U.S. Judge Claims Using Photo Found on the Internet Is Actually 'Fair Use'
Copyright experts were left scratching their heads after a U.S. judge ruled an image lifted from the Flickr page of a professional photographer and used by a film festival online was fair use. The ruling, passed in June, could “seriously erode” industry protections, one expert warned.
The case, referred to as Brammer v. Violent Hues Productions LLC, kicked into gear after Russell Brammer found one of his pictures—a long exposure shot of Adams Morgan, Washington D.C.—had been used on a website promoting the Northern Virginia Film Festival. He asked for the firm to take the image down and sued for copyright infringement, as reported by PetaPixel.
So far so normal in the world of photography misuse. But last month, in a ruling that shocked multiple legal experts, Judge Claude Hilton of the Eastern District of Virginia ruled against the lensman, who first uploaded his picture to the web on November 19, 2011 alongside the warning “all rights reserved.” Flickr has a creative commons option, but the image in question had strict use terms advertised.
Judge Hilton disagreed, however, saying Violent Hues’ use of the photograph was “informational” and effectively used to the “provide festival attendees with information regarding the local area.” He said it was not used to generate revenue in this instance (although the website does take donations).
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