- You have a copyright in your photos. You retain copyright when you make your work available under a Creative Commons license. As copyright holder you have provided a restricted license by which people can use your work without asking permission. If users (like the search aggregator) don't abide by the terms of the license then you can go after them for infringement. Here's an explanation of how it works.
- Search engines and thumbnails. Your beef seems to have something to do with the use of your photos as thumbnails by a search aggregator. One hurdle for you is a 2007 court ruling in which a court ruled that Google’s reproductions of images from an adult men’s magazine website were permitted as a fair use. That's similar to a 2003 case that ruled that a search engine’s practice of creating thumbnails was also a fair use. Translations: courts are willing to tolerate thumbnail reproductions by companies that scour and sort the web for consumers.
- Using the DMCA. If someone has copied and reposted your work without following the Creative Commons license, you can also pursue the matter with a DMCA Notice. Typically you file it with the company that hosts the website. But you can also have it removed from Google's Web Search results (even if you can't remove it from the website where it's posted). Here is Google's online application form. If the company responds with counter-notice, then the material will be "returned" to Google's search results unless you file a lawsuit within 14 days. If you wish to sue in court, you will need a copyright registration. Also, if it's demonstrated that you had no right to ask for the DMCA notice, you could get hit with attorney fees.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Somebody stole my creative commons
Dear Rich staff away by using the "M" word. (FYI, malpractice claims are typically brought against professionals like a dentist, doctor, or accountant, not your search engine provider.) We're not sure what inexpensive non-legalese recourse you have but here are three things to consider before taking any action.