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by Ken Kovak on Fri Mar 01, 2013 1:20 pm
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Ken Kovak
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Well, I have joined the ranks of having one of my images "stolen" and being used.  The image is being used in a small size on the Wayne County, PA tourism page for the Waymart area.  You can see it here via this link:   http://visitwaynecounty.com/towns/Waymart   It is the second image down on the left side.

If you zoom in far enough you can see my name and copyright symbol and "all rights reserved".  So the "theft" is pretty blatant.

It's not that I mind them using the image, if they had asked I probably would have offered it for very little or even free.  I'm just annoyed they took it without asking.

Should I try and contact the County Commissioners, who have their "all rights reserved" statement on the bottom of the page, or the company who did the web design?  Maybe just send the Commissioners a bill?

Any thoughts and feedback is appreciated.

Thanks,
Ken
Ken Kovak - Lehigh Valley, PA
Ken's Naturescape Portfolio
Ken's Website

by Bill Lockhart on Fri Mar 01, 2013 4:07 pm
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Take a snapshot of the website and save it. I use Grab, there are other ways to capture the webpage.

Have you registered your photograph with the US Copyright Office? If not, do so now. You can upload one or many photographs online. It saves money to register a "collection."

Then, contact Carolyn Wright. www.photoattorney.com

She is away for about 10 days on a photo shoot.

Do what she says.

There is no better attorney out there for photography copyright violations.

by STEVENMAJOR on Sat Mar 02, 2013 11:19 am
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Location: Prescott, AZ
Congratulations on your new "client". They likely have meager financial resources, and have not received a great benefit from their mistake, so I would start without a full blown legal assault. I am not a lawyer, I would do the following.
1. Stop saying you would have "probably would have offered it for very little or even free".
2. Discover what other ways they may have already used your image. Is it in print? Is it part of any AV presentation or anything else?
3. Send Wayne County a registered letter that explains to them what they have done, with a bill that reflects a industry standard use fee. Explain to them that your fee is subject to change based on their response. Send your letter and bill to the top, communicate only with the highest person or governing body that represents the county. Be factual, to the point, without rancor.

You may also not want to do anything about this infringement to avoid the cost and stress it will likely cause you, as compared to the relatively small finical gain that could result. Life is short, choose your battles. Good Luck.

by John Guastella on Sat Mar 02, 2013 2:10 pm
John Guastella
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Quote:
Stop saying you would have "probably would have offered it for very little or even free".

I agree with this advice.

Quote:
...start without a full blown legal assault.

I definitely DO NOT agree with this advice. The only way to stop this type of wanton infringement is to come down hard on the infringers. And that requires a good lawyer.

Take Bill's suggestion and contact the attorney he recommended. And let us know how the case turns out.

John

by neverspook on Sat Mar 02, 2013 4:33 pm
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Maybe it's because I'm Canadian :), but I would NOT start with a full legal assault. A lot of people think whatever is on the net is fair game and need to be educated that that is not so.

I would do more or less what Steve recommended (after first saving the screen capture Bill recommended), explaining a bit about copyright infringement in the letter you send with your bill, along with evidence that the image is actually yours (link to your website where it appears or similar).

I am not clear on what Steve means when he says: "Explain to them that your fee is subject to change based on their response." I would either set a fixed price, or say something like "This is the industry standard fee for the use you have made of my image but I am sure we can negotiate a mutually agreeable price for your past uses any future uses you intend to make of my image."

I would also politely explain to them the possible consequences of their NOT paying the fee. That would depend on what you are willig to do if they refuse to pay. It could be legal action, a take-down notice against their website etc. This is to further educate them that copyright infringement is serious business.

You might find that they did not realize what they were doing, that some summer student stole the image online without the county even knowing it was an issue etc. They might be contrite and either offer to take your image off their site even if they have no budget to pay you. Or you might end up with a regular client who comes to you for many of their image needs. You just never know. But coming out with all guns blazing from the get-go will close off some possible positive outcomes.

Just my 2 cents worth.

Roberta Olenick
www.neverspook.com

by aolander on Sun Mar 03, 2013 12:20 pm
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I agree with Steven's approach.  What good could come from a full blown legal attack against a county tourism site?  Let them know what they did wrong and work it out.  Perhaps you'll have a future client in them.  It's not like they're Walmart, or something. :)
Alan Olander
Minnesota

by Ken Kovak on Wed Mar 27, 2013 12:37 pm
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Finally sent my certified letter to requesting payment from the county commissioners. Kept the tone friendly while making it clear the violated a copy right. We'll see how they respond.

Ken
Ken Kovak - Lehigh Valley, PA
Ken's Naturescape Portfolio
Ken's Website

by Ken Kovak on Wed Apr 03, 2013 11:11 am
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Well, the County Commissioners office received my certified letter on Friday the 29th.  I asked for a response in 72 hours and have not received one (did not count the weekend).

