Did you know that state governments are immune from suit for copyright infringement? In Allen v. Cooper, the United States Supreme Court recently ruled that state governments are immune from suit for copyright infringement and that existing statutes eliminating that immunity failed to pass constitutional muster. As a result, state entities now have a free pass when it comes to using the work of a photographer outside of an existing contractual relationship.
This is not a hypothetical situation. For example, the University of Houston took an image by photographer Jim Olive off the internet and used it in multiple publications. Despite his dogged efforts, the University got away with it, quite brazenly. Olive uncovered at least 17 other similar infringements by Texas state entities in the course of his lawsuit.
NANPA has signed amicus briefs on the issue on behalf of Mr. Olive and others and supports efforts to pass new federal legislation correcting the problem. The Copyright Office has also asked for information regarding the experiences of artists who have dealt with state entities in order to determine the scope of the problem.
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Can an online publisher simply embed a photographer’s Instagram post in an online story without paying that photographer or obtaining express permission to do so? Unfortunately, a recent New York district court decision in Sinclair v. Ziff Davissuggests the answer is yes, as long as they do so consistent with Instagram’s various service agreements. While some online publishers have been embedding Instagram posts in their stories for a while, Sinclair is the first court decision that gives legal cover to the practice, leading some photographers to reassess how they use Instagram, and indeed all social media, going forward.
Google Images will now include IPTC creator, credit and copyright information . . . if you have it in the image file. In Lightroom, Bridge and other software, you can apply IPTC metadata with presets.
In late September, Google announced that, in a major update to Google Images, it would be adding “rights-related meta data,” where available, to photos. Collaborating with CEPIC, a coordinating body of stock and news agencies, museums, libraries and art galleries, and IPTC, the “global standards body of the news media,” Google designed a way to access the Creator and Credit metadata for photos. That is, assuming you’ve included the metadata in your original upload. Google will also be adding copyright notices in the near future.