Photographs when is it legal to use and when is it not

Posted on 2007-08-10
Last Modified: 2013-11-05
I've seen many celebrities blogs and web sites by fan sites,

but the one thing that puzzles me is how do they get their photos and when and when is it legal to use photographs from other web sites,

After all most fan sites make money through adsense payments I guess since that's probably the only way to offset their hosting fees, right?
Question by:shortandsharp
    LVL 18

    Accepted Solution

    Legally, you cannot use any photograph without express permission from the photographer, or the owner of the copyright for that photo.  I would venture to say that the majority of 'fan sites' are illegally using photos taken from other sites.

    For example, if you take a photo and post it on your web site, you are the copyright owner and nobody can legally use this photo without your permission.  If someone wanted to use that photo, they would need to contact you to license its use for a fee, but you would still own the copyright.  The person who bought the license could not sell that photo to someone else.

    If you found someone using your photo without your permission, you could sue for damages.  If you wanted to release your photo into the public domain, you can simply place a statement along with your photo saying it's available for commercial or non-commercial use.  Here's a site that helps with that:

    Here's a depository of public domain photos:

    Purchasing the copyright rather than just a license is usually much more expensive.  Prices for both vary greatly depending on the photo, demand, etc.

    Here's a good collection of copyright articles as specifically related to photography:

    Hope this helps.
    LVL 26

    Assisted Solution

    by:David Brugge
    There is a difference between what is legal and what you can get away with. It is illegal to drive3 mph over the speed limit, but you can usually get away with it.

    First, this is because 3 mph is such a minor infraction that it is not worth spending police man-hours as well as the courts time to punish such a minor offence.

    The second consideration is that, whereas speed limits are created for public safety, going 3 miles over is probably not doing actual harm to the public.

    The third consideration might be called but everyones doing it defense. The idea here is that because drifting over the speed limit is so universal, that it would be impossible to stop, even is a jurisdiction did want to spend the resources to stop it.

    But what if, instead of 3 mph, its 30 mph? And what if, instead of driving a Kia Rondo, you have a lime green Supercharged ZO7 Chevrolet Corvette with a hole it its muffler?

    Or what if there had recently been a child hit by a speeding car in your community and the mayor demanded that there be no tolerance. for speeders.

    All of these situations apply to using others works on the internet. as Graphixer has pointed out, the fan sites and blogs to which you refer are in all likelihood using others pictures without their permission..

    It is legal? Most likely, no. Will they get into trouble? Again, most likely, no. Just like driving a few miles per hour over the speed limit, posting someone elses picture on your web site is not likely to get you into trouble. Why? because its just too much of a hassel to make you stop, in relation to the small amount of harm (if any) that you are doing.

    Am I saying that you are safe to use other peoples images on your web site? No.

    There are a number of factors that can influence whether of not you will get into trouble. The most important is how high a profile your web site has. This is sort of like that lime green sports car, youre more likely to draw the attention of someone that wants to do something about your stolen images.

    The other is what kind of images these are. If they are commonly distributed images from news articles, that is one thing. If they unique and exclusive images that you wont find anywhere else, such as a pap per view site, or from a private source, thats another matter. Is someone losing a livelihood because you post the images for free? The courts dont like it when people get hurt.

    And finally, you never know whos feathers will get ruffled by your postings. For instance, you can probably post as many images of Elvis Sanchez as you want and no one, not even Mr. Sanchez, will object. But if your website is making money from a picture of Elvis Presley, the lawyers from Elvis Presley Enterprises will be contacting your service provider.
    Then, theres that nasty thing called Digimarc. This is a company that lets you embed a code into a digital image that can be read by web surfing robots. For a fee, Digimarcs robots will crawl the web, finding every use of your image, even if it was altered or incorporated into another image, and report it back to you and your lawyers.

    In the end, its probably best to do as your mother taught you& Dont take things without permission.

    Note to EE site monitors, D_Brugge does not condone braking the law in any way under any circumstances, at any time.
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