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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Copyright Infringement

Yes, it happens frequently. People take copyrighted images from the Internet and use them for their own (commercial) purpose. And yes, it has happened to me several times, and I know it will probably happen again, and again. It's done all the time from individuals to big corporations. Some accept blame while others defer the blame to an intern or an assistant, etc.  When confronted responses range from ignorance of what is or is not copyrightable, and just what is infringement. In my experience I just don't think that the golden rules don't seem to apply online. Pity.

I would advise to just use common sense and ask permission first - say 'please' and 'thank you'. It's free to ask! As a reminder, here is a 2007 post about my number one frequently asked question.  

And if you want to read more about a recent example about the consequences, check out this post by Andy Baio: http://waxy.org/2011/06/kind_of_screwed/

In compensation, they were seeking "either statutory damages up to $150,000 for each infringement at the jury's discretion and reasonable attorneys fees or actual damages and all profits attributed to the unlicensed use of his photograph, and $25,000 for Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) violations." After seven months of legal wrangling, we reached a settlement. Last September, I paid Maisel a sum of $32,500 and I'm unable to use the artwork again.

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