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The Almighty Buck The Courts Twitter

Image Lifted From Twitter Leads to $1.2M Payout For Haitian Photog 242

Posted by timothy
from the always-look-for-the-cc-label dept.
magic maverick writes "A U.S. federal jury has ordered Agence France-Presse and Getty Images to pay $1.2 million to a Daniel Morel, Haitian photographer, for their unauthorized use of photographs, from the 2010 Haiti earthquake. The images, posted to Twitter, were taken by an editor at AFP and then provided to Getty. A number of other organizations had already settled out of court with the photographer."
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Image Lifted From Twitter Leads to $1.2M Payout For Haitian Photog

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  • by assemblerex (1275164) on Sunday November 24, 2013 @11:05PM (#45511515)
    Big business "borrows" images all the time. Nice to see they have to pay the working man (photographer) for once.
    • by iluvcapra (782887) on Sunday November 24, 2013 @11:10PM (#45511525)

      Information wants to be free for me, but not for thee.

      Was AFP wrong to take the images because it violated the profoundly-honored institution of copyright, which everyone on Slashdot naturally adores (heh), or because they're a rich corporations, and rich corporations are always wrong compared to "working men"?

      I eagerly awate assemblerex's demand for Voltage Pictures to be compensated millions of dollars for the bittorrented distribution of The Hurt Locker. I bring this up as someone who was employed on that film, and note that that money pays my salary on the next film...

      • by MacDork (560499) on Sunday November 24, 2013 @11:17PM (#45511567) Journal

        which everyone on Slashdot naturally adores (heh)

        You must be new here. GPL only works because of copyright.

        • by tepples (727027) <{tepples} {at} {gmail.com}> on Sunday November 24, 2013 @11:25PM (#45511601) Homepage Journal
          Without copyright, anybody with more time than money could disassemble, document, and distribute any proprietary fork of a program and turn binaries back into (assembly language) source code useful for cloning the added functionality in the Free branch.
        • by iluvcapra (782887)
          I would strongly agree with this, and I've been here for 15 years. I'm willing to accept this fact about the GPL— smartasses will however argue that the GPL is actually a kind of culture jamming, or "taking the system down from the inside." Casuistry I say.
          • The GPL exists because, at present, copyright on code etc exists. If copyright did not exist on code, then the GPL would no longer be necessary.
      • by Okian Warrior (537106) on Sunday November 24, 2013 @11:30PM (#45511627) Homepage Journal

        I eagerly awate assemblerex's demand for Voltage Pictures to be compensated millions of dollars for the bittorrented distribution of The Hurt Locker. I bring this up as someone who was employed on that film, and note that that money pays my salary on the next film...

        You seem to be implying that we have a double standard in judging the moral position of copyright litigants.

        Let me ask you something: do the "Voltage Pictures" standard contracts in any way, shape, or form conform to the common definition of Hollywood Accounting [wikipedia.org]?

        It's not that we always side with "the little guy" - we frequently side against small vendors making money off of illegal copying, such as Chinese illegal DVD vendors or businesses who sell open-source software.

        The rule is this: we generally side against evil, in all its predatory, corrupt, and dishonourable ways.

        What's your take on the "Voltage Pictures" contracts, BTW? I think people here would enjoy your views.

        • "It's not that we always side with "the little guy" - we frequently side against small vendors making money off of illegal copying, such as Chinese illegal DVD vendors or businesses who sell open-source software."

          Businesses are allowed to sell open-source software, at least by the two most popular types of free/open-source licenses, BSD and GPL.

          Even morally, which is different from what's legally allowed, it's okay to sell open-source software, provided you give something back to the open-source developers,

      • by gl4ss (559668) on Sunday November 24, 2013 @11:34PM (#45511647) Homepage Journal

        I think the big deal is that they put the images on Getty..

        so it's like someone taking somebodys music performance from youtube and putting it on spotify and for sale on itunes... rather than someone taking that music from youtube and putting it on vimeo.

        they weren't trying to redistribute it for free, they were trying to get a fee for redistributing it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by iluvcapra (782887)

          they weren't trying to redistribute it for free, they were trying to get a fee for redistributing it.

