back to article Top Euro court: No, you can't steal images from other websites (too bad a school had to be sued to confirm this little fact)

The European Court of Justice has determined that a website must get permission from the copyright owner of an image before it can use the picture itself – even if that photo or illustration is readily available elsewhere. That may seem like an obvious conclusion, however, the official advice delivered to the Euro court by its …

  1. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

    Prepare for...

    ...the deluge of comments saying how it's not really stealing because no-one has been deprived of it and we all should be able to download all the music images we want, for free, regardless of how much effort the original creator put in to making it.

    Leaving aside the specific case, I actually do agree with the principal, it shouldn't be OK to lift images for other uses just because we can, unless an image is explicitly provided as such. Seems harsh that it was some kids school project though.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Prepare for...

      Seems harsh that it was some kids school project though.

      True, but better to sue the school than sue the kid. Arguably the school should have had someone with the nous to say "maybe we should ping the owner of the photo & ask permission" (which, for a school project, I hope would have been freely given for no charge). Now it should be seen as an opportunity for some teaching about copyright law, which can't be a bad thing.

      1. Joe W

        Re: Prepare for...

        The school was "Verantworlicher im Sinne des Presserechts", I guess (roughly translated as: responsible in the sense of publishing laws). The named party has to make sure that whatever is put on the homepage is legal. Which in this case it was not. A simple password protection on the website would have made it possible for the kid to pass this on to their grandparents / uncles / whatever. As I understand what was written, this would have been enough to kick out the court case.

        (Another question would be if the kid would have even been allowed to enter into the license agreement with the copyright holder, which would depend on the kid's age....)

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Re: if the kid would have even been allowed to enter into the license agreement

          It is not the kid that needed to enter into a license agreement, but the school.

          It is blindingly obvious that an underage child would have no idea he was even supposed to ask. The school teacher, on the other hand, should have known better.

          And allegating that, because an image was available under license on one site means no new license was needed ? What brain-dead thinking is that ? Of course that argument got thrown out, even a child can understand that it's not because his buddy has something that he can have it too.

          It is indeed necessary to reeducate people about public use of copyrighted images. It's a problem we have today because before widely available internet and social media, it was not easy to reuse images. You'd be printing them in books, and your editor would bring your attention to the fact that you needed permission to reprint someone else's work.

          Nowadays you just right-click and save anything you like, and posting an image is as easy at it can be. And that is how it should be - for posting your own images. But you ask permission for posting someone else's images.

          1. Cuddles Silver badge

            Re: if the kid would have even been allowed to enter into the license agreement

            "It is indeed necessary to reeducate people about public use of copyrighted images."

            Which is kind of sad really, given how simple copyright is the vast majority of the time. Essentially - does it exist and is it possible for you to copy it? Then you need permission to actually do so. It only seems complicated because the cases that people hear about are the rare edge cases where there is actually some question of who has permission to do what. For some reason "Business pays license fee to use copyright image" isn't often considered interesting and important news.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: if the kid would have even been allowed to enter into the license agreement

              " It only seems complicated because the cases that people hear about are the rare edge cases"

              True. There are very few cases that wind up going to court. Copyright is usually very simple and a defendant's attorney will usually see their clients guilt or the insanity of spending the money to fight it and recommend settling the issue quickly. The cases that do go to court are generally those edge cases and times when the infringement is likely to lead to a massive award.

          2. Anonymous Cowboy

            Re: if the kid would have even been allowed to enter into the license agreement

            To me, the debate about a new audience is irrelevant. The image is a product that is owned. If someone wants to use that product, for whatever reason, they must seek permission from the owner.

            I teach in England and, although we do allow students to use images they have not sought permission to use, they always create “sources tables” that list all details of the image - where it was taken from (URL), time, date, ownership and copyright details, reason for inclusion in the project. They are also taught about copyright continuously using this method - if they did want to use images, they should seek images that have been identified as available for re-use (with evidence to prove this) and are taught what to look out for - Creative Commons licences etc. None of the students work will ever be made public with any copyrighted material included as neither the student, or the school, has permission to do so. However, that is my subject alone and I come across many educators (mainly outside computing and media) who are not fully aware of copyright restrictions. Education is the key but the educators unfortunately need educating first.

            1. anothercynic Silver badge

              Re: if the kid would have even been allowed to enter into the license agreement

              This is how you should do it in my opinion... Well done, Anonymous Cowboy. If you source and attribute it correctly, then there is a simple way to resolve things quicker (such as the school offering to licence the image if requested to do so by the original copyright holder).

          3. ancient-strider

            Re: if the kid would have even been allowed to enter into the license agreement

            Of course the photographer has the rights to the photo. Getting a particular shot for your own use can be expensive. We would be very upset to see any of our photos, in effect, stolen.

            My wife and I are world travellers. We take thousands of photos. We give travel talks. We only use our own photos. Our last trip to Japan cost £15000 -( we did upgrade for a 12 hour flight. )

            Out of all our photos we selected 150 for the talk. Do the math. Each photo used cost us £100.

            We also do a lot of charity photography and always say we will not claim copyright for any photo we have taken for them.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Prepare for...

          "Another question would be if the kid would have even been allowed to enter into the license agreement with the copyright holder, which would depend on the kid's age...."

          The kid's age would not be a factor. The agreement is not a contract but more akin to a sale. If I was asked by a kid if they could use an image of mine for a school report, I'd be more than happy to send them a £0 invoice with a simple license that let's them do so barring publication in a magazine outside of the school or resale of the photo(s).

          There are lots of Copyright issues that are technically an infringement, but slide under the radar in practice. You can put your favorite songs in the background of your home movies, but if you post those movies on a site such as YouTube with no password, it can be an issue. In today's digital age, Copyright law should be taught to students and teachers from an early age. It's so easy to copy things now and will only become easier as time goes by that people should know what sorts of copying can get them in loads of trouble.

      2. SVV Silver badge

        Re: Prepare for...

        "Arguably the school should have had someone with the nous to say "maybe we should ping the owner of the photo & ask permission"

        Well, I'm sure every school in the world will be able to afford to employ full time copyright compliance staff to hunt down and pay the copyright holders of every image on the web that every pupil uses in every one of their projects. After all, the government coffers are simply overflowing everywhere.

        BTW, Land North Rhein-Westphalia is a state, not a city.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Prepare for...

          Well, I'm sure every school in the world will be able to afford to employ full time copyright compliance staff to hunt down and pay the copyright holders of every image on the web that every pupil uses in every one of their projects.

          Don't be ridiculous. Just using it in a project within the school would come within "fair use" exceptions for teaching, as the court noted. The problem arose because it was then placed on the school's public website. Whoever administers that website should certainly have had the wit to ask where the picture came from, and if they weren't able to get an acceptable answer, or permission from the source, they shouldn't have re-published the image. You don't need to be a copyright compliance expert to work that out.

        2. John Lilburne Silver badge

          Re: Prepare for...

          "Well, I'm sure every school in the world will be able to afford ..."

          Its not that hard. If the attribution wasn't on the original site, they could have a) asked the site for contact data, b) looked at the DRM in the image, c) used tineye or something similar, d) got an alternative image from wikipedia commons, or searched flickr for a CC licensed one

          1. cynic56

            Re: Prepare for...

            Please tell me you are joking.

            1. John Lilburne Silver badge

              Not a joke

              Finding out the photographer of an image that was taken in recent time isn't hard. If the photog is a professional the contact data is bound to be in the EXIF. Otherwise locating other sites that use the image will almost certainly give you information wrt the photographer, you may even find the photogs website. Requesting a license isn't expensive it involves an email in most cases. If you can't get permission for the specific image, or the payment required is too much then there are almost certainly alternatives that are under a CC license.

        3. JLV Silver badge

          Re: Prepare for...

          >Well, I'm sure every school in the world will be able to afford to employ full time copyright compliance staff

          Oh, bullshit. If you need to go beyond teaching needs exemptions, it's not hard to find replacements.

          Google Image Search, License : Non commercial reuse, with modification.

          https://www.google.com/search?q=cordoba+spain&tbm=isch&source=lnt&tbs=sur:fm&sa=X

          If you don't like Google, you can probably use https://commons.wikimedia.org directly. Convenience is not an excuse to bypass others' rights.

          Given the school context, it would have been nice to know if the photographer originally started out suing or if he did so after a takedown request was ignored.

      3. Remy Redert

        Re: Prepare for...

        But the kid's project was fine. That IS covered by educational uses. The problem was the school then posting the project on their website and thus reproducing the image for uses that were not strictly for education.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Prepare for...

        "True, but better to sue the school than sue the kid"

        This is exactly why I get my kids to check the copyright licence of pictures they want to put in their school projects. *I* don''t want to be sued. I don't want *my child* to be sued. I don't want *my child's school* to be sued.

    2. Mr Dogshit
      Headmaster

      Re: Prepare for...

      You agree with the principal? The head of the college?

      1. herman Silver badge

        Re: Prepare for...

        Agreement in 'principal' - Well, you know, publick skool edumakashun, no child left behind and all that...

    3. Anonymous Cowerd
      FAIL

      Re: Prepare for...

      "the deluge of comments saying how it's not really stealing"

      It's not really stealing.

      It's really copyright infringement.

      1. deadlockvictim Silver badge

        Re: Prepare for...

        This all really depends on how one defines the acting stealing.

        For me, there are two core acts involved: the first is the act of taking something in the knowledge that you may not take it and the second is the act of depriving somebody of something without their consent.

        Can something be stolen if it doesn't belong to anyone? Do the Spanish steal Irish fish by shipping with massive factory ships in the open seas near Ireland? Both the Irish and Spanish fishermen have strong opinions on the matter.

        Can something be stolen if nobody is deprived of anything? The ability to use copyright to charge for fees is something. What about the reworking of an old song into a new song? Or the 3D printing of a part for a vintage car? There is also the old argument of copying — I wouldn't have bought it anyway so you (the parasitic music company) are not being deprived of it.

        On a final note, I wonder if the photographer got permission from the city of Cordoba to take the picture or did he feel he didn't need to ask, much like the German schoolchild? If not, did he steal from the City of Cordoba? After all, the city could have demanded €400 for the right to take the picture.

        1. cornetman

          Re: Prepare for...

          > This all really depends on how one defines the acting stealing.

          "Stealing" is usually defined very precisely in the law of the various countries that we care about.

          In the UK at least, IIRC, stealing is permanently depriving someone of the use of their property. So in that sense, copyright infringement is not stealing.

          The question has been done to death on these forums in the past. We all know why the copyright maximalists like to use the word stealing. It is to get an emotional response about something that we can all agree about. People who steal are arseholes. Copyright infringement is less clear cut in moral terms, particularly considering the inexcusable extensions of term that have been imposed in recent times.

          Speaking of which, aren't Disney due to extend the copyright on Steamboat Willie soon? What? Author's death plus 200 years should do it. Right?

          1. John Lilburne Silver badge

            That old legal 'stealing' chesnut

            Theft has many definitions that don't necessarily require 'permanently depriving someone of their property'. For example if I take a car from outside someone's house and drive it from Lincoln to Grantham and abandon it outside Grantham police station, there is no intent of "permanently depriving" the owner can always collect it from the cops. However, I could be arrested for Taking Without the Owner's Consent which is part of the UK theft act.

            https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1968/60/section/12

            1. BongoJoe

              Re: That old legal 'stealing' chesnut

              For example if I take a car from outside someone's house and drive it from Lincoln to Grantham and abandon it outside Grantham police station, there is no intent of "permanently depriving" the owner can always collect it from the cops.

              This is how the law against joy-riding started.

              They couldn't actually charge someone back in the black and white days of the 70s because of exactly what you said. So they then charged joy riders for stealing fuel.

              Then the joy-riders started to replace the fuel...

              This is why they changed the rules and then it was no longer permanently depriving people of.

              Sorry if this is a bit rambly but I am on the second demi-bottle of this rather wonderful single malt.

