Do the hipsters of today even get the reference to an ink splash?
'You had quills and fountain pens?'
'You used bottles of ink?'
'And it wasn't steam-punk?'
Venerable hacker publication 2600 is fighting off what looks like an early candidate for the most egregious copyright infringement accusation of 2015. On a 2012 cover, 2600 used an ink-splatter effect. A group naming itself the Trunk Archive – ultimately owned by Getty Images – is now playing the pay-up game because it's got …
It's not quite that simple. Copyright owners are pretty much obliged in law to actively defend their copyright. If they don't do that then their lack of action can be taken in a court case as meaning that they are happy for the work to be copied. Thus lack of action means risking losing the rights to the work.
So it leads to mad situations like this. It may well be that Getty in this specific case do not actually care at all, but the wider ramifications for their business if they do not act are in general bad for their commercial future.
As usual it's the lawyers who will win, and of course it's lawyers who create the legal problem in the first place. Thanks guys.
Are you sure you aren't confusing copyright with trademarks?
Sorry, yes I was. Too early in the morning. I've had a cup of tea now.
However, not defending one's copyright for a sustained period of time is certainly bad for business. Try asking for judge for large damages when one has ignored many other instances of copying.
In this particular case it will be interesting to see who does end up owning the picture. Unless there some sort of deal between Getty and DeviantArt it seems hard for Getty to sustain this claim.
There is a requirement to chase after trademarks, as a registered trademark can be lost if not "protected".
This is because trademarks are intended to be held perpetually, while copyright is intended to expire and thus requires lobbying of government to extend.
Copyright is just a holder's right to make or allow copies of it. If they want to allow anyone ot make a copy, or if they don't care that someone has made a copy that is their right. If they choose to restrict or sue someone for copying their work within the terms of the law of the country then they can also do that.
There is no requirement to pursue, you can't lose your copyright.
These people didn't have a right to pursue in the first place though.
Unless you have very, very, very deep pockets and an awful lot of time to waste. Otherwise don't bother.
Why do I say this?
Well, I had a photo ripped off by someone in the USA. This was back in the days of flim. I'd scanned it and had it on a website.
A year later I found my picture in a magazine. I proved to the magazine  that I was the copyright owner so they paid me for the images but going after the [redacted] who stole it? Just to engage a lawyer I would have needed to put up around $10K and that was for starters.
Since this incident I do not put any of my photos on the internet unless they are very low resolution and watermarked.
 I took the negatives into their London Office. They soon realised that they'd goofed.
Probably an automated process. That's what comes of letting software do your thinking for you. Surely a human being would have thought to check the actual source of the image?
The offending software needs to be punished hard - disassembled and the bits scattered to where they can do no more harm.
Shows the complete idiocy of any automated process. To summarise:
Party A uses a "free for commercial/non-commercial" use image as part of their image A1
Party B uses the same image as part of their image B1
Party B uses an automated process that notices that B1 is similar to A1 and decides this is copyright infringement. It has no knowledge that the matching section of the images is free for use.
Obviously, party B is at fault for not vetting infringement claims before they are sent out, but this is going to be a growing problem.
In this instance it appears to be a texture designed for use in backgrounds for images, and was put up on DA for others to use too. It's not so much the look of the ink splatter, but the creation of it for use in digital works I guess? And with this it's obvious to see this specific texture was used for the 2600 cover and the Trunk Archive photo.
Actually yes, there are a lot of poor lawyers. Like rock bands, a few make the headlines, most of them toil away in the legal equivalent of neighborhood bars. I read several years ago that at that time the average pay of sysadmins was about $65K, and of lawyers about $61K. I think this is because a large fraction of lawyers spend their days doing legal research for big enterprises, another large fraction work defending (or prosecuting) low level defendants. These latter don't get paid to sit around and wait for clients. I've been to the offices of independent lawyers defending DUI clients (not me) - they tend to have offices near the courthouse in very cheap office space with very used furniture.
Just sue "Trunk Archive" for defamation/slander/etc.
Request $100m. Agree to take a lower figure in exchange for a cease and desist agreement. Then if they contact anyone else they'll be in contempt of court.... jail time.
If they refuse the deal they'll lose the case.... they can't say "we know it's defamatory but we reserve the right to do it again". Blaming their software isn't a defence.
In many many cases like this the IP owner does necessarily even know about it. The party making the demand is just a spiv / wide boy / carpetbagger trying it on. They probably send out hundreds even thousands of such letters. Even a small percentage of the addressees may just pay up meekly so the spiv wins.
There are lots of similar such scams. It used to be in Blighty in the days of paper-based accounting you could send an invoice to a big company and in some cases they would just pay it - the overhead required to check every payment of 30 bob not being worth it.
Or so I am told.
"If you look at the images they have not made their own which looks similar to the 'original' but have just cropped a section off. Anyone can, I expect, make their own but they chose to use someone elses image without attribution to the source."
I was unclear about this at first too. But if you look fully, 2600 licenses an ENTIRE inkblot (for whatever reason), but used just the corner. Whoever made this Getty photo also used the whole thing (did they license it or just rip it off?) Getty then copyright trolled 2600 by claiming this corner of the inkblot, which was not original to the photo, is copyright infringement.
What do *I* think should happen? I think, in a general sense, companies that use automated systems to detect "infringements", then automatically sends out demands (instead of having a human review them), should owe damages when they make clearly false copyright infringement claims. I do hope 2600 takes action against Getty over this.
While 2600 is indeed innocent of copyright infringement here, we should also pity poor Getty Images. They're also an innocent victim. How could they know that one of the artists who hired them to protect his work had pirated part of it from a DeviantArt artist... oh, wait a moment.
If 2600 can use the ink spots, so can somebody doing a fashion ad - but yes, somehow he should have told Getty Images that he used freely available ink spots in his image, so hits should only be registered on the man in the image. And, of course, the web crawling image recognition software might not be sophisticated enough to allow that sort of thing to be specified to it...
But then, just as it is felt that drones with lethal weapons should have a human finger on the trigger, sending out legal notices should involve human intervention. So the image could have been annotated for that human.
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