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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Coin Photography, Conservation and Storage (Moderator: bruce61813)  |  Topic: Ethics of re-using a dealer's photo? 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Scotvs Capitis
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« on: March 16, 2007, 09:57:45 am »

When a fellow buys a coin from a dealer, what are the ethics of using the photo the dealer made of the coin for your own purposes? I have done this often in my zeal to share my latest buys, and I have seen dealers use the photos of coins that were used in previous dealers' sales efforts.

Is there an ethical conflict here?

I have always justified it to myself by figuring the dealer puts the cost of making a photo and the time he takes to prepare the photo into the cost of the coin itself, and figure if I buy that coin I have paid for the dealer's efforts to make a photo. I don't know if I am just fooling myself though, and don't want to assume that if I buy a coin I am free to use another person's work for my own purposes.

I am guilty of this with FORVM coins I have purchased as well as others when their photos are superior to what I could produce, but I do not want to be known as a 'photo thief' if indeed it is not ethical.

What is the acceptable practice?
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« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2007, 10:15:18 am »

I see absolutely no problem with that, that's what I do and I consider the picture, along with the attribution info, part of the merchandise. I try to take my own picture, put for my small silvers I know mine would look terrible so I use the dealer's. There's no need to make this into an ethical dilemma.
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« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2007, 10:32:46 am »

The copyright in a photograph belongs to the person who took it, not to the person who owns the thing that was photographed. 

So if you intend to use such a photograph for anything beyond personal record-keeping, you should ask permission.

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« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2007, 10:42:59 am »

The copyright in a photograph belongs to the person who took it, not to the person who owns the thing that was photographed. 

So if you intend to use such a photograph for anything beyond personal record-keeping, you should ask permission.



That's my root of the question, I use it for documentation, but I use my documentation for sharing my collection. Is there an expectation of copyright in the transaction, when the photo is the primary vehicle of sale? I'm aware that legally there is, and unless the seller specifically states in the sale somewhere that the ownership of the photo is transferred to the buyer of the coin, the copyright still stands. How many of us are guilty then, even among dealers, who I have seen selling coins they purchased from other dealers and use those same photos to sell the coin?

If the dealer recovers the cost of making the photo from the buyer, yet retains copyright ownership of the photo, technically I should seek permission anyway, since there is no outlined sale of the photo, just the coin, and the cost recovered in the sale process is simply overhead.

However much I want to try to justify it, it seems I can't  Wink

If I ever deal coins, I will specifically state that my photos are free to use upon purchase, so that I don't cause anyone to have reason to worry.
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« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2007, 11:19:10 am »

The copyright in a photograph belongs to the person who took it, not to the person who owns the thing that was photographed. 

So if you intend to use such a photograph for anything beyond personal record-keeping, you should ask permission.



I know that, still I think it's not an issue and if I choose to use the dealer's image for my documentation, I'll not take a new one if I decide to sell the coin. The only reason I usually take my own pictures is so that my gallery has a consistent look. I have asked dealers for higher-resolution pictures for coins I bought and have always received them. Anything else would after all be bad for business.
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« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2007, 11:55:18 pm »

The legal situation is quite clear.  If a photographer does not give permission to use his or her photographs, then to do so is a breach of copyright.  The fact that - as Scott says - other people do so does not change that.  A photographer is quite entitled to make a profit from their work if they wish, even if the cost of making the photo has already been recovered.

I read recently that some copyright owners of photos being used on web pages are sending stiff bills to the people who have used them.  And they can back that up. 

It is suggested that coin dealers will not object to re-use of their photographs because that would be bad for business.  This is likely correct, but I think Scott has the right view.  A good photo costs money, and is not automatically bought and sold with the subject of the photo.

I have two dealers' photos on my web site, and in both cases I asked and received permission to use them and I have credited the dealers concerned.  I didn't buy the coins, so that is not quite the same situation, but the principle is similar.

It's interesting to see the different thought processes that occur if you think "photographer" as opposed to "dealer."

Bill
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« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2007, 01:06:54 am »

I think I have about 20-25 dealer (or friend) pictures on my website used for illustration purposes.  In all cases bar one I asked for (and received) permission before using the images.  Where possible or appropriate I then provided a link back to the originators site in the acknowledgement.  The one - un attributed picture is a very old ebay one where the details of the seller are long gone.  I think this approach keeps everything right.

