Wednesday 19 June 2013

$3.6m damages for copyright infringement?? Buzz off!

There is a lot of questionable content on there, but I am willing to admit it, I really like BuzzFeed. The site consists of posts on the most wide-ranging random content, usually containing videos, images and/or links - some of it very amusing. (You really need to have a look to appreciate...although maybe not on "work-time".)

It turns out that permission of the content creators is not always sought, before it is posted on the site. Now a photographer, whose photo was used in a BuzzFeed post without his consent, has taken a stand and filed a copyright infringement claim against the site.

Reports the Guardian:
The professional photographer, Kai Eiselein, filed a legal claim against Buzzfeed after finding his picture had been used without permission in a comic compilation of football mishaps. His picture of a grimacing player was removed from the article – now titled "The 29 Funniest Header Faces" – after he made an initial complaint in May 2011. 
But in a lawsuit filed in New York, Eiselein accused Buzzfeed of "direct and contributory infringement" and claims he is owed $3.6m after his work was shared widely across the web. 
He wants Buzzfeed to pay $150,000 in damages for each of the 23 sites that used his picture after the initial post, plus a further $150,000 for "contributory infringement" by another site, 
Eiselein confirmed he was taking legal action against the popular site and said: "It is time for creatives to stand up and say 'This is enough'. We work hard at our crafts and others should not be able to profit from our talents without compensating us." 
Asked why he is claiming such an inordinate sum in damages, he added: "In the suit I have asked for the maximum allowed by law. Ultimately it will be up to a judge and/or jury to decide the amount of damages, if any."
BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti has previously claimed, in a discussion with the Atlantic, that BuzzFeed’s use of photos are fair use under copyright law because they are transformative, which is the first of four factors considered by US judges in resolving fair use disputes.

If this claim makes it to court, it will open some very hot debates.

Read the claim here.

See the golden photo here.

What Peretti has said.

Source: The Guardian, 18 June 2013, The Atlantic, 30 April 2012


Anonymous said...

Nope. Not fair use. Not transformative in the slightest. Your enjoyment of theft doesn't excuse it.

Simone said...

If you thought I was saying that I enjoy theft, I suggest you need to re-read the post.

Rosie Burbidge said...

There's a very interesting analysis of the US regime for damages by Jeff John Roberts on the IPKat.

He helps explain how this figure was reached (but doesn't justify it)!

Rosie Burbidge said...

The relevant link is here: