Copyright, what does it mean for you and me?

The other day I was browsing through a local online for-sale site looking for antique and vintage clocks and saw a Mauthe Westminster chime mantel clock for sale. From the photo it looked great. But wait!

Here is one photo from the ad.

RS Mauthe mantle clock (11)
Mauthe mantel clock

Why would I post a photo from the ad? Simple. It is my photo. The seller had the identical clock for sale and thought he would use my image to promote the offering. In my view he committed two fundamental errors. First he used a protected image without permission and second he was misrepresenting the ad by using my image for a clock he was promoting.

I corresponded with the seller, told him that he could not use my photos because they are copyright protected. He argued that unless it expressly states that it is copy-protected he is free to use any image he wants. After I threatened to advise the site administrators of his use of my photos he took the photos down. Copyright law regarding photos can be vague though the simple rule of thumb is that it you have any doubts about the use of a photo don’t use it. Had the seller contacted me and asked for permission, that would have been a different story and at least I would have been able to exercise my right to grant permission or not.

From the time it is created, a photo or other image is automatically protected by copyright. Infringement can include the use of whole or part of a photo without permission as in this particular case. Just because an image is on the internet, it doesn’t mean the image is free to use. Many people do not fully realize this. If the image is free to use it will say “in the public domain”. The law is very clear on this.

Needless to say all images on this blog are owned by me and for good reason!