This page is about my copyright infringed cat photograph and the popular ICANHASCHEEZBURGER web site, also known as LOLCats.
When I discovered my photograph of our beloved deceased cat, Katy Blue, being used as a joke at ICANHASCHEEZBURGER, for their own commercial purposes, I demanded it be removed. I thought that would be the end of it, but it was not. Although ICANHASCHEEZBURGER admitted that I was the owner of the photograph, they felt that I should be proud that it had been on their front page for so long – whatever that means. If I wanted the photograph removed they had such a long list of legal requirements for me to fulfill, that I felt required to contact an Intellectual Properties attorney to help me. It was not easy to do, and I still cannot assure myself that the photo is totally removed, as I do not understand the workings of their website. Since then, I have discovered that my copyright pet photo at Flickr is not the only one that suffered such a fate. Here I am documenting for other Flickr photographers my experiences with the ICANHASCHEEZBURGER commercial web site.
I posted “Good Cat, Bad Cat” at my Flickr account in August 2006, and since that time it has always been prominently labeled as “(c) Copyright – All Rights Reserved.” Recently I was made aware of the ICANHASCHEEZBUGER site when another Flickr member found my copyrighted photograph displayed there as “dunno source.” It was being used without my knowledge or permission and seems to have been posted as a template for their commercial activities. At last count, before I jumped through their required hoops for removing it, I counted sixty-two (62) of my “copyright infringed” images at their web site. As near as I can understand about how the web site works, each of those sixty-two images had been uploaded to individual members accounts, and from there, greeting cards, etcetera, could be created. In addition, there were that many HTML codes provided so that my “copyright infringed” photography could be posted anywhere on the World Wide Web without any attribution to me. I have found that this website publishes picture books that are for sale at Amazon and they have applications available for viewing their photographs on iPhones and iPods at the iTunes Store.
If you believe your copyrighted photographs have been infringed by the ICANHASCHEEZBURGER web site, you must first prove you own the photograph. Apparently, ICANHASCHEEZBURGER does NOT have to prove they own any of the photographs on their web site, as their name is “prominently” displayed on ALL photographs there, implying their ownership.
Although Flickr’s Terms of Service seem to forbid commercial activities by Flickr members, the ICANHASCHEEZBURGER commercial web site has a Flickr Group at Flickr where under their “ABOUT” statement they seem to claim legal rights to override privacy and copyrights for Flickr photographs. According to Flickr’s own Community Guidelines (under “Don’t Use Flickr For Commercial Purposes”), this can only be permitted with Flickr’s approval. Flickr states: “Any other commercial use of Flickr, Flickr technologies (including APIs, FlickrMail, etc), or Flickr accounts must be approved by Flickr.” Here is the Flickr Can Has Cheezburger group’s statement appearing 1 January 2009 at Flickr:
Now officially opened! This is a group for posting photos that are captioned like those at the ever-awesome lolcats photos at www.icanhascheezburger.com, and for the website’s intarweb fans.
NOTE: ALL photos added are considered as submissions to the icanhascheezburger.com website. Legal information may be found at the site here.
If it is your own photo, you are giving icanhascheezburger.com administrators royalty-free right to use that photo. If you submit a photo that is not your own, it must be a creative commons photo allowing derivative works and commercial use. Basically, the website can post and use any photos or captions posted to the pool. Please also note that this is only a fan group and is not affiliated with the ICHC owners. Also, photos posted to the pool are the responsibility of the member posting, not our own.
I have NEVER been a member of that group, so how did my photograph make it to the Cheezburger site? I have reported this to Yahoo, owner of Flickr, and they are totally uninterested, as I can document with the emails between us. On 27 December 2008, Yahoo responded that I must use this link (http://www.flickr.com/report_abuse.gne) to report TOS violations of groups. Said link advises to contact the group administrator, who in this case is an official of … ICANHASCHEEZBURGER’s commercial website:
Aside from Help, Ideas and Bugs, Flickr Groups are moderated by their administrators. If you have any concerns regarding activity within a group, please contact the admin for resolution. You can find the group admin by clicking the member link at the top of the group “home” page.
- ICANHASCHEEZBURGER Cats, 22 December 2008.
- Belle On Black Abby Cat, 22 December 2008.
- “Picture By Dunno Source,” 26 December 2008.
Here is another ICANHASCHEEZBURGER photograph from “dunno source” although the picture is “(C) Copyright, All Rights Reserved” at Flickr: flickr.com/photos/terrylea/222994607/.
Here’s another posted at ICANHASCHEEZBURGER: “Caption by: cindyscrazy | Picture by: dunno source.”