FAIR USE OR INFRINGEMENT?

Industry experts have been scratching their heads after a U.S. judge ruled an image, taken from the website of a professional photographer and used by a film festival online, was fair use. The case, is Brammer v. Violent Hues Productions LLC, and it began when Russell Brammer found one of his pictures, a long exposure shot of Adams Morgan, Washington D.C., had been used on a website promoting the Northern Virginia Film Festival.

Read a complete analysis of the case here

Fair Use or Infringement?-Court finds use of image to illustrate a geographic area on website fair use.

by Nancy Wolff, DMLA Counsel

Fair use is often described as one of the most difficult to understand doctrines of copyright law by the courts. This could not be more obvious than in a recent Northern District of Virginia decision, which found in favor of fair use where an image was used to illustrate a website. Many in the industry thought the use at issue in the case was an obvious infringement as it was one that is typically licensed. In Brammer v. Violent Hues Productions, LLC, the photographer Russell Brammer sued Violent Hues for infringing his copyright of a time-lapse depiction of the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C., at night. Violent Hues used a cropped version of Brammer’s photograph on its website, which was intended to be used as a reference guide providing about an annual film festival in Northern Virginia. The court granted Violent Hues’ motion for summary judgment on its defense of fair use, finding all four of the statutory factors favored a finding of fair use.

As to the first factor – the purpose and character of the use – the court looked to “whether the new work is transformative” and “the extent to which the use serves a commercial purpose.” The court found that Violent Hues’ use of the photograph was transformative in function and purpose. While Brammer’s purpose in capturing and publishing the photograph was promotional and expressive, the court noted that Violent Hues’ purpose in using it was informational because it used the photograph to provide information regarding the local area. Its use was also found to be non-commercial as the photo was not used to advertise a product or to generate revenue. Additionally, the court found that Violent Hues’ use was in good faith because Violent Hues’ owner attested that he believed the photo was publicly available because he found the photo online and saw no indication that it was copyrighted. In further support of good faith was the fact that Violent Hues removed the photo as soon as it learned the photo might be copyrighted.

The second factor – the nature of the copyrighted work – was also held to favor fair use. While the court noted that the photograph contained creative elements, it was a factual depiction of a real-world location and Violent Hues used the photograph purely for its factual content: to depict the neighborhood. The photograph had also previously been published on several websites and “at least one of these publications did not include any indication that it was copyrighted.”

On the third factor – the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted whole – the court noted that Violent Hues cropped half of the original photo. The court found this to be no more than necessary to convey the photo’s factual content. Thus, the third factor weighed in favor of fair use as well.

Finally, regarding the fourth factor – the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work – the court found no evidence that Violent Hues’ use had any effect on the potential market for Brammer’s photo. The court noted that Brammer still made sales of the photograph (at least two) after Violent Hues’ alleged infringement began, and Brammer testified that he made no effort to market the photo. Additionally, the court found the cropping of the photo and its non-commercial use to undercut a finding of adverse effect on the photo’s market.

In all, the court found that each of the four factors favored Violent Hues and thus held that Violent Hues’ use was a fair use and that there was no copyright infringement.

This decision has been roundly criticized by the industry and it has been noted that it is not often that a court gets every fair use factor wrong. The plaintiff is appealing the decision and many associations in the visual arts industry, including DMLA, are planning to file either separate or joint amicus briefs. Specifically of concern is the distinction between using an image for informational purpose and using and image for aesthetic purpose. By its nature, every image conveys some information, and to be successful, should be aesthetically appealing. Further, one of the touchstones of stock imagery licensing is that one image or clip can be reproduced for many different purposes. In addition, the fact that an image is displayed without a copyright notice should not mean that the work is free to use without consent, absent a legitimate exception, as copyright notice has not been a requirement under US copyright law since 1989. Lastly, when looking at harm to the market the court should look at the potential harm to the market if the type of unauthorized use is widespread. As the licensing of images to websites to enhance the look of the site or to provide visual information regarding a geographic area is common, widespread unauthorized use of this nature could have a significant impact on the licensing of visual content.