              1. John Lilburne Silver badge

                Re: That old legal 'stealing' chesnut

                You may have your dates a decade or so off. TWOC was part of section 12 of the 1968 Theft Act. There is case law going back to the mid 1960s.

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Prepare for...

            "Speaking of which, aren't Disney due to extend the copyright on Steamboat Willie soon? What? Author's death plus 200 years should do it. Right?"

            Which brings up a whole other can of worms on t'internet. Copyright is death of author + 70 years across the EU and death of author + 90 years in the USA. If I publish an out-of-copyright work on my .co.uk site which is, eg death of author + 75 years and a US resident visits my site, who's at fault, if anyone?

            1. BongoJoe

              Re: Prepare for...

              It's the publisher not the reader.

              So it depends on where the site is.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Prepare for...

                "It's the publisher not the reader.

                So it depends on where the site is."

                Good point, thanks. Now it just falls on all those Google and Facebook users to wonder where their publicly accessible files are stored.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Prepare for...

            Completely agree with cornetman, if creators want my support then they need to stop lying about infringement being criminal.

        2. John Lilburne Silver badge

          The City of Cordoba

          Didn't create the image with a specific viewpoint in mind, nor arrange for the specific weather/lighting to occur at the precise time that the photog was there, they didn't organize the post-processing of the image, and besides most of the objects in the image where created 100s of years ago.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The City of Cordoba

            > Didn't create the image with a specific viewpoint in mind.

            A viewpoint created by the original architect.

            > nor arrange for the specific weather/lighting to occur at the precise time that the photog was there

            that would be nature.

            > they didn't organize the post-processing of the image, and besides most of the objects in the image where created 100s of years ago.

            expired copyright? You sure the architect died over 70 years ago? Besides, the copyright probably belongs to the city, which is still alive!

        3. kain preacher Silver badge

          Re: Prepare for...

          "This all really depends on how one defines the acting stealing.

          For me, there are two core acts involved: the first is the act of taking something in the knowledge that you may not take it and the second is the act of depriving somebody of something without their consent."

          Definitions some times can be hard to nail down. In My country America, Theft is simple taking some thing that does not belong to you , hence copy right can be seen as theft but is prosecuted as counterfeiting if you deiced to make a commercial enterprise out of it .

    4. eesiginfo

      Re: Prepare for...

      "unless an image is explicitly provided as such"

      This area of international law is a minefield.

      Fix one area, step back ... and BOOM!

      I invested some time photographing my village; storing them on Flicker.

      I will have ticked a box, explicitly allowing these to be openly published (for everyone to benefit, if they so wished).

      However, some moron set up an an automated image grab of Flicker thumbnails, linked to his own site (hive - or something like that).

      It seems that he grabbed the entire database (using the flicker api apparently) - so he got millions of thumbnails.

      The thumbnails then proceeded to pollute the browser 'image search' system, in place of the originals.

      ... and clicking the thumbnail loads the hive site, not the original.

      All my work was wasted - the images were for the public, and all they get is a crappy thumbnail.

      Therefore, in this automated environment 'explicit authorisation' is a mess, because the full consequences cannot be foreseen.

      Even Flicker lost out, because instead of link-backs promoting their site, the images were promoting the morons site.

      Who's fault?

      Mine surely, for ticking a box.

      Flicker's for enabling the mass image grab.

      But ultimately ... how do you define 'explicit authorisation' when every image is a collection of easily manipulated numbers?

    5. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Prepare for...

      Accurate. Even if it is a child's project, this should teach children the valuable lesson of copyright law online.

    6. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Prepare for...

      Any competent web master should understand that unless a work is provably in public domain one had better check the copyright of the work. You may have to ask permission from the copyright holder but most would be thrilled to grant permission to you. And depending on the nature of your site they may waive any fees. If the work is released under Creative Commons, check to see if you are obeying the specific license. Basic sense about copyrights, check to make sure you have permission to post a copy.

      It should be noted that in many jurisdiction copyright is automatically granted to the creator once the work is 'fixed'. So there are very few works (e.g. photos) that are public domain in these countries. Thus downloading a cat video and sharing a cat video from Fraudbook would technically be copyright infringement.

    7. scrubber

      Re: Prepare for...

      "it's not really stealing because no-one has been deprived of it"

      Exactly, there is an actual definition of 'stealing and this doesn't fit. Doesn't mean it's not a different harm and hence crime.

      "and we all should be able to download all the music images we want, for free,"

      For personal use, sure. You want to commercialise it then every penny, and costs, and penalties, goes to the original creator.

      "regardless of how much effort the original creator put in to making it."

      That's somewhat irrelevant to the question of whether it's a crime, but might play into the compensation amount if it is deemed an offence.

      1. cornetman

        Re: Prepare for...

        > Doesn't mean it's not a different harm and hence crime.

        OK, so call it what it is, and that's copyright violation.

        By that argument, you could call fraud "grievous bodily harm".

        Both are crimes, and one is most certainly not the other.

        Trying to co-opt another crime for emotional effect is pathetic and dishonest.

    8. Schultz
      Go

      Re: Prepare for...

      The obligatory Copyright Class in High School, or make that Primary School, just to be safe. If the system can be simple enough to teach to kids in 1/2 hour (don't forget 'fair use' rules), I am all for it. If it takes a school year and the qualifier "always talk to the school lawyer before posting", then I think it's time to change the laws.

  2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
    Holmes

    New internet standard...

    I was thinking the same. How long before someone starts pointing the finger at the browsers or OS for allowing the infringment to take place woth such comparative ease? Or maybe it should be a new image standard that forces copyright to be embedded in the image as standard and unremoveable (or at least not easily removable) and for browsers/OS's/image software to respect the copyright automatically?

    Why should the onus be on a website to put countermeasures inplace? (Especiallly when they're so easy to circumvent with a little bit of knowledge) ?

    Though i can see it being a privacy nightmare on the flipside.

    No simple solution for this one. And that's before you consider differences in international law.

    1. Joe W

      Re: New internet standard...

      The onus is on the website (or rahter: the person who is responsible for the website) as the publisher. Simples. If I publish a picture or text or whatever in whichever medium I have to have the right to do so, either because it is my own work, or the rights are granted by the copyright holder through an individual agreement or through other means (pictures that are under the CC license for example).

    2. A K Stiles

      Re: New internet standard...

      Yay! - new standards!! Who doesn't love a new standard?!

      It does seem like the kind of information that could easily be embedded in any EXIF-like data. There'd be no need to remove it unless you were doing something nefarious, but there's no way I know to put an image on the internet and not have it readily 'stealable' by those with more than no knowledge.

      The browser could readily display the relevant copyright and licence data on an attempted save / copy of the image.

      There is also a lesson for the students (and frankly the school staff) regarding copyright and what is actually permitted use. Ignorance of the law is no excuse and all that - nor whether or not you agree with the law, sadly so in some cases!

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: New internet standard...

      They tried that back in the 90s, it was claimed that having a local, temporary cache of images broke copyright! That was, luckily, thrown out.

    4. Neil Lewis

      Re: New internet standard...

      No new standard is needed, just the ability to follow a very simple rule: anything you find on the internet is copyright protected unless specifically stated otherwise.

      1. strum Silver badge

        Re: New internet standard...

        >anything you find on the internet is copyright protected unless specifically stated otherwise.

        Just because the website claims its images are copyright-free, doesn't mean they really are. If there's a Creative Commons license, there'll be a link to the rules... which should be read and checked.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. Remy Redert

      Re: New internet standard...

      DRM has been tried in the past. It never works. If I can display the picture on my screen, I can copy it. If I can play your song over my speakers, I can copy it. If I can play your video on my screen, I can copy it.

      What can be done and should be made illegal to remove, is placing that information into the EXIF as is already done by many photographers. Unfortunately a lot of websites routinely strip that information and for average joe, that information is usually not readily available.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: New internet standard...

        "If I can play your song over my speakers, I can copy it."

        Are you saying you have the Audacity to copy songs as they play over your speakers?

        1. onefang Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: New internet standard...

          "Are you saying you have the Audacity to copy songs as they play over your speakers?"

          You should get a lot of FLAC for that comment, people might be jackd off. I know, my reply is so LAME, I should pull my sox up.

      2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: New internet standard...

        "Unfortunately a lot of websites routinely strip that information and for average joe, that information is usually not readily available."

        Given that we're only talking about a handful of bytes here, I can't see any legitimate reason for stripping EXIF copyright data. It is an evil practice. It makes it harder to trace the copyright owner, which makes it more likely that the owner won't be traced, which is just anti-social. To systematically cover your tracks in this way, for all images on your web-site, makes it look like you have something to hide. Perhaps one or two of them shouldn't be there, but which ones?

        Of course, for *other* bits of EXIF data the opposite reasoning applies: https://www.kaspersky.com/blog/exif-privacy/13356/. Fortunately, it wouldn't be hard to write a program that stripped out privacy-related data whilst preserving copyright-related data. Unfortunately, you then still have to persuade people to use it.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. John Lilburne Silver badge

          Re: New internet standard...

          "Given that we're only talking about a handful of bytes here, I can't see any legitimate reason for stripping EXIF copyright data. It is an evil practice."

          True. However, some people insert 100s of KB in the EXIF and IPTC data. Still one could strip most of the stuff and leave behind the copyright, author, photographer, and owner fields.

          Not only is it evil it is also a violation of DRM.

      3. Stork Bronze badge

        Re: New internet standard...

        The exif strippers include FB - talking about aiding and abetting...

        1. Is It Me

          Re: New internet standard...

          I am happy for Facebook to strip EXIF by default as most people will be uploading phone camera photos which include geo-data.

          Maybe they should have a list of EXIF attributes that are stripped by default and leave the others intact.

      4. John Lilburne Silver badge

        Re: New internet standard...

        "What can be done and should be made illegal to remove, is placing that information into the EXIF"

        It is already illegal it falls under the prohibition against the removal of digital rights information under the DRM and is separate from circumventing copy protection:

        https://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap12.html#1202

        Penalties for this in the US for registered works are $2,500 to $25,000 per infringement.

        Google was guilty of this, so is flickr, and of course wikipedia actively strips and clones out watermarks. It just needs someone with deep pockets to screw them over.

    6. John Lilburne Silver badge

      Re: New internet standard...

      "Why should the onus be on a website to put countermeasures inplace?"

      I agree it shouldn't. Suppose I license an images under a creative commons license the website is obliged to to add any technological measures to stop the copying. If a website can't employ tech measures to ensure it isn't misused by some one not adding attribution etc then what becomes of the legal bases of CC?

      Anyway we should be suing the W3C over the IMG tag.

  3. Joe W

    What's new?

    When I was in charge of a webserver (decade ago....) at a university, we also uploaded the lecture slides to it. And we had to make damned sure that there was some protection mechanism in place against access from non-enrolled students. Nothing elaborate at that time, but still.

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: What's new?

      Here is why so many lecture notes/slides are not available to the public (German situation, may well apply to other countries):

      You are allowed to use other content (think images and text fragments) to a greater degree than other types of publications. Therefore, however, you cannot make your stuff available to the general public (IF you are exercising the mentioned greater use of other content) . Unsurprisingly Unis lock access down by default.

  4. John G Imrie Silver badge

    What to do with the fine

    Considering the possible backlash, and the cost of the litigation if I was the artist involved I'd be donating the fine back to the school as a thanks for being involved in establishing my rights.

    1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: What to do with the fine

      Considering the possible backlash, and the cost of the litigation if I was the artist involved I'd be donating the fine back to the school as a thanks for being involved in establishing my rights.

      On the other hand, the artist has had to finance a law suit and subsequent appeals all the way to the ECJ. His opponent was backed by the more-or-less unlimited funds available to a German state. In return for assuming this massive risk he gets... €400.