I assume a similar approach is used in the big attribution sites such as wildwinds - which is in dealers interests to promote.  Actually I was more concerned about using images of coins bought by other people before I asertained that the copyright of the image was with the person who took it not the person who now owned the object.  All the big dealers were more than helpful - some even gave me better examples than currently on their sites.

I think in general most people are helpful and generous - It is just a matter of asking

Malcolm
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« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2007, 02:36:03 am »

The legal situation is quite clear.  If a photographer does not give permission to use his or her photographs, then to do so is a breach of copyright.    A photographer is quite entitled to make a profit from their work if they wish, even if the cost of making the photo has already been recovered.
Bill

Indeed, the legal situation is clear. The photographer remains the owner of the photo even he is no more the owner of the coin: he  can use it for
profits! 

On the other hand, the dealer's photo is a part of the documentation  and the coin owner has  all legal rights for this as a part  of merchandise to the extent
that  it remains a part of the documentation (recall that there was a discussion why the comission is high: it includes the cost of identification, photography, etc. ).
 Can one imagine that a dealer bring  the buyer to court in a case?   
  Of course, not  and  we can stand on this point until a court ruling confirm the opposite.
One can  claim  also a copyright on the the description and identification document, why only on the photo...   

(In reality,  the majority of dealers is not against use of their photos as this forge their reputation, so the complaints that this is not ethical are rare).
 
On the other hand, if the photo is used not as a part of documentation (imagine a postcard made from the dealer's photo), this would be  a clear
violation of the copyright.
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« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2007, 03:05:16 am »

It is a very different matter in my opinion (morally even if not legally) if you haven't bought the coin.
I simply don't bother documenting where I bought a particular coin (that would be silly in my price range) and whether the picture used is mine or the dealer's, although mostly that's obvious. So I also don't remember which dealers I have asked in the past and I really don't want to ask for every coin that I buy. I feel that if it's fair use to post the pictures on forums like these then the same goes for my documentation and even reselling of the coin in question. Of course I usually ask whether I can use the picture and, if yes, do they have a larger one. But I don't feel morally obliged to do so and I don't expect to now own the copyright to the picture. This is just a matter of principle as I would usually rather have my own picture, even though it will not look as good.

But I don't think we really even disagree. This is one of these things where  I'm supposed to ask and the dealer's supposed to say, 'yes, of course you can'. It's just that I think if I don't ask it's not 'unethical' of me, merely slightly impolite.

Andreas
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« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2007, 09:09:08 am »

It is a very different matter in my opinion (morally even if not legally) if you haven't bought the coin.

Well, it's different from the point of view of the person using the photo.  But I think that from the photographer's point of view, if the photographer is a coin dealer and the photo is credited to them it probably feels much the same. 

But I don't think we really even disagree. This is one of these things where  I'm supposed to ask and the dealer's supposed to say, 'yes, of course you can'. It's just that I think if I don't ask it's not 'unethical' of me, merely slightly impolite.

Andreas

Yes, we are nearly in the same position .. bearing in mind that the assumption you make isn't likely to go as far as public re-use of the photo, especially if you don't attribute it.   I would suggest that using the photo to re-sell the coin might not meet with the approval of all dealers.

Bill
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« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2007, 09:24:54 am »

I hope its not wrong...EVERY coin I own I photograph myself save this one:



the person I bought it from did such a great job I just went ahead and used it on my site...its the first time I have ever had a dealer shot I was so pleased with I used it.
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« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2007, 10:01:47 am »

I feel that if it's fair use to post the pictures on forums like these then the same goes for my documentation and even reselling of the coin in question.

Well, first off you have accept that the law is clear on this. A photograph is automatically copyright protected and it is illegal to use it in any way without the copyright owner's consent. The copyright owner may choose to freely grant, or sell, or deny you use of his copyright material as he sees fit, and the rights that he grants can be as specific as he likes (e.g. OK to use on private web site, not commercially, etc, etc).

If you're not going to ask the copyright owners permission,  then "fair use" (a very tricky area of copyright law) probably does cover using it for discussion purposes (and surely for private documentation purposes), but not any commercial use (such as reselling the coin, use on a commercial web site, etc). Using other dealers pictures without permission on FORVM would seem to be a bit of a gray area. I doubt other dealers are too happy about it (esp. since you can't credit another dealer unless on the "for sale" board), but I also doubt that they'd want to lose a customer over objecting.

