KCBD INVESTIGATES: Copyright Infringement - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

KCBD INVESTIGATES: Copyright Infringement


KCBD caught wind of a story about a local photographer who said he fell victim to copyright infringement after a third party used his professional photograph for profit, without his consent.

The "Lubbock Lineup" Facebook page and newspaper publication is based on a comparison of two photographs. The section entitled "I Promise I Look Hotter on Facebook" features profile pictures taken from Facebook next to each person's mug shot.

Photographer Eric Karr says his professional photograph of a model was illegally published on that site.

"Once you snap that camera or once you make that drawing and you put it out there, you're the owner of that content," says Karr. "Nobody has the right to take that content and use it."

Karr has filed criminal charges against Jessica Chavez, the creator of Lubbock Lineup."

Chavez's attorney, Charles Chambers says Chavez has the right to use any picture that is publicly displayed on Facebook.

"If you're foolish (enough) to publish anything where a billion people can see it, I think you waived your right to privacy," says Chambers.

We decided to take a closer look into Facebook's legal terms to get some clarification.

According to Facebook's non-exclusive transferable license, we learned that regardless of whether your profile is public or private, your name and profile picture are considered public. However, Facebook clearly states that they do not share any information with third parties, unless given user consent to do so.

According to Wesley Cochran, Texas Tech Maddox Professor of Law, and a specialist in copyright law, the Copyright Act protects all original work. We asked Cochran how social media fits into the equation.

"The copyright owner continues to own the copyright in the photograph regardless of where he or she places it," says Cochran.

As far as Lubbock Lineup's choice to use photographs without user consent for a profit, there are legal ramifications. 

Federal Copyright Law Title XVII, Sec. 106 states that the owner of the copyrighted work has exclusive rights to their work.

We spoke with the Better Business Bureau's President and CEO, Greg Linder, to hear his thoughts on how businesses are affected by copyright issues.

According to Linder, businesses without "some sort of royalty agreement or licensing fee" for access to their work is problematic. 

A large oversight that many YouTube and social media users fail to realize, is that it is unlawful to upload a live performance viewed by a patron at a local bar.

"The copyright owner has the control over those," said Cochran. "They actually have performing right's societies that help police their rights and they scan YouTube and other video sites." He also states that these watchdog groups attend performances of an artist's work to make sure the songwriter is being compensated.

After hearing what the law says about copyright infringement, you might think twice before uploading your favorite song.

Cochran advises photographers and artists to trademark all created work. He also points out that altering an author's branding can lead to additional offenses.

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