Is the next step a take down notice to the hosting service?

How do I find out who just to send it to?

Thanks
Ken
Ken Kovak - Lehigh Valley, PA
Ken's Naturescape Portfolio
Ken's Website

by Royce Howland on Wed Apr 03, 2013 12:07 pm
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If they are responding by mail you probably wouldn't have it back in your hands in 72 hours. But I would take note of the timeliness of their response (or lack thereof) based on knowing when the registered letter was signed for. In any case, it's good to maintain a timeline of events -- who did what, when it was done, what was the followup, etc. Back it up with as much evidence as possible, preferably everything in writing and support by copies of anything posted on the web as mentioned earlier.

If the county still doesn't respond after a reasonable time to allow for a letter or other communication to reach you after they've worked through whatever process they do within their organization, then your next step probably is to go to the hosting service for a take-down.

One example of a detail to check out is whether a site like this has actually copied your image, or is just hotlinking to it. The web is all about linking, and it's more of a grey area if a site includes an image of yours by linking it from a site where you've posted it, into their own page. But I checked the HTML source of this county travel page, and what I see there for your image is a link to /uploads/image/waymart/keenlake.jpg. I.e. they've actually taken a copy of your Keen Lake image and uploaded it to their own server, which is where they in turn serve it back from. So yes, they've copied & reproduced the image (technically, as well as visually). You should screen-print or PDF a copy of the web page source code to support your claim, not just copy the visual look of the page itself which wouldn't reflect whether the image file was copied or hotlinked.

Have you read Carolyn's articles on this? If not, check them out since they provide lists of things to consider and/or to do.
http://www.naturescapes.net/articles/business/help-i-found-an-infringement-now-what-do-i-do/
http://www.naturescapes.net/articles/business/using-the-dmca-takedown-notice-to-battle-copyright-infringement/
http://www.naturescapes.net/articles/business/court-requires-that-you-consider-fair-use-before-sending-a-dmca-takedown-notice/

You can look up the visitwaynecounty.com domain and find out where it's hosted. That ISP in turn, once you look them up, should have a posted policy where you can learn where to send an infringement notice. From a quick check at a WHOIS service, it appears that visitwaynecounty.com is hosted by Go Daddy.

It looks like this site was designed by an outfit called Lock Data Technologies, at lockdata.com. It doesn't look like they're involved in hosting the site, but there is a person with a lockdata.com email address listed in the domain registry entry for visitwaynecounty.com. So that's another potential avenue of contact if you want to try one more attempt before going to a take-down notice with the ISP.
Royce Howland
Editorial Staff, NatureScapes.Net
Visit my web site for photo galleries, my blog and 2014 photo tours & workshops in Iceland, Cypress Hills & the Canadian Rockies!

by Ken Kovak on Thu Apr 04, 2013 12:35 pm
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Thanks Royce. Since it is a county government I'll give them a couple of more days to respond.

Ken
Ken Kovak - Lehigh Valley, PA
Ken's Naturescape Portfolio
Ken's Website

by Ken Kovak on Tue Apr 16, 2013 8:20 pm
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Location: Lehigh Valley, PA
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Just to finish the story, the county Commissioners apparently decided to ignore my certified letter.  So I sent a DMCA take down notice to GoDaddy and the site came down. It was back up in a few hours but with my image removed.

So I guess that is the end of the story.

Thanks for all the help.

Ken
Ken Kovak - Lehigh Valley, PA
Ken's Naturescape Portfolio
Ken's Website

by Royce Howland on Tue Apr 16, 2013 8:43 pm
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Pity it came to that, Ken. Who knows if they were deliberately ignoring your letter (hoping you'd just go away), or if they simply had no management capability to deal with the issue. But at least GoDaddy was responsive to your take-down notice...
Royce Howland
Editorial Staff, NatureScapes.Net
Visit my web site for photo galleries, my blog and 2014 photo tours & workshops in Iceland, Cypress Hills & the Canadian Rockies!

by DOglesby on Fri Apr 19, 2013 8:07 pm
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The blatant disregard of your letter warrants further action in my opinion.  But, that's easy for me to say considering I don't actually have to "do" the further action.  :-)

But, I would be seriously chaffed if they had blown off my letter.  As I was reading this post I was imagining some young clueless kid in their first job just ignorantly grabbing your picture.  The disregard of your letter is beyond unacceptable.  It indicates intentional, complete and utter disregard of your legal rights.  I would send them a bill and demand payment within X days and tell them unless they pay you will sue them in small claims court and send a letter to the editor of the local newspaper.  I'm all fired up over this!
Cheers,
Doug

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