April 20, 2014 | Posted in:Copyright

The One That Got Away

Art Peslak is an Intellectual Property lawyer by day and an accomplished nature photographer on weekends and vacations. He is familiar with the business aspects of the photography industry as well as the intellectual property issues such as photography copyright infringement. One would think that copyright infringement would never be an issue for this lawyer, however someone did steal one of his images and used it as their own.To many it would seem highly unlikely that anyone would ever stumble across and find a stolen image. But it does happen, here is the tale.

Art usually photographs birds, one day in 2011 as he was sitting quietly in a field waiting for a particular bird sighting he saw something amazing.  Suddenly a small rabbit came flying over a nearby hill. Art quickly got his camera in position and caught what happened next – this amazing photo of a fox as it came flying over the hill chasing the rabbit. Here is the photo –

Arthur Peslak fox

Art was quite proud of this photo and showed family and friends and then posted on his photo website (since then his photos have been moved to a more secure site – https://500px.com/artpeslak)

STOLEN PHOTO SITED

One day, one of Art’s friends saw the results of a photography contest and sure enough one of the winning photos was Art’s fox, but it was submitted by someone else – it was stolen. Art’s camera embeds meta data (name and copyright) into the photo file and he has a program that can search and find his file … so once he heard that one of his prize photos was stolen it wasn’t hard to find the culprit.

INFRINGEMENT … NEXT STEPS

In this case, the photo contest sponsor was notified and the photo was removed from the website. The person who submitted the photo to the contest did so through an email address registered in Zimbabwe and had already been paid by the photo contest sponsors. In the normal course, the next legal step would have been to contact the person who submitted the photo with a demand to cease and desist from further copyright infringement and demand payment of the money received from the photo contest. Given the jurisdictional issues with potentially attempt to sue someone located in Zimbabwe, no formal action was taken. The lesson to be learned for anyone posting original photographs on the web is to watermark the photos with a copyright notice and take steps to protect from illegal downloads. If someone circumvents those efforts, as in this case, then seek advice from an attorney.

Contact the copyright attorneys at Gertner Mandel & Peslak
Call 732-363-3333

Intellectual Property Law blog posts from www.iplaw-gmp.net. Call 732-363-3333 for an attorney in Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights, & Unfair Competition. Serving NJ, NY, PA for legal, technical & business issues.