Copyright, community guidelines and the right thing

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 GREC# 169695

I will never forget the day I had, it was one of those really bad ones.  It was raining, I was showing property and the steps were mildewed and wet and that's a bad combination.  Thankfully it was me that fell and cracked a rib and not a client.  A few hours later I went to read something and realized I must have also lost my glasses when I took that tumble on those steps.  My husband went with me back to look for them. 

When I pulled back into my parking spot when I got back to my office with my glasses on I felt a fury that I have rarely experienced. MY photo, my branding photo (and if you read my blog I bet you know what that photo is) was on the cover of a magazine with another brokerage's logo on it.  If my blood pressure had been taken I feel sure it would have been at stroke level.  

Long story short, it was published by a local newspaper who had to pony up some cash, but not only was it MY photo, I had registered the copyright prior to publication of said photo.  Several years later that same photo--- you'd think people could take their own sunset photo was used on a menu in a local restaurant and the owner let me know he'd paid a local office supply place to do it for him.  Well I walked in with my copyright registration and their legal department happily settled out of court.

The moral of this story is two fold.  First, don't be on the end that might have to pony up some money or get a cease and desist letter.  If it's not yours or you haven't paid for the right or gotten permission to use a photo or graph DON'T USE IT.  The community guideline states:

Respect copyrights. Only upload content and images you have the right to use commercially.

 Rich Jacobson's post on the issue is certainly worth a read, and it's the link that statement leads to in the community guidelines.

It boils down to don't be a thief.  That little message at the end before you post publishes where you are guaranteeing it's your original content or that you have permission to publish can cost you. Money and certainly your integrity. 

My advice on this matter actually even goes beyond ActiveRain to anything you post on line.  I recently saw someone who used a star wars image on a t-shirt to wear for their brokerage and I thought... hope no one reports you to Disney dude because they have some high paid attorneys that will own your behind. So just because you think you can ignore that cease and desist letter for using that community photo you snagged from another agent's site doesn't mean that tomorrow your site won't be shut down by a court order. And if that happens, it becomes public knowledge that you are a thief.  Not so good for business.

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Rainmaker
1,399,599
Rick Obst
Eugene, OR

Recently I came across the unattributed use of my photo as the home page header on a website.  Ironically the business was promoting its photography services to local real estate agents.

I've also come across users of my Creative Commons photos that use "Flickr" as the attribution.  Flickr didn't take the photo, the photographer did.  Surprisingly, I've seen this done in online college newspapers and "news" sites.

Jan 27, 2018 06:23 AM #3
Rainer
111,946
faye schubert
Keller Williams Tri-Lakes Realty and Lake of the Ozarks - Branson, MO
technology and marketing specialist

I tell agents on a daily basis to use their own photos and DO NOT COPY PHOTOS from others. I will share this post with them, hoping this gets their attention.

Jan 27, 2018 07:54 AM #4
Ambassador
3,550,949
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad

Hi Tammy

This caution cannot be repeated too many times, unfortunately.

I love that photo and always have. No wonder others do, too. They just need to enjoy it...and go take their own. I’ve no doubt there are plenty of opportunities in the beautiful area you live in.

Jeff

Jan 27, 2018 08:25 AM #5
Ambassador
1,552,181
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

It is a gorgeous photo, Tammy. No wonder folks want it. However, your post reminds us all to be very careful about using any image without permission. Can't believe 1. people wouldn't get their own photo. or 2. buy one similar. When we were builing our website, we paid for photos from a well-know area photography. Can't imagine just taking a photo from someone...weird. 

Jan 27, 2018 08:51 AM #6
Rainmaker
726,289
Mel Ahrens, MBA, Kelly Right Real Estate
Kelly Right Real Estate - Hood River, OR
Customized Choices for your Real Estate Needs

Great advice, not just for pictures but original content too.  It is not unusual to see multiple blogs using Keeping Current Matters original content each day. 

Jan 27, 2018 08:56 AM #7
Rainmaker
1,956,021
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

You know all the photoshopping and head swapping I do....I take this very seriously. It should be taken very seriously!

My go to source for free pics is Pixabay. They have an awesome selection! Best of course is to use only your own photos!

Jan 27, 2018 09:17 AM #8
Ambassador
2,433,989
Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton)

You got the perfect picture of Lake Sinclair.  Too bad so many think it's free for them to use.

Jan 27, 2018 12:46 PM #9
Rainmaker
690,817
Joyce Marsh, Daytona Beach Florida
Premier Sotheby's International Realty - Daytona Beach, FL
Two Decades Of Experience Selling Luxury Homes...

