Court-case reminder: Most online photos are NOT up for grabs

(Photo by WSB contributing photojournalist Christopher Boffoli)
When we published that photo from WSB photojournalist Christopher Boffoli last November, as part of coverage of Beato’s closure, little did we know it would wind up in court – where he just won a victory on behalf of intellectual-property rights. We strongly believe in those rights and protections here at WSB — for example, when we are asked for permission to use a photo, if it’s not a photo that was taken by one of us co-publishers, we tell the requester that we do not have the rights to the photo, and we forward the request to the person who provided us with it, whether amateur or pro. Same goes for written work – if we link to someone else’s story, unless there are unusual circumstances (and involving permission), we don’t pull a chunk of the story; we provide the link because we believe you should go read it on the writer’s own site. And we have a notice at the bottom of our pages pointing out that photos cannot be used without permission. Sometimes, though, either we, or someone who has contributed photography, discovers a picture used without permission, as happened with the one you see above. Read on for the full story of what happened and how the small-claims court case turned out:

Christopher discovered this past May that his photo had been repurposed, without his permission, without a request even having been made to us; it turned up on a real-estate listing for Beato. It was marked as copyrighted by the listing service. Christopher started investigating and says the listing service told him that they had received it from the listing agent, Laura Miller of Catalyst Commercial Partners, and that she had verified image ownership.

He says: “By now I have become accustomed to the occasional unauthorized use of my images on the web. And I’m satisfied that such situations can usually be remedied by a polite take-down notice as long as the violator apologizes and complies. But it is something altogether different when a commercial interest uses my image without my authorization or knowledge for a six-figure commercial real estate listing. This situation was made more odious by the fact that, when I discovered my image online, it was being used with a Commercial Broker’s Association (CBA) copyright flag on it.”

CBA, he says, took the photo down within 24 hours. Christopher says he then tried repeatedly to contact Miller, and that she never responded. “And when she failed to take responsibility I decided that I felt it was right to defend my copyright .. I have worked too hard, honing my skills for decades, to just sit back and have my work be exploited. It was my choice to go out into the cold and dark with thousands of dollars of camera equipment to photograph Beato for the benefit of the WSB (in this case as a volunteer without compensation). It was not my choice to just have some commercial entity presumptuously and thoughtlessly steal my image for their own benefit.” (Editor’s note: Much of Christopher’s recent work for WSB has been compensated, as we have become able to pay professional freelance reporters, photographers and technical workers, but he has done an amazing amount of volunteer work for WSB, which we appreciate tremendously.)

Christopher’s attempts at getting some acknowledgment from the agent eventually included an invoice. That, too, he says, was ignored. So he filed a case in small-claims court, and a hearing was scheduled yesterday afternoon.

He says the judge, Judith Eiler, first asked if both parties would work with a court-appointed mediator from the King County Dispute Resolution Center. He and Miller agreed, and off they went.

He says he laid out his case, while her dispute “was simply that her assistant uploaded the image … and she didn’t know where it had come from. She said they use all kinds of images all the time and have no idea where they come from. … In response to her statement that she was not responsible, I reminded her that it was careless to use an image when she wasn’t clear about the origin. When she (or her assistant) made the choice to upload that image to a third party (in this case the Commercial Broker’s Association website) and signed a statement claiming to have ownership of the image, that act was a willful violation of Federal copyright law and that to continue to do business that way was to expose her business to considerable liability.”

After both sides made their cases and rebutted, Christopher says, they could not agree on compensation, so “we went back into the courtroom to see the judge.” Here’s his account of what happened next:

She came out of chambers and swore us in. Then she just asked me a couple of simple questions: She asked if I was the copyright holder of the image. I said I was and showed her the copyright certificate. She asked where the image was published. I told her it appeared on the WSB and showed her a print-out of the coverage. She asked if the WSB clearly identified the picture as my own. I said it did. A credit under the image read (Photo by WSB contributing photojournalist Christopher Boffoli). With that she turned to Ms. Miller and asked for her defense. But the judge quickly shot down the “I used it but I didn’t know where it came from” excuse. She told Ms. Miller that just because things are on the Web it doesn’t mean they’re free. The judge then asked Ms. Miller why she thought she wasn’t responsible for paying me for the image she used. Ms. Miller answered simply that they never pay for images but just get them for free. The rest of the conversation was the judge asking me how I arrived at the dollar figure. I provided copies of invoices for stock photographs I had sold to graphic design houses where the type and duration of use were similar. I also provided comparable information from Getty Images and Corbis. The judge ruled in my favor for the amount I was asking, $1,000 plus court costs.