          With respect, nobody is trying to redistribute anything for free. Either the creator distributes it and gets paid admission, or Kim Dotcom distributes it and gets millions in ad impressions. Ad revenue pays for the "free media revolution".

          • by gl4ss (559668)

            your comment makes no sense and is not relevant.

            "Either the creator distributes it and gets paid admission" how about creator distributes and pays for the hosting costs? that's pretty usual after all.

            I don't think you quite grasp what getty is, it's an image bank you can buy pictures from for publishing(so you can have legit pictures which supposedly pay money to the author of the picture).

            for free in case of AP would have been just publishing it as part of publishing news about the countrys crisis. many ph

      • by assemblerex (1275164) on Sunday November 24, 2013 @11:35PM (#45511659)
        The Hurt Locker made a profit as intended,but Voltage Pictures and are suing because they feel they are making less money than entitled. The guy in Haiti made no money at all, they just stole his images. So big business wanting every drop of blood versus a man who just wants a piece of the pie is an entirely different situation entirely. Public domain is saying you made enough money , now it belongs to everyone. This idea and public domain is under assault by companies like Voltage Pictures that want to make money forever.
        • by iluvcapra (782887)

          So big business wanting every drop of blood versus a man who just wants a piece of the pie is an entirely different situation entirely.

          So people are only entitled to royalties if they really really need them? Thus, no rich person (or entity) should ever collect a royalty?

          Hurt Locker really didn't profit.

          • by Hydian (904114)

            It made $49mil theatrically worldwide on a $15mil budget. Profits were probably hurt by the distribution issues, releasing an independent during summer blockbuster season, negative response from vets, and (later) the lawsuit against the film. File sharing did not really impact the theatrical release. It only made $145k on its opening weekend which is before file sharing would even be able to kick in. Catching Fire opened to $161mil this past weekend and file sharing hasn't gone away, so obviously that w

      • by gman003 (1693318)

        Copyright, in and of itself, is a good idea. I have nothing wrong with the concept of a person having a degree of control over that which they produce.

        The current system is absolutely broken. The punishment is completely out of proportion - it's like having the death penalty for jaywalking. It interferes with legitimate use and with security research. And it lasts long enough that some artists (or rather, the corporations that bought their rights) are effectively stealing from the public, not the other way

        • by iluvcapra (782887) on Monday November 25, 2013 @12:06AM (#45511851)

          FWIW, I haven't watched your movie, probably never will. And I consider your studio's attempt to blackmail people they suspected of piracy to be little better than thuggish banditry.

          Voltage Pictures is a production company, not a studio. Kathryn Bigelow actually produced her following picture with Annapurna Pictures, which is funded by one of Larry Ellison's kids.

          My actual studio is Sony Pictures. You guys are cool with Sony, right? =D

          • by gman003 (1693318)

            My actual studio is Sony Pictures. You guys are cool with Sony, right? =D

            Ha.

            Haha.

            HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

          • by russotto (537200) on Monday November 25, 2013 @12:55AM (#45512097) Journal

            My actual studio is Sony Pictures. You guys are cool with Sony, right? =D

            Is that the Sony of Sony v. Universal, who along with establishing the idea that time-shifting of television programs was fair use, also defeated the idea that manufacture and sale any device which might enable an infringing use was itself a secondary infringement?

            Or is that the Sony which put rootkits on their CDs as a copy protection scheme?

            • by iluvcapra (782887)

              Both!

              Or maybe, Neither! This is the Sony that was once called "Columbia Pictures," bought by the Japanese from the Coca-Cola Company in the late 1980s.

      • by sumdumass (711423)

        I strongly think it was just because of all the copyright enforcement France has engaged in with the attempts to protect their own media companies.

        It is only fitting that French companies play by the same rules they and the French government attempt to force others to play by.

        And I say that after watching movies all night on pirate websites that I would never pay to see in the first place.

