Creedence Clearwarter Revival sang it best:

Long as I remember The rain been comin’ down.
Clouds of myst’ry pourin’ Confusion on the ground.
Good men through the ages, Tryin’ to find the sun;
And I wonder, Still I wonder, Who’ll stop the rain.

For as long as we can remember, the rain of infringements been pouring down.

Who’ll stop this rain? Likely not the folks with the most at stake – photographers. A recent report online talks about Elon Musk using a photo of a rocket launch, stripping out the photographer’s watermark and then ignoring and blocking him and others who complain on his Twitter feed. This really tweaks our tatter totters.

As for Musk’s actions, as we’ve stated for years, if you don’t handle infringements correctly, infringers can and will ignore you, then rinse and repeat. No, what topples our totters is the inaction by photographers who don’t know how to protect their images. Removing a watermark! As people who read our stuff know, not only does that violate DMCA law, it also helps tremendously to demonstrate the willful infringement of a copyrighted image. With a registration and a lawyer, ka-ching, three cherries and a payout.  A finding of a willful infringement entitles the creator to more money damages.

While everyone in the Interweb Universe is wringing their hands over Musk’s actions, we are wringing our hands over the fact that this (at least appears)  to be a straight forward  lawsuit, one that is usually handled between lawyers in a quiet, unseen, and under the radar settlement that sends money to a photographer. Simply having the image registered and hiring a lawyer to professionally handle the issue in a business-like manner would likely make the world right.

Jack was alerted by people on social media about someone who had their image blatantly ripped off and was asking for advice on social media as what to do. The answers from fellow photographers was the usual bad advice, like sending an invoice. As we say time and time again, that’s the worst thing to do, as it can bite you big time later. Some state they have gotten paid by sending an invoice. One we’re skeptical if that’s 100% true and for the times it is true, we’re fairly certain that the infringer realized that they were settling for pennies on the dollar of what they were liable for and the recipients were thrilled to receive the “underpayment”.

But some of the social media experts did say to hire a lawyer. “OH, NO!” was the response from the ripped off photographer. They didn’t want the bother, the hassles, and the expense of hiring a lawyer.

Really??! Is your photography a business or a hobby?

An experienced IP lawyer will listen to you to see if you have a case and will advise you as to the best way to proceed. They are not going to bite you or bill you to hear if there is a case. (If they say they charge to just hear your story, hang up and call another lawyer). The fear of lawyers among photographers and the lack of knowledge as to the rights that come with copyright, well, makes us shake our heads, and burns our totters.

The result of not pursuing infringements, is more infringements. We’ve shown in other articles, like “Head Fakes” that lawyers advise other lawyers whose clients have infringed copyrights, that they can ignore letters, invoices, angry calls from copyright owners until they hear from a lawyer and see a Copyright Registration. Without those two items, everyone else can go pound sand. Companies have actually done cost analysis to find out if it’s more cost efficient to steal images and pay off the rare few copyright owners that contact them through lawyers. Guess what, in most cases it turns out, it is cheaper to steal images. Because creatives don’t register their work and are scared to hire a lawyer.

We see this time and time again, where photographers have a case that we know from decades of experience, can collect a hefty check, but because of the fear of actually doing the right thing, get nothing. Well not nothing, they get to eat a bit of their liver over the angst the infringement causes them.

It’s an overcast, rainy day in NYC (and probably a rainy night in Georgia), and we’re through with our rant for today.