Upload & Sell: Off
I am about to transfer my web site from my current host to a professional SmugMug account. In reading the description of that SmugMug service, I came across the following statement:
Notice for Professional Account holders:
Uploading more than 500 photographs of participants in a single
sporting event may require a License from PhotoCrazy, Inc.
To avoid patent infringement, please contact:
Attn: Peter Wolf
509 Raindance Street
Thousand Oaks, California 91360-1219
Email: [email protected]
This is very cryptic to me, so I contacted PhotoCrazy. While I am not patent lawyer, it appears they claim to own a patent of the very process of taking a picture, uploading it to a website, and selling that image to a customer. What the hell? Here is PhotoCrazy's actual response:
Thank you for your inquiry.
PhotoCrazy, Inc. owns several U.S. Patents (U.S. Patent 6,985,875 and U.S. Patent 7,047,214) that cover the process of providing event photographs for inspection, selection and distribution via a computer network.
Anyone who uses the methods described in the patents could be liable for direct, contributory or induced infringement.
Patent infringement is governed by federal law 35 U.S.C. 271 and the patent owner is entitled to at least reasonable royalties and other damages or losses since the issue date of the patent. The ‘875 patent issued on January 10, 2006 and the ‘214 patent issued on May 16, 2006. Being unaware or uninformed about the patents or the applicable laws is generally not a defense against the liabilities.
On June 8, 2007 a law suit was filed against 8 infringers. Seven of the 8 defendants (after careful evaluation of the patents with their attorneys) have settled this matter by executing an agreement with us. The 8th defendant is close to settling as well. In addition there are numerous other event photography companies that have licensed with us on their own accord. Most notably is MarathonFoto, the largest event photography company in the US and Athlinks the largest social network for endurance athletes.
You may want to consult with a registered patent attorney about this matter.
Generally we will execute a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) between us and then we would prepare a simple two page license agreement for your review.
Our intentions are honorable and ethical. We are simply trying to resolve some issues and minimize the costs – especially legal cost for both of us.
There are many benefits to licensing with us if you are engaged in sports photography that may infringe on our patents. We would discuss those benefits with you in more detail after we execute an NDA.
These matters will not just go away by ignoring them and could get very costly. We would encourage you to respond at your earliest convenience if you have been or plan on using any of the processes described in the patents.
Here are links to the patents they own.
I am writing to PPA to see if they can shed any light on this. What do you guys think.