downloading from a stranger's Flickr gallery - is this NYT piece right?

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by bill_fouche, Jun 24, 2009.

  1. A recent piece in the Times's "Gadgetwise" blog recommends that readers looking for photos to hang on their walls search Flickr for appealing candidates, download them (presumably without permission), print them, and frame them for the purpose of decorating one's own home. The article suggests that this doesn't violate copyright law, because it's "personal use" and he's not charging admission to guests in his home, etc. Surely this is incorrect. Anyone know?
  2. It all depends on the rights each photo is claiming. So he is right, but his article is misleading as everything on flicker has the same copyright.
    For instance, you are allowed to copy or remix something under the creative commons license "some rights reserved" just not allowed to call it your own. In this instance, sure you can print it (a copy).
  3. Jon is correct about the different licenses, but the flippant tone in that article about the copyright issues really irritated me. (Grrrrrr, I feel my inner pit bull emerging) It is my understanding that if the photo is marked as fully copyrighted, ie. not a Creative Commons license, then the usual copyright law applies.
    One thing that some people posting on Flickr may or may not realize is that just marking it as fully copyrighted doesn't mean that it is protected from full size downloads. You have to change that setting seperately. Of course if someone wants the photo bad enough they will take it. That's why I watermark everything now with my name and url.
  4. This is the digital age, and yes, 3.5 billion photos are floating out there to be perused, viewed, seen and maybe even LOOKED at, shocked by, enthused by millions. This is the digital age: 99.9% of people don't even have the patience to take the time to print and frame it. Why would they? The next day is replete with new images on their screen or TV. I would be tickled if someone downloaded a digital image of mine, printed it and framed it. Those who begin calling it their own, selling it, mass producing it... well, Karma will catch up to 'em. Because it will just cost you a headache and a lawyer to look into it.
  5. So Flickr can't be used as your personal usage.
  6. This sort of attitude is why I watermark every single image on Flickr, delete old images from Flickr regularly, and never upload anything that is more than 1024 pixels on a side (and to be totally safe, I should probably reduce that to 800). I created some simple Photoshop actions that save a copy of my images with reduced size and watermark, to make this easy and painless.
    I don't watermark things I upload to, because this site is supposed to be focused on improving the photography, and the watermark gets in the way...However, I have had images stolen from, so again, I have no intention of keeping more than a few on here at a time.
  7. I have had pictures taken from flickr, even with a low resolution they would end up mostly on foreign websites so I don't post on that site anymore.
  8. Even 800x600 will make a decent 4x6 print. It's why the megapixel race in cheap point and shoots is so silly. Billboards are typically printed at 9 dpi, so that 800x600 image will give you a decents sized area on a billboard too.
    Watermarks sound good but can by cropped out easily unless they're so invasive they ruin the image.
  9. The Times author got beat up pretty good in the comments on that article. I'll bet she won't stop though.
  10. Try printing out articles from the Times and redistributing them not-for-profit and see how long before their lawyers show up. Big business has a mentality that all the rights belong to them, what's theirs is theirs and what's yours is theirs. Same way Disney's whole business model makes use of the public domain but they're constantly lobbying to destroy the public domain for everyone else. Atari/Nintendo just got busted for using open source code in their closed source games.
  11. And you know, of course, people can send eCards of prints of your images in the portfolios, unless you explicitly turn off that option.
  12. "And if you’re wondering about copyright issues (after all, these aren’t my photos), the photos are being used by me for my own, private, noncommercial use. I’m not selling these things and not charging admission to my apartment, so I think I’m in the clear."
    The 4 factors of fair use include these:
    (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
    (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
    I would suggest that if one is encouraged to take and make free copies, it's going to have substantial effect on the "potential" market. I'd expect the problem is that on Flickr and similar sites, there may be differences in the rights areas in the individual images, some of which may actually have commercial uses and should be viewed only as intended and not copied/printed, some which may have been given a creative commons positioning which allows for free use, etc.
    The practical factor is that if hidden away at home, the owner will likely never know the rights are infringed yet that's probably not a position that many in the creative industries would really be too happy with.
  13. Watermarks can be photoshoped out. Save your images at 72 dpi, most people will discard the print when they discover the zig zags... 72 dpi is the highest resolution a PC can utilize. Not sure about the Mac.
  14. So I was thinking...What are the possible implications for the copyright holder if he marked the photo as fully copyrighted but forgot to restrict the full size download option, or didn't know about it? Would that make things even more difficult for him if the infringement were pursued legally? Pursuing something like this would be really hard in the first place. I could just see the other side arguing that if the photo owner didn't want it used then they should have restricted the downloads, regardless of the copright statement.
  15. Katherine:
    The photographer doesn't have to do anything like restrict original size to enforce copyright. Yes, enforcement is hard at the outset, but copyright (here in the US) allows the author full control to authorize use, display, and re-distribution. All he would need to prove is that he is the author of the work, and that the infringer had access to his image somehow, somewhere. Then it becomes a matter of degrees in terms of assessing damages.
  16. @Michael Grant
    "72 dpi is the highest resolution a PC can utilize"
    This I've never heard before...
  17. Ed,