The agent has the right to appeal; we have asked her for comment, including whether she plans to appeal, but have not heard back. (In this account of Christopher’s case, published earlier today, the writer says she told him she did not want to discuss the case. *8:50 PM UPDATE* Just received a short reply: “No comment. Thank you for your message.”)

So when IS it OK to use a photo you find online, if you do not have express permission directly from its owner? There are a few circumstances. Photographers can identify their images, especially on photo-sharing services, as available for public use. Photos from government websites, taken by government employees, are generally considered to be in the public domain. There is a much larger body of discussion regarding so-called “fair use” that some might argue makes even more copyrighted material available in certain contexts; the debate, in and out of court, goes on, and you can read about it in myriad places online including here.

46 Replies to "Court-case reminder: Most online photos are NOT up for grabs"

  • hopey August 14, 2009 (4:04 pm)

    Score one for the little guy! Great job, Christopher.

  • brizone August 14, 2009 (4:36 pm)

    Congratulations Christopher!

    It’s striking how arrogant the Real Estate agent was, refusing to even respond to your phone calls or letter. Amazing!!

    This is a wonderful example of justice-realized against a corporate sensibility that anything they can get their hands on from the commons (and not even in the commons in this case!) is just another resource to cash in for their [greedy] selves.

  • bikejuju August 14, 2009 (4:40 pm)

    Wow. Interesting case.

    Great opportunity to mention Creative Commons licenses, which define terms under which creative works can be used. The Flickr.com photo sharing site, among others, allows you to search for Creative Commons-licensed images. You can then use them, according to the particular license.

    http://creativecommons.org/

  • OP August 14, 2009 (4:46 pm)

    Good for you, Christopher!

  • Chris August 14, 2009 (5:04 pm)

    Point of clarification. There is absolutely NOTHING “so-called” about Fair Use. It is long-established law, it is defined, and it’s existence is not up for debate except by those who wish to deny it exists for their own financial purposes. Which of course, they frequently do.

    “Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.”

    Source: http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#107

    I’m not arguing whether this case was Fair Use, I have no idea. But Fair Use does exist, WSB.

  • Chris August 14, 2009 (5:04 pm)

    BTW, different Chris from the subject of the post.

  • lazybeard August 14, 2009 (5:07 pm)

    I’m glad that Christopher was able to successful take the responsible party to court to protect his work. I recall the forum thread that he started and it caught my interest.

  • christopherboffoli August 14, 2009 (5:18 pm)

    Thanks everyone. And thanks to bikejuju for posting that bit about Creative Commons. I like that there are ways that content creators can make it legal to share their work.
    .
    What is perhaps understated in this article is that I’m fairly generous with the use of my images if people simply ask permission to use them first (and they aren’t being used for profit). I’ve also had a few WSB readers ask for prints of some of my images in past years and, if I can accommodate them, I’ll generally pass them along at my cost. What really made this situation much worse was that the image was being used in a for-profit capacity, that it had been uploaded by Ms. Miller to a third party (who applied their copyright notice to my image), and that Ms. Miller failed to take responsibility in any way. Had she sent a simple acknowledgment and/or a sincere apology I doubt the matter would have gone as far as it did.
    .
    I’m most grateful to the very capable judge who seemed well-versed in the merits of protecting intellectual property.

  • JR August 14, 2009 (5:27 pm)

    I think it’s great that the photographer has prevailed, but don’t really understand why this judge had jursidiction over this matter- copyright violations are supposed to be the exclusive jurisdiction of federal courts, no matter the amount of damages requested.

  • JayDee August 14, 2009 (5:42 pm)

    Congratulations Christopher…what I can’t quite grasp is if someone stiffed her on a real estate commission, she’d totally see the point of getting paid for her work. Yet, apparently, paying another professional for his work is unfathomable. Rather than just own up, she blames her assistant (presumably someone she is paying to work) for the mistake.

    I am glad you got the favorable judgment, and wish you luck in getting payment.

  • I. Ponder August 14, 2009 (5:53 pm)

    If the realtor had not ignored the photographer’s communications he would not have had to take legal action. It probably could have been settled for lunch and a coffee and an apology. So much for the realtor’s salesmanship skills.

    I think the photographer had to put a huge amount of time, effort, and grief into pursuing this than even the $1,000 compensates for.

    Sounds like painful justice for all.

