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Author: Amphian Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 21960  
Subject: Image Theft Questions Date: 3/4/2004 6:42 PM
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I need some advice from someone with experience with copyrights.

I used to use a certain place online (Company X) that lets you upload your images, have them printed on merchandise, and then sell the merchandise. One of the other people who sells merchandise there took a photo of her dog and put it on merchandise on her store. She later discovered another store at Company X had a copy of her image (after running it through a couple Photoshop filters). When she complained to the owner of the other store, they claimed that Company X had set up their store and had given them the image.

Company X agrees with this. They claim they bought the image from a stock photo place, but won't name the stock photo place. At least that was their initial story on a thread they have since pulled from their boards. Now it's changed to "a stock photo combined with a line drawing" and anyone who questions what is going on is part of "a witch hunt" by people who "don't understand that it is legal for both of us to use the same stock photo". It's unquestionably the same photo of the same dog, and she has never sold it or uploaded it to any other website, so Company X appears to be trying to be trying to deliberately confuse the issue.

1. How long can they withhold the name of the place where they bought it?
2. If they did steal it themselves and give it to another customer of theirs, what are her options?

Amphian
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Author: Azotic Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4328 of 21960
Subject: Re: Image Theft Questions Date: 3/4/2004 6:52 PM
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1. How long can they withhold the name of the place where they bought it?

Well, if she sues them, it will be possible to question them under oath about it, but they might still lie. Sounds like the lie would be pretty obvious though.

2. If they did steal it themselves and give it to another customer of theirs, what are her options?

Her sole option is to file a copyright registration and then either threaten or file a lawsuit. An attorney can help with this.

-- Mark


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Author: UncleLee Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4329 of 21960
Subject: Re: Image Theft Questions Date: 3/4/2004 8:06 PM
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If they did steal it themselves and give it to another customer of theirs, what are her options?

---------

She'll need to visit the Bada Bing Board and hire a couple of their knuckledraggers to break the kneecaps of the offending party.



UncleLee, Esq.

P.S. I'm not an attorney, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last year.




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Author: Amphian Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4331 of 21960
Subject: Re: Image Theft Questions Date: 3/4/2004 10:04 PM
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Well, if she sues them, it will be possible to question them under oath about it, but they might still lie. Sounds like the lie would be pretty obvious though.

I would think so:

Company X: We got it from Company Y.
Company Y: We've never had that image. Here are our records.

Her sole option is to file a copyright registration and then either threaten or file a lawsuit. An attorney can help with this.

She consulted one, but he basically told her they would tie her up in court for years and that copyright law was mostly for "the big guys".

Amphian

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Author: Amphian Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4332 of 21960
Subject: Re: Image Theft Questions Date: 3/4/2004 10:05 PM
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She'll need to visit the Bada Bing Board and hire a couple of their knuckledraggers to break the kneecaps of the offending party.

They can still steal images without kneecaps. Maybe another body part? :-)

Amphian


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Author: Bonhoeffer Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4334 of 21960
Subject: Re: Image Theft Questions Date: 3/5/2004 2:16 PM
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She consulted one, but he basically told her they would tie her up in court for years and that copyright law was mostly for "the big guys".

That being the case, it sounds like the most effective course of action is for her to cease using the services of the offending company, and communicate her experience to anyone else she knows who uses their services, warning them of the danger of image theft, and just generally cause a ruckus in an attempt to lose the company customers. Of course, letting the company know exactly what she is doing and why.

"Hit where it hurts... silver and gold."

Bon

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Author: PoodleLover Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4335 of 21960
Subject: Re: Image Theft Questions Date: 3/5/2004 2:28 PM
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That being the case, it sounds like the most effective course of action is for her to cease using the services of the offending company, and communicate her experience to anyone else she knows who uses their services, warning them of the danger of image theft, and just generally cause a ruckus in an attempt to lose the company customers. Of course, letting the company know exactly what she is doing and why.
Word of mouth is a very powerful tool. Some business' don't factor this into the "cost of doing business"...

Seymore...
<<www.knowsaboutWOM.pl>>








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Author: Amphian Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4336 of 21960
Subject: Re: Image Theft Questions Date: 3/5/2004 2:53 PM
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That being the case, it sounds like the most effective course of action is for her to cease using the services of the offending company, and communicate her experience to anyone else she knows who uses their services, warning them of the danger of image theft, and just generally cause a ruckus in an attempt to lose the company customers. Of course, letting the company know exactly what she is doing and why.