    2. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: What to do with the fine

      "Considering the possible backlash, and the cost of the litigation if I was the artist involved I'd be donating the fine back to the school as a thanks for being involved in establishing my rights."

      The school could have said 'yes, obviously we are breaking the law, sorry'. But no, they were a bunch of dicks, and rather than say sorry they took it to court. Where they lost. ANd then lost again, and so on, until they were no longer able to lose any more.

      Hopefully the school gets fined enough to shut it down, and then he can donate the winnings to set up another school on the same site, rehire all the teachers except for the senior staff, and the people responsible get a genuine punishment.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hold up, if it was on the travel website with no indication of copyright either by watermark or signature then how exactly were the school to know of the copyright in the first place? I think that if your work is copyright then it is your responsibility to ensure that whoever you authorise to use it makes that clear or you add something to image indicating this. Take the BBC as an example, images have the source in the bottom right, EPA/Getty etc... I don't see why that is a problem.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Hold up, if it was on the travel website with no indication of copyright either by watermark or signature then how exactly were the school to know of the copyright in the first place?

      Legally it's very clear: you can't use an image unless you have explicit permission of the copyright holder. What other licence-holders do is usually down to the contract with the copyright holders.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Legally it's very clear: you can't use an image unless you have explicit permission of the copyright holder.

        Two words: Internet Archive

        Did the wayback machine broke copyright laws? By your logic, they did. There are reason why some places have a 'fair-use' term.

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      Copyright is automatic. If you don't know whether or not you have the "right to copy" (copyright) then you don't have it.

      It takes seconds for someone to crop off a copyright notice on an image and repost it, and you would be taking that to mean that the author allows and justifies that use by default and you can be held blameless for that? That's sadly not a sensible solution. Sure the guy who removed the notice is "in the wrong" but that doesn't mean that everyone who then touches that cropped image is blameless and able to use that image in perpetuity, for any purpose, for free. Try that argument with any stock library image and see how far it gets you in court, whether or not you knew it was a licensed image.

      It's like saying "Nobody had nailed this wallet down, so I thought I'd just help myself to everything inside".

      Like software, or books, or music, or anything else: if you do not have an explicit licence saying you are free to copy it, distribute it, use it, etc. then you aren't. That can be as simple as "Hey guys, this is freeware" up to a full EULA. But if it says nothing next to that download of "Photoshop CS FULL VERSION.torrent", it doesn't mean you're licensed to use it.

      Copyright is really easy. Unless you've been given it explicitly, you don't have it. Even if you're holding the original photo in your hand, you can't necessarily take a photo of it and use that as your desktop wallpaper.

      Of course you can "get away" with it for decades, there have been commercial games with stolen assets inside them. That doesn't mean that the law doesn't apply, just that it missed a particular instance. I'll give you a hint: XQuest 2 from the DOS days contains a sound file of Homer Simpson saying "Doh" when you hit a particular object. I guarantee you that it's not properly licensed. But nobody has noticed. If, however, that game was re-released today and became the Angry Birds at the top of Google Play, do you really think that Matt Groening's lawyers would just ignore it?

      P.S. I create games, and every single byte is licensed and accounted for - my code, library code, audio, visual and other assets, I can trace the history of every one back to a download location and licence file and/or saved emails from the author granting permission. It takes seconds to do, and saves you an awful lot of hassle.

      Hell, I licenced the avatar that I use on forums, because I came to use it everywhere as a tiny GIF many years ago and then found the origin and realised that you *cannot* download it anywhere else. So I paid a pittance for a personal, non-commercial licence.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        These days you can 'reverse image search', so if there's a specific image you absolutely must use (as opposed to this school project where presumably many photographs of the city would have served just as well) you have a sporting chance of finding the rights holder.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Some fair points but you are assuming there is a copyright. What if it doesn't come up on a reverse image search? What if you can't find the copyright holder? Are you supposed to just not use an image in case there is a copyright? Why not have a system in place where copyright holders can put their images somewhere where they can be searched by image and term? I think it unfair to put it on the person (in this case a school project taking it from a website with no indication of copyright) if they have searched and had been unable to find the copyright holder. I also find it distasteful that the photographer sued a school rather than asking for it to be removed because he owned the copyright but hey that's my opinion.

          1. big_D Silver badge

            What if you can't find the copyright holder? Are you supposed to just not use an image in case there is a copyright?

            Essentially, yes. That is the way copyright law has always worked, with "orphaned works" having its own section under law and treated slightly differently, but it is still covered.

            Just the Internet seems to ignore the law, because it isn't convinient or it takes time, while pressing Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V doesn't take any time at all.

            I think it unfair to put it on the person (in this case a school project taking it from a website with no indication of copyright) if they have searched and had been unable to find the copyright holder.

            In which case, they shouldn't have used it. It is that simple. Is there any doubt that you have obtained the rights to publish the image? Yes? Then you shouldn't use it.

            I also find it distasteful that the photographer sued a school rather than asking for it to be removed because he owned the copyright but hey that's my opinion.

            Who says he didn't ask? And the other point is, in many jurisdictions, under the law, if you are aware of an infraction to your trademark or copyright and you do nothing about it, you lose the trademark/ copyright on that work for all future uses. It isn't always a case of wanting to sue soemone, it is often a case of not having a choice, if you don't want to lose all your rights to it.

          2. katrinab Silver badge

            "Are you supposed to just not use an image in case there is a copyright?"

            Yes.

            There is a copyright, unless the image is really old and it has expired.

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              "Are you supposed to just not use an image in case there is a copyright?"

              Yes.

              It depends on 'use'. If you intend publishing the resulting work, either on a public website or in a print publication then unless you have the relevant permission you can't use it.

          3. imanidiot Silver badge

            Uhmmm, yes!

            AC:

            <blockquote:What if you can't find the copyright holder? Are you supposed to just not use an image in case there is a copyright?</blockquote>

            Yes! That is how the law works. If you can't find the copyright owner you can't use the work. So called Orphaned works are a massive hot potato in the digital rights world, but this is the basic premise. You CAN you an orphaned work, after you've made exhaustive (documented) searches for the copyright owner, but be prepared to pay compensation to any copyright owner that shows up.

            Why not have a system in place where copyright holders can put their images somewhere where they can be searched by image and term? I think it unfair to put it on the person (in this case a school project taking it from a website with no indication of copyright) if they have searched and had been unable to find the copyright holder.

            A system like that is also likely to allow large scale ripping of images and can lead to trolling and people claiming works that are NOT theirs as their own. It doesn't work and so far most artists/photographers have actively resisted such a system.

            I think it is unfair to put it on the content creator to have to put in a lot of effort to get protection for his work (Especially since the law already grants this protection to him, regardless of whether or not he puts in the effort to protect it or not). BTW, the school didn't bother searching for the copyright holder, they just published the picture without thinking about it. I find it distasteful of the school to do that. NOT sueing the school could also set a precedent. Previous cases have already sort of led to a de-facto standard where failure to pursue copyright in one case can lead to losing the claim in a different case. It would have been poor taste to sue the child. It's perfectly alright to sue the school. They should have known better!

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Fair enough then I see where you are all coming from and I suppose it makes sense. What about user generated content without copyright? How would you know which is which?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                What about user generated content without copyright?

                No such thing. The user who created it has the copyright simply because they created it. Only if they chose to explicitly put it in the public domain would there be no copyright (or rather, everyone would own the copyright).

              2. James O'Shea Silver badge

                user-generated content _has_ a copyright, automatically: the user who created it has the copyright. Except in cases such as when the user is an idiot and posts it on places like Farcebook, where evil fucking pirates like the Zuck say that _they_ have the copyright. It's still copyrighted.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  > the user who created it has the copyright

                  If only it were so simple.

                  There will be a copyright on the work, that much is clear.

                  But whether the creator and the owner are one and the same person, that is an entirely different story, and one that cannot be categorically answered without detailed knowledge of the circumstances in which the work was produced.

                  For example, I am both the author and the copyright holder of this comment (and I implicitly attribute certain rights, such as that of showing it to a certain public, to Situation Publishing Ltd, but that's again a different story).

                  However, when an employee at my company creates a document, they are the author but not the copyright holder: the company is, because under our local law it was a work for hire.

                  What is more, if I create a document at work, the company and not me owns the copyright, because even though as a stakeholder I own a chunk of the company, I do not own any of the company's assets.

                  And things get very weird very quickly from there, but the takeaway here is that "copyright holder" and "author" are two very different things.

                  1. Lee D Silver badge

                    Indeed:

                    From Reg's own T&C's:

                    "8.2 You retain all your ownership, copyright and other interests and rights in your comments but by posting any comments on our Website you grant us a non-exclusive irrevocable and royalty free worldwide licence to use, modify, alter, edit copy, reproduce, display, make compilations of and distribute such comments throughout our Website."

                    Literally, The Register has to make us agree to give them the right to copy our comments, or they wouldn't be able to show them to anyone else!

                    This text is as much subject to copyright as any work of art or fiction, whether or not I surround it with little funny symbols and warnings. All that's happened is that I've granted The Reg (and only The Reg) a right to use it. If you copied my comment to your Facebook, you broke copyright law. A technicality, maybe, but you MIGHT be able to argue "fair use" (but that's another issue entirely and works on the basis that because everything is copyright by default, fair use law carves out a tiny minor exception to allow people to take the piss out of what I say without getting sued).

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      I've always wanted to do this >:)

                      Indeed:

                      From Reg's own T&C's:

                      "8.2 You retain all your ownership, copyright and other interests and rights in your comments but by posting any comments on our Website you grant us a non-exclusive irrevocable and royalty free worldwide licence to use, modify, alter, edit copy, reproduce, display, make compilations of and distribute such comments throughout our Website."

                      Literally, The Register has to make us agree to give them the right to copy our comments, or they wouldn't be able to show them to anyone else!

                      This text is as much subject to copyright as any work of art or fiction, whether or not I surround it with little funny symbols and warnings. All that's happened is that I've granted The Reg (and only The Reg) a right to use it. If you copied my comment to your Facebook, you broke copyright law. A technicality, maybe, but you MIGHT be able to argue "fair use" (but that's another issue entirely and works on the basis that because everything is copyright by default, fair use law carves out a tiny minor exception to allow people to take the piss out of what I say without getting sued).

                  2. EN1R0PY

                    Fair use means fair use!

                    Seconded! Alot of overly aggressive answers here keep saying it's really simple... apart from all the exceptions! And if only the kid and their school had wasted time training in copyright law instead of actual lessons, even though they are exempt from it most of the time for good reason. Let's make a generation of lawyers who can't actually do anything but at least they know what they can't legally do!

                    If people where being really fair here then it was obviously ok for the kid to use it for educational purposes and then school just used it as an example piece on their website while committing the high crime of not checking with the lawyers before farting. Please tell me how that actually risks the copyright holder going hungry, regardless of his 'rights'? Excluding the obvious delusions of grandure about how much you all think that crappy app you once wrote might be worth one day.

                    Of course people have a right to protect their work and their income however a child, a school or some random guy downloading something for personal use does not constitute a risk. Someone making money from your work does, facebook etc certainly does and many content creators have to advertise their content on social media and thus risk their creations, let's focus on that instead of blaming a little kid and their school for all the evils in the world. Having to contest evertime or lose the copyright seems like the real problem here, not the child's or school's or photographer's actions.

                    Feel free to commence commenting in CAPS yelling 'brexit means brexit!'... oh wait 'copyright means copyright!'

                    1. Keith Langmead

                      Re: Fair use means fair use!

                      "If people where being really fair here then it was obviously ok for the kid to use it for educational purposes and then school just used it as an example piece on their website while committing the high crime of not checking with the lawyers before farting. Please tell me how that actually risks the copyright holder going hungry, regardless of his 'rights'?"

                      As several others have already pointed out, there is fair use for educational purposes, and had the child's work remained within the confines of the school there would have been no issue. The issue is the school deciding to publish a load of material to the internet without any restrictions and without considering what it was they were publishing or whether they had the right to do so.

