I have not received any campaign related material in the mail this year. However, it was recently brought to my attention that one of my photos was used in election campaign material without my knowledge, permission or license.
I was first made aware of this by Ann Thane’s blog entry where she described the image of her as “unbecoming”. Owning a rather large collection of unbecoming images of the Mayor, I looked into the matter and confirmed it was, in fact my image.
The photo in question was a photo of Mayor Ann Thane that I took during a public meeting at the Riverfront Center on May 16, 2011, where the proposed increase in water fee and elimination of the 3% tax cap was being “discussed” by outraged Amsterdamians.
My intellectual property was illegally obtained from my blog and can be found here.
The Emanuele camp maintains that they legally used the photo because there was no Copyright notice on my blog. WRONG!
The posting of Copyright notice is not required, though often used by people in an attempt to ward off thieves. Copyright is automatic and inherent when a photographer snaps that shutter and takes the photo. The registration of images with the US Copyright Office is also not required to enact Copyright law. It is helpful for tort action against violators.
The Emanuele camp is also not aware that all of my images contain owner information including Copyright notice embedded with each electronic image that can be seen with any photo editor.
These photos are someone’s work product. You wouldn’t think of stealing from a bank or department store, but somehow think it is OK to steal from the internet. It is NOT OK to use images from the internet for your own purposes. It is against Federal Copyright law. Those images are the intellectual property of the photographer (yes even unbecoming images are intellectual property).
A link to the US Copyright Office can be found here.
I will be sending Joe Emanuele a cease and desist and letter along with a demand for payment (temporary license) for using my intellectual property in his campaign literature. Consider this public notice.
Reporter Jarrett Carroll covered this story in todays edition of the Recorder. His story can be found here.
In his story, Sparks Fly Over City Mailer, Carroll identifies Vince Casale, Emanuele’s campaign manager as responsible for using my photograph to create the flyer.
Vince Casale, Emanuele’s campaign manager, said the photograph was taken from the Internet and falls under public domain, claiming permission was not necessary.
This is a common misnomer that is totally false. Public domain does not equate to “the Internet”. Public domain refers to items produced prior to 1923 or those who Copyrights have expired (Copyright has an initial lifespan of 70 years). Public Domain may also refer to works created by the government, like published laws.
But Vince Casale said the image was found online and is fair game.
There was no copyright on the photo. I checked for one because I deal with this sort of thing all the time,” he said. “There’s nothing there, there is no reserved rights or anything like that.
Thanks to the Berne Convention of 1988 a Copyright statement is not required. At the moment of creation, when the artwork is “fixed” in some tangible form, copyright applies automatically. For a photographer, when you press the shutter release you are making a photo and gaining copyright to that photo at the same time. You don’t have to declare copyright or file any paperwork.
My camera provides additional protection by embedding a Copyright statement in each photo I take, including my name and year.
It looks like Vince Casale also needs a lesson. Maybe Joe Emanuele should deduct the fee I am imposing from his salary.