FBI Anti-Piracy Warning

June 24, 2009

Why does the FBI rail about music piracy, but ignore piracy of photographs?

Flickr Photograph

Isn’t it interesting that the FBI and everyone else is so uptight about copyright violation of music? Yet almost no one anywhere has respect for the “© All Rights Reserved” labeled photographs we amateur photographers upload to Flickr and elsewhere. I have found my © photographs taken from my Flickr photo-stream and used commercially without my permission, nor even credit given, at Ancestry.com (The Generations Network, Inc.) and Icanhascheezburger.com (LOLCATS).

Amateur photographers such as myself upload photographs to share with others. We do not charge anything for you to view our photographs. We are not in the photography business; we just enjoy taking photographs and sharing them. We do not enjoy having those photographs stolen and used commercially by Internet businesses. 

Even though it is against copyright law to download our copyrighted photographs and then to pass them on to others as your own, with no credit to the original creator, it is rampant on the Internet. Sites such as Ancestry.com and Icanhascheezburger.com profit monetarily from our photographs that we never offered for sale. Those sites allow derivative products to be made from them, and then they claim ownership of our photographs and post warnings that it is illegal to steal “their” photographs, as both Ancestry.com (The Generations Network, Inc.) and Icanhascheezburger.com (LOLCATS) do at their sites.

Ancestry.com (The Generations Network, Inc.) operates behind an expensive subscription wall, so that most Flickr members will never find their photographs that have been illegally uploaded there. While Flickr members allow their photographs to be viewed for free, when they appear on the Ancestry.com site, one must pay a subscription fee to view them. The Generations Network has contacted me and given me a link  with instructions on contacting them about copyright violations: http://www.myfamilyinc.com/default.aspx?html=copyright .

After performing all of the legal requirements that Icanhascheezburger.com (LOLCATS) required before they would remove my photograph from their commericial site, someone has advised me that they continue to brazenly store my photograph at their WordPress.com server. (I have since contacted WordPress and WordPress promptly removed the following photo.) http://icanhascheezburger.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/funny-pictures-cat-has-hired-a-substitute.jpg . Someone else has it stored at the Photobucket site.

The image, FBI Anti-Piracy Warning!, is subject to copyright by bizmac. It is posted here with permission via the Flickr API by barneykin.

My Stolen Flickr Photograph

December 22, 2008
Flickr Photograph

On 5 August 2006, I uploaded this photograph of my pet, Katy Blue and my stuffed Stieff cat to the Flickr site. It has always been prominently labeled as “copyright,” although I added the written notice on the actual photograph today, after realizing my copyright had been infringed.

That copyright notice did not stop the ICanHasCheezburger.com site from infringing my photograph and posting it at their site for their own commercial purposes. On 21 December, when another Flickr user reported to me that my photograph was posted at their site, ICanHasCheezburger.com added my Flickr name as credit to the picture. Then they wrote to tell me how proud I should be that my photograph is on the front of their site.

When I told them, as the owner, to remove my photograph, because I had never given them license to use it, they blatently refused until I provide written legal proof  that I am the owner of the photograph. This they demanded, even though they had already admitted in writing that the photograph belonged to me.

So, beware, if you upload your photographs to Flickr and allow said photographs to be publicly viewed. ICanHasCheezburger.com is a Flickr member, with Flickr groups, and seemingly has little regard that you label you images as copyrighted. Yahoo.com owns Flickr, and I have written Yahoo about this matter. If I hear from them, I will report here their actions on this matter.  It is already the case, that Flickr members like ICanHasCheezburger.com are allowed to operate on Flickr even though they are commercial sites, which Flickr Terms of Service forbid.

Yahoo Copyright Terms of Use

The image, Good Cat, Bad Cat, is copyright by Edna Barney posted here with permission via the Flickr API by barneykin.

Now here is my own photo that I never authorized for publication, given a code to be used on other websites to garner advertising hits for the ICanHasCheezburger.com:
funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

I Can Has Cheezburger even has published a book of cat pictures. It is #150 as of today at Amazon: I Can Has Cheezburger?: A LOLcat Colleckshun This is their book blurb on Amazon:

http://www.icanhascheezburger.com was founded in January 2007 as a place to collect “LOLcats”—pictures of cats with funny captions. It has gone on to become a singular sensation, captivating millions and becoming one of the most visited blogs on the internet. For the book, the founders of the site have selected 200 of their favorite LOLcats from their archive of nearly one million, all of which are guaranteed to make you laugh out loud or wonder WTF?

UPDATE: Cheezburger Cats