                      The risk is in effectively losing your copyright if you discover someone is using it without permission and do nothing about it. So when big megacorp decides to just steal it rather than pay your licencing fee to use it there's a good chance you'll have a much harder time proving injury etc in court, and in some jurisdictions may lose the right entirely.

                    2. big_D Silver badge

                      Re: Fair use means fair use!

                      @ EN1R0PY

                      The problem isn't the child. His use would fall under fair use or educational exceptions in most countries. Giving it to his teacher for marking and presenting it for his class, for example, would have been fine.

                      The school was in the wrong, publishing it on their website without checking.

                      And it isn't about the owner going hungry or even "wanting" to sue the school. Under the law, as soon as he becomes aware of the breach of copyright, he has to take action, otherwise he loses all rights to the image.

                2. MachDiamond Silver badge

                  "user-generated content _has_ a copyright, automatically: the user who created it has the copyright. Except in cases such as when the user is an idiot and posts it on places like Farcebook, where evil fucking pirates like the Zuck say that _they_ have the copyright. It's still copyrighted."

                  FB has posters agree to render unto FB unlimited, but non-exclusive, rights to everything they upload. If they upload something that infringes upon somebody else's Copyright and that person sues FB, the person that posted the item has agreed to reimburse FB for all legal costs associated. The "Indemnification Clause". Further, FB can settle or litigate the complaint as they see fit with no prior notice and simply bill (or sue) the poster later.

                  Transferring a Copyright requires a specific written contract that conveys ownership of the Copyright of named property. It can't be a blanket agreement for non-employees and can't be a clause in a larger document. If you work for FB, everything you create while on the clock and sometimes off becomes the property of FB, but FB can't claim the Copyright of something just because it was posted to the site and some idiot clicke the "I agree" box. Of course, the unlimited rights thing is valid as church on Sunday and endows FB with the ability to do whatever they want with the content including selling it or giving it away. Caveat: images of people require a model release for many uses even if the Copyright of the photo belongs to somebody else. Models can't use an image they are in without permission and a photographer would have a hard time selling the image for commercial purposes without a proper release that covers the usage.

              3. DavCrav Silver badge

                "What about user generated content without copyright? How would you know which is which?"

                No such thing. For the umpteenth bloody time, and I'm going to use shouty caps now, ALL WORK IS AUTOMATICALLY COPYRIGHT. User-generated content is copyrighted, just like all other content. In fact, user-generated content isn't even a term, it's just content. The need for the long 'you give us everything' form on Facebook et al is precisely because this comment is copyrighted to me and I'm letting El Reg publish it. You can't copy it and use it on a different website without breaking the law.

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Are you supposed to just not use an image in case there is a copyright?

            There is no "in case". All created works have a copyright, and if you don't know who has the copyright then you certainly don't have it.

          5. Remy Redert

            If you can't find the copyright holder, you can't get permission. I agree that there should be some central copyright database to help people find copyright holders for content they found elsewhere and want to use, but the copyright conventions prohibit such a thing from being mandatory since Copyright is automatic, no registration is required for your work to be protected.

          6. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            > Are you supposed to just not use an image in case there is a copyright?

            Yes, exactly.

            > Why not have a system in place where copyright holders can put their images somewhere where they can be searched by image and term?

            Finding the copyright holder of a work is not the same as ascertaining the existence of copyright on a work.

            For the latter, if the work exists someone must have produced it, and if the work is recent enough you have to assume that copyright exists (there are a few technicalities which are not really relevant for your purposes). This in turn is not the same as ascertaining what rights, if any, you as a consumer might have in relation to that work.

            But honestly, you seem to be so ignorant of what copyright is that spending a few minutes educating yourself on the many websites and offline resources available for the purpose would be a much better use of your time than posting your opinionated and terribly misinformed comments here.

          7. Mike Moyle Silver badge

            "... taking it from a website with no indication of copyright)..."

            The bottom of every page, apparently, has a menu of notice pages, including for "Impressum/Datenschutz", or "Information / Privacy Policy". The fifth paragraph down has the copyright blurb and website contact information (quoted below, from Google Translate):

            "© The copyright for all texts, photos and the design lies with schwarzaufweiss or the authors. All rights reserved. Despite great care, we can not completely rule out mistakes in content. Therefore, all information is provided without obligation and guarantee by schwarzaufweiss or the respective author, who also assume no responsibility and liability for possible errors. Disclaimer: Despite careful control, we assume no liability for the content of external links. The content of the linked pages are the sole responsibility of their operators.

            "Internet travel magazine schwarzaufweiss GbR

            On the Schevemoorer Heide 13

            D-28325 Bremen

            Tel. 0421/74837

            E-Mail: webmaster@schwarzaufweiss.de

            Umsatzsteueridentifikationsnr. DE 219058189

            Authorized representative and responsible person according to § 5Tmg .: Helmuth Weiss

            Webdesign: Stephan Eigendorf & Helmuth Weiss"

            So, while they don't tell you who holds the copyright of a specific asset on the site, it tells you who your first contact to get that information should be.

            I found this in less than two minutes and ich sprech keine Deutsch.

          8. fruitoftheloon

            @ac

            Dear AC,

            I assume that you don't make your living by any creative arts?

            If so, how would you feel if I acquired the organisation you worked for, then insisted that you do 50% extra hours per week, but with no additional compensation?

            I assume that as the ' I think it's OK so i'm happy to steal the benefits an artist would get from their work' approach is fine by you, it cuts both ways..?

            Something to ponder eh?

            Jay.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @ac

              Dear Fruit,

              There are a number of AC posts in this thread. Would it be terribly inconvenient to give an indication as to which one of them motivates your reply?

              Thank you.

          9. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
            Holmes

            Are you supposed to just not use an image in case there is a copyright?

            That's the way it generally works, yes.

          10. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            "

            What if you can't find the copyright holder? Are you supposed to just not use an image in case there is a copyright?

            "

            Let's say I want to use a bicycle. I see a bicycle parked outside a shop, but I have no idea who owns it in order to ask them whether I might borrow their bike. Am I supposed to just not use the bike in case there is an owner who doesn't want to let me borrow it?

            1. cornetman

              See my other reply above.

              Using physical theft examples doesn't really work.

          11. BongoJoe

            What if it doesn't come up on a reverse image search?

            This is not relevant.

            What if you can't find the copyright holder?

            That is no excuse. If you can't/won't find the copyright holder then it's not you and thus you don't have the rights to publish it.

            Are you supposed to just not use an image in case there is a copyright?

            Correct. But in most cases it will be most likely there is a copyright rather than 'in case'.

          12. David Nash Silver badge

            Are you supposed to just not use an image in case there is a copyright?

            YES! exactly. Images are generally placed on websites to add something to the content of the website, not for freeloaders to use for their own benefit.

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      > I think that if your work is copyright then it is your responsibility to ensure that whoever you authorise to use it makes that clear or you add something to image indicating this.

      There are many end uses for images where it is undesirable - or impractical - to have a copyright notice. Not only images - imagine a music radio station or Spotify where every music track was followed by a voice stating "Copyright 1996 Polydor Music Inc Unauthorised Reproduction prohibited without explicit permission..." Or similar.

    4. big_D Silver badge

      The school should have contacted the website that hosted the original to ask for permission and they should have passed that request back to the photographer. The question is, whether they did any due dilligence at all?

      If the original site didn't have that information, that is another matter entirely.

    5. VinceH Silver badge

      "Hold up, if it was on the travel website with no indication of copyright either by watermark or signature then how exactly were the school to know of the copyright in the first place?"

      As well as everything Lee explained, there should be a fairly simple way to ascertain the status of the image: That website it's on? Look for contact details. Contact whoever owns or runs the site and ask.

      Had the pupil and/or teacher mentioned done this, they would probably have been told the image is subject to copyright and licensed for use on the site, and given the contact details of the photographer, so that they could ask for permission to use it in the project.

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        "What if you can't find the copyright holder? Are you supposed to just not use an image in case there is a copyright?"

        What if you can't find the owner of the handbag in the shopping center? Are you supposed to just not take the cash inside and spend it, in case someone happens to own it?

        If you don't have permission, you don't have permission.

        If you can't *GET* permission, then you still don't have permission.

        If you can't find the person, even when trying, or even know who the person is to get permission, then you DEFINITELY, CATEGORICALLY, don't have permission.

        And "orphaned works" laws exist, similar to how sometimes the police will let you keep lost property if you hand it in and nobody claims it. But it's not as simple as just deciding for yourself whether or not you tried hard enough to find the owner.

        In this case, it's a handbag which was found in a "travel agents", who knew who the owner of the handbag was because they'd had it placed there as a promotional item, but nobody bothered to ask them, or him, before taking the handbag for themselves and even then offering the contents of the handbag out to the general public.

        (Yes, let's not get into the whole "deprivation required for theft", I'm not claiming it's theft, I'm giving you an analogy, not a legal argument).

        The consequences of your interpretation of the law are dangerous. Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon is owned by Pink Floyd and/or their respective artists and agents, whether or not you know who drew the album art, but certainly irrespective of whether you could be bothered to phone up and find out who owned that art, or lyrics, or melody, or sheet music. You can't copy that music, no more than you can copy this guy's image, without their permission. That may be granted on an individual basis ("Hey, guys, can I copy this?"), implicit within a licence (i.e. you bought a licence for public performances or distribution which says you can make copies) or implied based on ordinary copyright law (i.e. just because you have a CD or a radio doesn't mean you can record it and put it on the Internet).

        The law really isn't that difficult to comprehend, nor the reasons for its existence, no matter how slightly inconvenient it may be to just ask "Hey, guys, can I do this?", and has been in place for hundreds of years.

        I can no more just assume that I can start handing out copies of the latest Terry Pratchett novel to people on street corners than I can pinch an image off Google Search and use it to do whatever I like.

        1. cornetman

          > In this case, it's a handbag which was found in a "travel agents", who knew who the owner of the handbag was because they'd had it placed there as a promotional item, but nobody bothered to ask them, or him, before taking the handbag for themselves and even then offering the contents of the handbag out to the general public.

          Well in all fairness it's more like someone saw the handbag, got out their quantum duplicator, made an exact copy and made off with their copy, leaving the original exactly where it was before.

          1. Chairo

            "Well in all fairness it's more like someone saw the handbag, got out their quantum duplicator, made an exact copy and made off with their copy, leaving the original exactly where it was before."

            There are so many personal items in a handbag, that you'd be in big trouble, anyway.

            Was there cash inside? Oops, you are looking for twenty years in the cooler.

            For some items you can't get a permission to copy them.

            1. cornetman

              > Was there cash inside? Oops, you are looking for twenty years in the cooler.

              Agreed.

              I wasn't trying to assert that the copying was moral or legal.

              Just that the example given didn't really work.

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        >Had the pupil and/or teacher mentioned done this

        The pupil had no reason to ascertain the status of the image, their use was purely educational.

        The issues only arise out of what the school did with the pupil's work, namely publish it on their public website, rather than on an internal/closed user group website, without undertaking a publishers review(*).

        (*) If the school had submitted the pupil's presentation to a traditional book/magazine publisher, the publisher would have ensured that all relevant permissions had been obtained prior to publication and that the published work contained image credits.

    6. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      how exactly were the school to know of the copyright in the first place?

      It's very simple. If you don't own the copyright, someone else does, so you don't use it without permission.

    7. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "how exactly were the school to know of the copyright in the first place?"

      That small thing called the Berne Convention. It's only been around for a hundred-and-something years.

    8. DavCrav Silver badge

      "I think that if your work is copyright then it is your responsibility to ensure that whoever you authorise to use it makes that clear or you add something to image indicating this."

      Well you think wrong, then. That's not how the law works. All creative works are automatically copyright unless the creator has explicitly stated that you can use it.

