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back to article Texan smut baron spanked over UK schoolgirl snap

A porn baron was served with an expensive reminder last week that the courts take a dim view of companies ripping off other people's creative work. A court in Tampa, Florida ruled against Texan pornographer Robert Burge and his company TVX, and gave almost $130,000 in damages to 21-year-old UK fashion photographer Lara Jade …

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WTF?

Curious

"Coton was therefore not amused to learn, shortly after" - exactly, how did she find this out ? Of all the DVD images, on all the sites on the internet, she found it ? What are the chances ?

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FAIL

Read the related material!

The photographer said: "I found the image at the age of seventeen when someone informed me on DeviantART it had been stolen. I had NO idea that my work was being used in this way."

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Well, if you'd read the page that was linked to in the article...

"I found the image at the age of seventeen when someone informed me on DeviantART it had been stolen."

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The global village is smaller than we think

If you click the link in the article the young lady explains (vaguely) how it came to her attention.

Suffice it to say, once you get more than a few dozen "friends" on facebook or LinkedIn connections, you really notice the effect of the combinatorial explosion that represents: Desmond in London knows Takeshi in Tokyo? I had no idea... When people find you in unsuspected places, they do let you know.

I'm pleasantly surprised to see a US court do the right thing for a change, you go girl!

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@Curious

Check the flickr link in the story (http://www.flickr.com/photos/larajade/5006186478/) and all will be explained...

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who cares?

your point is - what?

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Coat

Luckily I never pay for porn.

Handing money to these guys would be too much.

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Anonymous Coward

And that's a puzzling thing..

With the internet having effectively democratised the process of onanism, and the means of production, distribution and consumption of the desired media now being firmly in the hands of the consumer (that doesn't sound right.. never mind.. carry on), how is it that "porn barons" can continue to make money? Who exactly *is* paying for it? And why?

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Pint

Good on her!

If the image is on the net, the photographer -unless stated in the hosting TOS- retains copyright.

A pint for her sticking it to the man

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Linux

"You can’t just go and steal an image that doesn’t belong to you and use it for commercial gain "

Lovely penguin icon, yours for £29.99

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Linux

Re: Lovely penguin icon, yours for £29.99

Oooo. I've got a bunch of friends who use linux. I'll take 12.

<-- I see you gave me the first one free! Thanx

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Anonymous Coward

Unfortunately

Unfortunately this case rather proves that it's pretty pointless fighting copyright infringement of this sort. Who is going to consider it worth starting an international copyright infringement case when you're only likely to make about two and a half grand back? Against how much expense should you fail?

The headline figure here is for defamation, which is fair enough since anybody seeing that DVD cover would think it safe to assume that the girl pictured had a starring role. Most amateur photographers suing for copyright infringement would not be in the position where there was potential to make that sort of money for defamation.

It's not just the porn industry, but the "legitimate" media who are appropriating content in this way. Furthermore I've had to explain to people at work on several occasions that Flickr isn't clip art.

The big puzzle about this case however is what would happen if a 17 year old Brit decided to breach the copyright of a porn production company. As the law stands at the moment s/he could serve time for the "crime". OTOH if the company breaches the copyringt of the private individual then it costs them a few grand. Methinks the law needs to be rebalanced.

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Pint

Thumbs up

I think this case justice has been served, as best as can be done given the circumstances.

All too often we are critical about lawyers (some of them overtly evil ie Apple's lawyers and the word pod etc).

Sometimes, the justice system and some lawyers involved do get it right however and they remember perhaps the noble intent of the legal system, to right injustices and ensure the small fry have representation and recourse, and not just line the pockets of big evil corporations or acquiesce to the will of governments.

Here is a beer to those few. I salute you.

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Who's going to start a case for two and a half grand?

Ummm, anyone?

If you have a legal firm willing to work on a no-win-no-fee basis and they come to you and say they'll get you a few grand if they win at no cost to you but the odd letter and a bit of effort helping us get the case straight now and then...

I would, wouldn't you?

And in this case there were 130 grand awarded. I'm sure the lawyers will take a nice chunk of that, but I wouldn't be turning my nose up at half or even quarter of that figure.

