Category Archives: copyright

Flóra Borsi

I first learned about the work of Hungarian Photoshop artist, Flóra Borsi when her Flamingo image was on the cover of a German photo magazine. The next time I read about her work was on a German blog, where a few manipulated photos from her “Selfie” series were posted – as it is customary at least here in Germany – without any byline; only a very small link to another blog in English. Apparently neither of the owners of those blogs asked Flóra Borsi for permission to post the images in question.

So far – so good? Not necessarily, because Flóra Borsi used photographs of well-known historical figures such as Mahatma Ghandi, Marilyn Monroe, Albert Einstein, or Sigmund Freud without giving the photographers of the original photos any credit. An email I sent her remained unanswered. Obvioulsy she didn’t ask the photographers in question for permission. After emailing an inquiry to VG Bild-Kunst, I got the answer that this is clearly illegal. Now what?

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Facebook & Twitter

I dislike both Facebook & Twitter. Why? It’s hard to say. I just feel uncomfortable using them. Consequently, I have deleted both accounts. Plus, Instagram, which belongs to Facebook, invites its users to infringe copyright. After an inquiry of mine I got an answer from VG Bild-Kunst here in Germany, saying that embedding Instagram posts is an infringement of copyright. So, I’m asking myself, why does Instagram explicitly (!) provide a link for that purpose? They must know about the legal consequences.

Interesting: In the Instagram Terms of Use, the word copyright doesn’t appear – not once.

Photography & copyright

Just found the article The 10 Most Famous Copyright Cases In Photography. Regarding #2 You don’t need permission for street photography: In Germany, this is very different (I don’t know about the legal situation in other EU countries). Here applies what in German is called “Das Recht am eigenen Bild”. Afaik, shooting crowds is ok, but taking photos of single individuals requires their permission.

Fair use?

Currently, I’m very occupied with copyright questions. One case of (imho) copyright infringement is described in the article “Judge Rules Fair Use in Photographer’s Copyright Case Against Andy Warhol”. Particularly interesting here are the comments by photographer, Lynn Goldsmith who was sued by the Andy Warhol Foundation. I’m basically on the side of Mrs. Goldsmith here, and imho Andy Warhol clearly infringed her copyright.

One commenter who basically opposes Mrs. Goldsmith’s claim says: “And I’m sorry this is an emotional ordeal for you, I truly am – but there is a place in art for transformative works of all mediums.” – Bob Cooley

Who’s right, then? My opinion on transformative works is that those artists decorate themselves with foreign feathers, and the question remains: Is this legitimate? Is this reprehensible?

But there’s an exception, and it’s called “fair use”. I discovered an article by Stephanie Morrow, entitled “What Are Derivative Works Under Copyright Law?”

Quote: “Only copyright owners have the exclusive right to produce derivative works based on their original, copyrighted works.” – Stephanie Morrow

And: “So you’ve been inspired by someone else’s work to make one of your own, and you’ve used some of that original. That means you’ve infringed the original author’s copyright, right? Well, not necessarily. There exists a carve-out to infringement that applies with particular force to the derivative works arena: the “fair use” doctrine.”

Besides the case of the Andy Warhol Foundation vs. Lynn Goldsmith, I found another example of possible “fair use”: the series “Time Travel” and “Selfie” by Hungarian photographer & Photoshop artist, Flóra Borsi. Apparently, she wasn’t sued for copyright infringement although her work is well-known. I discovered the said series yesterday, and although the idea is stunning & the technical execution flawless, there remains the answer: What about the photographers of the original pictures? They were not given any credit.

The advantage of obeying copyright

One of the advantages of asking for permission before posting media by third parties is, I get in touch with all kinds of interesting people, which is really nice. Then I’m in much less danger of being sued, which is another positive aspect.

Right now, after emailing several inquiries, I’m waiting for the response from

Warner Bros. turned me down. They don’t want any stills from “The Matrix” posted on blogs. An inquiry to Ultimatte came back to me (‘recipient unknown’). Oh, yes, an inquiry to Instagram in Ireland was answered, but the email address to which I sent my inquiry is only reserved for reporting copyright infringement, and apparently they (the Instagram support) didn’t make the effort to forward this email of mine to the proper department.