Indiana Photographer Sues Over Copyright Infringement

Indiana Photographer Sues Over Copyright Infringement

We live in a time when photography becomes more and more commonplace but appreciation of the commercial value of photography is uncommon. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that copyright lawsuits from photographers are increasing.

An Indiana man has been especially vigilant in suing companies who have used one photo of his in particular: an image showing a Riverwalk with the Indianapolis skyline in the background. Indianapolis ex-attorney and photographer Richard Bell has allegedly pursued over 200 infringement cases, two of which resulted in $150,000 judgments in Bell’s favor according to the Indy Star publication.

While the large number of infringements Bell pursued might seem unusual, such legal wrangling over photography is not that rare. I would urge all photographers (especially commercial shooters) to keep tabs on reverse image searches and consider using a sophisticated photo stamp like Pixsy that will keep tabs on any of your images that might end up being used online. You might be surprised where your images can end up, and who might be profiting off them.

It's also important to keep your images registered with the US Copyright Office. It's true that any image you press the shutter to create is by default copyrighted to you, but that's hardly any help when pursuing infringement. Litigation for unregistered photographs have little recourse for an infringement lawsuit and few lawyers will be interested in taking your case if the image/s aren't officially registered, unless the value of your typical license fees are in the thousands per photograph.

How do you feel about Bell's pursuant of infringement? Are you rooting for his persistence or critical of it? Please leave your comments and thoughts below. Leave your comments and thoughts below.

Lead image provided by via Pexels.

Scott Mason's picture

Scott Mason is a commercial photographer in Austin specializing in architectural imaging.

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I’m curious to know what your source is for the claim “that copyright lawsuits from photographers are increasing.”

"New media technologies and advanced compression techniques have made it easier to pirate copyrighted content, which has led to an exponential increase in copyright violation. A 2013 report on copyright violation reported that consumption of infringing video streams had risen by 470% between 2010 and 2012. More recently, court records show a 10.2% increase in filings for copyright cases between 2013 and 2014."

Sure, but how many of those are photographers?

In my opinion, it's incredibly unfortunate that the penalties for theft aren't higher. More lawsuits and elimination of royalty free websites would be ideal, in my opinion.

I figure that such images must be good enough to be used or they wouldn't have been stolen to be used.

And since they were used, they should have been paid for up front.

The fact that they were actually "thief bait" is irrelevant--they were good enough to be used and they were stolen for use.

More power to Bell. Gig 'em!