View Full Version : OT: Are Photobucket pictures in the public domain?

Mike W
08-10-2007, 12:38 AM
If I saw some pic about a machine or whatever, can I post it here and be ok? I just wondered.

08-10-2007, 01:27 AM
There are a couple of guys who snarf pictures from PM, HSM Forum and CNCZone and re-post them on their own web sites with nary an indication of where the pictures came from. I think legally, you can re-post them as long as it's not for profit.

That's probably why Doc Nickel and Frank Ford put copyright captions on their pictures. I think the way they've done the copyright markings is relatively subtle and professional.

But from an ethical perspective, personally I would contact the owner and ask permission, but maybe that's just me...

08-10-2007, 02:14 AM
Copyright law works entirely in the favor of the creator of the work. There is no requirement to declare copyright on a photo or a book or anything else. It merely changes the type of damages you can recover in court. Any and all photos posted anywhere are copyright by someone. I you don't know for a fact that the image has been explicitly placed in the public domain then you must assume it hasn't.

Making money or not has nothing to do with it. The provisions in the copyright act that permit what is called "fair use" do not clearly spell out all "fair uses" except for a few specific uses that are clearly listed, such as parody, comment and educational uses. That is intentional. If you take a photo from Photobucket and use it without permission you are violating somebody's copyright. Can they sue you? Not if it doesn't say that it is copyright on the work. If it doesn't say then they can only issue a cease and desist order. If you persist in using it then they can sue you. If it does say that it is copyright then they can sue immediately.

In practice nobody is going to sue unless your use is costing them money. How much they can recover depends on how much you may have cost them. Copyright lasts 60 years past the death of the author in the case of individuals. There is no requirement to register copyright but registration also confers legal benefits. Corporate copyright lasts for 95 years in the US. There is no requirement to renew copyright. Government copyright, if exercised, is perpetual. Certain organizations such as NASA make all of their material available in the public domain. That means you may take any photo from a NASA web site and do whatever you like with it.

Bottom line: If it doesn't say it is in the public domain then it most likely isn't.

08-10-2007, 02:01 PM
Excellent post Evan! Thanks for posting.

It brings together several bits of information that I often thought might be true or could be urban legends or old wives' tales even though they sounded like they are true.

It's funny how topics like this develop so many misconceptions.

08-10-2007, 05:48 PM
What I forgot to explicitly say is that under the terms of the Berne Convention on Copyright, to which the US, all the EU and Commonwealth are signatories, copyright automatically exists when any work of expression is created.

08-10-2007, 07:49 PM
Photobucket is public domain, they can be linked for any non profit deal.

Pirates and trolls dont care, some of us have every last thing you could want and all for free.

I quit buying software years ago. Anyone who knows computers knows EVERYTHING IS FREE!

I support all open sorce (free) software, its better anyway.

08-10-2007, 09:57 PM
Photobucket is public domain, they can be linked for any non profit deal.
The law doesn't work that way. Posting your pictures in public has no effect on your copyright no matter how or where you post them. The only way your copyright can be lost is to explicitly state that the photo is placed in the public domain or to sell or otherwise sign a contract giving up your right to the copyright. That cannot be done online by any means as it requires a written document with written signature to assign copyright to someone else.

You cannot be scammed or tricked into giving up your copyright by posting the photo on a website. No matter what the fine print on the web site may say it has no effect on your rights.

As I said, copyright law operates entirely in favor of the original creator of the work. There is also a second type of copyright that accompanies the usual form. It's called "Moral Copyright". It cannot be sold or given up by any means. The creator of a work retains the right for life to stop any use of his work that would reflect badly on his reputation. It makes no difference if he has sold "all rights" to somebody. Moral copyright cannot be transfered.

08-10-2007, 10:03 PM
See here:

10 Big Myths about copyright explained


08-11-2007, 12:50 PM
Photobucket is public domain, they can be linked for any non profit deal.
Is a link to a picture/site a copyright infringement?

08-11-2007, 06:07 PM
Is a link to a picture/site a copyright infringement?

Possibly. It depends on the use. If the image is linked so that it displays on another web page without attribution then it probably is actionable for at the least a cease and desist order. If credit is given to the original author and the image has no commercial value then it isn't likely actionable. There are quite a few gray areas in the use of intellectual property on the net. The copyright act is very clear about most of what it deals with but that doesn't include much to do with electronic media. The applicability of the Copyright act to electronic media is being clarified through case law and recent Supreme Court decisions. The DMCA is another matter and deals explicitly with the protection and circumvention issues in electronic media.

Linking directly to other content on the web is a bad idea. It means that you have no control of what shows up on the linked item. What used to be a pic of a hot rod could be replaced by a child porn pic.