Flattery or Copyright Infringement?

Never really considered this question until this week. I have found, in the last week, no fewer that four photgraphs of my watches on ebay. I am not the seller in these listings, these sellers are using my photos from this website. So I wondered if I should be copyrighting my photographs and was surprised to learn that they already ARE copyrighted. In fact the instant I released the shutter on my camera I copyrighted the photograph. They cannot be published with my permission.

Two points I submit for knowledge / discussion.

1. The Berne Convention provides instant copyright for photographers (and othere artists as well), the photos do not need to be watermarked or noted as copyrighted although they can be. Wiki has a pretty easy to understand article if you're interested:


2. We need to be very careful in our use of the photographs that we are not the copyright holder. I know that some members watermark their photos, which establishes the actual owner but, apparently serves no other purpose. I suggest that noting the owner when publishing someone elses photo is really not enough, but gaining permission PRIOR to publishing is the key.


Posted December 20, 2011 - 9:46am

The link to reporting them is here http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/image-text.html/

I have had this happen to me before and reported the listing, within 24 hours it was pulled. If the pirated photo came from this site, you will have to provide a link to it when you report it.

In a way it is kind of flattering, and after reality sets in, you realize its nothing but laziness & greed.

Bob Bruno's picture
Bob Bruno
Posted December 20, 2011 - 9:53am

Club 5000

Interesting topic Geoff. I also had two of my photos used on ebay, although the seller did say the watch pictured was not the actual watch he was selling. I don't know if it's worth all the trouble to copyright unless one is actually in the business of selling photos. I was wondering if there is some sort of setting that could be used to prevent right clicking and save as that could be used. So far I haven't been able to find any.

Posted December 20, 2011 - 10:11am

Some of the outside picture storing hosts or servers have the ability to block the dreaded "right click", but my question is, is it worth it?

My other question, Why would you want to? I was told years ago that unless your a professional photographer who sells photos for a living, once you put a photo out on the web, it becomes "public domain" or open for all to use or access?

Geoff Baker
Posted December 20, 2011 - 11:27am

Club 5000Panel Member

Ticker, in a way I think it's flattery too, but in another way.......well, it's a bit more. I sent a request to the listing seller asking them to remove the photo. Bob, to your point, there is nothing you need to do, if you take the photo, I understand that you automatically own the copyright, (I'm not an attorney and I realize the Wiki is not offering legal advice but LISA - please come back!). ST - to your point, public domain is property on which patents and copyrights have expired OR the owners of the rights have declared them to be such. These people are using my photos to SELL their products, even if it's ebay, it is a commercialization of my intelectual property. Is it different if I use a sellers photo to post a watch on this website? I suggest it is but it seems like I'd still need permission.


Posted December 20, 2011 - 12:49pm

Geoff, As to your point of "Is it different if I use a sellers photo to post a watch on this website?" opens a whole other "can of worms"! If you bought the watch, do you now own the pics the seller used of same watch to sell it? If you didn't purchase "said" watch are you guilty of theft or infringement if you use their pics and post them here?

As to the public domain issue, I think it applies to more than just patents and copyrights based on the advise I received from my patent attorney some years ago when I was applying for a patent on a "Tool design" I invented.

Bob, your correct as to the "fee" charged to register your claim.

Final point Geoff, I sure wouldn't rely on "half" of what's posted on Wiki as anyone on this planet can post information on Wiki. Personally, I've found major mistakes or "bad information" posted in Wiki.

I don't think Lisa was a "Patent or Copy write" attorney, but there are a lot of them out there they'll be happy to empty your wallet and give you the benefit of their knowledge    :-0

I think the best advise others have suggested is: Contact the person and demand they remove the pics of yours they "borrowed" and contact Ebay and report them.

Bob Bruno's picture
Bob Bruno
Posted December 20, 2011 - 12:07pm

Club 5000

Geoff, I was contemplating starting a website were I would go downtown and take candid pictures of people walking by. Then offer them for sale online. ( trying to supplement my income so I can buy more watches.) Did a little research on copyrighting photos. If I got this correctly you must apply for a copyright at 3 dollars a pop. I could be wrong though as I didn't look into it too deeply. Probably just another one  of my hair brain Ideas. :)

Posted December 20, 2011 - 12:37pm

Also more fool the buyer, who would purchase a watch that was "the seller did say the watch pictured was not the actual watch he was selling"

I would also be mad if he were using my pictures I think

William Smith's picture
William Smith
Posted December 20, 2011 - 4:00pm

Club 5000Panel Member

You mean someone has actually had eBay do somethign to a seller?  Boy I sure havn't had that experience.  They seem to default to what ever keeps their sellers - their bread and butter- selling.  I don't know if when someone buys the item, they also have rights to the photos or not.  I don't know what enforcement mechinisms are available.  I don't know what enforcable rights someone has when they take a photo and place it on the internet.  eBay "rules" whether inforced or not, may be just rules and not have any legal force.  I do know that they have access to these photos, so it's a crapshoot to what they do with them.

