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Interiors Photographer Andy Frame Sues Several Websites Over Misuse Of Olivia Newton John's Property Photos

In: 
Published: 17/11/2013
By: larry

AndyFameAn recent article in the South Florida Business Journal reports that Palm Beach County Photographer Andy Frame sued several websites to defend his copyrights on photos of Olivia Newton John's home in Jupiter, Florida. The article says:

Frame and his attorney Joel Rothman said all the parties except GossipExtra had settled confidentially. According to the court docket, Daily Mail and Warner Bros. Advanced Digital were terminated as defendants on Aug. 30, while Zillow was terminated as a defendant on Sept. 17. The case was also reopened against remaining defendants on Sept. 17.

“Licensing photographs is how I make my living. I do exclusively interior architecture,” Frame said. “It aggravates me because a lot of them know better. Of course there are amateur photographers who don’t care and will give away their material, but that infringes on the ability of others to make a living.”

We've covered Andy's work before.

Thanks to Dave Williamson for pointing out this article.

Update Nov 18: Andy provided the link to a tour with the images in question in the comments below.

20 comments on “Interiors Photographer Andy Frame Sues Several Websites Over Misuse Of Olivia Newton John's Property Photos”

  1. Andy Frame's attorney here. Thanks for the mention! Love this site and plan to continue to visit.

    We recently amended the complaint in Andy's suit to also add Robert Stevens as a plaintiff. Robert, of Affordable Aerial Photography, was also a victim of infringement by one of the defendants, gossip columnist Jose Lambiet.

    Again, many thanks!

  2. So now the question is, do the websites carrying this story have the rights to show the images since it is now "news"? If so, what's to stop Zillow from claiming that the sale of ONJ's home is news?

  3. Congrats for taking a stand. Copyright is to be protected and is managed. As creators of the image and thus we decide on the conditions of the usage - We must be educating our realtors & publishers. We control the distribution of our image.

    In a recent 45 minute seminar for realtors I held, the discussion on the legal side of photography for real estate drew an extra 15 minutes of talk. I now have a realtor sign a NCR form regarding rights before I shoot. Actually in the brief seminar, most realtors appreciated that idea since they are all so contract bound anyway. They previously had thought they had the rights to hand image to a mortgage company for their PR and marketing... lol.

    In this internet age - the migration of an image is traceable. Most people wish to abide by a law. -- but they have to be aware of the law. This case listed above is regarding publishers that do know better.

  4. For model releases and property releases, there is an app called Easy Release. Sign it on the phone, it mails a pdf copy to all parties.

    Sure would be great if someone could come up with a similar app, where the photographer could have the agent (and in some cases the homeowner) sign and get a pdf of the legal agreement plus a page of explanation about IP rights and copyright, sent to their inbox.

  5. @Carl, there are loads of iThingy® apps for releases and contracts, but many attorneys still recommend getting a physical signature on real paper. Electronic is better than nothing but paper is still better. The marvelous thing about digital documents is that it's so easy to change them, something that may get pointed out in a squabble.

    I am waiting for my attorney to get done revamping my documents and I will get pads made and sets put together. I have one of those aluminum clipboards with a storage compartment and I plan on keeping that stocked with forms that can be filled out even when my tablet has devoured it's battery.

    @Joel, Thanks for your contribution and please come back with word of the outcome. Hopefully, it will be in your clients favor and hearing stories like that may encourage more photographers to register their images and clamp down on theft

  6. I'd still like to see how exactly the defendants' use of the images failed to fall under "fair use". Was it due to a failure to credit the photographer, or was it the usage itself that warranted the suit?

    BTW, I was looking at Andy's site last week ogling his Cakewalk pictures from a few years back. Incredible stuff (the yacht AND the images).

  7. Thanks for the mention, Larry. I appreciate the support. @Ryan Ward... Terminated means that they settled and thereby removed from the suit. All I can say is that all parties (with the exception of Gossip Extra) have settled to the mutual satisfaction all involved.

    As to the the Fair Use argument, hopefully Joel would be able to chime and and elaborate.

    The most important thing I've taken away from this whole thing is that even in this day and age of digital downloads, right-click/save-as, sharing, and social media, copyrights are still to be protected and we as creators of intellectual property have every right to protect and defend what is rightfully ours.

    Again... Thanks for the post and the kind words.