 

EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market

Sylvie Fodor, CEPIC Executive Director, shares their views on the Copyright DSM Directive and the European Parliament’s vote against it.

CEPIC has been working for years with other European institutions on this issue to help protect copyright against online piracy.  Copyright is an issue abroad as well as here in the United States and the works of photographers seems to fall through the gap.  Protecting the rights of creators is an ongoing problem that DMLA also continues to put incredible efforts towards to help find a solution.

You can read the entire article here.

 

CEPIC clarification on the Copyright DSM Directive

It is still time to reach a balanced solution for a fair value sharing in a digital environment

On O5 July 2018 the European Parliament voted against the negotiation proposed by the Legal Affairs Committee, adopted on 20 June 2018, for the EU Copyright Directive proposal.  CEPIC regrets this rejection following four years of tireless work with EU institutions but will continue to work towards a balanced solution for a fair online marketplace for the creative sector and against online piracy.

Giving a free pass to platforms to override copyright kills creativity. Copyright is not against freedom of expression and innovation but, to the contrary creativity is the best nexus of cultural diversity and freedom of expression.

Images online

CEPIC represents hundreds of picture agencies and hundreds of thousands of photographers. CEPIC’s members have been digitizing visual content from the advent of the Internet. They license the resulting digital asset for all kinds of commercial uses, to newspapers, magazines, advertising, broadcasters, off and on-line, etc.

Images are widely shared online via search engines, social media and other aggregators and have highly contributed to make the Internet the vibrant and engaging place we enjoy today.

However, we have seen, over the last decade how heavy weight social media platforms (online content sharing service providers), which have built their success upon the posting and sharing of unlicensed images hide behind safe harbour provisions to avoid fairly compensating rights holders  for the use of their content and shift the liability onto the individual user. These platforms have contributed to fuel the internet with unlicensed content and deprive copyright holders of a stream of revenue.

What is referred as the “value gap” for most copyright material such as music and videos is more accurately called a “value block” for images as there is currently no opportunity for image providers to participate in any type of revenue scheme online. The situation of image providers is exacerbated by the practice of intermediaries distributing user up-loaded content by facilitating “framing”, or embedding.

According to CEPIC members 85% of images shared online by visual search systems are unlawful copies. Once uploaded or framed legitimately on a website, an image will be shared thousands of times leading, according to CEPIC members, to an economic harm of a couple of thousands euros per image. This free “availability” of images has been one major factor leading to decreasing value of images and to the demise of an entire sector.

Copyright online

CEPIC therefore welcomed the provisions in the proposed Copyright Directive which promotes effective licensing agreements between platforms and right holders with the possible, but non-mandatory implementation of effective technologies. It should be stressed that the draft Directive has gone through a long-detailed review of two years and has led to a positive vote of the Legal Affairs Committee on 20 June 2018, taking into account the conclusions of four other Committees.

We therefore regret the fact that MEPs have been targeted by a coordinated campaign of misinformation against the text of article 13 proposed by the JURI Committee, in a scale rarely seen before and in a clear attempt to obstruct the progress of the legislation that is vital for the protection of copyright online. Valid decisions cannot be based on scaremongering and mass intimidation. Clearly this situation calls for clarification.

If the Directive is approved, it will provide a better functioning online marketplace which will aim to:

–          Reinforce the position of right holders to negotiate licensing agreements and be remunerated for the online exploitation of their content on sharing platforms;

–          Fix the value gap by sharing the revenues to creators from the use of their content in online platforms;

–          Create a level playing field in Europe’s Digital Single Market which will stimulate creation of high-quality content;

–          Improve transparency online and give more control to creators by allowing them to determine whether, and under which conditions, their work is used online.

It will NOT:

–            End popular memes, parody or pastiche

Caricatures, parody or pastiche are protected by an optional exception – under Article 5(3)(k) of the 2001 InfoSoc Directive, allowing reproduction and communication of such content to the public and guaranteeing the authors’ freedom of expression.

