About a month ago I blogged that I had discovered a wedding web site using one of my photographs without permission. When I sent an email to the business inquiring as to where they had gotten such a beautiful photograph, the reply, "from the internet."
When I explained that the photo was copyrighted with the US Copyright Office and, as such, I am entitled to collect $10,000, in addition to all attorney's fees and the regular usage fee. An intern immediately called back, on the verge of tears, explaining she had downloaded the image and put it on the wedding photographer's site. She also said that her boss had just fired her and she would have to pay any fees.
Later the intern called explaining that she would make monthly payments on the usage fee I charged the wedding business, but that her husband was unemployed and they had two kids.
In the end, the boss wrote a check for almost 1/2 of the fee. Since the intern was to pay the rest, I said we were even and refunded the $25 the intern had already paid. It also turns out that the intern did not get fired.
I have so many mixed feelings about the whole downloading (as in stealing) photos from the net situation.
• Should the intern be held responsible? I use interns all the time.
• How do we stop people stealing copyrighted photographs from the internet? Many young people feel it is their right to do so.
Oh, yes, a day after I found the wedding site theft, I found another site using one of my images illegally. Since they are associated with a very large company, they shuffled me around a bit, but they are paying the usage fee. Should I have charged the punitive fee? You would recognize this company.
What are your thoughts?