    Sorry, I should have said "PC Monitor" and referred to dpi as Dots Per Inch and not pixel resolution. If you have a 300 dpi image say set at 15x10 inches or 11x8.5 inches, you can drop the dpi to 72 and still retain a sharp image. Human eye cannont distinquish much differance (if any) between a 72 dpi vs 300 dpi from a PC screen. All web images are recommended to store at 72dpi for web viewing. If one is to try to print a 72dpi image to 11x8.5, the quality will be poor and not worthwhile. Someone told me that Mac's have an higher definition on the monitor, but I haven't looked for referense to this. Sorry to devert this conversation from the legal aspect to technical, but saving smaller files especially with lower DPI will help eliminate copyright infringement worries.
  18. Michael, you seem very confused about what dpi actually means.
    You need to read this:
    Additional discussion here:
  19. Rob and for the readers, thank you for your response and I'm sorry to opened a can of worms. I'm not really confused, I was trying to lay out in simple laymans terms for the general reader, but I guess for those who are going to get technical, they will. Yes, technically, it is PPI and not DPI, and I really should have used the term PPI (Pixes's per inch instead of dots per inch) and what PPI means to a monitor (72 for PC and 96 for Macs) is beyond the scope that most readers even care about. But I will try to steer this whole bit back to helping to protect one's property from copyright infringement.
    Reading your link you gave me, show's that I am correct about setting the document size and the "PPI". It also says it does not affect the display monitor. It pertains to the printer. Above is a link to two images, both saved as 8.5 x 11 documents (web browser does not care about this). The first is saved at 300 ppi (2,530 kb)and the second saved at 72 ppi (232 kb). Big differnece in size that is not needed. If one were to print the 72 ppi file, depending on the printer and software used, the quality will very. But if one were to try to print it to a larger paper then 8.5 x 11, it will get ziggy and zaggy. Just as your link explains, the pixels are expanded to fill the document, which from a printer standpoint, less quality. The more pixels, the smaller the pixels become and more definition for the printer But the monitor does not care. However, back to my original point, a viewer using a PC monitor cannot distinquish much difference between a 300 ppi and a 72 ppi document viewed on the web giving that the 72 ppi image is not stretched beyond it's 72 ppi threshold. Remember, the printer sees this as an 8.5 x 11 document and the web browsers see is it exactly as it is based on the number of pixels. So adjusting the file to your desired size, you can still display a quality image saved at 72 ppi. Just won't be as big.
    I am merely trying to get my point to the general reader about helping to protect their property, not to challenge technicallities of PPI/DPI.
  20. All you really want to do is set a pixel count resolution suitable for the display in use. If you keep the resolution (resize) suitable for screen viewing, like 1024x786 or even smaller, then it's generally too small an image to print much bigger than 4x6. Keep in mind that anyone that copies a screen image is going to choose image print size themselves. The print driver will take whatever pixel count it gets and do what it has to fit the selected print size. Too few pixels will likely result in a poor image if too large a size is selected. Setting or resetting the dpi flag to something other than the default for that camera is an extra effort that isn't necessary.
    It should be apparent that a 1024x768 image is going to have a different size on different size monitors, 14" or 15"or 17" diagonal. Screen displays just lay out the pixels in an array and there is no accounting for the dpi setting at all, it's all just one pixel next to or stacked over the others.
  21. What matters in making a print is number the pixels.

