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BenPanced
05-01-2015, 09:44 PM
Self-pubbed author Lacey Noonan has been hit with a lawsuit alleging she didn't have the right to use a photograph of Rob Gronkowski, tight end for the New England Patriots, for her cover art on A Gronking to Remember (http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/names/2015/01/08/amazon-pulls-gronking-remember-) (since pulled from Amazon). It's also been alleged that the couple featured on the cover are also suing since Noonan didn't have the rights to use their picture, either. It's not clear how she'd gotten the engagement photo since they maintain it wasn't uploaded anywhere but she's maintaining her "total newbie ignorance".

I believe — and hope — that’s the only problem anyone has with the book since it is such obvious satire and parody.John and Jane Roe, the anonymous couple who filed suit after the NFL raised objections, say otherwise:

The use of the Plaintiffs image has held them up to ridicule and embarrassment. This outrageous connection has been further aggravated when the book, with the Plaintiffs image, has been reproduced in the media nationwide. The book has been shown as a source of ribald humor on "The Tonight Show" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live" as well as being displayed and read before the press at media day for the Super Bowl.From their lawsuit (full text here (http://www.scribd.com/doc/263295117/gronking1)).

Xelebes
05-01-2015, 09:47 PM
Boston Globe link not working.

chompers
05-01-2015, 09:58 PM
Newbie status is not an excuse.

Jamesaritchie
05-01-2015, 09:59 PM
I've seen this. I sincerely hope the couple wins the lawsuit. People have to stop stealing, stop thinking something is theirs just because it's online. Those who steal photos will also steal novels and short stories, and anything else.

This is a particularly bad case, and I'd be mad enough to take a ball bat to someone who used a photo me me this way.

ElaineA
05-01-2015, 11:09 PM
I think the most interesting part of this lawsuit is going to be whether Apple and Amazon get dismissed on summary judgement. I'd like to see Amazon held to better standards as far as allowing plagiarized and stolen content, but in practice, how is anyone supposed to know when a random photo is actually used without permission? (Short of after-the-fact notice, or watermarking, that is.) Having read another story about how hard Amazon makes it to prove you HAVEN'T stolen or plagiarized something when you've been wrongfully accused of it, I'm not sure their current methods are very well suited to being gatekeepers. If they have to check everything in advance, either a lot more cover content is just going to be denied outright (and it's bad enough already) or uploaders are going to have to provide proof of permission for use.

If I had an ebook publishing platform, I'd make it very, very uber-ultra-explicit to uploaders that any and all liabilities for plagiarism, theft or unauthorized use of images, including all awards, costs and attorney fees, will be theirs to bear. I know it's already in Amazon's TOS, but like any legalese, it's probably buried pretty deep. If it's one of the last things a SPer sees before pressing the Upload button, in big red letters, maybe it would give one or two more people pause.

Of course, if someone's going to claim "newbie mistake," they better hope they cashed enough royalty checks to cover the legal bills. Ignorance of the law isn't a defense, as far as I know.

Gronk reading the book on Kimmel was pretty priceless. And that's from a Seahawks fan. :D

Jamesaritchie
05-02-2015, 07:37 PM
but in practice, how is anyone supposed to know when a random photo is actually used without permission? :D

You don't need to know who owns a photo, you just need to know who does not own it. If the user can't show you the copyright registration in their name, or show you that it's in the public domain, you don't allow it to be used.

Ravioli
05-02-2015, 08:10 PM
Please. "Didn't know"? Even in kindergarten, they know about copyright, in the form of "I drew this first!". Any adult with half a brain will wonder if it's okay to use 3rd party content commercially.
I'm currently working on a huge commission of drawings and I use some Photoshop resources created by others... But only those where the owner clearly states that they're stock for free use including commercial. Otherwise HELL NO. You don't need to be a lawyer to have that much common sense.

So I say she's a liar :)

cmhbob
05-02-2015, 10:18 PM
Corrected link: http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/names/2015/04/28/gronk-news/SPui9F18i0QMfk0NhCuSmO/story.html

And another link: http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/names/2015/01/08/amazon-pulls-gronking-remember-novella-over-myra-kraft-patch/wgrK81GdgF9SyNAtyHRcQP/story.html#

BenPanced
05-02-2015, 10:39 PM
Thanks for fixing that.

There's been some speculation that she got the couple's photograph from the photographer's website since it might have been posted there as sample work. If so, you'd think that the author would have known the axiom "Just because it's been posted online doesn't mean it's public domain". I'm getting more curious on where she got the photo from.

ElaineA
05-02-2015, 10:43 PM
You don't need to know who owns a photo, you just need to know who does not own it. If the user can't show you the copyright registration in their name, or show you that it's in the public domain, you don't allow it to be used.

I get that, but does Amazon ask for proof before they allow an upload? I'm only addressing the Amazon/Apple matter. If she just picked it off the internet, I have no doubt the author will be found to have used the photo without permission.

Ravioli
05-02-2015, 11:39 PM
I don't think they check the ownership of material, but will delete it if alerted. As far as I know, they leave the full responsibility with the uploader, like most publishing platforms, including art and fanfiction. I looked at an Amazon publishing form before and it seems like you can just throw it all in there no questions asked.

blacbird
05-03-2015, 12:40 AM
This is a particularly bad case, and I'd be mad enough to take a ball bat to someone who used a photo me me this way.