  6. Mr Dogshit

    "The European Court of Justice has determined that a website must get permission from the copyright owner of an image before it use the picture itself"

    Yeah DUH

    It's called copyright.

  7. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Boffin

    how exactly were the school to know of the copyright in the first place?

    I can see some sort of metadata being legally (or lawfully) required for images on t'net.

    Maybe webservers could be setup to automatically wrap a default set of details around every image download. And audio. And video ?????

    Yes, they could be stripped by the unscrupulous. But they could also trigger some sort of infobar in a browser, so you know the score ????

    1. Crisp Silver badge

      Re: how exactly were the school to know of the copyright in the first place?

      How exactly am I supposed to know this wallet I found on the floor actually belongs to anybody? Surely I should be allowed to keep it, rather than do the decent thing and turn it into the nearest police station.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Surely I should be allowed to keep it

        There is a law in Ireland:

        "Theft by finding".

        One is legally obliged to hand anything you find to the Garda.(Police). What happens next depends on what it is.

        Also in many countries you can't take items from a skip or bin without permission.

        Unless the Copyright has expired or the holder has explicitly labelled/given it as Public Domain, then it's copyright. CC, GNU, FreeBSD and Apache etc are all just copyright works using a specific licence text to vary the rights from the default. Any copyright holder can define custom rights, though a legally tested template is best.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Theft by finding".

          Also in England and Wales.

      2. Robert Baker

        "do the decent thing and turn it into the nearest police station"

        Truly an impressive feat of high level magic.

        Much more difficult than merely turning it in to a police station.

        1. Crisp Silver badge

          Re: "Truly an impressive feat of high level magic."

          I honestly thought that was what you ought to do!

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: how exactly were the school to know of the copyright in the first place?

      All images are copyright and you must obtain permission to use them. If you don't know who owns the copyright then you still can't use it. NB. differences in law here in some situations in some countries, eg. the "safe harbour" clause of the US DMCA which provides a workaround for sites like YouTube. Andrew Orlowski has argued that this effectively encourages abuse of copyright by Google, et al. But that doesn't apply here.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: how exactly were the school to know of the copyright in the first place?

        @Crisp

        No one can see you indicate your irony by winking when you use the written word on the internet. ;)

      2. Richard51

        Re: how exactly were the school to know of the copyright in the first place?

        Strange how it works for Goggle but not Kim Dotcom.

      3. Nifty

        Re: how exactly were the school to know of the copyright in the first place?

        "All images are copyright and you must obtain permission to use them. If you don't know who owns the copyright then you still can't use it."

        So where are we with incidental images?

        During news and documentaries on TV there are street posters, book covers in shop windows, street art, etc. These images feature as background on TV all the time. Does the TV station have to seek approval from the image or installation creator to shown them on TV incidentally?

        What if the the image is the main topic - something as banal as the side of the Brexit bus?

        https://www.google.com/search?q=brexit+bus&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: how exactly were the school to know of the copyright in the first place?

          These images feature as background on TV all the time. Does the TV station have to seek approval from the image or installation creator to shown them on TV incidentally?

          Didn't the FA try to use that to prevent foreign TV stations showing premiership matches live? They placed images around the edge of the pitch and argued that any TV station showing a match without permission was in breach of their copyright.

          1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

            Re: how exactly were the school to know of the copyright in the first place?

            Didn't the FA try to use that to prevent foreign TV stations showing premiership matches live?

            Possibly, though I think they actually won by claiming copyright on the music that was played…

        2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: how exactly were the school to know of the copyright in the first place?

          So where are we with incidental images?

          Technically derived works, because they are not purporting to be the original, and covered by fair use. Copyright law is well-defined and established so little need for whataboutery. As noted above DMCA did introduce loopholes but again not relevant here.

      4. hammarbtyp Silver badge

        Re: how exactly were the school to know of the copyright in the first place?

        All images are copyright and you must obtain permission to use them. If you don't know who owns the copyright then you still can't use it. NB. differences in law here in some situations in some countries, eg. the "safe harbour" clause of the US DMCA which provides a workaround for sites like YouTube. Andrew Orlowski has argued that this effectively encourages abuse of copyright by Google, et al. But that doesn't apply here.

        Unless copyright has lapsed, the author has rescinded their copyright rights, plus a number of other legal complexities.

        Copyright law is simple. However implementation is a minefield and unless you are a copyright lawyer you will come a cropper.

        Lets face it copyright law was designed to protect physical items such as books, which at the time required conscious effort to copy (set up printing press etc). It has never scaled well to the internet where data can be easily obtained and copied.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Fascinating ...

      Because that's exactly what a lawyer in our company just said - almost word for word. Although she did caveat it by noting that technical solutions to legal problems are rarely elegant.

  8. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
    Facepalm

    That argument...

    that once a thing appears online it is public domain has been tried several times and was shot down by court in each instance. I am quite puzzled the school's lawyer tried it.

    "It going to be messy, ...": I don't think so. When I put anything on my web site I make sure I have the right to do so. If some of those content gathering sites get problems, no tears from my side.

    There should be some "honest" error mechanism, especially for schools and the like.

  9. Andre Carneiro

    Hyperlinking OK though

    Did I interpret the text wrong or did it imply that whilst downloading the photo and uploading it to my website is verboten, hyperlinking to the original photo is OK?

    And that being the case.... what’s the difference?

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Hyperlinking OK though

      Hyperlinks can be traced, tracked, pursued and shut down by the person hosting.

      But "Insert Hyperlinked Image" is not the same as "show the URL of a hyperlink", however. The court doesn't clarify what it means there, probably deliberately.

      However, there are a number of websites where when you hyperlink, if it detects an invalid "referrer" field in the URL request, it substitutes the image with a placeholder image telling you where to licence from.

      Hyperlinks are very different. It's a signpost. Hey, look, you can find that image over there -->

      Not "This image, that I copied verbatim into my presentation, and didn't credit anyone for".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hyperlinking OK though

        "[...] there are a number of websites where when you hyperlink, if it detects an invalid "referrer" field in the URL request, [...]"

        Web sites can also set up a page so that any attempt to download any of its images will deliver a tiny blank gif placeholder - or even inhibit a browser right-click bringing up a context menu.

        That doesn't stop people taking a screen shot though.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Hyperlinking OK though

        "However, there are a number of websites where when you hyperlink, if it detects an invalid "referrer" field in the URL request, it substitutes the image with a placeholder image telling you where to licence from."

        I can't help thinking that this is directly contrary to the whole purpose of the web and HTTP. The whole idea as published was that if you provided a URL it was to enable people to link to it. What's the difference between someone slotting in a URL to your work and you taking someone else's work (TB-L's work in this case) and misusing it?

        1. richardcox13

          Re: Hyperlinking OK though

          I can't help thinking that this is directly contrary to the whole purpose of the web and HTTP. The whole idea as published was that if you provided a URL it was to enable people to link to it

          Quite possibly the intent, but the early creators of the web were not photographers or others who earn their living by the creation of copyrighted works.

          1. onefang Silver badge

            Re: Hyperlinking OK though

            "Quite possibly the intent,"

            For that you get an upvote.

            "but the early creators of the web were not photographers or others who earn their living by the creation of copyrighted works."

            Um, the early creators of the web where computer programmers, who earn their living by the creation of copyright works, called computer software.

            1. richardcox13

              Re: Hyperlinking OK though

              Um, the early creators of the web where computer programmers, who earn their living by the creation of copyright works, called computer software

              Who were working in academic institutions in an era where "industry links" and "exploit research" were not yet common. Yes code is a creative output, but for many it is a means to an end for their real job. In my day job in (commercial) software development I still see developers not considering the licencing of libraries before using them despite repeated reminders.

              None of this is to dismiss their massive contributions to the "information age".

              (See also inherent insecurity of protocols from that era )

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Hyperlinking OK though

            "Quite possibly the intent, but the early creators of the web were not photographers or others who earn their living by the creation of copyrighted works."

            No, but those who do make their living in that way should take the time to understand how it works before they use it.

  10. Timmy B Silver badge

    Seems a bit churlish...

    … to ask for money for a school project. I'd have been pleased that a young kid liked my picture and simply asked that an acknowledgement was posted on the site and in the project with links to my personal page.

    It's not as if anyone made any money from using it and now every time any child from that school wants to use any picture they are going to worry. I suppose there is a lesson there - don't assume the good will of others.

    1. Joe W

      Re: Seems a bit churlish...

      If the school had asked for a permission to use it (in this case on a public website) the story would have been quite different. Then the copyright holder could have given them that right. Yes, maybe with the obligation to link to the copyright holder's homepage, good publicity etc.

      They did not. Note that the in-classroom use for educational purposes would have been ok. The school putting this on the public website was when something illegal happened.

    2. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Seems a bit churlish...

      Exactly my first though! It says rather a lot about the photographer, who must have gone to the school's website so could easily have fired of a quick friendly email to them.

      Mind you, with the insane lengths copyright is being extended to, it won't be long before you'll never be able to make creative use any kind of image at all.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Seems a bit churlish...

        There was no problem with the image being in the child's school project. The problem was with the school putting the school project online.

        1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

          Re: Seems a bit churlish...

          There was no problem with the image being in the child's school project. The problem was with the school putting the school project online.

          Are you sure about that? For example if I download some music, in theory I am breaking copyright. Fair use doctrine is a grey area

          1. Keith Langmead

            Re: Seems a bit churlish...

            "Are you sure about that? For example if I download some music, in theory I am breaking copyright. Fair use doctrine is a grey area"

            No it really isn't a grey area in this case. While there's no definitive fair use exemption for copying things for person use in most jurisdictions, there IS a clear exemption in place for educational use. The court even said so as reported in the article!

            ---

            "the EU legislature provided an option for Member States to provide for exceptions or limits… so long as it is for the sole purpose of illustration for teaching or scientific research and to the extent justified by the non-commercial purpose to be achieved."

            It decided that since the presentation was posted on the school website, accessible to any internet user, a line had been crossed.

            ---

      2. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Seems a bit churlish...

        "Exactly my first though! It says rather a lot about the photographer, who must have gone to the school's website so could easily have fired of a quick friendly email to them."

        No. He did an image search for his images, looking for people who stole them. I bet he found loads. Sent a nastygram to each one. The school thought it was above the law so told him to do one, probably didn't even take it down.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "It went out of its way to stress that hyperlinking to a picture is very different to downloading and uploading a photo to a different website, but noted that "the posting of a work protected by copyright on a website other than that on which it was initially communicated with the consent of the copyright holder must, in circumstances such as those at issue, be regarded as making available to a new public.""

    That paragraph starts off saying hyperlinking is very different from uploading the image binary to a new server - then makes a more general statement about using an image in a different web page.

    I can't decide if that paragraph means that hyperlinking is, or is not, a breach of copyright? Which is important as hyperlinking was always an essential resource sharing mechanism for web pages.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      According the the judges at the EU court of justice a hyperlink can very well be a breach of copyright law: https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2016/09/95247-2/

      According to them (and contravening the opinion of most experts that advised them) a hyperlink CAN be considered a republication of copyrighted material and thus an infringement.

  12. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Try running a local history website. There are often a good few images of the locality, often originating in old post-cards which have been passed around, published in books with titles such as "Old Dunny on the Hill in Pictures" and nobody knows where they originated. Often they're from postcards but a local company publishing postcards in the 1920s has disappeared without trace.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Indeed. It seems complicated:

      https://www.dacs.org.uk/knowledge-base/factsheets/copyright-in-photographs

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Thanks, Dave. That's very useful. The reviving of copyright raises the further question of what happens after Brexit; can copyright still be revived in the UK after that date?

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          The reviving of copyright raises the further question of what happens after Brexit; can copyright still be revived in the UK after that date?

          The current rules are defined by UK law, the 1995 act. Brexit won't change that.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "The current rules are defined by UK law, the 1995 act. Brexit won't change that."

