Copyright Infringement? There’s an App for That

A photographer recently tipped us off about a Chinese Web site that is publishing the work of photographers without their knowledge or permission. The site is branded as if it were produced by Leica, but according to a Leica representative they have nothing to do with it. “Leica Camera always respects the rights of artists and does not support the unapproved publication of artwork,” a Leica spokesperson told PDN via email.

Leica did not, however, comment on whether they would pursue legal action to have the site taken down.

An Austrian store that apparently sells Leica cameras and photographic prints is the site’s only sponsor.

A few of the photographers whose work is used on the site are: Phillip Toledano, Steve McCurry, Marcus Bleasdale, Annie Marie Musselman, Robbie Cooper, Kosuke Okahara, Dominic Nahr and Michal Chelbin.

The site is also marketing an app, downloadable for free through the Apple iTunes App Store. When you open the app a grid of famous photographs, including Annie Leibovitz’s image of Yoko Ono and a naked John Lennon, appear on the screen.

Work by Stephen Shore, Lynn Goldsmith, Jonas Bendiksen, Erika Larsen, Sebastião Salgado and others appear in the “A Pic a Day” section of the app. In the app’s “Magazine” section, entire photo essays appear, many of them current. For instance, Sebastian Liste’s 2010 Ian Parry Scholarship-winning essay on homeless families inhabiting an abandoned chocolate factory in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, appears.

Photographers we’ve spoken with had no idea this Web site existed and was using their work, nor were they aware of the app, and we’re assuming that none of the photographers whose work is being used gave permission.

Does your work appear on the site?

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5 Responses to “Copyright Infringement? There’s an App for That”

  1. David Says:

    This Google Image Search might help:
    http://www.google.com/images?&q=%2Bsite%3Awww.leica.org.cn

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Might not this Whois reveal some information…:
    Domain Name: leica.org.cn
    ROID: 20061214s10051s03107741-cn
    Domain Status: ok
    Registrant Organization: 沈一鸣
    Registrant Name: 沈一鸣
    Administrative Email: lancelot23@gmail.com
    Sponsoring Registrar: 北京新网数码信息技术有限公司
    Name Server:ns2.xinnet.cn
    Name Server:ns2.xinnetdns.com
    Registration Date: 2006-12-14 11:30
    Expiration Date: 2016-12-14 11:30
    http://bit.ly/cGmIYa

  3. Matt Hill Says:

    Photogs might also want to consider using the TinEye service to check for images:
    http://www.tineye.com/

  4. Anonymous Says:

    From what I can see, these photographs are readily available online already. Would the site and Ap be more legal if they showed the source links or linked directly to the source?

  5. Melissa Mercier Says:

    I wonder if they are planning to translate it in english?