In this particular case, just take her out on a football field and let Gronk run a route directly at her. If she can tackle him, the lawsuit gets thrown out.

caw

juniper
05-03-2015, 06:41 AM
Any adult with half a brain will wonder if it's okay to use 3rd party content commercially.


I don't think this is true for the general public, people who don't do anything that would count as intellectual property. People who sit in their offices or houses and see thousands and millions of images online when they do a simple search for "butterfly tattoo" or something.

Anyone who doesn't create something herself might not understand the idea of copyright. They see an image posted online and think it's ok to spread it around by any means. I work with people like that. They're not stupid but they are ignorant of legalities re: copyright.

But anyone who has taken any pains to learn about working in a creative field, especially as an independent writer/artist/photographer/whatever, should know about copyright. Should know. And would know, if she's taken any time to learn the craft and business.

Kevin Nelson
05-06-2015, 12:53 PM
I think the most interesting part of this lawsuit is going to be whether Apple and Amazon get dismissed on summary judgement. I'd like to see Amazon held to better standards as far as allowing plagiarized and stolen content, but in practice, how is anyone supposed to know when a random photo is actually used without permission?

The anonymous plaintiffs aren't actually suing for copyright infringement or plagiarism, anyway. I doubt they'd have standing to file such a suit--surely it would be the original photographer whose copyright was infringed, not the people being photographed. They're suing over invasion of privacy and wrongful appropriation of "persona."

It would be interesting if the photographer actually had given permission for the image to be used in this way. I wonder if the plaintiffs would still have a case.

Once!
05-06-2015, 02:21 PM
This is ucky on so many levels.

I had an interesting experience recently. I spotted an old picture on a website that I wanted to use in a book. So I emailed the website to ask if the picture was copyright or not. They replied saying that they didn't think that it was copyright, but that I ought to do my own checks.

I can understand why they said that, but it got me thinking. If they weren't sure whether it was copyright, why were they using it on the website?

I decided not to use the picture.

cmhbob
05-06-2015, 07:45 PM
While we're on the subject, don't forget about Tineye, a reverse image search. You can feed it a link or upload an image, and it'll tell you where that image is being used, possibly letting you find the original owner.

http://www.tineye.com/

Motley
05-06-2015, 08:23 PM
It's such a small leap of logic to think "I wouldn't want anyone using my writing as their own" to "I shouldn't use other people's pictures as my own," that it almost disturbs me how many people seem unable to make the jump.

Angela
05-06-2015, 09:41 PM
That's just unbelievable. Even genealogists are warned about using images another genealogist has taken. Like cemetery and tombstone pictures. If a genealogist has an image on their website, posts the photograph on Find-a-Grave, or even on a public tree on Ancestry or another site, sometimes they'll go ahead and put up a notice that any of the images they personally took are free to use by another genealogist. But some don't do that so you have to track down the person who took the pictures to get permission if you want to use them, like if you want to publish a family genealogy. Most are pretty easy-going and will give permission, but there are some who won't or who will put conditions on the use of the photo. The only exception I can think of to this are the sites where you have volunteers who will do "lookups" for free. This can include a volunteer going to a local cemetery and taking pictures of a specific grave on request. Even though the volunteer legally owns the copyright on the photograph, most of the time there's the understanding that the person they took the photograph for will likely use it as they see fit.

If even genealogists are made aware of this, I can't see how an author can say she wasn't aware of this. Even if the engagement photo came from the photographer's website, there are usually watermarks on the photograph that has the photographer's name or logo on them, which she would have had to crop, or there's usually a disclaimer that says something along the lines of, "Please do not download, crop or alter photographs." Some sites even have the right click option disabled, or the watermarks go right across the main focal point of the photograph, to keep people from stealing them. The main place I can think of where photographers ONLY have the disclaimer is on their Facebook pages.

HOWEVER, for some photographers, anyone being photographed by them has to sign a form that gives the photographer the right to do whatever they want with the images, with no rights to compensation for the subjects. This means the photographer can be contacted by an author who wants to use their image and the photographer can grant that permission without contacting the subjects. The photographer can do this for nothing more than credit for the photograph or they can charge for the use of the image. I'm not under the impression that's the case here, but if it is I don't know what that means for their case. But everyone should know that with athletes, celebrities, singers, actors, etc., there's always SOMEONE you have to either pay or get permission from to use their images like this. For athletes, I believe it's in their contracts that the athletic association owns the rights to their image or "likeness" when it comes to something like this.

Again, I can't see how she can claim ignorance in this area.

Namatu
05-07-2015, 05:53 PM
The anonymous plaintiffs aren't actually suing for copyright infringement or plagiarism, anyway. I doubt they'd have standing to file such a suit--surely it would be the original photographer whose copyright was infringed, not the people being photographed. They're suing over invasion of privacy and wrongful appropriation of "persona."

It would be interesting if the photographer actually had given permission for the image to be used in this way. I wonder if the plaintiffs would still have a case.In an image like this one, the photographer would need to grant permission for its reuse, and the individuals in the photo would need to have signed a release. All of this would need to be clearly documented by the author doing the reproducing.