How sustainable is a website that uses stolen images?


4

I would like to start a website where people can discuss whatever they please. They will be allowed to upload images of the topic they're talking about. For example, a user writes a review on the movie Transformers and places an image of the movie poster next to her review. Heck, I'll giving you a live example right now. I don't own the Transformers franchise, yet I'm posting an image of it right here:

The main point of my website does not revolve stolen images. It is totally not like Imgur, for example, which is basically a large image hosting site of stolen images. The images on my site would be accessories to the textual content. My site would actually help give the copyright owner exposure. In the example above, I'm giving exposure to the Transformers franchise.

So, is it sustainable to create such a website? Even though it's illegal to use stolen images, do copyright lawyers generally don't care because it's actually helping their business?

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asked Jun 19 '11 at 05:13
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Jo Jo
148 points

3 Answers


2

It seems to me (in Australia, a 'common law' country) that if you clearly distinguish between content provided by yourself and content provided by contributors you should be relatively safe. In this situation you are positioning yourself as a 'common carrier' and you are simply providing a communication mechanism rather than being responsible for the content provided across that mechanism. Can Twitter be sued for every instance of slander posted using the mechanism they provide?

In your specific example (a poster for a movie to clearly indicate the movie you are talking about) should not be an example of appropriating commercial content (the image is used to publicly identify the movie). Perhaps rather than hosting images yourself you should simply allow the display of images from other sites (like Imgur for example).

You really should seek local legal advice (and get that advice in writing) before proceeding though - rather than saying you are going to host illegal images you should probably concentrate on what your liability is if you host images for your users. Unfortunately this will not stop people from filing legal challenges against you (imagine a local company or store upset that their logo is associated with a negative review on your site) so a fund to finance your defense against those would be a good idea.

Regards,

ShaneG

answered Jun 20 '11 at 22:16
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Shane G
341 points

1

So, is it sustainable to create such a website?

it is not.

Even though it's illegal to use stolen images, do copyright lawyers generally don't care
because it's actually helping their business?

Yes, the do care. Accepting copyright violations weakens your rights (creates precedence) so they have to prosecute.
answered Jun 19 '11 at 14:14
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Net Tecture
11 points

1

Even though it's illegal to use stolen
images, do copyright lawyers generally
don't care because it's actually
helping their business?

Copyrights lawyers actually do care and will take action. A couple of years ago, friend of mine was working on a courier services price comparison site and used a number of photos downloaded from Google Images while testing the platform (open alpha). Soon after the images appeared on his site, he received a letter notifying him that these were copyright images and before he knew he was being sued for copyright violation.

They managed to agree on an out-of-court settlement, which unfortunately cost him a few thousand ponds and his startup went bust before it had even launched.

answered Jun 20 '11 at 19:47
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Stanimiroff
21 points

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