  • christopherboffoli August 14, 2009 (6:04 pm)

    JR: The jurisdictional issue is an interesting point. Except this wasn’t a copyright case, per se. It was a property case. My copyright ownership was never in question. And this was not a criminal prosecution for the violation of US Copyright Law which is still an option that is open to me if the judgment is not paid in the manner the court has prescribed. The judge very adroitly established ownership and value of the property that I created and owned. And then she confirmed that Ms. Miller had used the value of that property without permission and without providing monetary consideration for its use. If you take the word ‘photograph’ out of the equation and replace it with the word ‘bicycle’ or ‘car’ you will see what I mean. I suppose the use of my image without consent could also be construed as tortious interference with my business as why should clients pay me for my images when someone else can take them and use them for free?
    .
    JayDee: I’m willing to give Ms. Miller the benefit of the doubt to some extent. She claimed that her office gathers images from multiple sources and does not track their origin. So it is plausible that this act was unintentional. The lesson learned is that that it is a careless way to conduct business and uploading random images to third party websites (and signing ownership certificates in the process) can be reckless. I spoke to a number of real estate agents about this situation and their responses were unanimous: That in the industry it is considered a big “no-no” to randomly grab images for your listing. So she and her assistant both should have thought twice about doing this. And even then they certainly should have fixed it when they got caught as opposed to just wishing it away.

  • miws August 14, 2009 (6:14 pm)

    Congrats, Christopher!

    .

    I’m glad this worked in your favor.

    .

    Mike

  • jmv August 14, 2009 (6:33 pm)

    I worked for CBBAIN and they have very high standards regarding this and they warned and educated us consistently about not using others photos or listings on our websites or flyers without permission. However, in the general industry we saw it abused all the time. An agent would list a home and pay for professional photos to be taken. Then if the client changed agents or brokerages I have seen the new agents just taking the same photos from the previous listing (usually because they were so well done and their amateur versions didn’t look as good). So I am wondering if that is where she got her rationale that ‘they do it all the time’. However I don’t agree with it and I love that Chris took her to task. It’s absolutely ridiculous that she dug her heels in even through mediation. Congrats, I think you deserved court costs plus more than $1,000 simply for her complete disregard.

  • JR August 14, 2009 (7:19 pm)

    Chris- I am really glad this worked out for you, and I hope your judgement gets paid without any problem. However, for other photographers out there who plan on using this same remedy, they should take into consideration that if the defendant had challenged the jurisdiction of this court over this matter, I think that they would have prevailed in getting the matter dismissed. That doesn’t negate the rightness or validity of you pursuing someone who infringes on your intellectual property, but others might want to keep in mind that they might need to resort to federal court. I understand the analogy you are making to a physical bicycled theft case; I just have a different view on how this might be interpreted under a different judge. I am really glad it worked out for you, and I appreciate you sharing your experience. If you get a written copy of the judges decision, I would love it if you could post it- it would be great if others could use it as precedent in their own situations.

  • christopherboffoli August 14, 2009 (7:34 pm)

    JR: Thanks again. We clearly don’t agree on the issue as I still maintain the subject matter of the case was perfectly appropriate for the jurisdiction of this court. Fortunately for me the judge agreed as she didn’t even raise the question and ruled with alacrity on the facts before her.
    .
    With that said, you might consider the case of Liz Ordonez-Dawes v. Turnkey Properties, Inc. which did go through the US District Court in Florida last year. The merits of the case are strikingly similar: A professional photographer provided a real estate company with images which were shared with a third party without consent. In that case the judge ruled in favor of the defendant and awarded damages in excess of $12 million. http://www.photoattorney.com/2008/06/photographer-gets-12-million-verdict.html
    .
    So in addition to your caveat for photographers, perhaps it is appropriate to share a warning for potential defendants as well. They might be better served to resolve this in small claims court for $1,000 and NOT raise a jurisdictional objection at the risk of finding themselves in Federal court and paying significantly more in criminal penalties and statutory damages.

  • Dave August 14, 2009 (7:46 pm)

    That realtor is a twit, plain and simple. And she’s a very lucky twit, too, because had this case not been handled in Small Claims, the damage award could have easily been much, MUCH higer.

  • Diana August 14, 2009 (9:12 pm)

    Christopher, I have followed this from the beginning and was one to encourage you to pursue it through SCC. Congratulations! Hopefully your judgement will be paid without delay. If you need assistance in execution you can contact me through WSB and I would be pleased to help you.

  • Larry Snyder August 14, 2009 (10:51 pm)

    Way to go young man.

