Reminiscent of many other examples of companies using my photos without permission and against the terms of their licensing agreements, I recently had another and this time with a media publishing company that should have really known better. CityPages, based in Minneapolis, recently used one of my pictures on their Hot Dish Blog and when I sent them an invoice they ever so politely told me that US Copyright law does not apply to them because, well, “copyright law on the Internet is a fuzzy thing”. HA!
As we all know, using people’s photos against their express permission–especially mine–is not only a pet peeve of mine but easily avoidable. As you will see from the e-mails received from Jen Boyles at CityPages, she feels that they should receive only a warning for this particular bit of copyright infringement and only thereafter should I be permitted to invoice them for using my photography, including downloading and modifying it for their own use, on their website:
Hi, Mr. Roehl,
I received your letter concerning the snapshot of the LeeAnn Chin store used in this post: http://blogs.citypages.com/food/2010/03/leeann_chin_chi.php
It has been corrected. Thanks for drawing our attention to the matter.
* note: the picture has been replaced with another, this time apparently used straight from leeannchin.com (also very likely a violation of US copyright law).
When should I expect payment on invoice #PAFR031410 to be received?
Have a great weekend,
First notice is like a cease and desist. If it happens again feel free to invoice me.
There is no such provision in US Copyright law and as such I expect payment to be remitted immediately.
Thanks for your time and have a great weekend,
The fact remains your photo was on Flickr, and in Creative Commons no less. It was an honest mistake by our writer to not see the ‘not for commercial use” clause, but as it stands copyright law on the Internet is a fuzzy thing — particularly in this case.
I will not be sending a payment for this but bid you good luck in your future endeavors.
Now, this isn’t the first time that CityPages has found itself caught with its hand in the cookie jar. Ed Kohler over at The Deets provided an impressive expose into the world of CityPages and their apparent “steal first, ask for permission/pull the photo if/when people complain,” policy when it comes to infringing on other people’s copyright. He found 11 specific examples of CityPages using people’s images without their permission and many times without attribution in only 53 attempts. I wonder if I can reply with that link and a picture of my hand out and they’d get the hint?
Anyway, Jen Boyles at CityPages has some real nerve telling me that it’s ok for her coworkers to steal people’s photos and then not pay them when they are caught red-handed. While I do get upset when other companies, such as restaurants, do this to me I usually give them the benefit of the doubt. But when it comes down to it CityPages does not like having its own stuff stolen (via another post on The Deets). Hypocritical much?
So, not that anyone with half a brain bothers to read much of what CityPages puts out anymore but what do you think about this? Just more of the same or should CityPages be held to a higher standard due to them being around and publishing “stuff” since 1979? Should they get a free pass being that this was “their first time” or should they be required to pay up just like anyone else committing copyright infringement? Whatever you have to say about CityPages and their infringement of my photo go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear what you have to say.