Do photographers really get a kick out of suing people?

Of course not. But they deserve to be paid for their work. If you use their images without permission or compensation, you might get sued.

Photographer John Aldred posted a great blog on about an “internet entrepreneur” who seems to think that artists put their work online just so they can sue people who use the images without paying for them.

Aldred writes:

“He thinks that all we do is create images, copyright them, upload them to the Internet, and then wait to sue people. As if we’re forcing them to steal our work and waiting to punish them when they do.”

Aldred’s blog includes a video the “internet entrepreneur” posted warning his viewers about “malicious photographers” who have built businesses around suing people who find their work online and steal it.

If you think grabbing an image that comes up in a Google search is no big deal, Aldred points out that professional photographers spend tens of thousands of dollars on equipment and years learning and developing their craft.

The blog is a good read; the video will leave you shaking your head. When Jerry and I watched it, we couldn’t believe this guy is actually telling people how to make money online.

Read/watch it here: “Internet ‘Entrepreneur’ Shocked that Copyright Owners Sued Him for Stealing Their Work”

Photographers, writers and other artists would much rather you simply pay for the rights to use their work, but if you don’t, they are justified in seeking whatever legal remedy is available. The decision to sue is made only after all other options have been exhausted.

Litigation is expensive. Not only does it distract everyone from their real business purpose, it often brings out the worst in people.

Case in point: Photojournalist Jon Tannen sued CBS Interactive over “the unauthorized use of two copyrighted photos on the website (the second time this had happened).”

Instead of reaching a settlement, CBS sued Tannen for sharing screenshots from an old television show on social media, calling him a hypocrite and seeking the same amount in damages that Tannen wants for CBS Interactive’s use of his work.

DL Cade has posted a good summary of that situation. Read it here: “CBS sues photographer for sharing TV show screenshots on social media”

Many copyright infringements are done innocently, such as sharing a social media post. Some are done out of laziness (it’s too much trouble to secure the rights) or a reluctance to pay the fee. In many cases, you’ll get away with stealing an image or some text to share on social media or even to use on your website, even though it’s morally and legally wrong. But you never know when the owner of the intellectual property is paying attention and being proactive. Why risk it?

Most individuals, artists and small businesses don’t have the resources to fight a protracted legal battle—and even if they did, they’d rather spend their time doing something else. The solution is simple:

Don’t use images or other intellectual property that you didn’t create unless you have secured the rights to do so.

Additional reading:

“The Difference Between Rights and Ownership” Just because you have the right to use a photograph or other intellectual property doesn’t mean you own it.

“Terms You Should Know About Content Rights” If you use content you did not create on your website, blog or elsewhere, understanding these terms will help you be sure you have the legal right to the content you’re using and sharing.



Jacquelyn Lynn
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