Tag Archive for copyright violation

Copyrights & infringement

Copyright is simple and straight forward. If you want to use a photo you need to get written permission, usually in the form of a licence that you pay for (see these examples at my portfolio). The only exception is photography not under Copyright licence, but Creative Commons. It really is that simple. Almost all countries (including the US) have signed to international treaties (see Wikipedia) and so have agreed to protecting the rights of creators and the creators’ choices. Me, I also need the money. Photography is not a free / cheap game to play (see why, here).

The US has muddied the waters in two ways, firstly by creating a copyright office that requires US based creators to register their works so that they can get full damages awarded. No other country has this requirement, but the US tries to impose this on all creators, US-based or not. The only benefit I see of this system is that the US gets money from international creators, and hopes to profit from the fear of US-based infringement. The second way the US has muddied the waters is by not teaching their children in education enough about copyright and what is considered infringement, so ignorance and this lax culture has permeated on the internet. However, this second problem is not a US exclusive problem. There are reports on websites like Photo Attorney of India based website designers and creators building websites for US owners, only for the US owners to be (successfully) sued for copyright infringement. If you own the website, you approved of all of the content and so are legally liable for all infringements (see point 1 on this page of the Photo Attorney website).

In any case, there are now lots of websites that describe the “myths of copyright” and the common excuses violators make. Of most pertinent to me, as I’ve seen this a lot recently on social media is the notion that it’s ok to use someone else’s photo on your website, provided you link it back to the original source. I was livid when I saw some leech using my photos without paying me. I already have an agent and his lawyer pursuing a case of this; refer to point 9 of this Photo Attorney document: http://www.photoattorney.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Excuses-excuses.pdf. Also, PetaPixel recently did a great article that is pretty current, and in the same vein at the Photo Attorney list, just because you put my name there DOESN’T give you licence to use my photo without paying for it: http://petapixel.com/2013/08/03/10-bogus-excuses-people-use-when-they-steal-photos-from-the-web/.

For some strange reason, the most commonly violated photos of mine are my sumo images. I dare you to steal them… my lawyer needs a new spa on his back porch and I’m dying for a new Sony a99. 😉

Sumo – Images by Andrew Blyth


I love the Internet and the culture around it. It’s brilliant. I love being able to communicate with friends and family… at a distance, and up close. I love having access to the information and resources that didn’t exist 10 years ago, and I love seeing the new useful stuff. I do admit I let MySpace pass me by, and never heard of Orkut until it was already a living fossil; I was too busy with ICQ. However, here’s a website I’m steering clear of, Pinterest.

Pinterest says in it’s terms and conditions that it reserves the right to resell any image its users have added to Pinterest’s website, including mine. This is without regard to copyright ownership, nor standard industry licensing & purchasing. In short, Pinterest is a messy mass of Intellectual Property law suits waiting to happen. Both Flickr and stock agencies have added the no pin code to their websites preventing image theft (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinterest#Copyrighted_content).

On top of that, Pinterest allows website owners to opt out, which prevents Pinterests users adding your images to Pinterest.com; a rather selfish paradigm, it’s very ego-centric. Now, every single website in the world is fair game, until they insert the code (below) which prevents Pinterest’s users from stealing your copyrighted images. What if every other social network had this system? Should there be a list of websites to blacklist, or “blackcode”? It’d be a nightmare to keep updated, as each website will require unique coding, and occasional updates. The alternative is to invite Pinterests members to your site, and as soon as they illegally upload your images you start suing; it’ll be profitable, and should changed Pinterest’s policies.


We have a small piece of code you can add to the head of any page on your site:

<meta name=”pinterest” content=”nopin” />

When a user tries to pin from your site, they will see this message:

“This site doesn’t allow pinning to Pinterest. Please contact the owner with any questions. Thanks for visiting!”

Thanks to this website, http://llsocial.com/2012/02/pinterest-offering-code-to-block-pinning/ for posting the above code. The only caveat is that every time you update your blog software, you may need to reinsert that code. Pinterest’s own ‘no pin’ code is found at the very bottom of this page: http://pinterest.com/about/help/

Useful links:

Mention of Pinterest selling other people’s content: https://plus.google.com/u/0/109214702386760339292/posts/GQaFsSbc6Nt

Business Insider, Copyright Theft: http://www.businessinsider.com/pinterest-illegal-faq-2012-2

PhotoShelter: Pinterest Round 2 (includes pros & cons): http://blog.photoshelter.com/2012/02/pinterest-is-still-not-for-photographers-round-2/

Business Journal; How your business could get sued for using Pinterest: http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/blog/startups/2012/02/pinterest-copyright-issues.html?surround=etf&ana=e_article&page=all

Pinterest’s Terms: http://pinterest.com/about/terms/

Story of the New York Times being scolded by a photographer for not crediting her, because of Pinterest’s problems: http://jimromenesko.com/2012/03/16/ny-post-scolded-by-photographer/

UPDATE, new terms & conditions (from 6th April 2012): http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/blog/startups/2012/03/pinterest-to-change-terms-of-service.html?ana=fbk

Pinterest Terms of Service clearly stating that they reserve the right to sell member content for their own profit.

Pinterest Terms of Service clearly stating that they reserve the right to sell member content for their own profit.

AppMakr Copyright violation

For some time now, I’ve been looking at other ways to bring in income using the JapanesePhotos bandwagon. I looked at various publication options, and came across AppMakr. As I was experimenting and trying out their wares I realised they are doing something absolutely abhorrent.

Appmakr is a website that helps you make smart phone applications for Android, iPhone, and Windows mobile OS. Appmakr has just one trick: you add RSS feeds to make and automatically update the app. That is, you enter your blog feed, twitter, or similar and you have an app. However, they do allow you to use photos for the app icon and start up screen. The problem is this: you can upload a photo of your own, or use their ‘search’ function. Via this search function I discovered that I can find my own photos (complete with copyright water mark) and use those. That is to say, anybody can use unlicensed (unpaid for) photos for their monetized apps. Consequently, if anybody uses the search for photo / logo function they run the risk of copyright violation litigation. And AppMakr? I would assume that they could also be subject to the same litigation that companies like Napster faced.

Evidence of aiding in copyright violation:

Screenshot-AppMakr :: Art - JapanPhoto - Mozilla Firefox

Screenshot-AppMakr :: Art - JapanPhoto - Mozilla Firefox