            The people who provide that fact sheet aren't as certain as you. They're waiting to see what happens.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Copyright law periods seem to have been extended so much that they are now apparently capable of being asserted effectively indefinitely. This seems to be the case where a commercial body is the owner not only of a particular picture - but apparently also if they own the object that could be photographed by someone else.

      In the case of pictures where the company has long since disappeared then it seems prudent to have a general notice declaring that they will be taken down if a copyright holder emerges.

      1. tony2heads
        Coat

        But what if..

        If I take a photo of the image on the website (e.g with my camera) do I have copyright on my photo of it?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: But what if..

          If I take a photo of the image on the website (e.g with my camera) do I have copyright on my photo of it?

          Yes, you have copyright in your photo, but can be sued for breaching the copyright of the original image.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: But what if..

          @ tony2heads

          I don't know why you got downvoted on what's a perfectly sensible question. The answer is yes, you do have such a copyright. A number of agencies trade on that very basis by establishing their own copyright on what might be an out of copyright image.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: But what if..

            @Doctor Syntax

            Indeed

            " A number of agencies trade on that very basis by establishing their own copyright on what might be an out of copyright image."

            SO is paying rights for image publication in a book they are co-authoring - image is digital copy of a foldout insert large image in a very old, long out of copyright magazine, however magazine (with the insert intact) essentially impossible to obtain (British Library might have an intact version in UK), but as far as commercial book goes less hassle to pay agency for book rights to the image (plus cheaper than London travel & going to BL special collections and getting permission to take your own photo).

            There's a lot of cash to be made from taking "new copyright" shots of old out of copyright images where its a PITA for someone to take their own photo of the image.

            SO did obviously use their own images (and those of colleagues other educational institutions that had freely granted usage rights) as much as possible to cut down costs (book is "academic" so not exactly going to be making much in the way of profit, like many obscure academic texts a bonus if you cover your costs, any minimal royalties "profit" is not typically enough to buy a coffee - even worse once you factor in the person years of (unpaid for the love of the subject) work involved)

  13. find users who cut cat tail

    There is only way to fix copyright on photographs is to abolish it, with a few (rare!) exceptions. And it needs to happen soon.

    ...

    Did you finish screaming murder? OK, we can continue now. Photographing is no longer art. It is an automated process. We are quickly getting to the point when everything worth photographing (and most of things not worth it) will be photographed. It will be photographed from all possible angles, with all possible settings and processing, also filmed many times -- and large part of this likely not even deliberately by humans. It will happen in some just-capture-stuff mode.

    Of all the the photos I have made, I consider maybe a dozen worth copyright protection. And the number may actually decrease over time as technology progresses, making previously difficult or special shots easy.

    Cases like the red bus should not even exist. My bloody camera has a filter which automatically creates this effect! And the bus is an obvious target for. Each year, thousands of people leisurely create images the court would find infringing if the defendant made them...

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      I don't follow your case you make for abolishing copyright. What you're saying is that there are so many images available of any subject that it should be trivial to find a non copyrighted image of the desired subject. This seems no reason to abolish copyright, since market forces would suggest that you can find a suitable copyright-free image, or one you can licence for 1p.

    2. Alien8n Silver badge

      As a music photographer all I can say is you don't have a clue what you're talking about. Only dozens worth copyrighting? I have thousands, and if any publication was to use any of them without paying me for their use you'd better damn believe it when I say I'd sue them. My nature photography generates an income, albeit a small one, from Adobe Stock. Here I'll agree that the majority of stuff has been shot, there are only so many times you can shoot a picture of a bird in flight, and that affects the value, but it doesn't diminish the art. Good quality camera equipment isn't cheap and the style of photography I do is most certainly an art. My photos are used by bands for promotion worldwide, from offices in LA to houses in Berkshire. A good photographer has a style unique to them, I see a shot of a band in a magazine and I often don't need to check the credits, I know who took the photo just by looking at it. You send 100 different photographers to the same place, you'll get 100 different photos back. Even if they're standing in the exact same spot.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Scope of copyrights

        Well, isn't this the same kind of situation you find yourself in, that was decided for the people whose profession is now gone "thanks to" technological progress?

        If you were to make money as a boiler-stoker in a steamship, I'd advise you to seek employment in another line of work. Now it's your turn. Or about to be.

        Where's the difference?

        The law as written (about everywhere) allows for so many abuses that it will have to change. It may be useful to anticipate that, and define what categories of work should and should not be copyright-able.

    3. Roland6 Silver badge

      @find users who cut cat tail - Like others I don't follow your case for abolishing copyright.

      However, I do agree with you that cases like the Red Bus shouldn't exist, particularly given the 'infringement' was more a copying of style - something most books on photography skills encourage - perhaps your photo will have a better composition, atmosphere etc. than the original.

      Additionally, it is clear the intended use of the image was not taken into account; if you are preparing an image for putting on to a product such as a packet of tea it needs to have impact, which means small colour palette, high contract and spot colour...

      Finally, it should be noted the judge wasn't actually comparing original photo's but processed images (ie. collages) and thus works of art; a point the judge simply dismisses as being insignificant...

      Don't know if this judgement was appealed, but it does set a rather nasty case history precedent.

  14. Wolfclaw Silver badge

    So are search engines breaking the law when they crawl and display images on websites that have licence agreements that images can only be shown from that website ?

    1. Oneman2Many

      Easy downloading of images from searches is why Google removed the option to go straight to image. Seems to keep copyright holders happy. At least they recognise that without search engines driving traffic their way then they won't selling much.

  15. Dan Wilkie

    This is one of those things that I'm on the fence about. I get the issue of ownership, that's fine. But damages imply to me that he missed out on a rights fee or whatever. Which would imply that he was deprived of something he would have received if not for the infringement. Which clearly if the child had realised that she would have to pay 400 euros to use the picture would have just used a different one.

    I dunno, I'm not a lawyer - it seems that common sense should have a place in deciding whether somebody should be awarded damages or just told to stop their infringing behaviour. If there's clearly no intention to profit from the infringement I'd have suggested a CaD would have made more sense.

    Instead, he'll always be the person who, to all intents and purposes, sued a kid for using his photo that she cribbed from the net for a school project - in the unlikely situation that I ever needed to pay anybody 400 euros for a photo of a town rather than driving there and taking the photo myself for less than half that, then I won't be buying his.

    So I guess I'm the counterweight of justice by balancing it out. If I ever need a photo of Cordoba. Which I won't.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Instead, he'll always be the person who, to all intents and purposes, sued a kid for using his photo that she cribbed from the net for a school project "

      Maybe so - and incorrectly. According to the article he sued the school for publishing it on the net, not the child for using it in a project.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How does this ruling fit in with certain large US image aggregation sites that just hoover up images from the web and put their own copyright on them?

  17. Wellyboot Silver badge

    Educational value.

    Cut & paste a photo from web travel site into a pupils homework > No educational value, it just looks pretty. The educational value is in learning to do research & write reports.

    Learning about artistic rights, property ownership & publishing > Very educational.

    In the dim past these reports were hardcopy and had real photos cut out of travel brochures and glued in. Travel brochures that were given away free. So the actual difference here is just the perceived possible audience for the 'published' piece and a vast amount of lawyer time.

    At least we've all now seen a very nice touristy photo of Cordoba.

  18. Fading Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Image of the image.......

    So if they took a photo of a screen with the image on it and posted that up - who now owns the copyright?

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Image of the image.......

      The original copyright owner, because that is a (shitty) reproduction of the original work without a significant "artistic" input or variation. The laws already thought of that.

      1. Fading Silver badge

        Re: Image of the image.......

        But what if I was advertising my monitor?

  19. Dieter Haussmann

    If you don't want it 'stealing' don't put it on the internet - or at least put it in a restricted (non public area). This is a bit like throwing flyers on the street and then complaining when people take them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "If you don't want your car stolen, don't take it out of the garage". Really?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "If you don't want your car stolen, don't take it out of the garage". Really?

        Yea, really. If you don't conceptually have that in mind, you would never lock your car doors after leaving, buy insurance or get anti-thief locks.

        Also, if someone took a picture of your car and it spreads on to the internet. If you expect the 'copyright' to stop it from spreading, then you should expect disappointment because in practically reality it's never going to disappear from the internet.

    2. DavCrav Silver badge

      "If you don't want it 'stealing' don't put it on the internet - or at least put it in a restricted (non public area). This is a bit like throwing flyers on the street and then complaining when people take them."

      Yeah, and what did you expect wearing such a short skirt on a night out?

    3. Stork Bronze badge

      In the real World...

      We have a website advertising our holiday houses. There is a large number of photos on it (own + guests + bought stock); some of the property but quite a few of the region.

      We have a note regarding use of the images: Ask first, if you are not a competitor we are likely to grant it _with credits_.

      For a lot of cases, it is more about the control of use than money.

      If I get bored one day, I may try to see if I find copies...

  20. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Although using someone's photos without permission is clearly breach of copyright the photographer in this case went around it the wrong way in my opinion. It was clear that the school wasn't making any financial gain from using the photo and as it was the student who had download the image not the school. Therefore a simple request from them to either remove the photo or credit the photographer for it would be a much more reasonable way of dealing with this infringement rather than suing them.

  21. MrKrotos

    The "Amen Break" anyone?

    The audio sample thats everywhere, and yet no one cleared its use. Its even sold on sample CDs!

  22. steelpillow Silver badge
    Boffin

    Wikipedia, yawn

    This is all old news for us Wikipedians. We have created a special website for images, called the Wikimedia Commons. Only free-licensed and out-of-copyright images are permitted. "Don't know" is likely to be taken down for the well-worn legal reasons just discovered by the school.

    There is also a "fair use" rationale for some copyright images in certain circumstances, and those can - with care - be uploaded to Wikipedia itself.

    I suppose the big news is that even though the EU legal advocate missed the plot, the judgement didn't.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Wikipedia, yawn

      "This is all old news for us Wikipedians. We have created a special website for images, called the Wikimedia Commons. Only free-licensed and out-of-copyright images are permitted. "Don't know" is likely to be taken down for the well-worn legal reasons just discovered by the school."

      Got any photos of monkeys on that website? Oh, I'll just look: oh yes, yes you do. Because

      "This file is in the public domain, because as the work of a non-human animal, it has no human author in whom copyright is vested."

      which, as was noted on The Register before, is bollocks.

      1. steelpillow Silver badge

        Re: Wikipedia, yawn

        "This file is in the public domain, because as the work of a non-human animal, it has no human author in whom copyright is vested."

        Wikipedia, the encyclopedia any monkey can edit!

  23. tony2heads

    Also

    What happens with fully automated image collection systems (webcams, systems triggered by animals or people going past) where nobody actually consciously made the image. What is the copyright situation on them?

    1. Neil Lewis

      Re: Also

      There are no fully automated image collection systems. Even with the most basic camera, such as a simple webcam, the owner/user must initially choose where to position it and in which direction it should be pointed. If the device has the ability to be triggered when movement is sensed, then the owner/user has also chosen to enable and set that function, too. Those are all 'creative choices' - they require the owner/user to make conscious decisions based on their intentions in setting the camera up in the first place. Without making those conscious decisions, the camera would probably still be in its box.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: Also

        Look back at the fucking ridiculous PETA court case.

        1. BongoJoe

          Re: Also (confirmation required)

          Would that be the "fucking ridiculous PETA" or the "fucking ridiculous court case concerning PETA"?

          Or both?

          1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

            Re: Also (confirmation required)

            BongoJoe, the court case was "fucking ridiculous". I would never limit my criticism of PETA to just "fucking ridiculous".

      2. Wicked Witch

        Re: Also

        Imagine a camera which is moved by someone who doesn't realise it was recording, without the intent of the person who originally set it up. The resulting images were not the result of any creative decision of the person who activated the camera, because they did not intend for it to be moved, nor by the person who moved the camera, because they didn't even intend to produce a picture. Whose creativity exists there?

