Nystrom: A Note on the Use of Copyrighted Materials on the Daily PaulSubmitted by Michael Nystrom on Thu, 03/27/2014 - 18:01
Dear Daily Paul,
Yes I love you, but sometimes you can be a real pain in my heiney! For example, this is what happened to me on Tuesday evening. I opened my inbox to find the following email waiting for me.
It has come to my attention that your publication is using an image of mine relating to the NSA on the following article and I have reason to believe it is unlicensed as I do not have a valid record.
You can see a correctly licensed version of the image as used by [redacted]
This image is registered with USCO under case number X-XXXXXXXXX.
Please provide a license should you have one for use of the image or address the invoice attached to this email. The image must be removed immediately and you must let me know if the image ha been used in print also.
The information in this email is accurate and not a false claim.
This happens from time to time. Attached was a screenshot of the DP page in question, including the offending image, and an invoice for $1,400! Oh boy, here we go again, I thought.
While I am sympathetic to artists and photographers who have their work unfairly appropriated online, there are laws that govern these types of situations. And whatever your political beliefs are about intellectual property, if I want this site to stay online, I have to follow those laws.
That being said, this was clearly another shakedown attempt. But as an electronic bulletin board, the Daily Paul is protected under the Safe Harbor provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. I learned this after being sued in 2010 by the copyright troll Righthaven.
I took down the image, and wrote him back ignoring the issue of the bogus invoice.
I am sorry about the trouble. The Daily Paul is a bulletin board user forum, and the image was uploaded by one of the users. I have removed the image and warned the user not to use unauthorized images again in the future.
Sorry again for the trouble.
An hour later came his response. He wasn't going to relent:
Thanks for your response. Simply removing the image is not enough. As stated in my previous correspondence the image is protected by U.S. copyright law and the penalty for illegal use carries a potential fine of up to $150,000 plus legal costs. The usage on your site, by error or not by a contributor, is in breach of my intellectual property rights and is a criminal offence. (sic) Furthermore the image was used as an 'orphan' with stripped metadata and no visible credit. This action leaves my property open to violations from other parties and due to the topical subject matter of the image this is particularly damaging to my business and livelihood as a professional photojournalist. Your publication makes money from advertisements on the site, has a google page rank status of 4 and has used my image on the article which has been generating money for you since 01/16/2014. Please review the invoice and get back to me.
Now I was getting annoyed. He was using scary language to try to scare me. The keywords that stand out: potential fine of $150,000 plus legal costs, criminal offense. While I know that the law in this case is on my side, dealing with such matters is disconcerting.
"Please review the invoice and get back to me." I reviewed the bogus invoice one more time then wrote:
The Daily Paul is an internet forum with thousands of anonymous users. You know as well as I do that sites such as this are protected under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act from uploads by users. I have DMCA disclaimer and takedown notice page here, which is where you found my email address.
What you are claiming is nothing but bluster - we are both aware of that. Your invoice is meaningless. You have no claim. You have asked for removal, and I complied within one hour of your request. Case closed.
If you wish to continue wasting my own time and yours you will be hearing from my accomplished intellectual property lawyer, Mr. Dan Booth of Booth Sweet LLP.
Let's not waste any more time. We can make this easy for both of us, or difficult. Please advise how you wish to proceed.
Dan Booth is an excellent intellectual property lawyer and friedn based in Cambridge MA, who helped me when Righthaven was after me. Having not heard back from A--- in a day, I forwarded the email chain to Dan for review. "Bravo," he said. "You handled it perfectly, Michael."
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The point of this story for you to understand that there are risks, costs and expenses for me in maintaining this online community. Things most people here never think of when posting.
Please take into account copyright law when posting articles, and especially pictures. Don't post entire articles that are copyrighted. Most everyone here is good about that now. But since we've allowed image posting at the DP, I want to reiterate that copyrighted phontos should not be embedded here at the Daily Paul. And please don't hotlink photos from other people's websites. That is bad form. In the old days it was called "stealing bandwidth." But these days, linking a photo on a high traffic site like the DP - especially if it ends up on the front page - from someone's little website can cause extreme hassle for that site. Embedding photos is fine assuming it is an image you own, that you've cleared with the copyright holder, or one that is in the public domain. At such time, please use an image hosting site such as imgur.com or photobucket.
I will address any questions in the comments section (but at the moment, I have to run).
Thanks all for your understanding and continued support.