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Copyright geniuses?
Les Hassell, Photographer, Photo Editor
Longview | TX | United States | Posted: 5:05 AM on 02.22.05
->> As a new member, I'd like to first thank everyone for the warm welcome; I hadn't been an official member for more than five or ten minutes and already had several emails welcoming me to quite a good first impression I must say!

Anyway, to the second point of this message. I recently got a Google alert on some images I shot last year that were being used on a website. After checking into it, I found literally thousands of photos and stories from various wire services (mostly AP) that are being hosted by and neither of which have I authorized to host my images. The real kicker is they offer DVD copies of "their archives" containing the images and stories for sell at $100 a pop.

If anyone here has sent images or stories to AP relating, in any way, to the war in Iraq, you might want to check out the above sites to see if they are being used there as well.

I sent an email to asking for an explanation and was told that they were only a mirror site to and were therefor not responsible for the content. This is bogus as the content is, in fact, hosted on the quintessenz servers. I guess they forwarded my email to cryptome because I soon received an email from them explaining that they were a non-profit organization only interested in increasing public awareness of the situation in Iraq and that the images and stories were downloaded from a public library with AP access. After pointing out what I felt was a violation in that the images were being hosted by an unauthorized site and being sold without consent, I was told to, "Get bent!"

I guess what I need to know is, am I wrong in thinking that this is a violation of copyright and are there any copyright geniuses on board at that might be able to tell me what my next move should be?

Thanks in advance,
Les Hassell
Longview News-Journal
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Jeff Barrie, Photographer
Indianapolis | IN | USA | Posted: 6:59 AM on 02.22.05
->> I wonder if they feel it is ok to copy and re-print books from the library and sell them?

I would contact an IP attorney. They obviously have already told you where they stand on negotiation for use of your images. I hope you did register the images with the copyright office tho.
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Eric Lian, Photographer
Sebastopol | CA | USA | Posted: 7:04 AM on 02.22.05
->> Les,

In reading your post, it's not clear who holds the copyright on these images. Do you own the copyright or were you working for a news outlet(s) that owns the copyrights and makes the images available to AP? If it's the latter, the answer is simple.

Who owns the copyright?
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Mark Scheuern, Photographer
Grand Blanc | MI | USA | Posted: 7:22 AM on 02.22.05
->> I see they've posted your letters about your "attack" on their site:

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Jason Grow, Photographer
Gloucester | MA | USA | Posted: 8:03 AM on 02.22.05
->> Keep us informed about what happens -- it's definitely interesting. Does your paper allow you to keep or share ownership of your copyright? It seems to me they lost their claim to fair use under the educational clause (and that was probably tenuous at best) once they started offering the cd collection... Their argument that the library offers the images with no restrictions seems a poor argument -- one can't check a book out of the library, scan all the pages and then offer it for sale online... I suspect that the likelihood of collecting any money off this organization is pretty slim and unless you actually share/own your copyright, the paper and AP will be the only beneficiaries of any judgement. There are others however who know much more about this subject than I.
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Rick Rickman, Photographer
Laguna Niguel | CA | USA | Posted: 8:13 AM on 02.22.05
->> The question stands. Who were you working for when you shot these images? If you were gamefully employed by a newspaper and they work with you on a work for hire basis, you have no legs to stand on. If you submitted your work to AP under their contract or were shooting for AP as a staffer you have no legs to stand on. If however you have been shooting for yourself and the materials were picked up by AP in an unauthorized manner, you just became a centipede if .......... you had the good sense and foresight to register you images with the US copyright office. So, whats the answer.

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Jason Grow, Photographer
Gloucester | MA | USA | Posted: 9:14 AM on 02.22.05
->> Just as an aside, I spent a bit of time looking around his site... best of luck I say -- even if you have all your ducks in a row, my guess is that the only result will be the stuff is taken down and probably only temporarily and only after dragging it into the courts -- and this:
I have grave doubts about a satisfactory result....
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TD Paulius, Photographer
Orland Park | IL | USA | Posted: 10:50 AM on 02.22.05
->> Les: First of all, keep all copies of whatever those people send you. It seems as if from Jason's post, that they are one of the first amendment standard bearers. Well the First Amendment is no defense to copyright infringement. Strike one. 0 and 1.

Second of all, in my opinion, it is immaterial who owns the copyrigt in your images at this second. If you do (and you ahve registered) you can have some fun. If you do (and you HAVE registered), you can have some fun. If you do AND YOU HAVE REGISTERED(!), you can have some fun. Excuse me, that is usually Rickman and Grow's mantra, which are extremely important. For if you ahve registered, you can take advantage of the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyrigth Act), which permits you to have the ISP of the site shut it down until the issue is resolved, or at least shut off the offending portion. If the images are yours and you have not regsitered them. Ball one. 1 and 1. If they are yours, go register them ASAP. Do a search on the boards for the proper procedure (FedEXP, etc.) If you choose not to register. Ball two. 2 and 1

Thirdly and lastly, if the images are not yours and were shot for your paper, agency, church, Freemason's club, club lacrosse team they are the owner. Go tell them about the infringement and ask if they have registered the images. Point out the archive fee and these guys are profiting off of their property. If they listen to you and do nothing, what can you do? Nada, zippo, zilch. Ball three. Ball four. They walk. If they have registered the images, have them talk with their legal department. Strike two. 2 and 2.
Maybe their legal department will then contact the ISP of the offenders and get them taken. Strike three. The offenders are out!

