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6889Re: [BirdingCalifornia] Photo copyright infringement

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  • Jim Greaves
    Dec 1, 2007
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      My understanding of copyright law is that "use" without permission may occur as long as
      full credit is given to the copyright owner, AND as long as the use is not for profit, OR is
      for purely educational or illustrative purposes, AND no money exchanges hands (I suppose
      cost of making multiple copies for class handouts can be re-couped, and usually are in the
      form of lab fees). If I am wrong, then most of our college and many high school teachers
      should immediately be prosecuted every time they photo copy something to hand to their
      students! Probably a lawyer might better answer this, since I'm basing my understanding/
      knowledge on what I learned 30+ years ago in a First Amendment Law class... It is
      however obviously common courtesy to ask permission! Hopefully for all us
      photographers' sakes that will be done in future, but I don't hold out much hope that
      everyone will abide by that, or that they even agree with it. There are many I have met who
      think no one should "own" anything! That last aside notwithstanding, we would all love to
      be paid for our works, and ALWAYS want credit that is due, but often by sharing the way
      we do on these and other sites we give the impression we are either rich or fools, or both,
      or don't value our own efforts and work. I've had several photos similarly used in the past,
      and in one case simply solved it by sending an invoice and notice that I never gave the
      newspaper permission for the "new" use -- I was paid promptly, without question. It would
      be harshly unfair to assume because someone posted a photo on line, it is now open to
      use anywhere. We do value our work, but this game of birding often results in trade-offs,
      or unintended consequences, as some of it is "bragging" rights perhaps, wherein we show
      the results we got so others will see either that the bird was real, or can see what a beauty
      it is when seen -- and many of us (I too) "copy" the image to a folder for later "use", which
      is usually just to inspect it further for details that guides or descriptions may not show us.
      And, that is why I always attach a copyright or other notice on the photo -- so there is no
      question that it is MY photo and is therefore not subject to use without permission, other
      than that personal inspection later, offline (OR at least anyone with understanding of such
      credit notice on an image, ought to know what it means). Hope my 2 cents help -- Jim
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