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Using a photo from a blog: copyrights?

  1. Dec 6, 2008 #1
    Hey all,

    So I found this really great picture on a blog the picture owner did forward to the blog owner and he published it. I want to use it for things like my facebook picture 'its about football' or may be for other things, but not for commercial purposes or gaining money ..etc

    Can I still use it without the permission of any of the two above, or should I leave them a message or so and I can use it before getting back to me with a no?

    It may sound a weird question, but the legal and ethical dimensions I may learn I can apply them for a more serious situations in the future.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 6, 2008 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    It depends, some people claim a copyright to their pictures, some people explicitly state that they do not give permission for their photos to be reproduced. If you know the person, it wouldn't hurt to ask, they may take it as a compliment.
  4. Dec 8, 2008 #3


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    Staff Emeritus
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    Gold Member

    If you know who the copyright owner is, you should always ask and wait for an answer. No answer is the same as "No." You have to think of intellectual property like any other real property (and copyrights are intellectual property). You wouldn't just borrow someone's car without asking, so don't borrow their photos without asking either. And like with any other property, people feel differently about how much they want to share. Some might say, "Sure, go ahead!" Others might want some credit for it with a link back from your site to theirs. Some might want to get paid for it. Others might tell you flat-out, NO.

    If you don't know who the original owner is, that makes things a little more complicated. Then it's kind of like finding something out on the street. It probably does still have an owner, but you don't know how to find them. You can use what you found, but be aware there's a caveat. The original owner COULD find you and tell you to stop using it, they want it back, or even that they want you to pay damages for the money you made using it when you had it instead of them (in the intellectual property world, they can only make you pay them back for money you made from their product, unless they had some pre-set licensing fee with others that they can document is what you rightfully should have been paying them to use it). In reality, for what you're describing as a use, the worst that is likely to ever happen would be a cease and desist order, at which time you should immediately stop using it.

    But, since you know who owns it, ask.
  5. Dec 9, 2008 #4


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    I used to be active on a Swedish photography forum with quite a few pro and semi-pro members. About once a month a member would post saying they he/she had received a "bonus" because a company had found one of their photos on the web and then used it without asking for permission (there were even a few cases where newspapers did the same thing, they really should know better). This meant that the copyright holder (usually the photographer) was entitled to not only the original fee for using the photo but also damages and they could be substantial; often many times what it would have cost the company to simply buy the right to use the photo in the first place.

    Anyway, if the photo had been used on e.g. someones Myspace page most photographers will simply ask for it to be removed, but there were cases where the person who had used it refused, usually because they did not understand how copyright works (some people actually seem to think that a picture is "free" once it has been published on the web).
    This is usually resolved by contacting the company hosting the webpage and asking them them to close down the page (which they usually do when asked).
  6. Dec 9, 2008 #5
    I would like to see you prove that IP is RP in terms of physics.

    The car is a physical object. If someone steals my car, I have lost that car and can't use it. My computer hard disk is mine even though a large evil bad naughty software company is trying real hard to control it. If I copy a photo to my hard disk, it is my electrons holding it there. The photo is permanently mine if it is held by my electrons in my hard disk. However, it shows good manners and is the morally right thing to do to consult the originator before doing anything with his/her IP.
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