That is pretty much her plan right now. She is giving them until today to give her more information, and she has started a message board on her site out of fear they will completely pull the threads on the company board. I will definitely post the company name here and elsewhere if they don't do the right thing.

Word of mouth is a very powerful tool. Some business' don't factor this into the "cost of doing business"...

This one doesn't generally respond in any reasonable time frame to anything short of "Company X Sucks" websites, which have been known to motivate them. Since they are prepping for an IPO (and it shows in how the quality of the products has absolutely tanked), you would think they would be all over this.

Amphian


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Author: TheBMann Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4337 of 21960
Subject: Re: Image Theft Questions Date: 3/5/2004 7:19 PM
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She consulted one, but he basically told her they would tie her up in court for years and that copyright law was mostly for "the big guys".

Amphian


While that may be true, she needs to find a new attorney.

One that knows his ass from a hole in the ground.

Other than that... I would suggest marking ALL photographs with a "© 2004 B*Mann" or whatever artistic name she uses. Whether or not it's copyrighted, this will be a big deterrent. Sure, they can still steal it and erase the copyright but it's a lot more difficult and will dissuade all but the most determined thieves.

Seriously... she needs a new attorney.

B*Mann

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Author: Azotic Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4338 of 21960
Subject: Re: Image Theft Questions Date: 3/5/2004 7:39 PM
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She consulted one, but he basically told her they would tie her up in court for years and that copyright law was mostly for "the big guys".

In most jurisdictions she could sue them in small-claims court, if not for copyright violation at least for breach of contract. She might even win by default if she's able to sue in her jurisdiction and not theirs.

Suing in small-claims court is usually very cheap because in most states parties aren't permitted to be represented by an attorney in court (though they can talk to one before the hearing.)

Other than that... I would suggest marking ALL photographs with a "� 2004 B*Mann" or whatever artistic name she uses. Whether or not it's copyrighted, this will be a big deterrent.

All images are copyrighted, from creation, and you do not have to register the copyright to mark the image as copyrighted.

Marking the image as copyrighted no longer confers any particular legal benefit, though.

-- Mark

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Author: coldfool Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4339 of 21960
Subject: Re: Image Theft Questions Date: 3/5/2004 7:51 PM
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All images are copyrighted, from creation, and you do not have to register the copyright to mark the image as copyrighted.

However, it is definately a plus if & when matters go to court.

~cold



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Author: Amphian Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4340 of 21960
Subject: Re: Image Theft Questions Date: 3/5/2004 8:26 PM
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Other than that... I would suggest marking ALL photographs with a "© 2004 B*Mann" or whatever artistic name she uses. Whether or not it's copyrighted, this will be a big deterrent. Sure, they can still steal it and erase the copyright but it's a lot more difficult and will dissuade all but the most determined thieves.

That's what I do with mine, but they erased the background on this photo, so it would have had to have been across the main part of the image.

She is still being fed a bunch of BS about it not being the same image. I've asked her to make up a web page with the story from beginning to end and her evidence, and then I plan on posting and emailing the URL everywhere. This has gone on way too long already, and they are trying to pass off a badly photoshopped version of her image which they created on March 3rd as "an image we have had for years that we used as one of two images to create a image that just happens to look EXACTLY like your photograph."

Amphian


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Author: Azotic Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4341 of 21960
Subject: Re: Image Theft Questions Date: 3/5/2004 9:01 PM
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However, it is definately a plus if & when matters go to court.

If you mean registration, I agree. If you mean marking the image as copyrighted, well, I'm not so sure. After all, such a mark could be altered or removed.

-- Mark


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Author: JeanDavid Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4342 of 21960
Subject: Re: Image Theft Questions Date: 3/5/2004 9:13 PM
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Seriously... she needs a new attorney.

True. But unless the copyright laws have changed again, she would have been way better off to register the copyright at the copyright office before the work was stolen.

Copyright comes into force as soon as the image is made, but your chances of collecting damages increases a lot if the copyright is registered and not merely asserted after infringement has occurred.

P.S.: I am not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV.