Therefore, Article 13 of the proposed Copyright Directive will not affect the application of this exception. It only creates an obligation at the level of online platforms and not on their users who will be able to access and post their content.

The proposed Copyright Directive only adds the possibility for authors of memes or parodic content to tackle over-removal by online platforms through the mandatory redress mechanism included in the proposal which means that in case parodic content is removed, the creators of this content will be able to contest the removal and ask the content to be published based on the parody exception in place.

–            Filter the Internet. The proposal does not impose mandatory up-load filters and censorship in the internet.

In fact, the European Data Protection Supervisor has concluded, in its formal comments on the text of Article 13 proposed by JURI report 29.06.2018, that the balance of fundamental rights is preserved by Article 13, considering that the text requires Member States to ensure:

o   that any measure to be put in place must be “proportionate”;

o   the balance between fundamental rights of users and rightholders is preserved and;

o   that no general monitoring obligation of information transmitted or stored is imposed.

The proposal is not targeting users and their capacity to upload content in the internet. It targets large platforms, which have become major sources of access to copyright-protected content to collaborate with rightsholders. These platforms are required to put in place “effective and proportionate measures…in collaboration with the right-holders” to allow the functioning of agreements reached on the use of copyright-protected content, or to prevent the availability of unauthorised content if right-holders prefer not to have their content available on such platforms.

In fact, platforms, such as YouTube already use content ID technology to identify copyright protected content which allows authors to be paid when their content is used online. Other platforms, large and small, resort to third party technology to implement a “Take Down and Stay Down” service. We simply ask that this is standard across all online content sharing service providers.

–          Add an additional burden and barrier of entry on start-ups and other small businesses:

o  Firstly, the directive only targets platforms “with large amounts of user up-loaded content”

o  Secondly, the measures implemented are requested to be “proportionate”

We are facing a crucial time for the future of the creative industry as the Copyright Reform is being voted on. Copyright laws need to be modernised in order to protect the livelihoods of creators.

We will stay mobilized to start negotiating in order to lift all uncertainties left by the overwhelming misinformation campaign orchestrated by those opposed to the Copyright Directive and provide all information for a fair and informed vote on September 12th, 2018.

 

About CEPIC
CEPIC is a European not-for-profit trade association in the field of image rights. CEPIC was founded in 1993 to present a unified voice to advise and lobby on new legislation emerging from Brussels. It was registered as an EEIG (Economic European Interest Group) in Paris in 1999. As the Centre of the Picture Industry, CEPIC brings together nearly 600 picture agencies and photo libraries in 20 countries across Europe, both within and outside the European Union. It has affiliates in North America and Asia. It has among its membership the larger global players such as Getty or Reuters. Through its membership, CEPIC represents more than 250.000 authors in direct licensing.

For more information contact:
Sylvie Fodor
Executive Director
s.fodor@cepic.org
+ 49 177 2332 514
www.cepic.org

Copyright Law Rejected in EU Vote

A controversial bill in the EU seeking a rewrite of Europe’s copyright laws giving creators more power to restrict how their content is distributed has been rejected by lawmakers.  The vote was 318 against the legislation, known as The Copyright Directive, while 278 voted in favor, and 31 abstained, taking the reforms back to the drawing board.

The reforms to the law had two elements deemed particularly controversial by critics, Article 11 and Article 13.

Article 11, also called “link tax,” would force internet giants such as YouTube, Google, and Facebook to pay for using news snippets from publishers on their platforms.

Perhaps most contested is Article 13, which would require companies to monitor all content uploaded online to their platform to check it for copyright infringement. Critics said this could lead to the removal of internet memes, which often use copyrighted images.

The New York Times has a comprehensive article about the bill here.

 

Tech Giants Win a Battle Over Copyright Rules in Europe

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/07/05/business/eu-parliament-copyright.html

European Parliament lawmakers rejected a bill backed by news outlets and music publishers to restrict the use of their content on platforms like YouTube and Facebook.Frederick Florin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

 

It’s a fight nearly as old as the internet.