      • by citizenr (871508)

        Information wants to be free for me, but not for thee.

        Was AFP wrong to take the images because it violated the profoundly-honored institution of copyright, which everyone on Slashdot naturally adores (heh), or because they're a rich corporations, and rich corporations are always wrong compared to "working men"?

        because they made money from it

        I eagerly awate assemblerex's demand for Voltage Pictures to be compensated millions of dollars for the bittorrented distribution of The Hurt Locker. I bring this up as someone who was employed on that film, and note that that money pays my salary on the next film...

        Look into your contract sucker, do you really believe your payment was somehow related to how much money movie made? I wont even mention hollywood accounting.

        • by iluvcapra (782887)

          Look into your contract sucker, do you really believe your payment was somehow related to how much money movie made?

          I'm very grateful I don't pay my rent with that kind of deal — no one does, though some producers would love to switch to that model. They call it "innovative" and dangle tales of Kickstarter millionaires in front of the desperate and stupid. I read my deal memo very carefully.

          I have a union, thank god. Actually my pension is paid by profit sharing that counts as a "cost" from a "net"

      • by XaXXon (202882) <xaxxon@ g m ail.com> on Monday November 25, 2013 @12:23AM (#45511949) Homepage

        I believe there is a strong difference between commercial and non-commercial copyright violations.

        When you take what someone is trying to sell and sell it yourself, you've clearly crossed all moral boundaries. You've removed people who demonstrably will pay for the content from the pool of people to pay the creator.

      • by EdIII (1114411)

        There is far less hypocrisy than you think around here regarding copyright.

        I respect copyright. Specifically, I respect that idea that on a very temporary basis you are afforded some legal rights that allow you to profit from the work. Obviously, you're doing this as part of a group and that applies as well.

        What I do not respect, and you can go suck a big bag of dirty dicks for, is any kind of support for:

        - The curtailment and abrogation of my rights and freedoms in order to suit your agenda in any way, sha

      • by Nyder (754090)

        Information wants to be free for me, but not for thee.

        Was AFP wrong to take the images because it violated the profoundly-honored institution of copyright, which everyone on Slashdot naturally adores (heh), or because they're a rich corporations, and rich corporations are always wrong compared to "working men"?

        I eagerly awate assemblerex's demand for Voltage Pictures to be compensated millions of dollars for the bittorrented distribution of The Hurt Locker. I bring this up as someone who was employed on that film, and note that that money pays my salary on the next film...

        I'm going to point out that due to Hollywood accounting https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_accounting [wikipedia.org] that any money you were promised on sales of the movie, you were never getting anyways. In fact, the Hurt Locker sucked so bad, no one wanted to pay to see it in the theaters and no one wants DVD's or Bluerays of it.

        Rest of your comment is typical of people who don't understand how corporations are raping the public domain in the name of profit.

      • by roc97007 (608802)

        > Was AFP wrong to take the images because it violated the profoundly-honored institution of copyright, which everyone on Slashdot naturally adores (heh), or because they're a rich corporations, and rich corporations are always wrong compared to "working men"?

        AFP was wrong to take the images because they didn't own them. As a professional photographer, I expect to be paid for my work, unless I choose to give it away. (Which I have chosen to do on occasion, usually requiring a photo credit.) Using my w

      • It's about usage and proportionality.

        This was wide scale COMMERCIAL usage. Were all the licensing paid out appropriately, it may well have reached that number (I don't necessarily agree that "licensing" is right, but that's another issue for another day)

        Large corporations can afford a huge payout and they should also have to play by different rules because of how said largeness affords them power and control that you and I can only dream of.

        Individuals can't be expected to play by the same copyright rules

      • by Yvanhoe (564877)
        I'll be happy with this photographer getting zero dollars from his work when any copyrighted work can be copied without problem.

        Actually, I endorse a return to a sane copyright law: 5 to 20 years from first publication, then it becomes public domain.