        Relatedly, there is the possibility of accidentally activating a phone camera, just as one can butt dial someone.The chances of that collecting anything interesting are remote, but there's no conscious decision involved.

        Another example of a video created without any creative step would be any footage from a mandatory dash cam or similar configured according to mandated specifications (eg on trains). Unless the route and timings are chosen for the sake of the recording (which isn't plausible) no aspect of the video is the result of any creative step from the operator of the vehicle. If there is any creativity, it is on the part of the person who specified the camera.

        1. onefang Silver badge

          Re: Also

          "Relatedly, there is the possibility of accidentally activating a phone camera, just as one can butt dial someone.The chances of that collecting anything interesting are remote"

          Depends on the butt in question, some are far more interesting than others.

    2. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: Also

      I have a "trail cam" for wildlife pics

      The skill is setting the camera in such a position that (hopefully!) something interesting triggers motion detectors and a shot results

      I regard copyright as mine, as all shot "prep" done by me, and motion trigger by subject is all that's needed

      Its equivalent to old approach of sitting in a hide with shutter release cable linked to camera positioned further away and when animal appears you click the shutter release & camera fires off a series of shots.

      Advantage of trail cam is you can set it up then go away and do stuff & come back later, so saves waiting around effort.

  24. Mage Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Nothing to see and nothing new.

    It's ALWAYS been true that if you downloaded something copyright you can't then simply re-share it on another site.

    The only bizarre aspect aspect to this was the initial ruling saying it was OK to violate copyright. Then the attempt to claim it shouldn't have protection as it was a too generic photo. Sometimes that can be true of patents and registered designs. Rarely photos.

    A School website isn't the same as photos cut out of a magazine and stuck on a poster or scrap book in the class room, or school hall. That's a kind of Fair Use. A public facing website is publishing, just like printing 10,000 leaflets and handing them out in the town.

  25. Alien8n Silver badge

    A bit much...

    It's a bit much suing at that point. As a photographer I've had photos taken and used by 3rd party websites and so far I've never had to sue. Personally I feel his actions should have been to first contact the school and ask for the photo to be taken down, or to offer to negotiate a fair price for licensed use. There are already laws in place that allow copyright holders to do this without resorting to the courts unless the other party refuses to comply. In my own case it was a band photo that a music review site took from their Facebook page and then cropped to remove my watermark. They knew full well that they didn't have the rights to use the photo. My response was to contact the website first and ask them to either remove the image or license it. When they refused to respond that was when I asked them to remove the image or be sued. They eventually removed the entire article from their website. All this photographer has done by suing the school first without approaching them and failing to use the relevant DMCA procedures is show him to be a) a very petty minded individual and b) more interested in the publicity of taking it to court than protecting his copyright.

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: A bit much...

      As a photographer I've had photos taken and used by 3rd party websites and so far I've never had to sue.

      This photographer did not have to either. But by doing so he has established case law which will make life easier for every photographer and rights holder in the future.

      Fair enough; you got yourself sorted out. This photographer went the extra mile and helped everyone else.

      Cheers mate.

      1. Alien8n Silver badge

        Re: A bit much...

        @Jason but there's already laws in place which detail how he should have gone about this. He's actually bypassed existing laws in order to create a situation where he'll make the news. He hasn't made any case law, nothing resulting from this case didn't exist prior to it. The only reason for suing is the publicity and the money, nothing more.

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: A bit much...

          "@Jason but there's already laws in place which detail how he should have gone about this. He's actually bypassed existing laws in order to create a situation where he'll make the news."

          If there were already laws and everything was so clear, why did we have to get right the way up to the ECJ? The school, then the city, then the state, should have folded at the earliest possible opportunity because it knew it was in the wrong.

          But NRW didn't, they took it all the way to the ECJ because they had the cash and wanted to grind an independent photographer into the dirt instead for having the temerity to assert that the law is still true. And it backfired.

        2. Alien8n Silver badge

          Re: A bit much...

          For all the downvoters I'm not saying the photographer doesn't have the right to protect his copyright. I'm saying he shouldn't have gone straight to suing. If this had been myself I would have approached it the same way as I have done previously.

          1. Contact the infringing party direct and request the infringing image be taken down or replaced with a licensed copy.

          2. If they refuse to remove the image then subject them to a DMCA notice.

          3. At this point you make a statement of intent, if not removed with immediate effect then they will be pursued in the courts. This is usually enough to force them to take down the image. I've never had to do more than this.

          4. Take them to court.

          This procedure is used by every photographer I know, I know none who would jump straight to court except in the event of a photo being used for printed media. In the case of this kid I doubt I'd even get past step 1, unless I'd been specifically commissioned to take the photo on behalf of the travel site I would be more than happy for them to use it on a credit basis. And as the photo is so generic in nature I seriously doubt it's been commissioned.

          1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

            Re: A bit much...

            @Alien8n:

            > 1. Contact the infringing party direct and...

            That may well have happened.

            If not, the school should have gone all "mea culpa" after the first contact from the photographer (or his lawyer). Letting this go to court, especially with the only argument "things from the internet are public domain" is incredibly stupid.

            Another thing: When you put something online it gets nicked all the time. People trying to make a living, say as a photographer, sometimes get enormously annoyed by that. So the photographer may have wanted to actually get things to court.

            I am pretty certain it's not about the money. Ask anyone whether it's worth the time for a few hundred bucks.

    2. Bavaria Blu

      Re: A bit much...

      Erm DMCA is American law, and the victim / alleged perpetrator was in Germany. So how would that be relevant?

      1. Alien8n Silver badge

        Re: A bit much...

        Actually there's an EU DMCA process as well, it's not just a US idea. While the specific steps are different from country to country, even those within the EU, the end result is still the same. The fact is this case should never have reached the EU courts, but it's clear from this case that people still don't actually understand how copyright actually works and how it's protected. There are existing procedures in place designed specifically to prevent cases like this one, but not everyone in law knows the specifics of every law, and this is blatantly clear where the internet is involved. Copyright law should not be used to sue a school because of a child's homework, it should be used to prevent large media organisations from stealing photos that are then printed in millions of newspapers around the world without the rightful recompense to the rights holder.

  26. vincent himpe

    but... That city spent all that money..

    doesn't get anything. Every year thousand and thousands of freeloading photographers go to take pictures of all those buildings. Somebody paid for them to be constructed. i don't want some freeloader snapping pictures of my city and charging money for that. I am ok for people to come and see for themselves. but no pictures allowed !

    Where are we headed ? Coat ?

    1. Giles C

      Re: but... That city spent all that money..

      Well that is also true.

      Take a picture of the Eiffel Tower and it is copyrighted (the structure not the photo), I remember a magazine using a picture of the copy in Las Vegas as the fees for printing the picture of the original were too expensive.

      Also there is a similar rule on national trust propertiees

      http://www.nationaltrustimages.org.uk/photographic-access

      1. tellytart

        Re: but... That city spent all that money..

        Actually, the Eiffel Tower is not copyrighted. You can take photos of it during daytime and exploit that photo for monetary gain if you like.

        Where French copyright law will hit you though is if you take a photo of the Eiffel Tower at night - the lighting is a more recent art installation, and is covered by French copyright. Therefore while you can photograph it for personal use, you may not exploit that photograph commercially without permission.

        1. David Nash Silver badge

          Re: but... That city spent all that money..

          "Where French copyright law will hit you though is if you take a photo of the Eiffel Tower at night"

          Clever, I like that!

  27. Stuart Halliday

    You need to get permission from the owner.

    If the website gives permission and it turns out it's not the owner then the owner gets to sue the website for misrepresentation.

  28. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Copywrong

    Suing a school to make money? Very classy...

    "Dick" Renckhoff would fit better.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Copywrong

      "Suing a school to make money? Very classy...

      "Dick" Renckhoff would fit better."

      Nicking stuff and then hiding behind 'but the kids' as a defence? Very classy.

      Oh, and 'dick' doesn't mean that in German.

  29. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    Well, that means I have to change the (c) statement

    Given that I am OK with education to use my material as long as it is non-profit (read: no reselling later either), I guess I'll have to make that statement explicit to avoid mistakes. Although I understand the issue and agree with the principle, I don't want to sue a school, nor would I want a kid to be in legal crosshairs for doing a school project: all that teaches them is uncertainty.

    I genuinely have to think of the children here :)

    Going off on a slight tangent, some people stated that they would expect the relevant data to be available in EXIF, but setups like Facebook explicitly filter out this data. Ostensibly they do that for "privacy" reasons (yes, yes, stop laughing), but as far as I can tell they do it to make tracking back copyright difficult - you could say they act in collusion with copyright violators because it would otherwise substantially harm their business as they go through literally millions of images per day.

    AFAIK, under US Copyright law it is an offence (not sure criminal or civil) to mess with a copyright notice, so FB could potentially be on the hook for a LOT of money if it weren't for the escape clause that it has to be "with intent" - they'll probably get away with it once claiming it was a "programming error" because identifying copyright information in EXIF is really hard .. no, wait, there is actually an explicit "copyright" tag..

  30. Craigie

    Links

    So absolute URIs are fine for img src then?

    <img src="https://originalhost.com/pic.jpg" />

  31. dmacleo

    wikipedia bot will be earning its pittance now.....

  32. Goit
    Coat

    Inception

    What if you took a picture of the computer screen displaying the image?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On the competence of some.

    "Piling in came the ECJ's advocate general Manuel Campos Sánchez-Bordona, who questioned whether the photograph was so generic that it shouldn't be protected by copyright."

    It is worth noting that Mr Campos Sánchez-Bordona lands at the ECJ not as a result of his skill, experience or qualifications, but purely as a political jobs-for-the-boys appointment, just as every other Spaniard in the ECJ and other international institutions.

    Those who can read Spanish may find more details at:

    https://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/topsecret/Canete-Bruselas-magistrado-Sanchez-Bordona-Luxemburgo_6_477762260.html

    (the source is an online newspaper with a centre-left editorial line, perceived as close to political party Podemos and to a lesser extent, to some sectors of the Socialist party)

  34. Bavaria Blu
    Facepalm

    no surprise that its Germany

    Websites are not outside the juristiction of the country in which they are based. It would be a more interesting case if the schoolkid had taken the image from Wikipedia under an American concept of fair use. If that image had a copyright owned by someone in Germany and the school website was also in Germany that would be a good test case.

    In Germany the laws are enforced, partly because their legal system is Roman rather than Common / case law. You broke the law, you pay compensation. That is why you need public liability insurance even as a private citizen, and that is why there is a huge legal industry fed by this gravy train of money from insurance companies. Perhaps it means a victim is always protected but it does make for a quite adversarial day to day life.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: no surprise that its Germany

      > It would be a more interesting case if the schoolkid had taken the image from Wikipedia under an American concept of fair use.

      If it (das Kind) had taken the image from Wikipedia, there is a good chance that the image would have been under a CC licence, although that is not necessarily the case. Not every image in Wikipedia is under an open licence.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like prime territory for a new internet standard to us

    sounds like even greeener pastures for copyright lawyers :)

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If only

    The kid had been advised to link to the image.

    It's 2018. Someone should have known. I should probably have linked to the commentard who made that point first, but, wade through nearly 200 comments, cba

  37. Long John Silver
    Pirate

    Dying embers of copyright

    Anyone standing back and looking over the broad sweep of copyright 'infringement' and enforcement during the decades following WW2 will notice that the former is hotting up apace and the latter is almost in a state of panic.

    Prior to widespread adoption of digital representation, cheap digital storage, and, nowadays, digital transmission, copyright was mostly an arcane topic arising in disputes among book publishers, film makers, best-selling authors, popular music composers, and like minded persons with money to spare to enrich lawyers. Copyright, just like libel, was a rich man's hobby. The general public was occasionally entertained by newspaper accounts of court proceedings wherein two (alleged) composers of popular ditties came head to head before a jury with one claiming that a snatch of notes in a (usually) unmeritorious piece was purloined by the other; these events were displays of arrogance and entitlement, this generally arising from the plaintiff.

