Saturday, December 12, 2020

About Face

On one authors discussion forum this week, there is talk of a so-called scam (which might or might not be a scam) in which authors are contacted by complainants who claim that the authors are exploiting images on their websites images of the complainant or that belong to the complainant without a license and without permission.

Is it possible that it is not a scam? Actually, it is possible.  It is possible that the author might be in the wrong, and could have legal exposure. 

Blogger Danielle Prager has published a highly accessible article with advice on where to find legal images, and a helpful explanation of what is fair use, and what is not.
Most people may assume that all Creative Commons works are "no rights reserved" and may be freely used and shared even on professional websites, book art, and blogs, but many Creative Commons licensed works do have some rights reserved, and most require that the beneficiary (user) of the work at the very minimum provides attribution.

For instance, if using Hubble telescope images of space, one is expected to display attribution, and sometimes to inform the Space Telescope Science Institute or STScI (using this form that pops up if one clicks the text link on  The hubblesite copyright page also is explicit about use of photography:  "If a recognizable person appears in a photograph, use for commercial purposes may infringe a right of privacy or publicity, and permission should be obtained from the recognizable person."

As a general rule, before snagging the perfect image from anywhere on the internet, check out the footer to see if there is a copyright information page. It wouldn't hurt to read Terms of Use. Visitors are legally bound by the Terms and ignorance of what you chose not to read is no defence (or defense) in law.

Legal blogger Mark Weston writing expertly for Hill Dickinson explains that there is more to understanding and using "Creative Commons" images and works than is popularly imagined.

If an author trusts a webmistress (or webmaster) to decorate the website, it probably would be prudent for the author to ask to see proof that all necessary permissions have been obtained for all images, and also that if there was a time limit on the license, it is still in effect, and if there was a limit to the number of impressions covered by the license that that has not been exceeded.

Legal Bloggers Aarathi Amerjit and Samantha Lawrence for Gateway Law in the jurisdiction of Malaysia offer advice in .pdf form on scraping --or not scraping-- images from Pinterest, or uploading other people's images to that popular site.

It's not just other people's faces that can get you in trouble, a recognizable outline or silhouette can trigger a lawsuit. For instance, what rocker wants to be associated with a hygiene product? Seriously, some might, but they would want to be properly compensated for the product endorsement, wouldn't they?

Legal blogger Jeffrey H. Brown for Michael Best and Friedrich LLP discusses an old spicy case.

Lexology link (without a still of the rocker).

And now for an important reminder. If a small business owner, such as an author, has paid more than $600 to any worker or contractor who is not an INC or any sum  at all to a lawyer, 1099s have to be sent out.  The rules have changed.  Now, we need to send out a 1099-NEC instead of using  line 7 of 1099-MISC.

Paper forms can be ordered online and free from the IRS. They normally take about 10 business days in the mail, but this is not a normal time of year.

All the best,
Rowena Cherry 

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