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Take care when using Photographs with Creative Commons Licences

Posted: Sun Aug 29, 2021 8:34 am
by AndyJ
As regular readers of these forums may have noticed, some of the claims management companies such as PicRights, KodakOne and Pixsy, appear to be raising claims over the use of photographs which have been released under Creative Commons licences. At first sight this appears strange: a photographer releases his work, effectively for free, and then makes a large claim against someone who uses an image but fails to provide the correct attribution required by the author's licence. It is as well to observe the dictum that there's no such thing as a free lunch.

It seems as though such claims may well be based on a strategem evolved by an American photographer named Larry Philpot. You can read more about his method in this article by Joshua Brustein in Bloomberg Businessweek. No doubt a few photographers on this side of the Atlantic have seen how successful Philpot has been and decided to cash in on the same wheeze.

Before using any image, be sure to check very thoroughly to see what terms it is being released under. Royalty free does NOT mean that the image can be freely used, and all current CC licences (except CC0) require an attribution, so you should check and find out exactly what the author of the work has stipulated in that regard. UK law does not define what constitutes an adequate credit and I don't think the courts would uphold a spurious claim over a full stop in the wrong place or some other trivial objection to the way the author was attributed. However, omitting an attribution for whatever reason could lead to a grossly inflated claim, so beware.