        Copyright laws suck, because indeed information wants to be free. Today, however, it is not. So if someone makes money by claiming property over some information, at least do it by giving a part of the money to the guys with a minimum of merits.
      • by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Monday November 25, 2013 @05:55AM (#45512999) Journal

        No, I don't think you understand the Slashdotter's complaint in this case.

        The issue here is the big copyright holders constantly try to get legislation passed and put in technological means (enforced by legislation) to stop people copying from them. They even go to the extent of trying to introduce "piracy is wrong" lessons in the school curriculum. But at the same time they are quite happy to pirate material off anyone they perceive to be unable to defend themselves, a classic case of "do what I say, not what I do". Quite rightly Slashdotters feel that those who constantly preach the "don't pirate our stuff" message and even go as far as getting legislation passed should be practising what they preach.

      • by sjames (1099)

        You are discounting several factors in the decision making process. One, the corporation that got busted (getty) has never hesitated to enforce it's own copyrights, so there's a strong element of hypocrisy when they lift someone else's copyrighted works. Next there is the commercial vs. personal use difference.

        I eagerly await Getty announcing that if you see their works online somewhere it's fair game for commercial use.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Copyright worked as intended in this case. They were new works rather than some fifty year old song, and the pirates appropriated the work for commercial use. They were getting money that should have gone to the photographer.

        In your case, someone DLing "The Hurt Locker" costs you nothing, the uploader gains nothing, and the downloader might think "hey, great movie" and see the sequel in the theater.

        BTW, Read my book. [mcgrewbooks.com] For free. Yes, you can buy it, too; the printed version is superior -- typeface, etc. That'

      • If oxygen were privatised, then a lot of oxygen billing agent job positions would suddenly be filled.

        The right for people to breathe air freely would not be trumped by the right for oxygen billing agents to keep being paid.

        Newayz, the immoral act here is greed.

      • by fa2k (881632)

        I eagerly awate assemblerex's demand for Voltage Pictures to be compensated millions of dollars for the bittorrented distribution of The Hurt Locker. I bring this up as someone who was employed on that film, and note that that money pays my salary on the next film...

        Good to point out hypocricy, but BAD to bring up "The Hurt Locker". The company made absolute arses of themselves with their rhetoric against file sharers. Most of Hollywood manages to somewhat maintain their dignity while speaking out against piracy.

        As for slashdot being hypocrites (ignoring that the people commenting pro-Morel in this story aren't necessarily the same as those who come out against Hollywood), I think it's mainly a subjective moral judgement. There are many substantive differences between

    • ...an appeal. AFP is not going to take a 1.2m verdict lying down. I might feel a little sorry for the AFP if AFP hadn't filedthe first suit that sounds like they were pre-emptively stripping the photographer of his copyright with an aggressive lawsuit. I worry more that this verdict will ultimately be used by corporations on little people.
  • Getty Images had about $945 million in revenue last year, according to a March credit report by Moody's. That's up from $857.6 million in 2007, the last full year in which the company reported financial results.

    That is 2008....do you think they really care about part of 1.2 million? Do you think it will change attitudes and behaviors?

  • by shameless (100182) on Sunday November 24, 2013 @11:23PM (#45511595) Homepage

    Getty Images makes no bones about asking a lot of money for their images and making sure they get paid. I own a business that among other things produces fine art prints. Some time back a customer asked about a print of a particular Old Master painting that wasn't listed in any publisher's catalog. Tracking down a high-resolution image that I could print myself led me to Getty Images. The minimum royalty for this kind of use was in the $300 range. The rep came right out and said that their royalty structure would not be economical for one-off print like I was seeking.

    This, BTW, is for an image that is theoretically in the public domain.

    • The painting is in the public domain - a recently taken photograph is not. The two are not the same thing.

  • I don't understand why Getty's client settled ... Getty might be aware of the lack of due diligence on AFP's part, but I assume their clients were not. How can they be held responsible?

    • by sumdumass (711423)

      I would assume they concluded that settling would be less costly than fighting it. The fact that it was settled for an undisclosed amount probably suggests that the original author was asking something more reasonable then what was awarded in court.