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the case was taken on a contingency-fee basis

rtfa

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This post has been deleted by its author

Pfft, it was a default judgement

In other words, the smutmonger has decided not to play. This is generally the best response to the legal system, since if you play, everybody (except the lawyers) loses.

If the young... uh... lady in question ever sees one red cent out of this, let alone real currency, I'll eat my top hat.

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Stop

@ Rogerborg

What do you mean, "young... uh... lady"? You seem to be implying that she isn't a "young lady" for no good reason. That is quite offensive. What do have against her?

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Anonymous Coward

History of the image

Reading at the other end of the link, she was 14 when she took the picture.

TVX must count themselves lucky they didn't get pulled up for using a picture of a minor.

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only 14

You know, that was my thought when reading the story.

They used a photo of a 14 year old girl to promote a porn film, and no one in the legal team thought to bring that up?

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Yeah...

Didn't Nuts, Loaded or some other lads mag publish pictures of a busty 16 or 17 year old girl last year and no-one batted much of an eyelid? Now I know in both cases no nudity was shown. But in both cases the pictures aren't there for exactly wholesome reasons...

Like in this case, I would have thought that the last thing the guy would have had to worry about was copyright issues, as the public would have been at his door with pitch forks and torches after hearing one of his porn videos featured a 14 year old on the cover. Would have thought it would have been the top story on Fox News. But no, odd...

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Headmaster

Copyright ...

@"Coton had not registered the copyright of her picture in the US, which is a usual requirement for proceeding in respect of copyright in the US"

That isn't according to the WIPO i.e. (World Intellectual Property Organization). (The WIPO currently has 184 member states of which the US signed on March 6, 2002).

In response to the FAQ as follows, i.e. "Do you need to register to be protected?"

They respond as follows:

"Copyright itself does not depend on official procedures. A created work is considered protected by copyright as soon as it exists. According to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, literary and artistic works are protected without any formalities in the countries party to that Convention. Thus, WIPO does not offer any kind of copyright registration system."

http://www.wipo.int/copyright/en/faq/faqs.htm

Anyway, hope she does get the money, that company sound very unscrupulous.

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My understanding:

My understanding is that in the US, if you don't register your copyright, you can't get punitive damages, only compensatory damages, i.e. the amount they "should have" paid to use the art legally. That would be why the part of the judgment for the actual infringement was so low I guess.

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Boffin

Copyright registration

Under US law, if you haven't registered your copyright, you get whatever damages you can prove. If you have registered your copyright, you can ask for "statutory damages" instead, which can be huge. Statutory damages are usually in the range $750-$30,000 per work, but in exceptional cases can be as low as $200 or as high as $150,000.

This is why a company ripping off an individual's (unregistered) photo only has to pay $4,173.20, but filesharer downloading (registered) music tracks have to pay $9,250 per song ($54,000 total for 24 songs).

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True, but

§412 of the 1976 Copyright Act provides that statutory damages and attorney's fees cannot normally be claimed in respect of unregistered works. Perhaps this explains the very small amount granted as damages for the copyright infringement - this could be the total profit made by the company.

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Basically...

... it is just another example of how piss-poor US IP laws are. They protect the big companies, not the small person.

Actually, before someone else does it , I'll correct myself - "It is just another example of how piss-poor US laws are".*

* Yes, I know that the US is not the only one with such laws, but they do seem to do them with so much verve.

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FAIL

landscape

so, if I happen to have taken the same exact picture of the landscape used in Windows XP, what is my chance of getting a compensation?

they could have used a similar-looking model and same colour of curtains... copyright laws do not prevent other people from reaching the same result independently... it's not like someone have an exclusivity on taking pictures with a hat and curtains... unless you claim it was really Coton's picture, which the publisher clearly didn't care about...

let me explain: two different people can take a picture of the same car (same brand, same model) and both independently claim copyright on the results. the fact that it has to be registered in the country where the infringement happened is just an example of a clumsy judicial system... once it's on the Internet... how do you register it in all the countries where it is accessible from??

