Court Rules Copying Photos Found on Internet is Fair Use
Art Law

Court Rules Copying Photos Found on Internet is Fair Use

A Virginia federal court has made a decision that photographers won’t be happy to hear: the court ruled that finding a photo on the Internet and then using it without permission on a commercial website can be considered fair use. The Backstory The copyright battle started when photographer Russell Brammer found one of his long-exposure photos of a Washington, D.C. neighborhood cropped and used by the website for the Northern Virginia Film Festival on a page of “things to do” in the D.C. area. The original photo as it appeared on Brammer’s Flickr page. Brammer’s photo used without permission on the festival’s website. Brammer then sent a cease and desist letter to Violent Hues Productions, the company behind the festival, and it responded by immediately taking the photo down. Brammer then sued the company for copyright infringement, and it responded by claiming fair use . In the United States, whether or not a use of copyrighted material without permission can be considered fair use (17 U.S. Code § 107) depends on four main factors: (1) the purpose and character of the use (including whether it’s “transformative” and commercial vs. non-commercial), (2) the nature of the copyrighted work, (3) how […]

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