I do know Wikiwhatever is replete with error, and almost anyone can easily "contribute". 

I would say the watermarki idea is great, as it gives you credit regardless of use by others, and may serve as a reasonable advertising tool if enough simple info is ledgible and gets someone- anyone- to your website or listings or what ever. 

Posted December 23, 2011 - 8:09am

 Ebay is a buyers powerhouse, sellers are discriminated against in far worse manor now than the buyer. Even if a complaint against a seller can not be proved ebay do not care, they upoild the complaint anyway. Guilty until proven innocent seems to be their policy with sellers.

Posted December 20, 2011 - 4:09pm

Panel Member

Gentlemen, and Ladies present,

IMO it's just not something us "common folk" need to worry about. If you feel the need to copyright your photo's, then you will also have to police the use of them and be prepared to sue those who use them without your permission.

Scott is a perfect example of someone using other folks pics. He has done so in a very professional manner, asking permission and giving due credit to the owner. I have for one given Scott "a blanket permission" to use anything I have done if it can be useful to him so he doesn't have to keep asking.

At the end of the day, commen sense should prevail. If you find someone using your pics and your offended, ask them to remove them or report them to ebay. But then you better have your work copyrighted.

What's the big deal? I thought the purpose of our efforts here was to share information, ads, pics, etc.

As for crooked sellers on Ebay.....sooner or later they all disappear, usually later but they do go away.

Posted December 20, 2011 - 4:34pm

Well said Shawn!!!

Geoff Baker
Posted December 20, 2011 - 5:01pm

Club 5000Panel Member

Ebay has a process for removing listings that violate either laws or rules. Example of a rule would be not allowing me to use the words "like new" in a listing if I'm not selling a new item, example of a law would be not allowing me to sell copies of DVD's. 

Buying a product does not, unless specified, include the property rights to the photos used to advertise the product. I am certain that if I buy a watch from Will I do not have the right to use his photos commercially, therefore, if I sell a watch, I still own the photos I took of it, the new owner can take his own photos, but he/she cannot use mine commercially.

S/T and Will - I agree that wiki is replete with factual errors but I have verified the Berne Convention through other sources (but I doubt I'll enage any lawyers at this time :) - unless I can pay them in photos of really old watches.....)

Posted December 20, 2011 - 5:15pm

Geoff, I think you are "spot on" in your reference to the TERM "Commercially"!! As a business owner for the past 40 plus years everything I do is considered "commercial" as relates to my business. I think that's the defining break so to speak. If you own a business "selling" commercial pictures that you have personally taken that are "for sale" you've got your commercial rights to protect.

In this case, that dog don't hunt!

As relates to the "Berne Convention" and the examples you laid out originally, if you could find a Attorney that would represent you and guarantee in writing a "Victory" in a case of copy write infringement, send me his or her number I've got a bridge I'm sure he or she would buy ;-)

Elgin Doug
Posted December 20, 2011 - 8:00pm

I'm way more concerned about people using pictures of the wrong watch to sell.  AFAIK, the only reason to do that is because the one you're selling isn't as nice, so what's the point?  "Here's what the watch you're buying might have looked like at one time"?

Posted December 20, 2011 - 8:24pm

I agree Doug, what would the seller be trying to accomplish other then diverting attention to something that its not?? Maybe they are looking for the weak minded??...you know "No mind...No matter!"

What were they using your pictures for Geoff?

Geoff Baker
Posted December 20, 2011 - 8:44pm

Club 5000Panel Member

Selling a watch on ebay

Posted December 20, 2011 - 9:15pm

Sounds like this seller should be NRU'd, can't imagine what someone else's nice photo of a watch would have to do with selling your own.

I have had people copy and paste my discriptions on items too, not only word for word, but format also...they didn't even wait till mine was done!

Reverend Rob's picture
Reverend Rob
Posted December 22, 2011 - 4:46pm

Panel Member

 Watermarks are a good idea, because let's say you see your pic being used to sell another watch somewhere, and you report them, while they turn around and say it is YOU who stole their picture. How do you prove that yours is the original? I must say, nothing these guys do anymore surprises me, absolutely unbelievable. 

There is an eBay seller who always photographs their items with a set of tiny ceramic white and blue bells with ribbon right next to the item. They show up in all photos, and are physically in the picture, not a watermark. You couldn't brush them out or crop them without being very obvious, and they are just distinctive enough to be hard to replicate. For this person, they could use this as proof of being the original photographer. 

Posted December 24, 2011 - 1:57am

Club 5000Panel Member

All I wish for is those wishing to use photos or images from this site that they either ask the owner of the watch or add a reference to this site and the members name.

Common courtesy....is it so hard?