Melissa Hovey has posted a purported photo of a bigfoot this morning – one that she’s had in her files for several years.
You can read the full backstory here and view the photo here:
While I have no comments on the photo itself (Real? Hoax? There is no way to know, which is why photos are useless as “proof” of anything, the least of which their own veracity), it may be an interesting story for you to follow.
I am grateful to Melissa for sharing the photo, but I won’t be posting it here due to copyright concerns because she stated that the witness expressly requested that the photo not be published in the original correspondence with him/her and permission does not appear to have been obtained prior to publishing. I have photos, similarly sent to me by witnesses, that I have never published because I was asked not to do so – including obviously hoaxed photos. While it frustrated me not to be able to share them, aside from the ethical consideration of doing so when asked not to, there are valid copyright issues at play.
Copyright law seems to be very poorly understood, especially when it comes to the internet. Despite the fact that the internet has become a “free-for-all” where people rarely honor copyright, the photographer, or “creator” in the case of a hoaxed photo, always holds the copyright to a photograph – ALWAYS – and has legal recourse for a copyright infringement tort if they wish to pursue it. Unless, of course, the copyright of that photo has been officially transferred or undeniable permission for use has been given to the person publishing it. Filing or claiming copyright on a photograph does not create a copyright if a previous one exists (due to the photographer having been the one to take the photo, which supersedes any other copyright claim) and one opens oneself up to legal repercussions if the actual copyright holder wishes to come forward and make known that they are the creator of the photo in publicly available court documents.
I see a potential trap here for bigfoot bloggers… A witness provides, privately, a photograph. The blogger publishes the photograph without permission. The photographer (or even creator of a hoaxed photo) subsequently takes the blogger to court for damages. A set-up, to be sure, but the photographer would still be within their legal rights to pursue damages.
That is, of course, if the blogger is financially worth suing, if damages can be proven AND the offended party has the resources to bring suit. Court fees in civil cases can run $10k – $15k for the retainer alone and NO civil cases that I know of – except those against large, insured companies or very wealthy individuals – are taken on a contingency basis. Anyone telling you they will sue you civilly using a lawyer who works on “contingency” is likely full of it and you’re fairly safe to chuckle heartily. Legal threats are free… lawsuits are very, very expensive.
I’m not sure why I got off on a law tangent this morning… the copyright question made me think of it, I suppose. Anyway, I hope this provides food for thought and feel free to leave your comments below regarding the photo in question. Please keep in mind that OregonBigfoot.com does not provide legal advice and we will always keep photos, audio and video shared with us confidential unless written permission has been obtained to share it.