    Copyright began impinging directly on the public mind only after technological advance increased opportunity for casual 'infringement' and drove demands by rights' holders for the technology to be restricted. Thus, home taping, crude at first, followed by home video recording technologies came on the scene. Photocopier use in educational establishments became a bugbear of, ever cash hungry, print publishers. In UK universities elaborate arrangements came into being whereby each photocopy (within rigorous definition of permitted number of pages and so forth) was to be accompanied by filling in a form detailing the work and pages copied. Librarians were obliged to oversee this nonsense because otherwise their institutions would be vulnerable to litigation. Nevertheless, beyond the gaze of librarians few people bothered with form filling and university authorities wisely didn't peer under stones.

    Advent of personal computers opened fresh pastures for 'infringement'. CDs, DVDs, and then the ubiquitous Internet, spilled all the worms out of the can.

    What's learned from this big picture is the inevitability of copyright's demise (and replacement by entitlement to attribution). The pace of 'infringement' is not matched by the rate of increase of effective remedies to prevent, deter, and punish 'infringement' among the general public. Efforts to persuade people otherwise, such as the foolish mantra 'copying is theft', are yielding little if anything. Unless the Internet is clamped down upon to such an extent that even legislators, in the pockets of copyright cartels, find it objectionable, no number of fingers in holes in dykes ('dams' in case of misunderstanding) can avert copyright Armageddon.

    Two factors contribute to the death of copyright. First, copyright nowadays is bad law in the sense of not being easily enforced (at the level of individuals) and with respect to widespread disobedience as a rational solution to coughing up ever more disposable income to price-gouging entities.

    The second, reason is the consequence of digital representation revealing, to those who would look, innate irremediable flaws in the concept of copyright. Digital representation draws attention to the fact that digital sequences are not dependent on particular instances of a physical substrate. That is, the information contained has distinctly separate existence to any physical object fitting the definition of 'property'. This is reinforced by the fact that digital sequences can endlessly be reproduced with no loss of 'content' and at negligible cost. Attempts to produce artificial scarcity of ephemeral sequences of digits must fail. Thus, market-economics depending on scarcity and on supply and demand, are meaningless. There can be no such thing as 'intellectual property' unless its kept within it's creator's head or sequestered under lock and key on a physical medium.

    Additionally the notion of copyright protecting creative activities doesn't wash either. In fact, copyright stifles imagination by seeking to control or limit 'derivative works'; reality is that no work arises ab initio i.e. without context.

    There is more to be said against the "chilling effect" of copyright, but not now. Suffice to say that means exist for (genuinely rather than 'manufactured') creative people to thrive from their work; these don't entail making claim of ownership (as in physical property) of created 'content' or need for elaborate middleman distribution chains acting as monopoly providers at any price they can squeeze out of the masses.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Dying embers of copyright

      "Two factors contribute to the death of copyright."

      First, copyright is not dead, it is just largely being ignored by a lot of the general public... and that may be because of the third and fourth factors that you missed, namely: 3, the ever increasing terms of copyright intended to keep works out of the public domain; and 4, the usually heavy handed adversarial method in which copyright infringement is known to be dealt with.

      In other words, we cannot (it was never actually ruled) post a short video with our toddler dancing to a bit of a Prince song, but they can keep saying "more more more" and by consequence affecting not only their own works, but everything.

      There's a certain amount of cultural osmosis that takes part in popular works (how many people with young girls have had to put up with endless renditions of songs from Frozen? have you ever sung along to a song? or tried to be witty by using a movie quote?) so it can often feel as if copyright is weighted in favour of "the man".

    2. David Nash Silver badge

      Re: Dying embers of copyright

      Actually copyright "began impinging directly on the public mind" because technology enabled both creators to create and consumers to copy, from home taping through to computer files.

      It works both ways and it's still valid. I have put a deal of effort into astrophotography over the years, largely due to technology making it possible, and I'd not like for a freeloader to use my work for their own benefit without at least credit. I have been asked, and granted, permission to use certain of these photos over the years and never felt that I had to say no. Some educational publishers gave me a fee although the admin involved means I now granted them to use it free of charge. But that's not to say I would do the same for any organisation, depending on the intended use.

      You say Copyright is bad law because it's difficult to enforce. So is enforcement of not stealing bicycles in London. But it's not bad law that stealing bikes is illegal.

  38. eionmac

    The 'objects' in his photo are also copyrighted

    I assume the photographer has obtained the prior written permission of all the owners of the buildings and artefacts in his photo, which are images subject to their owner's copyright, before he photographed them, otherwise it can backfire with owner's claiming fees from him for 'reproducing their artefact'.

    1. Stork Bronze badge

      Re: The 'objects' in his photo are also copyrighted

      I am not 100% certain, but I believe Copyright law deals with this - and that you can photograph buildings from public places, for profit, without infringing the architects copyright.

      Happy to be corrected, though.

  39. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Ah yes, The Mail already has permission to print Snowden's "Charles, Diana and William", so I can take a copy and print it myself!

  40. brym

    Daft question maybe, but...

    Does this mean press kits would now require explicit permission?

    1. Alien8n Silver badge

      Re: Daft question maybe, but...

      Press kits already come with explicit permission. When shooting a band for "press" photos there's a very large fee involved that includes the waiver for 3rd party reproduction. These may include, but not limited to, reproduction as part of album artwork, web, and print media, as defined by the release clause for the photographer. There are other factors to take into account as well, whether the photo was commissioned by the artist or their representative, or whether it was commissioned by the photographer or their publisher. When commissioned by the photographer or their publisher it's not unusual for the subject to sign the release clause allowing the photos to be used. There may then be another clause allowing the subject use of the photos. For live music photos the photographer may be asked to sign a release clause, limiting the use of the photos. This is one of the hottest areas of contention in music photography where big name artists not only demand full rights to the photos, WITHOUT recompense to the photographer, but also to restrict the use of those photos to timed single use in web or printed media. There have been plenty of cases of photographers going to shoot concerts who when presented with what is in effect a full rights grab of their art simply rip it up and walk away.

  41. heyrick Silver badge

    I wonder if this has just killed the broken orphan works mess?

  42. shaunhw

    I'm on the side of the school with this.

    I think copyright claim on a photograph should depend much more on exactly what is shown in the picture itself.

    It was a picture taken of a town for goodness sake, What's the artistic merit in that ? Did the photographer build that town himself ? Did all the owners of those buildings give permission for their fine architectural shapes to be freely used in that image for his personal gain ? I'm sure they didn't, and such permission wasn't needed as far as I know, therefore surely one can argue that the content itself wasn't anything subject to copyright if the picture taker didn't need it.

    To me it could have been any picture taken from a smart phone, rather than some jumped up person who calls himself some type of "artist", who simply pointed a camera at a town and went "Click". Probably A cheap one too looking at the quality of that image.

    Pictures of public spaces, however achieved, should never be subject to copyright claim of this kind, especially when there's no direct profit from the use of them made.

    It's not as if it was an image of some person; for example a model, someone's private space or some specially crafted creation setup just for the image to be created.

    Just a picture of a town. A public space. Not something special that the photographer created himself for the purposes of the picture is it ?

    1. Alien8n Silver badge

      While I feel this has been handled the wrong way I must disagree with you on most of your points. Yes, it's a picture of a town, a public space. However the law is very clear, copyright remains with the photographer. There are some very good photos of "public spaces", I have one of my photos taken on a canal adorning the walls of an LA office. And my experience as a photographer means I can take a photo that is pleasing to the eye and has artistic merit. Do you know the best time of day to shoot a town scene? Mid day? Early morning? Late evening? These little factors all affect the end photo. What lens should be used? Where to stand? How much processing is required? You can usually tell the difference between a photo taken by a professional photographer and someone just snapping on their phone, and it's the light, the composition and the post-processing done on the photo that make the difference.

      And for you information, the best photos taken in sunlight are taken an hour after dawn or an hour before dusk. These are known as the "golden hours" due to the way the sun's light changes and also creates the most aesthetically pleasing shadows from buildings and trees. To get the best from a public space you want to create a focus in the photo, so people in the background are blurred drawing your eyes to your subject. To do this you use large aperture lenses, fixed 2.8 is a very common lens to use, or a fixed 1.8 which is a very common portraiture aperture. Cheap kit lenses and phone cameras tend to shoot with a small aperture, the standard consumer lenses for most cameras are between 4.5 and 5.6, which creates a much flatter looking image where foreground and background can both be within the cameras depth of field.

    2. JDeaux

      Hardly unique....

      I agree with you that the image is generic and should not be subject to copyright. Copyright should only apply for distinct or unique images that the photographer has had direct input, i.e. a model or band photo shoot, a unique piece of art. An image of a town can hardly be considered distinct or unique as any tourist with a smartphone could and do take similar photos. It should also be up to the person claiming copyright to prove a reason for copyright claim to be valid on that basis.

  43. This post has been deleted by its author

  44. shaunhw

    Alien8n

    Actually I agree with many of your points, but I still firmly believe that complaining about the use of an image of a public space by a pupil in a school, for what is essentially none commercial purposes (even if the pupil's project was showcased on their school web site) is a step a little too far for photographer's rights, but I would instead suggest that such use should never be able to prejudice the commercial rights of the photographer in other areas, whenever such an image is published.

    Had this picture been used by (for example) another travel agent, without permission then I'd have very little sympathy for them whatsoever.

    But a school ?

    Also, despite the possible visual merits brought about by skill in using higher grade photographic equipment, I also feel that there's a vast difference between quite passive public space images as opposed to ones specifically created and setup for the purposes of creating the final image taken. This should be reflected in copyright law, especially that pertaining to none commercial "fair" use.

    As you rightly say, this wasn't handled at all well.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If anyone has used Flickr

    And set image rights appropriately e.g. so people can use your images freely if they credit you (and variants thereof depending how generous they are) its interesting to see whats used and where.

    .. also where they are badly used - one of my pics of a UK rodent was used in an article about US rodent (article in fairness did not say pic was of the US variant, was just used as a "generic" rodent, not given species details in their pic caption). I assume my image was used as rights allowed it (& other aspects of the shot - the behavior captured, was not readily available but relevant to the article so probably helped).

    Lots of my "holiday shots" are on various travel sites.

    I only hassle those who use but do not credit me (just ask for named attribution, ideally a link) .. but I just take photos for fun, not profit, & happy to have stuff of mine in wiki commons etc.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Heavy handed

    Heavy handed reactions on both sides. From what was a simple innocent mistake where a student copied a photo they liked into their project, and that project was then posted on the school website without being checked, and it actually made it to a court?

    FFS - surely a simple request to remove would have sufficed, this sort of crap makes both sides look bad.

  47. greenwood-IT

    Actually I've got almost exactly the same photo taken years ago, does that mean this photographer is "passing off" by copying my creative works? Total nightmare for "generic" images like this :-(

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      Much fun to be had especially whenever there's a well known object of touristic interest and a single very obvious vantage point with a good view to photograph it from. Cue gazillion versions of the exact same picture, with a few pixels differing. All of them _technically_ distinguishable from each other, _technically_ each with its own "copyright", all of them incorporating precisely zero actual creativity. But never mind that because all that matters is "MUH RIGHTS!!!"

  48. Dropper

    Huh

    I would have thought the easy way to fix this situation would be to insist that if anyone who wants compensation for digital content, they must insist that a notice of copyright and a link to obtain permission (or payment) on any work that is published. It would then be the responsibility of the website that is publishing the content to comply with the request, and would be liable for misuse if they did not.

    The rights holder could easily have told the travel site: "Sure you can publish my photo for X number of shiny coins, but only if you include the above information."

    Whether a rights holder allows free educational use of their material would of course be up to them.

  49. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

    Pinterest.....

    ... is goin' daaan...

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: Pinterest.....

      I'm yelling TIMBER!

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