    Best,
    Andy

  8. The majority of folks seem to be ignorant, perhaps willfully so, of copyright infringement. Numerous times over the years I have explained the topic (e.g. prior life in software industry). Most are just clueless. Even with my own children, it has taken multiple repeat-discussions to drive the point home. My eldest daughter even commented once, "...but Dad, it's so easy, all I do is [right] click and Save As..." Doesn't make it right.

    One tool I share these days, is src-img (http://jarred.github.io/src-img/). Its a simple script that you save as a bookmark. Click it, and you can then click on any picture in your browser and see where else it is used. Basically, it feeds the image to Google Image search, and you get the Google results. It finds not only all known instances of reuse, but also if the image is -embedded- within another image (e.g. collage).

    If folks knew just how easy it is to find out if they're using someone else's images, they might, just might start caring. For instance, I found over 130 uses of Andy's image in one click.

    🙂

  9. @Andy, I don't want to steal your pictures, I just aspire to be able to produce them. Great shots, I'm interested in your workflow on how you created them...

    Anyway, I have a question regarding your lawsuit, just curious what effect, if any, adding Affordable Aerial as a plaintiff when Aerial Photography is illegal? I ask that from the perspective of wanting to do aerial photography for real-estate.

    I know this has been covered before but it would be great if releases were available on this forum. Something that not only protects the photographers copyrights but is easy to use and that realtors wouldn't be reluctant to sign.

    @JT Pedersen, thanks for the link.

  10. Glad to see Andy protecting his rights. I have had a company breach my rights twice. The first time I settled out of court for the biggest single sale I have ever had. Six months later they did it again. Another out of court settlement. Some people just dont learn. I must send them a xmas card. Chuck, you may be jumping to conclusions re Aerial Photography being illegal. They may in fact shoot from a chopper or fixed wing plane. No mention of a UAV in the artical.

  11. I just looked up Manny Pacquiaos home that I photographed and there are a lot of websites using the images...do I have a case against them?

  12. That's a good question. I think its great Andy is going after people to enforce copyright but I'm more interested in how we might all work together to accomplish this. What procedures can we take prior to shooting, what rights, if any, does the agent have over the images they paid for? what's the best way to manage the RA's expectations? What are the most cost effective way to resolve copyright infringement when it happens?

    I know a lot of realtors who have signed up for Zillow, they pay a lot of lip service to copyright issues but I really get the sense that they don't care as long as Zillow helps them sell property.

    @Dave Birss: Looking at the pictures I don't see any aerial?

  13. @Chuck, Agent's get the rights that you give to them. You should have a clear licensing statement on your invoice that states how the images can be used, if they can be transferred and when the license expires. It is best to go over copyright and licensing issues up front when you talk to an agent for the first time. Many think that they own the photos and can do anything they like with them. Unless you sign a "Work Made for Hire" contract or work for the agent as an employee, you have complete control over the images.

    Have a look at http://www.thecopyrightzone.com and http://www.photoattorney.com for some FAQ's. There are also training videos from Kelby Training, Lynda.com and Creative Live that go into copyright.

    The easiest way to approach what to put in a license is to consider where the photos typically get used when marketing a home. Also put in some usage for the agent so they may advertise themselves. I require a photo credit to appear with the advertising for the agent. If you are especially worried about image theft, you can even put in a clause that prohibits posting on FaceBook, Pinterest or any social media site that claims resale rights to the images.

    After you have done some research, contact an attorney that specializes in copyright law. You will want a review of any licensing language you come up with. It's much cheaper to have an attorney correct and modify anything you write than to have them draft the whole thing themselves. Copyright comes under Federal law so your terms should be valid in all 50 US states and possessions if they are written correctly.

    The first thing you want to do to protect your images is to register them with the Copyright office. It's $35/batch to register unpublished images. A "batch" can be as many as you like. It's very simple to register online and you can collect statutory damages and attorney's fees for registered images. Published images are a bit harder to do, but not impossible for a regular photographer. If your unregistered images are stolen, your options are far fewer, but you can still send a DMCA notice to web site operators asserting your copyright claim and they will have to remove the images promptly or become liable for the infringement if they aren't already.

  14. Thanks Ken.

    Good point about Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. This might have already been discussed on this forum but I'd like to learn and discuss what the potential benefits and pitfalls to using social media as it relates to photographers.

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