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FAIL

@Paolo Marini

Paolo,

Each camera adds extra info to the pictures you take. If the info in my image and in your image matches then one of us has a stolen image.

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Only applies to the original file

By the time you have colour corrected the image, cropped and rescaled it, placed it on a page with other graphics, then resaved the whole page as a halftoned bitmap in an entirely different format - where exactly is the extra info the camera added?

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An odd question

In that case, you may have essentially sampled/remixed the photo, so it's no longer provable that it has any provenance and possibly falls under fair use anyway, so you're off the hook. If it did come up, you could just supply your original - if it was even possible to take an exactly identical photo, which it really isn't. In the end, if you can't convince the judge with some evidence, you get screwed, even if you were right all along.

But in any case, why would you consider contorting your actions to such great lengths just to take a nearly identical picture? It sounds more like asking "how far do I have to go to hide the fact that I ripped off a photo" - you have to change it enough that it isn't recognizably the original anymore, in effect making it a new piece of work anyway.

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Linux

see pic here ..

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-475133/British-teenage-girl-sues-US-company-porn-film-photo.html

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Stop

not to mention....

Aside from the photo, her image ITSELF is in many jurisdictions copyrighted; a photographer cannot use an image of a person for a commercial work unless there is a release, or the image falls into the "educational or editorial" category. Neither applies here.

Defendant most definately screwed (and should be).

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Anonymous Coward

That's not "copyright", I think

It's true that in some jurisdictions you need permission to use someone's image in some cases. However, this isn't because of "copyright", as far as I know. Wikipedia calls it "personality right" or "right of publicity".

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FAIL

RE: Hi everyone

"Putting something on the public internet then crying when someone viewed/used it is certainly one of the more retarded things people do. It's not for them to unilaterally decide it's a place where photographers can post their shit and no one's allowed to steal it anymore than it is for me to decide it's a place for me to steal whatever the fuck I want."

That may be the most asinine argument ever posted in AnonymousCowarddom. In one paragraph you have displayed an amazing lack of knowledge of (or contempt for; I'm not certain) the concept of copyright.

Copyright says PRECISELY that you, as the creator of a work, have the total right to do whatever you want with it and no one else does unless YOU allow it. This was not "...them (...) unilaterally decid(ing) it's a place where photographers can post their shit and no one's allowed to steal it..."; it's actually an extension of established law that has been around since before you were born (Admittedly, saying that it's been around since before yesterday isn't saying much, but work with me, here).

The image wasn't "viewed", it was appropriated and used in a different medium. By your argument, if you were looking for work and posted a resume online for employers to find and someone else later on used it as their own to apply for a similar position with your company, causing them to sack you for fraud (stealing someone else's resume), the fault would be yours for posting it online.

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Sadly...

... the AC is sort of correct. The basis of copyright was essentially that it took a lot of time, effort, and probably expenditure to copy, say, a book or picture (however produced). Now it doesn't: anyone with a basic computer and printer can reproduce anything on the web in hardcopy.

What the AC is saying is, once you've put it (whatever it is) on the internet, you have lost a great deal of control over it. The consequences could be expensive and serious.

This is a problem for the law-makers, and for the internet in general - it is unlikely that the old laws can cope, but making new ones with sufficient teeth, which balance the rights of individuals with those of large companies (such as the music-company leeches) would reduce what the internet has come to stand for.

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Thumb Down

What a ridiculous argument

Of course a budding photographer wants people to see the images, that doesn't give anybody the right to use it without permission. Comparing that with giving out a name and password is I have to say the logic of someone with less than half a brain.

As for the morality (legality) of fronting a pornographic film with an image of a minor...well the company should be disbanded and those involved charged with whatever is appropriate.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Intractable Potsherd

The problem with the prior AC's line of thinking is that it doesn't take into account an important distinction of the issue here, and that's the "theft" (more appropriately described as an "unauthorized copy" in my book) by the porn company wasn't really the issue - it was that they reproduced it on their products.