Ben
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« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2007, 10:07:23 am »

You can use the photo for your own purposes but you can not use the photo to resell the coin.
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« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2007, 10:08:05 am »

How is it any different than the thousands of eBay sellers who use manufacturers stock photos to sell merchandise, from books to clothing without asking permission? I cannot recall any cases of a manufacturer sueing someone for using their stock photos to sell that item. What seller wants to be seen sueing a customer for something so trivial as this? I cant help thinking this whole debate is beating nothing into something. Smiley Fun all the same.
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« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2007, 01:12:34 pm »

How is it any different than the thousands of eBay sellers who use manufacturers stock photos to sell merchandise, from books to clothing without asking permission? I cannot recall any cases of a manufacturer sueing someone for using their stock photos to sell that item. What seller wants to be seen sueing a customer for something so trivial as this? I cant help thinking this whole debate is beating nothing into something. Smiley Fun all the same.
                                                                LordBest. Cool
OK, the difference is:

If I manufacture a gadget, and someone uses my photo to resell the gadgets he has bought off me wholesale, I am happy.  My gadget is sold with a good quality photo that will enhance the public view of it and increase overall brand awareness and sales.

If I sell coins, and someone uses my photo, unattributed,  to sell a coin he now owns, there is now no link to me except that a competitor is using my skill, unattributed and unpaid for, to sell his coins.  Perhaps I will not be so happy.  Even if I don't mind, it is a very different situation.

A third situation.  If I use the same stock photo as in example 1 just to decorate my website, I can expect a hefty bill from the copyright owner! This is reported as actually happening.

Bill
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« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2007, 01:26:51 pm »

...
If I sell coins, and someone uses my photo, unattributed,  to sell a coin he now owns, there is now no link to me except that a competitor is using my skill, unattributed and unpaid for, to sell his coins.  Perhaps I will not be so happy.  Even if I don't mind, it is a very different situation.

I don't agree with that.
With your skill as a photographer you get a higher price (and increase your chance of selling your coin) than someone else with a bad picture. So you get paid. There are a few dealers that I would never buy from because their pictures are so bad and I can't just assume that the coins will look nicer in hand. I know that I don't buy the picture by buying a coin from you but you can't claim that you don't get paid for your work.
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« Reply #16 on: March 17, 2007, 02:06:35 pm »

If (hypothetically) my skill as a photographer helped me sell my coins, I still might not be happy for someone else to use my skill as a photographer to sell their own coins when they might be buying more of mine instead.   We know from your posting that there is at least one coin buyer who won't buy from bad photographers.

If that's not the view you would take about your own photos, that's your privilege, but others might have different views about their work.

As for getting paid for my work (as a photographer) .. that's a red herring.  Photographers are entitled to sell their work more than once, and make a profit from it.

Bill
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« Reply #17 on: March 17, 2007, 04:07:32 pm »

I see an interesting psychological issue here. The point is "happy" - not happy.
One  can imagine:

1) A person which is  happy to see that  the coin is resold by someone with his attribution
documents, scan/photo included. The item can attend higher or lower price, it does not matter.

Could one say that it is normal reaction, to be satisfied with the work done? 

2. A person which is  happy to see that  the coin is resold by someone with his attribution
documents, scan included (I prefer to say "scan").

Could one say that it is perverse reaction? 
To be honest,  in the second  my answer is yes. The argument.  If a seller does not like to see his
documentation or the scan be re-used he is free to say this explicitly (taking into account that it is common practice).
Why nobody do this? Of course, because this wil hurt business. So, there is a hide  under cover of copyright.

The copyright regulations are extremely controversial. They are adopted by lobbying of big business and
their extension to many common situations are absurd.  In science it happens that  there are copyright owners
for presentations of results of studies made by public money...   
   
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« Reply #18 on: March 17, 2007, 04:18:08 pm »

This is a good topic, it is good to see so much participation.

What is clear is that this subject is not clear.  tongue
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« Reply #19 on: March 17, 2007, 10:42:48 pm »

Well the final summary might be:

For private , non-commercial use, the photo's may be used. But if you do use them for commercial purposes, it is a violation of copy right. Many dealers don't care, and often if you ask that allow it.

Bruce
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« Reply #20 on: March 17, 2007, 11:12:14 pm »

I was quite displeased a while back to find that a very good customer was reselling all the coins he purchased from me, using my photos and my descriptions, word for word, right down to terms of sale. I e-mailed and asked him to stop, he ignored my e-mail, I started using the watermark function on E-bay photo manager to mark my photos, he cropped a round circle around the coins , cutting off the watermark and continued to use them. At this point I gave up and decided it was not worth all the frustration. Still bugs me a bit but .......

