No Copyright Infringement Intended

As a sports photographer, or any photographer for that matter, there is nothing more frustrating than seeing someone steal your work and post it online with a caption saying, “No copyright infringement intended.” By stealing my work and saying, “No copyright infringement intended,” does not absolve you for the fact that your stole my work nor does it absolve you from the repercussions of it. Just because something is posted online does not mean it is free to use.

I cannot express how many times I’ve seen my work posted on various social media sites such as Instagram or Twitter without my knowledge or consent. Some people use them for their game recaps or some fledgling or aspiring graphic designer wants to showcase what he learned from a YouTube tutorial.

Just because we, as photographers, post our work online it’s not for intent of having it stolen and the repurposed in a manner in which we did not originally intend. According to the U.S. Copyright Office this is what they have to say in regards to photography and copyright laws:

First, copyright protects original works of authorship, including original photographs. A work is original if it is independently created and is sufficiently creative. Creativity in photography can be found in a variety of ways and reflect the photographer’s artistic choices like the angle and position of subject(s) in the photograph, lighting, and timing. As a copyright owner, you have the right to make, sell or otherwise distribute copies, adapt the work, and publicly display your work.

Second, you should know that copyright protection exists from the moment an original work is “fixed” in a tangible medium. For photographers, for example, fixation occurs when you take a picture. You don’t need to do anything else at all for your work to be protected by copyright.

For all of you aspiring photographers out there, the second paragraph is important to note. As soon as you press the shutter and a photo is taken, copyright protection exists. It’s yours and belong solely to you. Well unless you’re working on an assignment and the contract states the copyright belongs to, say for instance, AP or Getty Images.

Another infuriating aspect of having your photos brazenly stolen is the fact that the people who take them truly don’t care. When reaching out whether via email or social media messaging and informing that they can’t just steal and post your work as their own, you’ll either get ignored or they’ll say the posted the words, “No copyright infringement intended,” so they should be ok.

They say ignorance is bliss, but when you’re stealing the work of others and posting it as your own because you put a flimsy filter on it, you are liable to get sued or face other legal repercussions. The law doesn’t care how many people like or comment how great the photo is. The photo doesn’t belong to you.

I saw one of my MLB photos reposted and when I reached out to the person, he replied, “That he made the photo better and since he edited it etc. he could post it because it wasn’t the original.” Like hell he could. This is what photographers have to deal with when we risk posting our photos online. People see them as a freebie like a sample from the food court in the mall and that isn’t the case.

It doesn’t matter how many more likes or comments your post gets with our stolen photo, that doesn’t mean you can steal. And it’s not they even try to credit the photographer they stole it from.

This is why it is important for photographers to make sure their metadata is properly filled out. When I initially import my photos into Photo Mechanic, I make sure the copyright portion of the metadata is properly filled out. That way it is embedded in every photo and if I ever need to sue someone, that information is in that photo.

You should also be sending your photos to be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office as well. You don’t have to upload a photo at a time. You can do batch uploads which is so much more convenient.

Photographers have to be cognizant of their rights. It’s bad enough we’re not valued accordingly because all we do is press a button or someone has a cousin who has a camera. We shouldn’t have to be busting our asses for cheap pay only to have people rip our work off. Just don’t think the social media companies are going to do anything to stop the steal. I’m sure they’ve stolen the work of others before because somewhere in miniscule print it says they have the right to do so because it’s posted on their platform.

People know that stealing our photos and work is wrong. They just think by adding the nonsensical words, “No copyright infringement intended,” it protects them from any repercussions. It doesn’t and I think a lot of people need to feel the sting of being served with a copyright infringement lawsuit so others can see that stealing, regardless if you found it online, is still theft.

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