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Thread: Copyright issues for photographs?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    Copyright issues for photographs?

    In this day and age of all things internet, how does one handle the usage of photographs or images taken from the internet and used in a municipal plan?

    Do we need permission? Do we need to cite?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    We only use those that we've taken ourselves or from other government websites. Otherwise, it's off-limits. Would anything happen if you were to use copyrighted photos? Probably not, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    I thought they were fair game unless they were explicitly protected (usually with a note indicating they're copyrighted)?

    For most of the work we do, we're not "profiting" off the photos - as they're typically being used in public documents. So I've never thought that a violation of copyright laws...

    Any attorneys out there? I've actually wondered this before myself

  4. #4
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    You can always cite the website you got it off of. I really doubt that you will get yourself into any hot water, unless you start selling the photos though.

    I would ask legal council.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I am with Machete on this. We either use our own or those provided by the client. Even if not explicitely stated, unless permission is granted, the owner retains rights to the image. Sure, the chance of somebody finding out and protesting is small, but would you want to deal with it?
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    On sites like Flickr.com you can search for images where the author has allowed "Creative Commons" copyright use. That means they are giving you prermission to use the photo without contacting them under certain circumstances (e.g. they must be credited etc.).

    Many other sites like Googlemaps generally have similar policies that say you can use their images if they are credited and if you are not directly profiting from their work (e.g. re-selling the data).

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    Unless the photos have been placed in the public domain (meaning unless copyright restrictions have been lifted) the images are subject to copyright and you may have to pay to use them. Giving credit is not enough by itself unless you have express permission. The fact that it is on the internet does not mean it is available for free. You need permission.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    Anyone care to share these feelings with my boss? He's under the impression that if its on the internet its public domain unless its the rights are expressly protected.

    I asked legal and they just seemed confused saying that if you take the picture from a public way you can use it. Uhh, that wasn't what I asked.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    Dear Dandy's Boss:

    Things on the internet have copyright protection. There are limited circumstances in which you can use images from the internet in your plan. One is to have permission. One is if they are in the public domain, which means either the copyright has expired (copyrights generally last for 75 years or the life of the creator), or the creator has expressly placed them in the public domain (think freeware as opposed to downloadable programs you have to pay for), or they were created without copyright protection.

    Don't steal other people's stuff. It is illegal and wrong. Make your own stuff (Oh, too hard and expensive? Maybe the effort and money other people put into their work is why there's copyrights).

    Also, your city attorneys are idiots. Your planner is smart.

    Otis, Esq.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    More to this point. I mentioned in my post above that certain websites like Flickr are part of the Creative Commons system that allows you to use other people's photos for free as long as you credit them. It also allows you to post your pictures so other people can use them. I suggest that anyone with an interesting collection of digital planning and urban design photographs (the good and the bad) post them on Flickr and give permission for others to use them. By sharing images we can all do our jobs better. There are already a lot of great images there. I use photos from a Flickr member named La Citta Vita all the time. Whoever that is they take great photo's of urban places across the USA and Europe.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/la-citta-vita/

  11. #11
    Cyburbian developmentguru's avatar
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    We had consultants use many stock issues in our last update to the Comp Plan....however, it was a move that created a lot of backlash. It only added to the stigma already present of having "out of state" consultants putting a plan together for the city, when the pictures weren't even of the city they were supposed to be (and as were we) so well-acquainted with!!

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    I have had several of my pictures, which are copyrighted and which have been published on Flickr, used without my permission by a whole host of public agencies. I would normally claim infringement if I didn't support the goals of these organizations. Legally, though, I should be policing these things better.

    If it happens again, I'll make an issue of the infringement.

  13. #13
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Pragmatic Idealist View post
    I have had several of my pictures, which are copyrighted and which have been published on Flickr, used without my permission by a whole host of public agencies. I would normally claim infringement if I didn't support the goals of these organizations. Legally, though, I should be policing these things better.

    If it happens again, I'll make an issue of the infringement.
    If you are worried about the infringement, why are you putting it on Flickr? Do you use a watermark?

    --------------------------------------------

    This is my real issue with online photos. If someone wanted to keep them to themselves, they wouldn't be available to the masses online at easy to find locations.

    I don't know the legality of non-copyrighted photos online, but I think it gets pretty blurry when they are located on a public website without a watermark or copyright.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    Everything created is copyrighted unless stated otherwise. And, all image files, even those that employ certain security measures, on the Internet may be easily downloaded. I also use a screen-shot capture program, myself. Allowing others to save images for personal use is acceptable to me.

    Flickr allows the authors of the images to set their own licenses. Anyone wishing to use a picture can contact the owner directly, or, if he or she is enrolled as I am in the Getty Images program, the pictures in question can be licensed that way. I have had several images of mine licensed by legitimate entities, including The Wall Street Journal, that found my shots through Flickr and that paid me fees to republish the pictures.

    The law states that copyrights have to be policed by their owners in order for them to prevent the works from falling into the public domain.

  15. #15
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Pragmatic Idealist View post
    Everything created is copyrighted unless stated otherwise. And, all image files, even those that employ certain security measures, on the Internet may be easily downloaded. I also use a screen-shot capture program, myself. Allowing others to save images for personal use is acceptable to me.

    Flickr allows the authors of the images to set their own licenses. Anyone wishing to use a picture can contact the owner directly, or, if he or she is enrolled as I am in the Getty Images program, the pictures in question can be licensed that way. I have had several images of mine licensed by legitimate entities, including The Wall Street Journal, that found my shots through Flickr and that paid me fees to republish the pictures.

    The law states that copyrights have to be policed by their owners in order for them to prevent the works from falling into the public domain.
    That makes sense. You give up your ability to police your copyrights effectively when you put things online though. I would imagine the free exposure and the chance someone might pay for it outweighs the fact that lots of people aren't ever going to give you a penny?
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

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