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« Reply #21 on: March 18, 2007, 01:14:43 am »

I was quite displeased a while back to find that a very good customer was reselling all the coins he purchased from me, using my photos and my descriptions, word for word, right down to terms of sale. I e-mailed and asked him to stop, he ignored my e-mail, I started using the watermark function on E-bay photo manager to mark my photos, he cropped a round circle around the coins , cutting off the watermark and continued to use them. At this point I gave up and decided it was not worth all the frustration. Still bugs me a bit but .......
 tongue

Jerome,  I have a great respect to you and  enjoy to know that you could be  above this feeling that someone use for (eventual or potential) profit s
your work. I am not a dealer and so my judgement has a chance be objective and unbiased (in the case when I start to sell coins I shall use my own
documentation for sure).  It seems that  LordBest has the reason: no one is condemned to use the manufacture documents to resell gadgets on eBay

Though we have our own, specific, attitude for ancient coins, the dealers description is the same as the manufacture documents (someone may say
that they are also copyrighted). So, it is quite natural that  a person who is the legal owner of the coin to use the existing documentation 
to resell the object, i.e. in a sense, use the scan for commerical purposes. To my mind it is not a commercial use of the photography as an independent
object.
Of course, in the case of conflict  with the previous owner it would be better to enter in a discussion and come to a compromise
(it is easy imagine two persons that could not come to a one).

There is one more question: is there a difference between scan and photo? 
Is it legal to scan money?  It may happen that according to a Roman code which is still in vigor the scanning of coins is a crime punished
by death?
   Huh
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« Reply #22 on: March 18, 2007, 02:25:34 am »

There is one more question: is there a difference between scan and photo? 

Possibly... A photo is certainly a creative work and covered by copyright law. Not only is this the way the law sees it, but you only have to read the photography threads here or see the consistent difference in quality between different dealers photos to realize this - photography is a creative process. Not all coin dealers do even their own photography - some pay to send it out to be done professionally.

A scan is generally just a mechanical reproduction...certainly a photocopy/scan of someone elses copyright work (e.g.  photo/painting) would not be regarded as a copyrightable "work" in of itself, but that's not to say that a scanner can't be used as a tool to create artistic copyrighted work:

http://www.katinkamatson.com/index2.html

However, a scan of your own unique coin is a bit different than a photocopy of a picture. You've taken a 3-D object and from it (however artlessly) created another expression of it in 2-D form. You also have rights to the subject.

In practice scan vs photo is a bogus argument since dealers generally do not use scans, and certainly not in any kind of creative way. Even if a coin scan is still copyright protected, you'd be less likely to find a hypothetical dealer using scans objecting to their reuse as he'd obviously not be going for the competetive edge there!

Ben

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« Reply #23 on: March 18, 2007, 03:25:01 am »

This interesting thread seems to boil down to four questions:

1.  What legal rights does a photographer have in their photograph; specifically, can other people use the photograph privately or publicly?

Answer: The photograph is copyright and the photographer has the usual copyright rights. (These may vary between countries, of course!)

2.  If a person buys from the photographer the subject of a photo, do any rights to use that photo privately or publicly transfer with the object being bought?

Answer: Only if the photographer says so explicitly.

3.  How much infringement of those rights can a coin buyer realistically get away with?

Answer: This varies.  You can get away with quite a lot if you are persistent and don't mind what people think of you.  But it is usually best to ask permission.

4.  Is a scan the same as a photo in this situation?

Answer: I think it is.  It does not matter what method the creator of a picture uses to create it.  It is still copyright.  Creative imagers will use any method they can think of.



It was useful to see an actual dealer's experience and point of view.

Bill
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« Reply #24 on: March 18, 2007, 06:09:19 am »

In reference to question #1, IN THE US, copyright must be declared.  All publications have a disclaimer, usually in the masthead somewhere, claiming such rights.  To take a photo, and toss it out on the internet without claim or attribution, is generally considered to be public domain.

A couple of times, once recently, a coin pic from my gallery here was used in a coin auction, but clearly stated that the coin shown was not the one being sold.  The rationale was no scanner/dig camera.

I could have moaned, but didn't.  Unless I claim copyright, or Joe has it stated somewhere that photographers' retain copyrights to pictures published here, there's really nothing I can/could do.
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