Good luck
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Craig Mitchelldyer, Photographer, Assistant
Milwaukie (Portland) | OR | USA | Posted: 11:00 AM on 02.22.05
->> I am assuming that you shot this image for your newspaper, then submitted it to the AP. Why are you so bent out of shape then? What did you think would happen when you gave it to the wire? That it would not be used by anybody? That its ok for a hundreds of newspapers to run it without paying you and your paper, but you want to go after one little website? Give me a break. To me, member newspapers submitting stuff to the wire is just as bad as Joe Blow freelancer giving images away for a credential. Neither photographer ever sees money from it. And it takes away a paying gig for someone else. Seems silly to me. You say in your letter "if your website was an AP member it would be ok" and "if you linked to the AP image it would be ok." So if they did it either of those ways, you still would not see a dime, so why try and get money now?
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Mike Brice, Photographer
Northwood | OH | USA | Posted: 11:33 AM on 02.22.05
->> Les,
If you shot this for the paper under a work for hire, and then it was submitted to AP, your next move would be to do nothing except tell AP, who is unlikely to do anything about it. You signed away your rights and have to legal standing to challenge the usage of the photo. Now if you didn't shoot this under the terms above, well you may very well have legal recourse.

Like Craig pointed out. It is interesting that staffers, submitting to AP are now surprised to see how far and wide their images are used without any compensation to them. Puts signing a work-for-hire agreement in an entirely different light when you realize that you have no control over the image you produced.
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Les Hassell, Photographer, Photo Editor
Longview | TX | United States | Posted: 8:41 PM on 02.22.05
->> Thanks for all the replies. To answer a few questions from above. Yes, they are registered and yes, the copyright is shared by myself and my employer.

Fore Craig: I have no allusion that work sent to AP will never be used in any manner other than what was intended, but it is part of my job to prevent it from happening as much as reasonably possible not only for myself but for the other photographers at our paper. I am not deluded enough to believe I will always receive compensation every time my work is used however, I believe we are compensated when work is picked up and used by AP member organizations by the fact that the other contributing members are providing content for our paper. While I'm sure it is not 100% the case, I feel most of the time the works are being used within their original context. The issue I have is the cryptome "archives" being sold. Allowing my work to be used as fund-raising material for the organization implies consent and endorsement of the organization. Personally, I somewhat agree with the concept of cryptome; it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility that I would donate to such an organization. However, it wouldn't be a donation of works done while in the commission of my employer. I have been asked by candidates to shoot photographs of their personal events that I have declined because I am recognized by the local public as an employee of the New-Journal and, by association, it could be construed as endorsement by the News-Journal. Thats not to say my employer controls every aspect of my photographic work, so long as it is not a conflict of interest, I am free to do as I will. If I were to shoot something newsworthy while off the clock, I would, out of respect for my employer, offer them first dibs but, if they decline or don't decide to embargo the work (this very rarely happens as it is not a tactic used by the News-Journal), its off to my agency.

Anyway, its not a headache I have to deal with anymore; I turned the matter over to corporate and as of this afternoon, I received an email from informing me that the page had been removed from their server. Hopefully, thats the end of that.

Thanks again for the replies,
Les Hassell
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 10:23 PM on 02.22.05
->> Unless they've gotten licenses from the various authors and from the AP, the site continues to be a massive infringement. Despite his claims to the contrary, the site owner hasn't got a clue about Fair Use.

The contact person for the website is:

John Young
251 W. 89th St.
Apt 6E
NY, NY 10024-1739


The site is hosted on

If you complain to them, they may pull the plug on the site untill the dispute is resolved.

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Les Hassell, Photographer, Photo Editor
Longview | TX | United States | Posted: 10:53 PM on 02.22.05
->> Thanks, Mark. I guess, all in all, thats the issue I was trying to make everyone aware of.
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Dave Prelosky, Photographer
Lower Burrell | Pa | US | Posted: 11:38 PM on 02.22.05
->> Curiously, this appears to be the same John Young mentioned in a recent Reader's Digest ( I know, but my mom thought I needed more mail ) article regarding anti-security efforts in the post-911 world.
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Les Hassell, Photographer, Photo Editor
Longview | TX | United States | Posted: 4:16 AM on 02.23.05
->> You're probably right, Dave. You wanna scan it and send it to me? I'll give ya a nickle... just kidding.

I think, as far as I'm concerned, its pretty much all taken care of. The file containing my image is no directly accessed on the cryptome site nor the quintessenz site. The only issue I have left is I'm sure the image is still included on the archives they are selling at cryptome but thats between Cox and cryptome, now. There are, however, still literally thousands of other images and stories posted and for sell on these sites for any that may be concerned.

I just hate that Mr. Young isn't my next door neighbor; I'm sure he wouldn't mind if I "borrowed" his lawnmower without permission to start my own lawncare service.
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Thread Title: Copyright geniuses?
Thread Started By: Les Hassell
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