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Author: grue22 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4343 of 21960
Subject: Re: Image Theft Questions Date: 3/5/2004 10:42 PM
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She is still being fed a bunch of BS about it not being the same image. I've asked her to make up a web page with the story from beginning to end and her evidence, and then I plan on posting and emailing the URL everywhere.


There are normally details present in the image that would show that it's the same image and not another taken of the same subject by another photographer. For example, cloud patterns always change, shadows will be slightly different due to time-of-day and seasonal changes, etc. For them to defend their claim in court, they'd have to show enough differences in detail to convince a judge. Your friend would have to show that there are no diffences in these details. At least that's how it should work.

Grue

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Author: Amphian Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4344 of 21960
Subject: Re: Image Theft Questions Date: 3/5/2004 10:47 PM
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Well the latest from CafePress is "Oops, we didn't really look at the images until today, and they are the same. We don't know what happened, but we are concerned and spoke to the employee who made it. We hope to resolve this by Monday."

Three days ago, I would have been perfectly content with that answer. Am I just being paranoid that they have been generally uncommunicative, sent my friend several emails with faked images, and didn't do anything until she pointed out that the EXIF info in the fakes gave her all the evidence she needed and until some of us threatened to plaster this all over the Net? I don't know, but I don't trust them anymore, and I pulled all my images with them.

Amphian


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Author: Amphian Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4345 of 21960
Subject: Re: Image Theft Questions Date: 3/5/2004 10:50 PM
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There are normally details present in the image that would show that it's the same image and not another taken of the same subject by another photographer. For example, cloud patterns always change, shadows will be slightly different due to time-of-day and seasonal changes, etc. For them to defend their claim in court, they'd have to show enough differences in detail to convince a judge. Your friend would have to show that there are no diffences in these details. At least that's how it should work.

It's even easier than that in this case. The subject is her dog, and it's one of those breeds (Boxer) with unique complex ear folds, markings, etc.

Amphian

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Author: grue22 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4346 of 21960
Subject: Re: Image Theft Questions Date: 3/5/2004 10:52 PM
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Three days ago, I would have been perfectly content with that answer. Am I just being paranoid that they have been generally uncommunicative, sent my friend several emails with faked images, and didn't do anything until she pointed out that the EXIF info in the fakes gave her all the evidence she needed and until some of us threatened to plaster this all over the Net? I don't know, but I don't trust them anymore, and I pulled all my images with them.


I cannot believe that they are too stupid to change the EXIF information on the stolen images! Not only are they thieves, they're not even any good at it!

My personal opinion is "If you don't trust them, don't use them."

There are too many things in life that we can't change to put up with worrying about one that we can change.

Grue

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Author: grue22 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4347 of 21960
Subject: Re: Image Theft Questions Date: 3/5/2004 10:54 PM
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It's even easier than that in this case. The subject is her dog, and it's one of those breeds (Boxer) with unique complex ear folds, markings, etc.


Yup, looks like a slam dunk to me, especially with the EXIF info.

I think you're right, stay away from them.

Grue

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Author: coldfool Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4351 of 21960
Subject: Re: Image Theft Questions Date: 3/6/2004 2:01 AM
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If you mean registration, I agree.

I did indeed mean registration. It would have helped more had the item already been registered at the time of the original dispute, however, it is not too late to do so.

~cold

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Author: PoorMelissa Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4352 of 21960
Subject: Re: Image Theft Questions Date: 3/6/2004 1:26 PM
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I've not read through the complete thread, so forgive me if I'm repeating an answer already left here.

Many of these online storage places have clauses--loopholes--that allow them to have rights over your photos. Be careful when you read their terms. Although most of them explicity say that you are the owner of the copyrighted material and that you are to report copyright infringments, they also have a sentence or two that allows them to do almost anything with your photos. See Snapfish below:

"In order for us to make your photos available to you and your invitees, as well as to use images to offer you our special variety of online services, we need the rights to make use of all Content on the Service (in accordance with and subject to these Terms, of course). Accordingly, as a condition to your Membership, you hereby grant Snapfish a perpetual, universal, nonexclusive right to copy, display, modify, transmit, make derivative works of and distribute any Content transmitted or provided to the Service by you, solely for the purpose of providing the Service."

