I’ve talked about the impact of fans and others reposting unlicensed photos, especially taken from a photographer’s or agency’s licensing site, how it damages an images value and therefore affects a photog’s ability to make a living in what is already a struggling industry. Here’s one example for you (from Perez Hilton’s Wikipedia entry) although keep in mind that celebrity photos are in a whole different stratosphere compared to what concert images generally license for (one leading alt music magazine pays $100 a photo, even for full page shots)
“Bloggers, journalists, news agencies and photographers alike have charged that Hilton posts paparazzi photographs and other copyrighted content from their sites. On November 30, 2006, celebrity photo agency X17Online filed a lawsuit against L Hilton in federal court, seeking over US$7.5 million in damages for copyright infringement.X17’s co-owner Robin Navarre told the LA Times that the sale value of their photographs has been significantly reduced because the photos have appeared on PerezHilton.com before they could be published in magazines to which exclusivity is important. Navarre said,
“X17 can make as much as tens of thousands of dollars from one magazine on an exclusive story. In the case of the Spears smooch shot, X17 sold a two-page spread to Us Weekly, but the magazine decided to shrink the photo play (which lowered the price by $10,000, to $15,000)…because the images had already been on Hilton’s site and others.”
Hilton defends his use of this material by claiming it falls under the fair use exception to the Copyright Act; that is, according to the LA Times, the photos are altered “to achieve a satiric or humorous end.” On March 9, 2007, a judge ruled that Hilton could continue operating his website while the lawsuit remained before the courts. On April 23, 2007, a consortium of five celebrity photo agencies filed a joint lawsuit in federal district court in California against Hilton, claiming more than US$7 million in damages from 25 instances of alleged copyright infringement. Just days later, on April 26, 2007, upon arriving at the Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia to attend the MTV Australia Video Music Awards, Hilton was served with a lawsuit by celebrity photo agency PhotoNews claiming C$4,200 in damages for his alleged unauthorized use of a single copyrighted paparazzi photograph of John Mayer and Jessica Simpson.
On June 20, 2007, Variety reported that Hilton’s web host had dropped his site upon threats of liability in the cases outlined above. Francois Navarre, co-owner of X17, told Variety, “It’s the first victory, and we put a lot of work into trying to get this to happen.” He added, “It’s a precedent that’s huge. When we were talking to Crucial Paradigm they were saying they were not responsible, dragging their feet. We had to threaten them and show them they were liable. His new host is Blogads, and we’re contacting them already.”
On June 26, 2007, Hilton posted an open call on his blog to all of X17’s photographers, both past and present, to contact him if they have not been adequately compensated for working overtime or pictures submitted in the past. Hilton has not used photos by X17 on his website since the suit.