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Photo Infringement

Our intellectual property law firm can assist you with Photo Infringement cases in the United States (usually on a contingency fee basis)!  Call Attorney Steve® The Photo Lawyer™. We handle both Plaintiff and Defendant license recovery and copyright infringement actions.

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Our firm is a leader in the area of copyright infringement law, right of publicity, intellectual property and internet law.  We have helped many companies, small to large, across the United States handle matters involving photo infringement, software auditscable TV piracy, and movie piracy and file sharing torrent defense (and dealing with a wide variety of other content alleged to be infringing (jewelry, font, sunglasses, etc.).  We represent both Plaintiffs and Defendants in photo infringement and other cases.

If you need an experienced IP firm, we can help.  We offer low flat rate (predictable legal fees for defendants (those accused of infringement), and possible contingency fee arrangements for photo rights holders dealing with online copyright infringement (see criteria below).  We have extensive federal court experience.

NOTE:  Click here if you were looking for information on our Arizona photo and video copyright recovery program.

Case Studies

Representing a company accused of photo infringement

Client came to us with a legal demand for $15,000 for ONE infringing photo.  Copyright holder hired a law firm and after tenacious negotiations we were able to settle the case for $2,000 with acceptable terms of settlement.  NOTE:  there are many different types of cases in the photo infringement world:

1. Cases where there is a registered copyright (which means they can file a lawsuit)

2.  Cases where the image is NOT copyrighted (technically, they cannot recover statutory damages or attorney fees) in most cases, thus, the threat of "filing a lawsuit" is often a baseless scare tactic.

3.  Fair use cases (where you have a legitimate right to use the photo at issue for purposes of commentary, criticism)

4.  Cases where the photo was offered for use under a "creative commons" scheme, but when no attribution is given they come seeking thousands of dollars in a settlement.  Some of these are really preposterous and can seek thousands upon thousands of dollars (dare I use the word SCAM)?

5.  Claims that your company paid for an "editorial license" photo (for use for news and public affairs only) and your company use is outside the EULA.

Attorney Steve® discusses the photo "editorial license" and how it could lead to infringement charges

VIDEO:  Watch the video on this very important photo infringement topic.  Make sure to SUBSCRIBE to join over 14,000 folks that love our legal information videos.

We have defended cases where a Plaintiff photo troll is seeking over $50,000 in damages.  WE HAVE HELPED MANY CLIENTS SETTLE THEIR CLAIMS.  We offer a 1/2 hour case review for $225 per hour.

Click here to learn more about our $225 paid photo infringement consultations if you are facing a photo infringement demand.  We know who files lawsuits and who doesn't.  Naturally this can affect the settlement amount.  Put yourself in the know with this valuable 25 minute phone consultation service.  We accept credit cards.

Representing a Photo Rights holder

Using Tineye, professional commercial photographer found an infringing copyrighted photo on a commercial website to promote their business.  Send legal demand and recovered  thousands of dollars in damages and past licensing fees.  We have many examples of photo infringement recovery for California clients.  We have recovered thousands of dollars over the years where art, images, and photos have been used for commercial purposes without legal authority or a license.

Click here for more samples.

We serve Orange County, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Monica and other areas.

Watch our Contingency Fee Photo Recovery Video

VIDEO:  Click on the image above to hear Attorney Steve® explain our NO RECOVERY / NO FEE copyright infringement license recovery program for artists, designers, videographers, filmmakers, and musicians.  Make sure to SUBSCRIBE to our intellectual property and entertainment law channel.  We are now up over 7,700 subscribers.

Companies you may have received a photo infringement letter from

Here are just a handful of companies and IP law firms that you may have received a legal demand from due to alleged photo , vector, or image infringement:

  1. Getty Images
  2. Higbee and Associates
  3. Artist Defense
  5. Gafni & Levin LLP
  6. Sanders Law, PLLC
  7. Masterfile
  8. BWP Media
  9. Image Rights International
  10. Fotohaus, LLC
  11. Liebowitz Law Firm

These are some of the main companies. Undoubtedly, there are others.  Contact us to discuss your case at (877) 276-5084.