For photographers, visual artists or image IP in general, the general rule of thumb is that once you put an image out there, well, it's out there. If you're worried about people borrowing you limit the resolution, maybe watermark it, and document T&Cs on your site (FlickR allows you to specify the license type for your image - the image in question is currently listed as "© All Rights Reserved"). That said, the only time anyone reasonably make a big deal about someone using their image is if: 1.) if they find out about it *and* 2.) it's being used for commercial purposes. That's a reality that anyone posting content to the internet *should* be aware of that reality.

Anyone running a business *should* also know better than to use an unlicensed image (either direct licensed from the owner or through a stock photography service)... just the same way that you wouldn't use their a person's likeness in a commercial without a release. Making an unauthorized copy of an image is one thing, using it commercially is different.

In many was this practically works out the same way as the laws surrounding the use of someone's likeness. I find it interesting, and in many ways absolutely correct, that in the form of defamation it was really the misappropriation of her likeness that scored the big bucks. For better or worse, if they had copied one of my lame-ass-landscapes and used it on their porn video I wouldn't expect a 6-figure-settlement from it... but if I ran across someone using it as their background I would think it's pretty cool (unless, of course, the sale of desktop images is my only source of income and my kids would starve without it... which is apparently how the movie and music industry view things).

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Anonymous Coward

watermark

put a watermark across your images, problem solved.

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Title

Fully agreed. A Watermark is a great way to ensure that your work is not used without your express consent. Some people feel it defaces their work to have some latent watermark partially obscuring the center (or important) part of their work, but unfortunately, it's practically a necessity. DeviantART is a great place to share images, and I've seen many use watermarks on their posted artwork. Perhaps Deviant, Flickr, et al should help protect their users by defaulting pictures to have watermarks (which can be changed via user setting).

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FAIL

Getting Permission

"if you’re going to steal images online then people WILL find out and they CAN sue you!"

One of the problems is that image hosting sites like Flickr make it extremely difficult to contact the photographer to get permission. At the very least you have to open an account, log in and use their messaging service.

Recently I wanted to use a photo on Flickr, and there was a link to request a licence from Getty Images. I clicked the link only to be told that the Getty Images site didn't support my browser and I couldn't get any further. Well if that's their attitude ... It's easier to obtain forgiveness than permission, and I'm not exploiting the image for commercial purposes.

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FAIL

You call this "difficult"?

"At the very least you have to open an account, log in and use their messaging service."

huh?

"I clicked the link only to be told that the Getty Images site didn't support my browser and I couldn't get any further." Annoying, yes, but hey, justification for theft? No.

And once upon a time we had to, err... type letters and send them in the post, and really, really, *hard* stuff like that.

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Bronze badge

i remeber that shit

I hate posting letters :(

had to do it the other day to send somebody a copy of windows.

Took me 3 days to get round to doing it !!

Bah

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FAIL

Commercial purposes?

If your not using the image for commercial purposes, then why didn't you just set up an account, and send the photographer a message? Would almost certainly been cheaper than getting a Getty license, and you wouldn't be infringing on the photographer's copyright rights. I've got a couple of photos of athletes on Flickr who wanted to use them for their own use. They wrote to me, and I said "Sure! In fact, give me an e-mail address and I'll send you a higher resolution image. And come to think of it, I've got a couple more of you if you want them". (Naturally, with the added proviso that I still retain full copyright on my images, and I'm granting them a specific license for their own use)

The fact that you're not exploiting it for commercial purposes is utterly irrelevant: if the image is copyright, and is not specifically licensed for non-commercial uses, your use is still infringing.

(Fail because, seriously, you couldn't even be bothered to send the photographer a message, or let them know you liked their image?!)

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Anonymous Coward

That's funny

As it seems Getty Images believe it's easier litigate than accept letters/emails.

Usually around £1500 per violation. And then don't knuckle wrap. They are ruthless.

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Bronze badge

Lara Jade?

They're lucky they didn't get a lightsaber up the arse.

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Boffin

er...

I think you'll find that's Mara Jade.. at best I guess Lara Jade might be a cross between Lara Croft and Mara Jade. Hmm interesting intersection of personalities...

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Happy

Perhaps you mean...

Mara?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mara_jade

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