    It does NOT matter if a 800x600 pixel image is tagged at 100; 71; 1 or whatever ppi value.

    The image in all cases is a 800x600 pixel image.

    An analogy is one gets paid 600 bucks in cash for a job.
    It does NOT matter if one gets paid six 100 dollar bills ;or twelve 50 dollar bills; or thirty 20 dollar bills. In all cases on still has 600 dollars in cash.

    Retagging an image to a lower dpi/ppi value and keeping the same image size in pixels is quite common.
    This allows one to post giant 2000x3000 pixels images and give them away; you feel good with a false tagging that really does nothing.

    FOCUS on the image size you post; give away.
    FOCUS on what a quote is in dollars for a plumber; car repair.
    Worrying about dpi/ppi is like worrying about what size bills you pay to get your hair cut; and ignoring the cost; wonky thinking.

    It takes much less to make a poster for a wall than most folks think; that is why the internet is such a free source of images; often with gobs of real quality and detail.
  22. To those who are cleverly responding the the "ppi" issue. I think you are missing my point. PPI is always relevant when it come to relating to the screen's resolution. As long as a jpeg is small enough to fit with in a frame without stretching or shrinking, it will be relaxed and match the screens 72 ppi resolution (96 for Macs). This is why photoshop and other applications and regulations of jpegs are recommended to 72ppi because the monitors resolution is 72ppi . My point in the previous posts was to keep the image relaxed at 72 ppi and it will be as crisp as it is going to get. Therefore, if someone tries to print a picture on a large printer, the quality is not going to be desirable. If you have a larger image than the size of your screen or target frame, the ppi factor is going to be higher than 72 ppi and becomes reduntant. Squeezing are larger Jpeg to fit a screen or frame does not give you better quality then a jpeg that is at it's relaxed resolution of 72 ppi. PC's monitors only utilize 72ppi of this image as I mentioned earlier. If an image is stretched beyond it's designated dimension, then it becomes less than 72 ppi and is not desirable as well. I am not confused, trust me.. PPI is a very logical aspect to my thinking (an I'm sure others too) but maybe not to the way you think. I would have saved a lot of grief for those who merely were jumping in to impress others with their knowledge and not really sticking to the aspect from my view point. I do realize there were better ways I could have worded it and I appologize for being so aloof. I should have just said "Keep the image small say around 1024 by 768" (by the way, this would be 72 ppi) as Ben said in his post. That was the perfect answer and forgive me for not noticing it firstly. Anyways, I'm not challening anyone and I'm not saying you're wrong, but I'm saying there are other ways to express things.
  23. Pixels per inch is not relevant to a screen display as the screen displays the pixels in the resolution selected for the display. If one were to take 786432 coins of the same size, they could be layed out in a 1024x768 array. If you were to lay out that many dimes, it would be a smaller array than if you used pennies, and that one smaller than if you used nickels, and that's smaller than if you used quarters. But it's still 1024x768. The point is, pixels don't have a fixed "per inch" size. The size changes with the display.
    A 14" diagonal monitor (nominally, not incorporating bezels, borders, etc., using 3-4-5 triangle measurements applicable to a 4x6 screen ratio) has a horizontal screen width of 11.2", 15" has a screen width of 12" and 17" monitor width is 13.6" . If one were to accept that a PC screen is 72 ppi, then a 1024 pixel image wouldn't fit a 17" PC screen (however, we know it does) but would nicely fit your 14" 96 ppi Mac screen. If you were to divide the nominal screen widths by 1024, you'd see that a 14" screen (at 11.2") would need 98.4 pixels per inch to fit 1024 on, a 15" screen would accomodate 85.3 and a 17" screen 75.3.
    Here's a site which discusses resolutions as well, as you can see, they reverse your Mac and PC dpi assertions. (It's 10 years old's confused too)
  24. This discussion is interesting in that you all have opinions regarding pixels per inch, dots per inch, legal issues, fairness and a myriad of other topics. What it boils down to is that Flikr and any other photo hosting site can incorporate a copy restriction command into the website. Anyone who has reviewed a friend's wedding pictures at a large photography studio's site and accidentally right clicked on an image has seen a response that states something like this: "photographs on this site are protected by copyright and cannot be downloaded." I noticed this at my son's wedding photo site a couple years ago, I accidentally right clicked on a photo and in no uncertain terms was informed I could not use that option. Therefore, all a photographer need do is upload photos only to those sites which protect the photos in that manner, and/or push all photo web sites to include the safety feature.
    Charles Church
  25. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator Staff Member