    Larry
    fotoitaliana.com
    images of Italy

  • SunnyDaze August 14, 2009 (10:57 pm)

    Oh geez, a whiney little photo boy tries to score some big $$$ off the real estate agent. Gimme a break. Give the photog $50 for his hard work The photo isn’t even all that good. Didn’t return his calls?…oh waaaaah. WS knee jerk liberals strike again.

  • Mike August 14, 2009 (11:58 pm)

    SunnyDaze, you have no idea how much the photo is worth. Considering the agent will make thousands off the sale, the photo helped in that sale, therefore is worth thousands. Nice how that works eh?

    This has NOTHING to do with being liberal. It has everything to do with upholding the LAW.

  • Ingrid August 15, 2009 (12:06 am)

    Glad for you, Christopher. We like your photos. Keep them coming! :)

  • SMS August 15, 2009 (12:15 am)

    A photographer takes someone to court for brazenly stealing his image for her own commercial gain and wins. No “wining” was needed here – just the facts. If I stole something without knowing its value, it would be presumptuous of me to argue that it’s not that great after all and really isn’t worth much. But this case was about more than the value of the photo, which the “photog” wasn’t even trying to sell in the first place. This never should have happened, and hopefully this case will make people think twice before assuming that electronic property has no value.

  • Holden August 15, 2009 (12:39 am)

    SunnyDaze: Obvious Troll is Obvious. Please try harder next time.

    Excellent work Chris, and thanks for the followup. Now that everyone is on the net all the time, we all need to be aware of these issues.

  • Venkat August 15, 2009 (7:11 am)

    Congrats Christopher, definitely a good + effective way to resolve the dispute.

    Whether or not small claims court has jurisdiction (which it probably does not), at this point, the defendant will have to spend a lot more effort in order to hash it out, and could end up in an more inhospitable forum.

    Either way, the moral of the story is, don’t assume you have the right to use photographs which you come across on the web, and also, respond when someone complaints about infringement!

  • Echoeversky August 15, 2009 (8:12 am)

    Epic pwn by Christopher.

    Laura Miller of Catalyst Commercial Partners got of easy. If she does not accept the courts decision, and appeals.. it will only end in pain.

    The listing service, CBA may levy a hefty fine on Laura Miller and/or Catalyst Commercial Partners for yoinking the photograph. Notice that #4.d under http://www.commercialmls.com/new/rules.html#9 . I doubt it though.

    In my personal experience, commercial real estate agents operate with an air of arrogance and operate as ‘take your offer to help motivate another offer they have in their back pocket so that they can dual end the deal’ jackals.

    It’s a very strange micro-universe with A LOT “their money” on the line.

    It does take many months, even years to close on a commercial listing yielding 1%-3% of each end if I recall correctly.

    /ramble

    E.

  • Lindsey August 15, 2009 (9:23 am)

    Congratulations Christopher, and thank you for standing up for your rights. Your victory is a victory for the entire photo community.

  • Leif Skoogfors August 15, 2009 (9:36 am)

    Congratulations! For a $1,000 the agent got of easy, in my opinion. But, all around fair. Great work.
    Leif Skoogfors

  • Alex August 15, 2009 (10:44 am)

    Glad for you. The arrogance of people that did not know or feign innocence that my assistant or child or whatever actually uploaded this ring hollow with me.
    In PA you would have no trouble collecting. If they refuse to pay you may be able to after their assets. That makes them pay real quick.
    We use stuff free all the time. Yeah right.

  • Meghan August 15, 2009 (10:46 am)

    I say good for you, Chris! Making someone take responsibility for their actions is very important. It also lets other people know that they can’t use your images without your permission. I’m just shocked that the agent didn’t even respond to you. It sounds like she was unaware that she was using the image illegally. But to completely ignore you and refuse to apologize is just unbelievably arrogant. Guess she thought you’d just ‘go away’. Boy, did that backfire on her. Good! :-)

  • MAS August 15, 2009 (11:55 am)

    For those arguing the jurisdiction of SMC, you need to separate the claims correctly. Chris was making a claim about the unlawful use of his property, not the copyright. The fact that it was copyrighted in this case is just support for his ownership claims. If he had chosen to, there would also be a copyright claim against CBA (who wrongfully claimed it) and CBA would have a decent fraud claim against the realtor, who fraudulently claimed ownership. (BTW, the admission that “this is the way we do business” HURTS her claim that it was the assistant’s fault. Apparently the assistant was doing business as explained to her by her superior.)

    The claim against theft is completely independent of a copyright claim in that it can (and did) stand alone.