      The problem with copyright is that dissemination or distribution in and of itself is a violation so even if I swore to you that I owned the copyright and you could distribute it, you are not entirely off the hook if I was not truthful. Of course any sane court wo

      • I would assume they concluded that settling would be less costly than fighting it. The fact that it was settled for an undisclosed amount probably suggests that the original author was asking something more reasonable then what was awarded in court.

        The problem with copyright is that dissemination or distribution in and of itself is a violation so even if I swore to you that I owned the copyright and you could distribute it, you are not entirely off the hook if I was not truthful. Of course any sane court would likely keep any penalties as low as possible if you could prove that. Some juries might even toss it out because of the mens rea [wikipedia.org] involved but it would require going to court and risking losing the case.

        No, if I can prove you swore to me that you owned the copyright and I could distribute it, I'm entirely off the hook... Or technically I am off the hook, and you're the one who's boned.
        The rule is Rule 14 [cornell.edu], which states that if I'm sued, I can bring you in as a third-party defendant if you're liable for all or part of the claim against me: I infringed the copyright, but because of your fraud, you're responsible for my actions. The best part is, if I can prove that tiny piece of it - show my contract with you, for example - I can walk away from the copyright infringement case and never have to show up in court. If "I" lose that one, then even if I owe the plaintiff a million dollars, you're 100% liable to me, so really, it's you who loses. Hence why I could take a default judgement and not care.

        This also comes up in insurance proceedings. If you sue me and I'm fully covered by insurance, I'll just bring in my insurance company and let them defend the suit if they want. I don't care because, win or lose, I don't pay anything.

        • Showing up in court, bringing a lawyer and all that would most likely cost way over $1000, regardless of what the case was or how much preparation was required. If the original photographer settled for an amount below that, which isn't that uncommon as a publishing fee for news photographs, they'd still be cheaper off than going to court and getting themselves off the hook.

          In the USA, you usually can't get your own costs reimbursed for such a case, even if you win. In other countries, you often only get a

        • by Kjella (173770)

          If "I" lose that one, then even if I owe the plaintiff a million dollars, you're 100% liable to me, so really, it's you who loses. Hence why I could take a default judgement and not care.

          But does the claim go through you or past you, that makes a huge difference if your "third party" can't pay or has hidden their assets or they're abroad or whatever. Will they then take your house, car and savings while you're stuck with a valid but useless claim against that third party? Like if your insurance company went bankrupt between the car accident and the payout you're not off the hook, the claim is against you as the driver first and your insurance company second. It's not a big deal with insuran

    • My first guess is that the settlements were reasonable and it meant they didn't have to go to trial. =P

      Even if they would win, it would be bad press for them to be dragging a little guy through a trial in which they admitted using his photos without his permission, but instead argued that they were themselves defrauded by a third party. As far as I know, they would be found liable for damages, and then be told to sue the third party (in this case, Getty) themselves to recoup their losses.

      For the Haitian p

    • They probably settled for a much lower amount, and it was cheaper than fighting in court. Plus, it's bad publicity fighting someone who lived through that earthquake just to have his work stolen by corporations and then used by your own corporation.

  • by Jody Bruchon (3404363) on Monday November 25, 2013 @12:46AM (#45512051)
    Seems to me that this is another nail in the coffin. As many small business websites as they have gone after with extortion letters rather than letters trying to convert them to paying customers, I have no problem with Getty being dinged and dinged hard for doing the same that that they go after small businesses for. Getty has been a poor corporate citizen for many years, and at worst we should expect them to strictly abide by the same copyright rules that they are so adamant about.
  • At least someone managed to monetize the tragedy that Haiti was.
    God (or the spaghetti monster) forbid the money spend on those lawsuits and the payouts would go to, you know, the victims of the earthquake.
  • by nitehawk214 (222219) on Monday November 25, 2013 @11:48AM (#45515037)

    I pronounce photog as "pho-tog". I think it is a Vietnamese dish.

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