    My point in the previous posts was to keep the image relaxed at 72 ppi and it will be as crisp as it is going to get​

    This is completely wrong, as Craig points out. An image sized to 800x600 will be exactly the same at 1ppi, 72ppi, and one billion ppi. PPI is an instruction to a device that outputs in inches. Monitors output in pixels.
  26. I'm going off on a tangent, but here goes. I'm new to digitizing (new refurbished Epson V700). I have a large collection of old glass plate negatives (hundreds of exquisitely beautiful images, , 4 x 5, 5 x 7, 8 x 10, culled from thousands). I want to scan them, improve them, and sell them. I've purchased these negatives over the last 20 years from antique dealers, auctions, garage sales, flea markets, etc. I dont have much proof of purchase. I do not have any agreements. Do descendents have right to sue over my use of these images, even though I have no idea who these people in the images are, although I'm sure most are dead, but not necessarily so? Is there a statute of limitation? I've seen many images on the internet of old scenes with unknown and known people, examples being, Abraham Lincoln, personalities, stars, nobodies (like me). I have wet printed many images to 20 in. x 24 in. paper and donated them to many museums, and they are currently on display in many places. I have had requests for 8 in. x 10 in. prints, which I refuse, because I'm sure they would be quickly copied and then be out of my control. I havent posted any images on the internet. I paid for the negatives, I work them, and I want to make a profit. Am I at legal risk in doing so? Thank you for any help. BTW, I also want to digitize for free the local museum's large collection of local negatives so they can print them and make money. Currntly, these negatives are languishing in boxes and cabinets, no use to anyone.
  27. If the image has entered the public domain - basically it's reached the end of copyright protection - there should be no problems. You can look to the Library of Congress website on copyright and it goes into detail on the duration of copyright terms.
    You could potentially have problems if the subject (person) of the image is alive and/or identifiable and the "use" is infringes their or their estate's rights. The law varies somewhat from state to state. An individual has "publicity" rights and in some states, that right is a valuable commercial property and the estates have asserted the right to control use of the image. This is evolving law. The use is important because if protected expressive use (like art, education, editorial (news), uses, there is probably no issue. Here are a couple of links to begin thinking from.
  28. Charles C.
    Just to let you know, I'd tried setting a site up with the right click protection thing before, I than set about trying to grab my own image. It's really not that hard, alls you have to do is highlight the image with the left-click and than either use the keyboard or the edit up top to copy it. Now I don't know if this would work on images displayed using flash but if the photos are just seperate objects, yes, they can still be grabbed sadly... So low resolution and watermarks are always the way to go to be as safe as possible, don't be lulled into a false sense of security by the right click protection.

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