One of my photos was used without permission

bfluegiebfluegie Registered Users Posts: 733 Major grins
edited January 2, 2024 in The Big Picture

I have a “what would you do” kind of question. I was looking online and I found one of my photos on a site with a review of a beach in Hawaii. The caption of the photo does list my Flickr user name and it does link back to the photo (I didn't realize this at first and I have edited this post to correct that error). This is the link to the page.
And this is the caption on the photo:
A woman and her dog - Nanakuli Beach Park – bfluegie - CC BY 2.0 (Unmodified)

The Flickr page it was copied from lists the copyright status as all rights reserved, but I never gave permission for the photo to be used. Furthermore, CC by 2.0 allows unlimited sharing (if I understand correctly). But even if shared, attribution is required. I’m not a professional and my photos aren’t really that good. If someone had asked me if they could use my photo of the beach for this purpose I might have said yes. It’s the whole not asking issue that gripes me. And the unlimited sharing of course… so maybe I wouldn’t have said yes.

In any case, since I’m not a pro and I would never have tried to sell the photo I haven’t come to any real financial harm. My user name is listed, so the photo is attributed to me. But, most importantly, I never agreed to the terms of CC by 2.0. I’m considering contacting Creative Commons to explain the issue and ask them to remove my photo from the blog post since it was used without my permission. I don’t know if that will get me anywhere. I suppose if that doesn’t work I could leave a review on the offending blog page and tell them I am not happy that they stole my photo. Or I could just let it go since it isn’t costing me anything. Any better suggestions?



  • ziggy53ziggy53 Super Moderators Posts: 23,718 moderator

    Hi Barb, the following is my opinion as a non-attorney and not an expert in law of any sort. If you want true legal advice, please hire an actual attorney familiar with copyright law, civil law and criminal law. This applies to anyone in a similar situation as you stated above.

    First, I strongly recommend never accusing someone either verbally or in writing (especially not in any public setting) of 'stealing your photo' unless you are fully prepared to prove the theft as a loss of revenue, in the case of a digital theft. You would have to prove those damages to the court's satisfaction.

    Otherwise, publicly accusing someone/anyone of "stealing" anything without proof of loss puts "you" in jeopardy of a counterclaim of "defamation [of character]", which is a serious criminal offense if you were found guilty, which may apply if I understand your situation.

    I do believe you can prove yourself to be the legal copyright holder in this situation, and I believe you may be able to file an "infringement with a takedown request" to the operator of the blog, but you would have to file at least 2 legally prepared documents beforehand. I cannot give you an exact process or method to prepare those documents myself, so now is when you should avail yourself with a copyright attorney specifically. (Not all attorneys are competent copyright attorneys, so be selective.)

    Be aware too that if you are successful in a takedown request, you may have to further search the Internet for other infractions with each requiring a separate takedown request.

    Wishing you the best in this journey, but remember that in the legal world wording is everything, and a single misstep can be financially devastating, in a worst-case scenario.

    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • bfluegiebfluegie Registered Users Posts: 733 Major grins

    I appreciate the advice, Ziggy. I would (probably) have been more diplomatic than my venting above would indicate. I have found my photos online before, but it was always individuals who had something like galleries of photos of natural places that they admired. A click on the photo always went back to my Flickr page. Since I'm not a pro and am not trying to make any money from my photos I let those non-commercial efforts go. It really seemed like an extension of what I get out of Flickr, sharing pictures of nice places (or cats). This looks more like a professional site. Apparently the owner is an entrepreneur and venture capitalist who owns a beach tourism company. I really don't want to go down the legal route. I suspect the website owner has better lawyers than I do. If he has one of even limited skill that would be true. So, I guess I'll just use the "contact us" link and see if they will remove it. And maybe I should research what I actually agreed to when I posted photos on Flickr. I have always prohibited actual downloads, but if anyone can use my photos by linking to them I will have to rethink posting there. Maybe the solution is that I just remove that photo from Flickr and it goes away on that site as well. A database of beach information with photos from all over the world actually sounds like a good idea... but he should have asked.

  • ziggy53ziggy53 Super Moderators Posts: 23,718 moderator

    @bfluegie said:
    ... but he should have asked.

    I completely agree. 👍
    People think they know about copyright law, but this person obviously doesn't even know about common consideration.

    Yes, a direct request from you to the offender to remove your image is worth trying.

    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • bfluegiebfluegie Registered Users Posts: 733 Major grins

    Well, I did send a message from the site "contact us" page. I looked a little closer and I don't think just removing the photo from Flickr will help because there is an option on the website to edit and save my photo. So I think they actually have a copy of my photo rather than just a link. If it was a really awesome photo I'd be wondering if it was being used elsewhere. But it's really not particularly good. Either nobody else photographs that beach or they liked the fact that the woman walking on it is carrying a dog and they mentioned dogs are allowed on the beach. I may still try removing my photo if they don't do it voluntarily. I'll try to be optimistic.

  • David_S85David_S85 Administrators Posts: 13,159 moderator

    A take down notice will be your next option following a sternly written email or actual mail. Hopefully lawyers don't need to be involved.

    My Smugmug
    "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" - Wayne Gretzky
  • bfluegiebfluegie Registered Users Posts: 733 Major grins
    edited January 5, 2024

    This is what I sent. I didn't send a formal email or letter, but used the contact page on the website. So, no lawyers yet (probably never given cost/benefit). I have to be realistic. But it still gripes me. Upon review of the following, I'm thinking maybe I should have used the company name rather than "you" which implies he personally used my photo. Oh well, what's done is done.

    "To Randall Kaplan - CEO:

    It has come to my attention that you have used my copyrighted photograph of Nanakuli Beach Park on your website. I did not grant permission for any use of this copyrighted item, and my photos are not in the public domain. By using this image you are infringing on my copyright. Furthermore, the photo has been modified from it’s original form, removing my small copyright watermark. Please remove my photo from your website.

    This is the url where I found my photo on your website:"

    My guess is this will just be ignored.

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