On one side are news organizations, broadcasters and music companies that want to control how their content spreads across the web, and to be paid more for it. On the other are tech companies such as Facebook and Google, which argue that they funnel viewers and advertising revenue to media outlets, and free-speech advocates, who say that regulating the internet would set a dangerous precedent and limit access to information.

That battle flared up in Europe on Thursday. Two powerful industries faced off — technology against media, platforms against publishers — in an unusually aggressive lobbying campaign in the European Parliament over a bill that would impose some of the world’s strictest copyright laws, which would have required tech companies to filter out unlicensed content and pay for its use.

On this occasion, tech prevailed; the proposal was voted down.

The decision came amid broader efforts in Brussels to rein in tech giants. European regulators have already brought in tough new privacy rules, and are considering enhancing them. They have hit Silicon Valley companies with hefty antitrust fines, and are investigating them over their tax practices and handling of data. And like elsewhere in the world, they are increasingly skeptical of the argument made by internet companies that they are simply impartial platforms that cannot be held responsible for what is posted on their pages.

“Making content available on the internet does not come without responsibility,” said Eleonora Rosati, an associate professor on intellectual property law at the University of Southampton’s law school in England, who has been tracking the bill. “Rights holders want to control how their content is made available, shared and indexed.”

But after a well-coordinated effort by companies including Facebook, Google, Reddit and Wikipedia, as well as a grass-roots campaign by backers of an open internet, the European Parliament on Thursday rejected the proposed copyright law. Though lawmakers can still revise the bill and call another vote, the result is a blow to media companies that had believed that, if ever there was a good time to impose tougher rules on tech giants, this was it.

Media businesses like Axel Springer of Germany have become frustrated because even as their content has spread online, it is platforms like YouTube, owned by Google, and Facebook that have grown into advertising powerhouses on the back of the material.

Those media companies have been seeking a rewrite of Europe’s copyright laws that would give them more power to restrict how their content is distributed. They also cited concerns that Silicon Valley was not playing a strong enough gatekeeper role when it came to curtailing hate speech, violent extremism and fake news.

Supporters of the bill argued that stricter copyright laws would give content creators more leverage against internet behemoths such as Google. Publishers have long complained that such companies profit from the work of others.

“The real issue is Google’s market power,” said Lionel Bently, a law professor at the University of Cambridge who focuses on copyright. “The content industry feels it can’t negotiate on a level playing field.”

Influential policymakers in Brussels such as the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, have seemed receptive to such arguments. A proposal was put forward to require websites to use filtering technology to block unlicensed content from being posted and to obligate them to pay fees for news articles and other material posted online.

The proposed rules would have added up to a sweeping change to copyright law.

Operators of websites have long been protected from liability when unlicensed content is posted by a user. Instead, they are required only to remove infringing material once it is brought to their attention. In effect, if someone posts a movie clip on YouTube, or shares the text of an article on Reddit, those websites are not held legally liable.

The new European proposals would put more responsibility on website owners, creating a potentially costly problem for sites that depend on user-generated material.

The most contentious provision of the plans would require websites to use filtering software to screen such content before it was posted. YouTube already has a system to weed out unlicensed material, but the European rules would have gone further by requiring others to use similar tools. Another requirement, favored by book and news publishers, would prevent websites from using pieces of their content without authorization.

Critics of the bill argued that it would lead to many unforeseen consequences, warning that it could even affect satirical content or the use of images in internet memes. They said it would restrict what was available online, and some described a provision requiring permission before websites used publishers’ content as a “link tax.”

“There’s no way that those algorithmic filters are going to be able to decide that something is fair use, parody, a meme or a mash-up,” said Danny O’Brien, international director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights nonprofit group that opposed the bill.

In defeating the proposal, the technology industry showed that it still held considerable influence, even as it has faced widespread criticism over privacy violations, the spread of misinformation, accusations of anticompetitive business practices and concerns about smartphone overuse.