PODCAST:  Can a Photographer file a copyright registration within ONE MONTH of learning of the infringement?  Attorney Steve® dispels this MYTH.

Types of Photos that may be infringed

Here are some of the types of creative digital content that may be infringed:

  1. Camera photos
  2. Drone footage
  3. Digital images
  4. Gif
  5. Aerial photos
  6. Jpeg
  7. Real estate photography
  8. Photos of people or kids
  9. Sports photos
  10. Vectors
  11. PNG
  12. Wildlife pictures
  13. Illustrations
  14. Celebrity photos
  15. Building photo
  16. Food photo
  17. Landscape photos
  18. Fashion photos
  19. Animated characters
  20. Pet photos
  21. Photojournalism
  22. Fine art photography
  23. Beach and coastal images

How to use Tineye reverse image search to find infringing photos online

VIDEO:  This video will show photographers how they can use Tineye to find other websites (both personal and commercial in nature) that are using photos with authorization or paying a licensing fee.  Once you find these, call us and we can discuss whether sending a DMCA takedown letter, cease and desist demand letter, or even filing a federal copyright lawsuit makes sense or not.

Click here to learn more about 17 U.S.C. 1202 DMCA claims

If someone is stripping off, altering or removing your copyright symbols, metadata, watermarks or other copyright management information read this blog and call us if you believe there is an INTENTIONAL violation.  This can trigger an award for monetary damages.

What is the penalty for ONE INFRINGING PHOTO?

Here is one case to keep in mind in photo infringement cases.  In Davis v. Gap, Inc., 246 F.3d 152 (2d Cir. N.Y. 2001), a copyright infringement case, the Court noted two different approaches for calculating damages in an infringement case.


“We recognize also that finding the fair market value of a reasonable license fee may involve some uncertainty. But that is not sufficient reason to refuse to consider this as an eligible measure of actual damages. Many of the accepted methods of calculating copyright damages require the court to make uncertain estimates in the realm of contrary to fact. See 4 Nimmer §14.02[A], at 14-9.

A classic element of the plaintiff's copyright damages is the profits the plaintiff would have earned from third parties, were it not for the infringement. See 4 Nimmer §14.02[A], at 14-9 to 10. This measure requires the court to explore the counterfactual hypothesis of the contracts and licenses the plaintiff would have made absent the infringement and the costs associated with them. See Fitzgerald Publ'g, 807 F.2d at 1118 (actual damages measured by “the profits which the plaintiff might have earned were it not for the infringement”); Stevens Linen Assocs. v. Mastercraft Corp., 656 F.2d 11, 15 (2d Cir. 1981) (same).


A second accepted method, focusing on the “infringer's profits,” similarly requires the court to explore circumstances that are counterfactual. The owner's entitlement to the infringer's profits is limited to the profits “attributable to the infringement.” 17 U.S.C. § 504(b). The court, therefore, must compare the defendant's actual profits to what they would have been without the infringement, awarding the plaintiff the difference.

Neither of these approaches is necessarily any less speculative than the approach that requires the court to find the market value of the license fee for what the infringer took. Indeed, it may be far less so. Many copyright owners are represented by agents who have established rates that are regularly paid by licensees. In such cases, establishing the fair market value of the license fee of which the owner was deprived is no more speculative than determining the damages in the case of a stolen cargo of lumber or potatoes.

Given our long-held view that in assessing copyright damages “courts must necessarily engage in some degree of speculation,” id. at 14, some difficulty in quantifying the damages attributable to infringement should not bar recovery. See 4 Nimmer §14.02[A], at 14-12 (“[U]ncertainty will not preclude a recovery of actual damages if the uncertainty is as to amount, but not as to the fact that actual damages are attributable to the infringement.”); II Paul Goldstein, Copyright § 12.1.1, at 12:6 (2d ed. 2000) (“Once the copyright owner shows a connection between infringement and damage, uncertainty about the amount of damages will not bar an award.”); Szekely, 242 F.2d at 269 (where “legal injury is certain… [w]e should not allow difficulty in ascertaining precisely the value of the right destroyed, which difficulty arises largely from the destruction, to enable the infringer to escape without compensating the owner of the right”).”