Excellent advice and blog post, definitely worthy of a feature.  I recently had a FSBO use a few of my professional community and beach photos for his rental listing. I couldn't believe it.  He was quickly advised to remove immediately which he did.  But I was shocked he thought he could use them.  

Jan 27, 2018 01:21 PM #10
Rainmaker
304,421
Steffy Hristova
HomeSmart Elite Group Tempe AZ Tel: 480-966-9353 - Tempe, AZ
Tempe AZ Realtor - Your Home Close to Your Work!

Tammy, what an experience you had! I have to learn how to register my photos. Beautiful sunset photo!

Jan 27, 2018 01:41 PM #11
Ambassador
2,702,380
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

Steffy Hristova I wrote a post on that a few years ago. How to copyright register photosSheila Anderson  here is a post I wrote explaining the process. 

Tim Maitski I think it also makes me money the way I want as well.  People recognize it and say "oh yeah I saw your ad or saw your post or saw your sign" so a branding photo works wonders for recognition 

Jan 27, 2018 02:14 PM #12
Ambassador
2,702,380
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

Sheila Anderson I learned on AR that you have to register it to be able to collect, but even without registering it you can stop someone from using it.

Rick Obst yeah, I thought the newspaper that published that magazine knew better, but I was wrong.

faye schubert fines can be up to 6 figures and I don't mean with a decimal point involved. ;)

 

 

Jan 27, 2018 02:18 PM #13
Ambassador
2,702,380
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

Jeff Dowler when the local printer used it she told me a local photographer (not me) had actually told her it was it his and that she could use it.  Problem was she snagged it right off my web site.

Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD or just ask.  Chances are I would have let both people use it with attribution, but nah, they stole it, they had to pay.

Mel Ahrens, MBA, Kelly Right Real Estate while that's not something I would do, because I prefer my own content, at least most of those folks are paying to use that and not just snagging it.

Jan 27, 2018 02:22 PM #14
Ambassador
2,702,380
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

Sharon Tara there are several places with free or inexpensive photos that can be used, I think most folks just don't know.  But it can be costly.

Liz and Bill Spear I had a beautiful log cabin on the market that I took that shot from and loved it and replaced one I'd used since 1998 that I took for my original site. By the time I replaced it I'd learned a lot here on AR about registering it and did so before I ever published it the first time.  I also have my "time stamped" SD card as proof it's mine and original in the event I ever need that in court.

 

Jan 27, 2018 02:27 PM #15
Ambassador
2,702,380
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

Joyce Marsh, Daytona Beach Florida I'm not shocked.  I actually had an attorney for the newspaper that stole mine respond to my attorney with "they got it off yahoo"  WHAT?  yeah, an attorney.  My attorney set him straight.

Jan 27, 2018 02:28 PM #16
Rainmaker
415,445
Michael Eisenberg
eXp Realty - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham Real Estate Guy

Hard to believe someone can not take their own sunset photo. Yours is great, but the subject lends itself to good images, why use someone elses. I once had someone copy my whole website once before I was in real estate. 

Jan 27, 2018 04:54 PM #17
Ambassador
2,702,380
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

I had a lot of content copied from my company site once, but I just let it go because they weren't in my market and it really wasn't worth the fight (it was years ago and well I was about to revamp my site anyway)

Jan 27, 2018 06:14 PM #18
Rainer
77,424
Christine Kankowski North SD and Temecula
House Match Inc - Poway, CA
Excellent Sales and Property Management

It is a great photo/    Can I use it?  Ha ,  just kidding.  Nice Color.

Jan 28, 2018 05:15 PM #19
Rainmaker
155,454
Mary Jo Quay
Remax Results - Edina, MN

Thank you for the post.  Many years back I had an art studio in NY.  A restaurant hired me to do a limited marketing piece that turned into a national campaign with American Express.  I had a long battle with them, and they offered me a in place of cash a dinner with Tony Bennett.  Really.  Also saw MY work being used as a promo in another country.  Pirating is stealing. Because you see it being used somewhere else doesn't mean that anyone can clip and use it.  

Jan 29, 2018 01:00 PM #20
Rainmaker
2,328,931
Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®
Perry Wellington Realty, Adam Conrad, Broker - Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate

Tammy, that is an amazing photo...thanks for sharing and I will NOT use it. Thanks to Sharon Tara for the Pixaby link for free photos.

Jan 29, 2018 08:48 PM #21
Rainmaker
1,956,021
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Rebecca Gaujot  Pixabay is fabulous. I can almost always find what I need there.

Jan 30, 2018 08:44 AM #22
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Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville
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