Melissa

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Author: Azotic Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4360 of 21960
Subject: Re: Image Theft Questions Date: 3/7/2004 5:14 AM
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It would have helped more had the item already been registered at the time of the original dispute, however, it is not too late to do so.

The copyright can be registered at any time, and confers all of the legal benefits even if it is registered after the dispute, including the rebuttable presumption of ownership of copyright.

The only place where waiting will screw you up is if someone else both copies the image AND registers the copyright first, in which case you'll have to prove ownership.

-- Mark

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Author: Azotic Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4361 of 21960
Subject: Re: Image Theft Questions Date: 3/7/2004 5:15 AM
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solely for the purpose of providing the Service.

This language would not permit them to use your images in advertising, or to license your images to third parties.

-- Mark


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Author: JeanDavid Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4368 of 21960
Subject: Re: Image Theft Questions Date: 3/8/2004 5:55 AM
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The copyright can be registered at any time, and confers all of the legal benefits even if it is registered after the dispute, including the rebuttable presumption of ownership of copyright.

I no longer have the copyright act in front of me, but I read the whole section on photographs and other flat art works when it first came out. IIRC, you do lose part of your ability to collect from suits for infringement if you do not register the copyright before the offense occurs. I think it has to do with the amount you can collect from the violations.

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Author: Azotic Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4372 of 21960
Subject: Re: Image Theft Questions Date: 3/8/2004 2:23 PM
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I no longer have the copyright act in front of me, but I read the whole section on photographs and other flat art works when it first came out. IIRC, you do lose part of your ability to collect from suits for infringement if you do not register the copyright before the offense occurs. I think it has to do with the amount you can collect from the violations.

OK, I re-read Title 17 and you are right, to some extent:

* You can register copyright anytime up until five years after creation of the work.

* Infringement prior to registration is not eligible for statutory damages (capped at $30,000-$150,000 depending on the facts) or attorney's fees unless the registration was filed within three months of creating the work, in which case it doesn't matter.

* Any registration, even after the infringement, is sufficient to sue for and collect actual damages, with no cap. (This is what had stuck in my mind before.)

* Registration is required before bringing suit for infringement.

Here's the text of Title 17:

http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/

-- Mark



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Author: coldfool Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4374 of 21960
Subject: Re: Image Theft Questions Date: 3/8/2004 7:41 PM
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I no longer have the copyright act in front of me, but I read the whole section on photographs and other flat art works when it first came out. IIRC, you do lose part of your ability to collect from suits for infringement if you do not register the copyright before the offense occurs. I think it has to do with the amount you can collect from the violations.

This is what I was thinking also. I meant to pull up the document this weekend, but was to involved in the 'war of the weeds'.

I'll look later this evening.

~cold


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Author: coldfool Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4375 of 21960
Subject: Re: Image Theft Questions Date: 3/8/2004 7:42 PM
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* Infringement prior to registration is not eligible for statutory damages (capped at $30,000-$150,000 depending on the facts) or attorney's fees unless the registration was filed within three months of creating the work, in which case it doesn't matter.

That's the part I was thinking of, thanks Mark.

~cold


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Author: ToesOnTheNose Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4378 of 21960
Subject: Re: Image Theft Questions Date: 3/10/2004 2:42 PM
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I have never been confronted with this issue, but I understand a little about it.

The cost of getting to the truth, which may or may never occur, may cost more than it's worth.

On the other hand, if it's a matter of principle, and she is willing to fork out $40,000 or more, it may well be worth fighting for.

A cheap solution could be to have an attorney send a letter and threaten, gently.

An even cheaper solution woud be for her to send a letter, on a fake attorney letterhead, user lawyerly-like language, and see what happens.

There really isn't much that can be done. But, she should continue to push. THe pushing may may them think twice about doing it again.

Toes

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Author: rigoletto39 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4387 of 21960
Subject: Re: Image Theft Questions Date: 3/11/2004 7:43 PM
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Many of these online storage places have clauses--loopholes--that allow them to have rights over your photos.

When you sell a photo, mkae sure you spell out what rights you're selling. There's "one-time use" all the way down to "OK, it's yours now".

A friend of mine has a stock photo agency, and he deals with that sort of stuff all the time. He sells a lot to textbook publishers.

Sounds like Snapfish is not the company anybody outside the "family photo" market wants to deal with.

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