The coalition against the proposal that came together over the past month was similar to defenders of net neutrality in the United States, a mix of corporate giants and open internet activists. They said the copyright bill would limit the access to information and would overburden operators of websites, especially those without the resources of an American tech giant, with the costly task of screening user-generated content before posting it.

Wikipedia blocked access to articles on its site in many European countries and encouraged its users to call on their representatives in the European Parliament to vote against the proposal. Scientists credited with creating the internet sent a letter urging that it be rejected. Even David Kaye, the United Nations rapporteur on the protection of freedom of expression, raised concerns.

Wikipedia said on its website that the measure “threatens online freedom and creates obstacles to accessing the web, imposing new barriers, filters and restrictions.”

Lobbying ahead of the vote was “extraordinary, something we don’t experience on a normal basis here in the Parliament,” said Umberto Gambini, a senior aide to Ramon Tremosa, a Spanish member of the European Parliament.

Mr. Gambini said he had received hundreds of messages from individuals and organizations attempting to win Mr. Tremosa’s support. There was one from a Polish business group, he said, another from an artists’ organization, and others still from news publishers and associations representing tech companies.

He added that one message had come from the musician Paul McCartney, who wrote to members of the European Parliament in support of the tighter copyright rules.

But Mr. McCartney’s efforts were in vain: Mr. Tremosa ultimately opposed the bill.

BREAKING: High Court To Tackle Copyright Registration Circuit Split

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to resolve a long-simmering circuit split over whether copyright owners must fully register their works before suing.

The justices granted a petition for writ of certiorari in the case of Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com LLC, allowing them to answer a question that has split the circuits: What exactly the Copyright Act means when it says a work must be “registered” prior to the filing an infringement lawsuit.

In several circuits, copyright owners can sue as soon as they file the application paperwork with the U.S. Copyright Office; in others, they can’t sue until the office actually registers or takes action on the application, which can take many months if they don’t pay a significant fee for expedited handling.

Fourth Estate, a journalism collective, sued Wall-Street.com for reposting articles without permission in March 2016. But a federal judge tossed the case two months later, saying Fourth Estate had filed its lawsuit before it had fully registered the copyrights for the articles.

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed that decision in May, telling Fourth Estate that “filing an application does not amount to registration.”

The ruling came after the U.S. solicitor general urged the justices to tackle the issue and affirm the Eleventh Circuit’s position.

“The text, structure, and history of the Copyright Act confirm that the register must have acted on an application for copyright registration — either by approving or refusing registration — before the copyright owner may institute a copyright-infringement suit,” the government wrote. “Petitioner’s contrary arguments are unavailing.”

Everett Collection is hiring

Account Executive, Sales — Everett Collection — Stock Photo Agency

Internationally known entertainment and historical image archive is seeking an individual to be responsible for maintaining and developing business with existing key accounts as well as new opportunities. You would handle all aspects of the sales process in order to drive revenue. You need to have a strong sales conversion drive that includes excellent negotiating skills and problem solving abilities. The position requires versatility as you will be taking client requests, tracking status of accounts, information gathering, troubleshooting and, at times, research. You will also be cold calling and responding to incoming inquiries. You must be able to work independently but also part of a team, under the supervision of our director of business development. Experience working with copyright and clearance issues is a plus. A working knowledge of popular culture (movies/TV/celebrity) is a plus.

Skills

  • Strong and confident communication skills both on the phone and in writing
    Word, Excel.
  • Familiar with CRM systems and digital image delivery services.
  • Photoshop – A plus.

Salary
Based on experience.

Please send cover letter and résumé to: jobs@everettcollection.com. No calls please.

General Data Protection Regulation Form

The General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR,  that goes into effect on May 25, 2018 will require companies that do business in the EU to provide a form to the companies that they are dealing with.  This regulation strengthens the privacy rights of individuals living in the European Union (not only E.U. citizens) and applies to anyone who does business with those persons, even if that simply means collecting data for marketing purposes.

Here is a form that you can use to facilitate this process.