  • homesweethome August 15, 2009 (2:10 pm)

    Thank you Chris for pursuing this – as a writer I know that value of creative works, and how those works are often taken advantage of. So glad you prevailed!

  • Richard August 15, 2009 (5:49 pm)

    Well done Christopher.

    I know it’s a major pain in the butt to pursue copyright infringement (I currently am pursuing two international infringements), but we must and victories like yours help highlight that just because a photo is on the web it is available for free.

  • J Winter August 15, 2009 (10:20 pm)

    I am happy for you. I love your photos !!!!!!!

  • WSB August 15, 2009 (11:20 pm)

    Belatedly addressing Chris way up in this thread – that comment was stuck in our spam filter and I just caught it there – I know “fair use” does exist. I have to remind myself that “so-called” has a more negative and skeptical ring in most people’s heads than it does in mine for whatever reason and must stop using it … what I intended is probably closer to “what’s known as” … TR

  • Christopher Boffoli August 15, 2009 (11:33 pm)

    Chris: No equivocation in my mind as to whether or not Fair Use applied in this case. It absolutely didn’t. Downloading a copyrighted image off the Net and uploading it to a third party in the scope of a for-profit venture would clearly not be covered by the Fair Use doctrine.

  • miws August 16, 2009 (6:56 am)

    One thing that sticks in my craw on all of this is the fact that the listing service slapped a copyright on the image. To me, that in itself shows arrogance on the part of the real estate agent, and the company

    .

    There’s a small, cynical part of me that believes the agent knew from the get go that what she was doing was wrong, and didn’t care. But, in the very least, when it was brought to her attention, she should have realized what she had done, and certainly tried to resolve it, and apologize to Christopher, instead of simply ignoring him.

    .

    I understand it’s what it’s like to not want to have to face up to something, and come clean for doing something wrong, or making a mistake, but she not only was risking her own, professional reputation, by ignoring Christopher, but the reputation of her employer as well.

    .

    Mike

  • Christopher Boffoli August 16, 2009 (8:44 am)

    Thanks Mike. I can tell you there is a very particular feeling of outrage when you see something you made, that you know is yours, not only being used by someone else but being represented as their own.
    .
    Just to be clear. I’m satisfied that the third party (the Commercial Broker’s Association), which owned the website where the listing was posted, was an innocent party in all of this. They responded to my take-down notice quickly and had the image removed within 24 hours. Basically any images that get uploaded to their site automatically have a copyright flag applied to them. I assume this is so no one else can download images off their site. They were relying on the declaration from Ms. Miller (or her assistant) that the image belonged to them and they had the right to use it.
    .
    The impression I got from Ms. Miller in court was that the picture and this situation was not important to her. She went on at length about how her office acquires pictures for little or no cost all the time. She claimed she had no recollection of where this particular image came from. But in addition to saying her assistant acquired it, she also suggested that the owner of 3247 California sent it to her (she apparently wasn’t above throwing him under the bus along with her assistant). I’m not a commercial real estate broker so I can’t say for sure, but in the rest of the world images are a VERY important part of marketing and sales. But at least in court Ms. Miller seemed to convey that she had better things to do than to worry about pictures. At one point she even suggested that she thought my photograph of Beato was worthless. I suppose the reason why she chose to use it, apparently for five months on a building that was for sale for over $1 million, will be left to speculation.
    .
    It makes less sense to me, if this was actually was the result of carelessness or a mistake, why Ms. Miller thought that the best way to remedy the situation was to ignore it. It was probably that level of arrogance, more than the unauthorized use of the image, that brought this to court. Imagine if someone took your bicycle without your permission, used it for five or six months, and then when you caught them with it, and asked for an explantation of what they were thinking, they just turned their back to you, only to say later that they didn’t feel like they should pay you for it because the bike was worthless in their eyes.
    .
    I think any professional working in any industry would have a hard time justifying why an honest explanation and a courteous and timely response to a problem wouldn’t always be the best way to go. And I suspect anyone who does any kind of marketing or sales would consider it a very reckless practice to randomly grab images off the web without a care about who they belonged to.

  • Ben Sheffner August 16, 2009 (11:05 am)

    I’m very sympathetic to Boffoli’s claims. But I think it’s pretty clear under the law that the state small claims court lacked jurisdiction to hear this case, as I explain in this post.