It is also important for all parties to understand that photo infringement damages can go as high as $150,000 for willful violations (ex. using a photo commercially on a product package or label) PLUS the recovery of Attorney Fees.  For more information watch our copyright penalties video below.

Watch Attorney Steve® explain "Actual Damages" under Copyright law

VIDEO:  Click here to watch this video.  Make sure to SUBSCRIBE.

Criteria for our Photographer contingency fee recovery program

In general, here is what we are looking for to be considered for contingency fee photo infringement recovery (these are not hard and fast rules, but generally what we are looking for, if you think there should be an exception in your case just let us know and call or email us at the address on the right side of this blog):

  1. You are a commercial photographer (you get paid for your photos.  For example, you have a art gallery, fine art studio, or routinely license your photos for a free)
  2. It is helpful if you have won some awards or appeared in popular publications
  3. You have copyright registered your photos (not this is NOT a strict requirement but it is something that can affect our decision depending upon the facts of your case)
  4. There has been an infringement of your work (for example, someone has made a copy of your photo and is trying to use it commercially).  Some common examples might be:
  • Selling your photo acting as if it is theirs
  • Someone has altered your work without your permission and is trying to commercialize it (wrongfully believing it is a “fair use”)
  • Someone has used your photo or image in a youtube or vimeo channel (and the video is being monetized)
  • Some has wrongfully used your photo and created a “derivative work” without paying any licensing fee.  Some examples may include creating a bumper sticker, poster, wallpaper, wall art, outdoor furniture, cornhole game image, used it on a commercial blog, cover of a book, murals, coasters, t-shirts, etc.)
  • The infringer is selling on Etsy, eBay, or Amazon store, Zazzle or some other online store (presumably making money off your work).
  • You are prepared to file a lawsuit if necessary (ex. no skeletons in the closet and not afraid of any negative attention that might bring).

This is not an exclusive list of things we look for, but important factors for sure.

How can you find out if someone is stealing your photographs or images?

VIDEO:  Watch Attorney Steve® explain how to use TinEye reverse image search (you can also use Google Reverse Image Search) to find potentially infringing artwork and digital photos online.  Make sure to SUBSCRIBE to our legal channel.  We are now up over 7,500 subscribers and over ONE MILLION VIDEO VIEWS and growing fast!.

Photo infringement resources

  1.  Dealing with Artist Defense
  2. Getty Images cases
  3. Trump Organization hit with Copyright infringement lawsuit 
  4. National Photo Group / BWP
  5. How to respond to Higbee & Associates photo infringement letters
  6. How to handle a photo infringement case WITHOUT a lawyer
  7. The single most important question to ask if you are being hounded by a photo infringement law firm

Overview of Copyright Infringement Damages

VIDEO:  Click on the picture above to learn more about infringement damages possible in a copyright case.  Make sure to SUBSCRIBE to our law channel.

Contact a photo copyright attorney

For more information or to discuss your case in confidence, please call (877) 276-5084.  We offer free initial consultations to copyright rights holders looking for license recovery services.  We also offer low cost paid consultations to persons or companies that have received a notice of subpoena, infringement letter, cease and desist letter or summons / complaint for a federal lawsuit.  For example, a letter from Higbee and Associations in Santa Ana, California.

We have appeared in over 100 federal copyright infringement cases, and have been practicing law since 2004.

Contact us for an initial consultation!

For more information, or to discuss your case or our experience and qualifications please contact us at (877) 276-5084. Please note that our firm does not represent you unless and until a written retainer agreement is signed, and any applicable legal fees are paid. All initial conversations are general in nature. Free consultations are limited to time and availability of counsel and will depend on the type of case you are calling about (no free consultations for other lawyers). All users and potential clients are bound by our Terms of Use Policies. We look forward to working with you!