Despite this, at our web design business we still frequently get requests to “just find a picture on Google”. There is a perception that stealing pictures from the internet is just fine – because “everyone is doing it”.
We usually take the time to educate our clients around copyright. There are literally millions of pictures available at affordable stock agencies, so generally there is no excuse for using another person’s photograph without their permission.
A lot of photographers are fed-up with their images being stolen. And now there is recourse for their loss. For a nominal annual fee (nominal when it comes to legal fees, anyway) photographers are now able to protect their images with Image Rights.
As the photographer points out, this is not some flimsy, half-baked Getty collections department. This is the real legal deal and the photographer is contractually bound not to speak to the image thief until the matter is “settled” by Image Rights.
What this means for image thieves is that stealing photographs online – especially for commercial use – will soon become an expensive legal transgression. The onus is on Image Rights to enforce compensation for the transgression. It looks like the bulk of their fees depend on it.
If you have a business website, public Facebook page or another online entity, we suggest going though the site and removing images that you know you don’t have the necessary image rights for.
Instead, you can:
Admittedly, it looks like this legal enforcement is likely to impact the first world, specifically the USA, hardest at first. But if I were an enterprising South African copyright legal expert, I’d be getting in contact with Image Rights for a slice of the local image enforcement action.
As far as we are aware, South Africa is also a signatory of the Berne Convention. So it’s likely only a matter of time before South African image thieves start facing similar legal action from a “partner” local legal firm.