Using other's photos for profit

bindersbee(6a UT)February 16, 2007

Now that I have your attention, I have a question about photos on the web. Unlike so many others, I have no desire to violate any copyright laws.

I am putting together my 'database' of plant materials that I frequently use or recommend as part of my design work. Basically, I will be giving my landscape plan customers a maintenance manual that has a page for each tree, shrub and perennial in their landscape. Each plant profile will tell them how to care for their new landscape, plant by plant, and will include optional maintenance information for maximum performance.

I'm gathering the information from a number of sources on the web and elsewhere as well as my own experience and photo files. I know that many plant producers offer free photo images to utlize in promoting their plants so for the newer hybrid type plants (like Endless Summer Hydrangea for example), I can download photos from their website so I'm good there.

If I find other photos I'd like to use, I am supposed to contact the owner of said photo (if I can find them) and seek permission- correct? What if it is a random photo with no contact source? Also, do I create a bibliography at the back that lists the sources of these photos etc. or do I give credit under the photo itself? I'd like to follow proper procedures here. Any help you can provide would be great. I will profit from the maintenance manual as I am paid for my work so I'd like to make sure I am not violating anyone else's right to profit from their work.

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PuraVida(Costa Rica)

I would stick to using your own photos.

When you use others ask for permission and credit the photographer. When it's a random photo, and you can not credit the source--don't use it.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2007 at 4:05PM
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rcnaylor(z7 Tex)

That is an interesting question. I've got a public photo album on Webshots that I haven't bothered to copyright or watermark photos on that Webshots says has been downloaded over 20,000 times. I have often wondered how many of those pics might have been put to uses beyond just being computer desktops, etc.

It would be nice to be acknowledged, I suppose, as you are trying to do.

FWIW, I say when folks like me make them public without trying to limit them, they are fair game for use. Personally, I would think folks that put them out there without taking any steps to limit their use shouldn't be able to complain. As the old saying goes, you can get sued anytime for anything. So, complete caution would be not to use them. But, I'd say that would be being way too cautious, and frankly, a waste of available resources.

I have no legal knowledge in that area though. Maybe some one who does will chime in.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2007 at 9:04AM
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sheryl_ontario(Muncho Lake, BC z2)

Any photo or artwork is automatically the property of the photographer or artist. You can't reproduce it without their permission for any reason. Unless its stock photography by a professional photographer, most people don't mind if you use their photos, but you do have to get that permission first and I'd print the email and keep it for proof.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2007 at 8:42PM
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Yes, the photographer always holds the copyright, unless he/she sells it.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 8:35AM
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juliaw(7b/Sunset 5 -- PNW)

While this has already been stated, I want to make it clear that if the owner of the image is a mystery and cannot therefore be contacted for permission, you cannot use the image. Period. Not knowing who to ask and taking it anyway is akin to seeing a baseball mitt on a park bench, noting that there are no people around to claim it, and then deciding it's yours. I know that images are different in that if you take one, the owner still has the original, but it's still wrong.

As far as giving credit, there isn't one correct way to do that. I would check a style manual for advice.

And rcnaylor, I don't mean to pick on you, but the 'when folks ... make them public without trying to limit them, they are fair game for use' idea is being battled left and right all over the internet by those who know the laws. What does 'without trying to limit them' mean? Copyright is implied; stating it is unnecessary -- though stating it appears to be a good idea considering the current climate. Some sites have user policies that basically state that if pictures are posted there, it's a free-for-all (a condition of use) but unless that's clearly stated, no one has a right to reproduce the images except the original owner (unless a release has been granted).

At the risk of being repetitive: Bindersbee, always ask permission, and if you can't find the owner to ask, find another image that you can ask permission for instead (as others have stated, above).

Here is a link that might be useful: more copyright info than you'll ever want

    Bookmark   April 12, 2007 at 11:59AM
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rcnaylor(z7 Tex)

Pick away. I often need it.

But, in this thread, I would say there are a couple of things that are involved. First, everything you guys say about the legality sounds like it rings true. Additionally, if that is the law, it should be. As an avid photographer, I hope that my efforts to create something of value remain my "property" until I knowingly and intentionally transfer my "ownership" rights.

But, while that is all nice and good, the practicalities of the internet are quite something else. The record companies are spending millions and millions fighting folks who copy material from the internet. They seem to be fighting a losing battle and are changing their sales models accordingly, like with Apple and the I-pod

I have had over 20,000 pictures downloaded off a webshots site I have. Not ONE person has asked permission to do so or given any "credit" to me for any use they may have chosen to put those to.

Unless webshots has some of the legalese you reference, folks aren't paying much real world attention to either the legalities you reference or the nicities proposed. Most probably just look at them, e-mail them around or use them as their desktop. But, out of that many, I'd be surprised if some weren't put to commercial use.

Its kind of a protect yourself kind of situation. If folks don't put watermarks, etc on the pics they post and don't take steps to prevent them from being easily copied and used, the pics are going to be used on a catch as catch can basis.

Is it right? Who knows. But, it sure looks like that is how it is about 99.9% of the time in this wild west of an internet we have going at the moment.

With a little luck maybe someone will come up with a computer tracking program and royalties will start pouring in from all those downloads. But, I'm not going to hold my breath. ;)

    Bookmark   April 12, 2007 at 2:59PM
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juliaw(7b/Sunset 5 -- PNW)

You're right, of course, about the norm. It's a shame, but that's how it is. I think my response was a tad strong because I so resent the "free-for-all" nature of internet imagery that I had a knee-jerk reaction to what sounded like advice to the original poster that "everyone does it, don't worry about it." I'm sure that's not what you intended. It's refreshing to see someone actually asking for advice in order to do the right thing and I wanted to make sure that he/she understood what's right as opposed to what's common. I figure one more person doing the right thing is ... well, one more person doing the right thing. None of us could make a difference in what the average internet citizan is likely to do, but it doesn't hurt to let the people who WILL listen know that there's a definite line between right and wrong.

I apologize if I seemed to have jumped on you. Not that it's a good excuse, but .. it's a sore subject. :-\ I'll get off your back now. ;-)

    Bookmark   April 13, 2007 at 2:37PM
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