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[Aroid-l] people on eBay using photos without permission

I received a disturbing note from Windy Aubrey in Hawaii this afternoon.  Someone on eBay has been using one of Windy's photos to sell a Philodendron sp.  They told her they got the photo from me.  If they did, I'm not certain how! 
From time to time people do ask if they can use one of my photos.  I almost always say yes.  And from time to time I find my photos on eBay without anyone asking for permission.  I send a gentle scolding note to the user asking for credit.  That usually ends it! 
Windy does allow me to use her photos from time to time and I credit her as do I with all the other good folks who loan me photos for the website.  I've got notices at various points on the site that the photos are copyright protected and ask to be contacted before any reuse.  Apparently, many folks now believe if it is on the internet it is public property.  That is simply not factual!   Starting today I'm adding this message to every page on the site: 

Images on this website are Copyright protected.  They are not in the public domain!  Contact us before attempting to reuse.

All photos anyone creates are the copyrighted property of the creator at the moment it is taken.  There are steps you must take under Federal Copyright Law to protect your copyright in a court of law but you legally own it the moment you take it!  By not protecting your copyright all you loose is the right to sue for attorney's fees in addition to damages.  That's all!  You do not loose the right to sue!  I'm a retired professional photographer and use without permission is a big no-no in the pro photographer community!  I know of one lawsuit that ended it a court ordering a payment of over $100,000.00 for using one image without permission!
I'm relatively certain most people that use this board are descent folks.  But I know some do sell plants on eBay.  Please understand, if you wish to use one of my photos I'll almost certainly give you permission provided you give me credit when and where you use it.  If someone else owns the photo on my site I'll give you a contact and you need to ask their permission before just using it!  There can be legal costs!!
This is absolutely no threat!  But you should know that I have sued folks for using my photos and have settled for fees of as much as $5,000 for unauthorized use.  Other photographers have received much more!  I once had to go to court and the user was forced to withdraw his advertisement, pay damages, pay all legal costs, destroy all his original ads, and pay me a large fee.  He didn't even use my actual photograph.  He hired another photographer to duplicate my photograph!  He was out the cash to duplicate my image plus all the costs.  It got very costly for that company!  A simply "may I" along with the payment of a fair fee would have saved them a lot of cash!
So if you are considering using someone else's photo, any photo, get permission!  And give them credit if you get the permission to use it!  It may seem like a trivial thing to many people, but photographs are created works.  Legally, it is just like stealing a computer program or other body of created work.  And there is a major body of Federal law written to protect unauthorized use.  Be kind.  Ask first!
Steve Lucas
We collect and grow many rare and
exotic tropical plants and orchids.  Take
the "Rainforest Tour" at:
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