuit and request attorney's fees do you have a need to "perfect" that copyright, but you own one the second you take the photo. Perfection of the copyright requires you place a notice with the photo where and when used, file a form with the Library of Congress, and pay a small fee. And all that gives you in addition to your normal protection and money damages is the right to sue for attorney's fees in addition to damages. You can sue for damages even if you do not perfect the copyright! Most lawyers will recommend you put the copyright ownership notice on or with the photo but you can still sue and win without it. I've done it.

This is what I posted in June of 2007,
"All photos anyone creates are the copyrighted property of the creator at the moment it is taken. There are steps you must take under Federal Copyright Law to protect your copyright in a court of law but you legally own it the moment you take it! By not protecting your copyright all you loose is the right to sue for attorney's fees in addition to damages. That's all! You do not loose the right to sue! I'm a retired professional photographer and use without permission is a big no-no in the pro photographer community! I know of one lawsuit that ended in a court ordering a payment of over $100,000.00 for using one image without permission!

I'm relatively certain most people that use this board are descent folks. But I know some do sell plants on eBay. Please understand, if you wish to use one of my photos I'll almost certainly give you permission provided you give me credit when and where you use it. If someone else owns the photo on my site I'll give you a contact and you need to ask their permission before just using it! There can be legal costs!!

This is absolutely no threat! But you should know that I have sued folks for using my photos and have settled (out of court) for fees of as much as $5,000 for unauthorized use. Other photographers have received much more! I once had to go to court and the user was forced to withdraw his advertisement, pay damages, pay all legal costs, destroy all his original ads, and pay me a large fee. He didn't even use my actual photograph. He hired another photographer to duplicate my photograph! He was out the cash to duplicate my image plus all the costs. It got very costly for that company! A simply "may I" along with the payment of a fair fee would have saved them a lot of cash!

So if you are considering using someone else's photo, any photo, get permission! And give them credit if you get the permission to use it! It may seem like a trivial thing to many people, but photographs are created works. Legally, it is just like stealing a computer program or other body of created work. And there is a major body of Federal law written to protect unauthorized use. Be kind. Ask first!"

Steve Lucas

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