Mug shot newspaper deals with complaints filed by photographer

Reported by: Henry Ramos
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Updated: 5/08/2013 2:00 am

Lubbock photographer Eric Karr said he was blindsided to see a photo he took in the Lubbock Lineup newspaper. The Lubbock Lineup is a weekly dollar newspaper that prints about 175 mug shots a week.

"Why did you use my image? It is as simple as that," Karr said.

In March, Karr said in the section 'I promise I look much better on Facebook" a photo he snapped of a model was printed there in black and white. He said the Lubbock Lineup's owner Jessica Chavez used his photo without his permission.

"People need to understand that just because it is on Facebook, it doesn't give them the right to take the picture off of Facebook and publish it for a for profit magazine without compensating the creator," he said.

Karr said the particular image cost him about $250 bucks to produce.

"I've got a lot of money invested in these pictures to try to sell those pictures to an advertising company that wants to buy them," he said. "Here I am the one who paid for everything and did all the hard work, yet she is reaping the rewards of my work."

Attorney Charles Chambers who represents Chavez said his client is in her rights, because of the fine print on Facebook.

"I represent I have the rights to post this picture, or this content on Facebook," Chambers said. "There is another disclaimer that the user or the subscriber makes that says I understand that if this is on a public setting then anything that I post I agree can be used by anybody or any purpose."

"Her attorney is flat wrong," Karr said.

"Lets go see a federal district judge about it," Chambers said. "It's not a copy right infringement in my opinion."

Texas Tech Professor Randy Reddick teaches his students about copyright laws. A rule of thumb he tells his students is always assume that an image or any material is copyrighted.

"Even though it is put on a public website, somebody owns that image," he said. "In order to use it, you need to go through proper hoops to get permission."

"If it had been posted on his website and there was no copyright disclaimer, or you may not use these then perhaps so," Chambers said. "On the other hand, he was not the user of the picture the young lady was the user of the picture and represented she had the right to publish it."

Karr has filed a complaint with a division of the FBI, Better Business Bureau, and the Comptroller's office. He said everytime a new issue is printed with copyright violations he files new complaints. So far, he has filed four.

Professor Reddick said if a case like this heads to the courts if the photographer can prove creation of an image, then he or she probably has a good case.

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JerryJa - 5/8/2013 10:48 AM
0 Votes
In my opinion, the photographer should be going after the persons who publicly posted the photos on Facebook. All the publisher did was publish information that anyone could access with a computer of their own. Once it is on the internet, it is out there for anyone to access and use. As far as the rule of thumb comment - Get serious, Valerie!

Jay Z - 5/8/2013 9:04 AM
0 Votes
That is a good idea Liberty Seeker, but I don't think it is enough damages for Ms. Chavez to have to pay. I think instead of the tax I think we should look at gross income on her sales, and not for just that issue but I would suggest for a six month period. The reason I say that is because it appears that she has continued to post copyrighted images even after knowing it is illegal.

Liberty Seeker - 5/7/2013 11:53 PM
0 Votes
I understand copying stuff to use or share. However, copying something to sell crosses the line. How about if the publisher of the paper, as an immediate settlement, surrenders the gross income for Lubbock County sales of that issue, but pays no other legal or punitive fines to the creator of the photo?

ValerieMcG - 5/7/2013 9:48 PM
0 Votes
Any publisher knows that they must have permission to use pictures. And to the writer of this article, "The rule of thumb" is an expression taken from Irish law that says you cannot beat your wife with a stick wider than your thumb. It's a very bad phrase to use in publishing today.
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