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  1. #1
    SitePoint Guru Wullie's Avatar
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    Legal action over an image

    I have a serious issue in that today I received a letter from a laywer that they where proceeding legal action against me using one of their images.

    Heres the thing. I got this origional image (a 9MB Tiff) from a MacWorld or MacUser Cover CD in 2003. It was one of 6 royalty free iamges provided on the disc. I dont have the origional disc and have no way of proving that I have legally used the image coorectly.

    Can anyone give me any advice. I really don't think I have anywhere to go on this, but I know 100% that I havent illegally used this image
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  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy bluedreamer's Avatar
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    Try getting in touch with the magazine publishers - they should be able to confirm it for you.

  3. #3
    King of Paralysis by Analysis bronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by BI_Sean
    If what you say is true, don't worry about it.
    Yeah, if you're not concerned on paying a few thousand out in a civil case take this advice.

    Judges generally don't rely on facts or the law, they'll just accept your word on most stuff.

    Geesh.

    Anyway, try to contact the magazine like someone else said, or tell the complainant where you got it from (don't admit that you don't have the original CD anymore!).

    I'm assuming when you say letter that you mean exactly that, a physical letter. This isn't a good sign as it means that they are serious about this. You should get a consultation with a lawyer of your own before you respond to them.

  4. #4
    busy Steelsun's Avatar
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    Your description of the events/letter/etc is vague.
    What did the letter allege?
    How did you use the image?

    Even "Royalty Free" images sometimes have conditions applied to their use, especially those that are given away free in packages, such as you can't make a product out of them (i.e. put the image on a postcard, calendar or tshirt for sale), can't use it to imply their use/reccomendation of your service/product/etc. and more.
    Brian Poirier
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  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy C. Ankerstjerne's Avatar
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    One of the main problems is that computer magazines sometimes violates the conditions of shareware licenses (i.e. it's often stated in the license that the product can't be sold or included on a free CD).

    Furthermore, royalty free doesn't mean public domain. There will most likely have been some conditions, as mentioned above.

    Since you don't describe how you've used the image, it's impossible to say anything other than general statements. Contact the people threatening you, and ask them if they'll drop the case if you remove the image. If not, contact a lawyer.
    Christian Ankerstjerne
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  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
    beley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BI_Sean
    AND if what he says is true "I know 100% that I havent illegally used this image" then matter of factly he has nothing to worry about. He is being harrassed.
    In a perfect world, maybe. In the real world, innocent people get put to death for crimes they didn't commit and people get sued all the time for frivilous charges that should never have wasted a judge's time. Some win and some lose, but the justice system is far from perfect.

    Don't just let it go - seek legal council before you dig yourself in a hole you can't get out of.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy linkin99's Avatar
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    The company I work for seems to get sued at least once every year due for injuries sustained to the user's carelessness of not following our comaponie's careful operating directions. We make material moving machinery. Even though their injuries were not our fault, we still get sued be the injured party. Is it fair? No. But this is life. Not all things are black-and-white to a judge. Usually the truth comes out and things turn out ok. But not always. Take other people's advise and find a lawyer to be safer, and just don't let this go.

  8. #8
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BI_Sean
    My statement is based on my personal experience that 99.9% of the time people threaten lawsuit out of ignorance and pure malice.
    And 100% of that fact is absolutely made-up.
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. Socrates

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  9. #9
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy C. Ankerstjerne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sagewing
    And 100% of that fact is absolutely made-up.
    Christian Ankerstjerne
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    <>In Soviet Russia, website codes you!

  10. #10
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    You might be in trouble if the magazine that sent the CD you got it from was violating the license of the image. Even though the magazine said it was a royalty free image, they could have stolen it from somewhere else (accidentally or otherwise). In that case, you do need to worry because I would bet that a judge would rule that you were in violation of the image's licensing terms and would need to pay up. If you complained that it was the magazine's fault for not stating the license terms, you'd probably be told to go sue the magazine. Meanwhile you'll be out lawyer's fees plus the ruling from the case.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Guru Wullie's Avatar
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    Sorry I havent replied guys, ive been away for a while. I got in contact with the Magazine and the features editor has been extremely helpful.

    He tracked the image down to the July 2003 issue and contacted the image company direct after checking his licensing agreement. I was copied in on the email and was very pleased to see that the editor did not take lightly to the legal proceedings against one of his readers.

    In respect to the actual case against me. The law company has a screen grab of the site in question over a year ago and are claiming costs for the images used based on this timescale. This, I personally believe, is a discrace. They have blatanty held out for over a year in order to extort money. They could have easily informed me a year ago that they knew the image was there and that they would charge me for it if not removed, however, they chose to hold out this amount of time to make it profitable sueing me. If anyone is keen to know, the charges being brought against me exceed 12000 dollars.

    At least I know that I have not broken any laws and that indeed, it appears, the image was completely free to use. I do however, feel that I should be owed something for the fact that due to a wrong acusation I had to go through over 300 sites and alter any other images that I gt from these CD's, some of which are a few years old.

    If anyone wants to see the image in question, just in case a lawfirm ever comes knocking, then they can view it here.......http://quickurl.co.uk/?r=br
    ASP.NET Freelance Web Developer
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  12. #12
    busy Steelsun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wullie
    In respect to the actual case against me. The law company has a screen grab of the site in question over a year ago and are claiming costs for the images used based on this timescale. This, I personally believe, is a discrace. They have blatanty held out for over a year in order to extort money. They could have easily informed me a year ago that they knew the image was there and that they would charge me for it if not removed, however, they chose to hold out this amount of time to make it profitable sueing me. If anyone is keen to know, the charges being brought against me exceed 12000 dollars.
    Heck, they might be very wrong then. There is a thing called a statute of limitations. You should check to see what it is in your jurisdiction. What the statute says is they only have so long to sue you upon noticing an infringment. A judge will also often rule that the time between their discovery and the notification to you is excessive and would not count.
    Brian Poirier
    SunStockPhoto: Stock Photos, Fine Art Photos, Event Photography

  13. #13
    SitePoint Guru Wullie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steelsun
    There is a thing called a statute of limitations
    Interesting! I though about a whole series of ways that I found this to be unfair and believe that they are twisting the law by doing this.

    However, becuase the letter has came direct from a law firm which (so the letter states) deal with image copyrights etc I assumed that they would know exactly how to play this game and that any way I tried to get around it would be foolish, after all, they are a law firm and "should" know it inside out
    ASP.NET Freelance Web Developer
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  14. #14
    busy Steelsun's Avatar
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    Lawyers often bluff.

    For example:
    Most places now have "No Fault Divorces", which means it does not matter what happened (cheating spouse, drug use, etc). The judge will split the assets on the divorce based on legal rules, irrespective of who screwed around.
    Then why do lawyers still investigate the other spouse (i.e. surveillance, etc)? So they can bluff them into settling for less.

    Happens all the time.

    Not saying this is the case here, as the statute might not have passed though.

    PS: I am not a lawyer, thank the gods.
    Brian Poirier
    SunStockPhoto: Stock Photos, Fine Art Photos, Event Photography


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