Buzzfeed Sued for $3.6 Million Over Photo Use
Buzzfeed has quickly become one of the hottest places on the internet to find useless photo sets and mindless entertainment. As Petapixel reports however, it might not be all fun and games for Buzzfeed for long.
Buzzfeed is known for its amusing (less than intelligent) photo sets with some sort of central theme. While they garner most of their photos from paid services, allowing them free use, often there are photos that are culled from user sources, such as Flickr or Google Images. This can be tricky, as the copyright laws get a little sticky. Many of these photos are not marked for free use, and many photographers get pretty pissed when one of their photos gets used without permission. Recently, one photographer got pissed to the tune of $3.6 million.
Photographer Kai Eiselein is suing Buzzfeed over the use of a photo in this idiotic photo set (which was trimmed from 30 to 29 after a cease and desist letter). While the photo was removed, Buzzfeed's content is duplicated all over the internet, and Eiselein is rightfully holding Buzzfeed responsible for every instance of the photo being used without permission. Here's where it gets tricky.
BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti once told The Atlantic that "BuzzFeed’s photo montages are fair use under copyright law because they are "transformative'". This is one part of the four-part fair use test. Yet, this is all subjective and since we all steal photos from Google Image search every single day (don't act like you don't) we should be paying attention to this story.
If the lawsuit succeeds, the precedent will be pretty damn clear. Both corporate websites and individual bloggers will have to be real careful about whose pictures they are using. The good news is that it might curb some of the nonsense at Buzzfeed, which is slowly making everyone dumber anyway. Basically, it will come down to the for profit part of the law. Of course Buzzfeed was using it for profit, but Joe Blogger might not be. Plus, I can't imagine a Judge letting this case go to trial with such a ridiculous amount. That might kill it right there. Plus, the fact that Buzzfeed immediately took down the photo might be enough for most Judges.Continued on the next page