  • Christopher Boffoli August 16, 2009 (11:57 am)

    Interesting post, Ben. A few other lawyers have raised similar points, both for and against. My takeaway is this part of your post…you wrote: “I can certainly see an argument that state courts, including small claims courts, should be permitted to adjudicate small-dollar copyright cases. If the photographer says he just wants to recover his normal license fee of a few hundred or a few thousand dollars, why not? A federal case is a pretty blunt (and expensive) instrument for minor disputes, and I think it’s certainly worth exploring alternatives to full-blown federal lawsuits for incidents like the one in which Boffoli found himself embroiled.”
    .
    One of my concerns going into this is that the court might decide not to hear the case. I had read with interest of the $12 million judgment awarded in US District court last year in a case with very similar circumstances. But I was motivated more by the matter of principle and was seeking to hold the defendant responsible as opposed to catalyzing a financially painful outcome. I agree with the notion that it would be nice to have a path for lower general jurisdiction courts to rule without making a Federal case of the matter. And if the court is willing to rule on it, as it was in this case, it seems a defendant might be equally motivated to have the matter remedied for a small judgment instead of facing the actual and statutory damages prescribed by Title 17 § 504 which would take into account the infringer’s gross revenue. Reasonable attorney’s fees would also be awarded to the prevailing party in such a case. A lawsuit is always a time-consuming gamble. But it would be interesting and educational if nothing else.
    .
    As this copyright violation involved commercial advantage or private financial gain, § 506 would also offer remedies for criminal infringement which has its own fines. And the fraudulent copyright notice adds its own layer of infringement and fines. .
    This small claims action perhaps offered the best and simplest remedy for all parties involved.

  • Ben Sheffner August 16, 2009 (12:49 pm)

    @Christopher:

    You say: “A few other lawyers have raised similar points, both for and against.”

    I’ve yet to see any actual legal argument that a state court has jurisdiction to hear your claims,and I can’t think of one. Again, from what I’ve read, you have a slam-dunk copyright claim, but I think the jurisdictional issue is pretty clear-cut here.

  • Christopher Boffoli August 16, 2009 (1:15 pm)

    Ben: I have been tracking the comments of not only this thread but in a few other places where this story has been discussed. In a few instances some attorneys (albeit those who were perhaps not IP specialists) have supported the notion that the case could be construed for the merits of property versus copyright per se. Others have raised the idea of fraud claims for the false copyright attachment.
    .
    While I find matters of law frequently interesting, what I find unfortunate are instances when the matter at hand becomes less about what is truly right or wrong and instead about legal loopholes and technicalities which make it difficult to hold someone responsible for what they have done.
    .
    Do you have any idea what the philosophy is behind the federal courts being so ironclad about solely enforcing subject-matter jurisdiction in copyright law? Is it just arbitrary? A result of special-interests engineering the law to make copyright enforcement difficult for the little guy? Or is there a reasonable theory as to why this cannot be handled by general jurisdiction courts?

  • Ben Sheffner August 16, 2009 (2:08 pm)

    @Christopher:

    I haven’t seen any serious legal arguments that “have supported the notion that the case could be construed for the merits of property versus copyright per se,” but I’d be glad to take a look. The jurisdictional and preemption issues are pretty clear in a case like yours.
    *
    Again, from what I know, you were clearly in the right here, and the defendant in the wrong. But if you’re saying that the law sometimes correlates only roughly with right and wrong, then I’ll happily concede the point.
    *
    I’m not sure of the original reason behind exclusive jurisdiction for federal courts in copyright cases. My sense is that copyright was considered to be a very specialized field, and only federal judges were thought to have the specialized knowledge to handle it, but I’m not sure of that. Your case seems straightforward, and any competent state court judge could preside over it with no trouble.

  • Commercial RE Agent August 17, 2009 (11:08 am)

    I am a commercial real estate agent in Seattle.
    I will try to stay anonymous and not disparage another agent.
    1. An agent should take his/her own picture or hire a professional to take the photograph. That is what a professional agent would do.
    2. At first contact from the photographer an agent should withdraw the image.
    3. CoStar and CBA (Commercial Brokers Association) both have warnings on their sites regarding using images that are not owned by the agent.
    4. CBA may be an organization to contact about unethical and unprofessional behavior of an agent.

  • Chris (not the subject, but the other) August 17, 2009 (2:47 pm)

    Thanks for the clarification, WSB. I feel better again about reading this site.

  • Chris (not the subject, but the other) August 17, 2009 (2:56 pm)

    Ben S., I’m not a lawyer but I would wildly guess Copyright is a federal issue because it is grounded and sourced within Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution.

Sorry, comment time is over.

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