How Do Blogs Like Gizmodo and Perez Hilton Use Copyrighted Images w/o Paying For Them

Everyday blogs like Gizmodo and Perez Hilton and the like use dozens of copyrighted images to illustrate their postings without paying for them. How are they allowed to do this? Is it because they deface them with doodles and comments and claim fair use because they’re using the images as parody?

Often, many of the celebrity sites will say they no longer have a picture, and that you can go to another site to see them, and provide a link. I suppose, any celebrity can have their agent call their lawyers to have their pictures taken down at any time. They don’t do it instantly, and don’t do it in every case, so there’s enough of a lag for web sites to provide fans with a picture fix. Which is, apparently, desperately needed, both for fans and celebrities.

The celebrities (in the case of Perez Hilton) don’t own the shots, the photographer or photo agency does, and I’d think they’d want to get paid for their work.

Which is not so say he gets away with it.

How do you know they don’t pay for them?

I had a friend who did some work for Gizmodo including searching for images online. He never went through stock agencies or tried to track down the owner.

Gizmodo is part of Gawker Media and after some readers complained about the Gawker sites using their pictures without compensation the Gawker sites started including a link to the site the picture was taken from.

This has seemingly calmed the horde. But I’ve also noticed a lot more public domain and original images used on the Gawker sites in recent months.

There’s also a difference between the types of photos the gadget and celeb blogs use. The gadget blogs are using photos from smaller sites, who generally don’t have lawyers and such, and as long as they get some of the traffic, they are generally happy. The celeb blogs are using photos from photo agencies and magazines, and they do have lawyers and do tend to shut them down. Moreso when it’s an exclusive photo. Often they take photos down immediately when requested, so you’ll see lots of older posts that say that.

You also have to remember unless the photo is an exclusive, such as Brad Pitt’s baby, celebrities WANT the exposure.

It doesn’t matter that the photographers not the celebrities own the photo, the celebrity gets the blame.

And the photographer gets exposure for his work. Also since any photo is going to get copied downloaded and reuploaded to a site, it’s hard for a photographer to sue. Sure they can but in order to show a court they want to maintain their copyright they have to actively persue a system of "take down"notices. In other words if they sue PerezHilton and the their photo is also on 1,000 smaller blogs, and they’ve not issued “take down” notices to all of them it’s hard to make that charge stick. You have to show you have a system in place.

This is why companies monitor YouTube and such. On a related note that deals with trademark this is why Xerox says “You can’t xerox a Xerox” because to maintain the trademark you have to prove you’re actively trying to stop infringment. Otherwise the trademark fall out.

I know Perez Hilton pays for most of his images, or at least that’s what he told Howard Stern in an interview.