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Comments about copyright


Case studies : copyright and commercial right (III)

1. LUXORION  website

The permission to reproduce documents published on this website is reserved, i.e. subject to conditions, and is thus not automatically granted. See the FAQ for details.

In concrete terms, having legally registered the whole content of this website (name, URL, texts and images), without convincing opposition, to eyes of Court I am the creator and thus the sole owner of documents that I claim the paterny, including face to a forgery. It is an authentic right.

In addition, as author and due to commercial concerns, texts and images are protected by publishing and copyrights registered by the French right company Aegeus at National Library and to Department of Interior (Home Office). These rights are thus better protected than a registering to a notary. It stands to reason that if we discover an infringement of our copyrights, we will initiate legal proceedings.

It has been agreed with several responsibles of Internet websites and moderated newsgroups of small or large audience established in Belgium, France, Switzerland and the U.S.A that they will attend to the respect of my rights and will not allow the reproduction of copyrighted material on their servers without my first written consent, mention of copyright or paiment of a license, depending on the case. Any copy without mention of copyright, notwithstanding the other legal information, will be considered as a plagiarism, and the violation sued as it.

Unless you read the contrary, due to different claims for plagarism addressed to several amateurs, I do not more grant permission to use my documents to members or moderators of newsgroups (forums), responsibles of blogs and RSS(1). This decision prevails on the one from the publishing house within the limits of the commercial agreement.

However, we can find a mutual arrangement if needed. See the FAQ for details. In case of any doubt, contact me by email *before* any use, explaining me the frame of your action and giving me the URL of your site for evaluation.

2. Pictures of Albert Einstein taken by Philippe Halsman

Let's imagine that you want to publish a book about the theory of relativity. How to know what law applies (e.g. copyright or fair use), and in the first case, how to get the right to reproduce a portrait of Einstein, like the one displayed below ?

Einstein, Princeton, 1947. Picture (c) Halsman Estate.

All depends on the purpose of the publication (commercial or not). Consider a book or an article for the general public. Recall that an illustration in a book in connection with its subject is not considered as "commercial".

Einstein Foundation, actually the Hebrew University, is the copyright holder of all Einstein work. According to her responsible, B.W., Hebrew University controls the commercial exploitation of Einstein's image (which means much more than just pictures showing Einstein). Most pictures of Einstein at Princeton like this one from 1947 were taken by Philippe Halsman. He is represented by Steve Bello, NY, who controls reproductions. Most pictures are archived at Library of Congress.

If you don't use the picture of Einstein for commercial purpose, which is well the case, then Einstein Foundation or Library of Congress is not involved. Like for any copyright, you have only to ask the Halsman Estate for permission (represented by Magnum Photos agency in Europe). Usually this use requires the paiment of a fee.

Doing a positive review of a product like of this signal analyzer and multi-mode decoder sold by SkySweep is a good way to get all permissions you need from the publisher or the manufacturer, and in this case, a free evaluation copy of their software too.

3. Private companies

At first sight we imagine that documents released on the Internet by private companies or public institutions are freely distributed in the community (many owners of blogs think that...). Not at all ! 

In fact all documents released on Internet or elsewhere belong to an author and cannot be used without their permission and mention of sources (the insertion of a credit line). Hopefully, most authors will grant you this permission, including enterprises for which this can be considered as a free publicity for their product.

Indeed, being given that you virtually help them in their business as many readers will connect to their website after reading your comments, you can download what you want or almost from their website without their permission, or better, after have requested it a first time. 

Their only wishes are legitimate and understandable like to insert a link to their website, what you did, and to not give a negative review of their product, what is logical in the frame of this gentleman agreement.

4. Scientific institutes

Generally speaking, scientific institutes are public research centers (NASA, CNRS, observatories, analysis labs, etc). They receive grants for the national or federal government. Some of these governmental agencies carry out applied research, audit control or support to users who bought their products (NOAA, Meteo France, Solar Terrestrial Dispatch, etc).

All these institutes release documentation and sometimes sell products (articles, books, prints, services, etc). Pratically all them have a website were we can found scientific data and sometimes query online databases (USGS, NOAA, SPIDR, European Commission, etc).

Synoptic chart analysed by the Met Office and adapted by the author to illustrate an article about Tchernobyl.

In the case of the London Met Office, all documents are protected by the Crown Copyright. Like any intellectual work, the use of their product (synoptic chart, satellite picture, forecast, etc) is subject to the paiment of a fee and the concerned document has to mention the source (their logo or their URL in incrustation, in a link or a reference).

Like other scientific institutes, to name CHCI, Met Office exceptionally grants concessions. That means that any people wishing to use their material for non-profit purposes, e.g. to illustrate an article published on a personal website, like the chart displayed at left that I adapted, has first to get the written permission from the institute. For the Met Office, the requester has to complete the "Reproduction Licence Application".

For NOAA, as stated in their About page and Restrictions, their images are in the public domain but the credit must be given to the institution or to the photographer and the use of their slides requests a permission. For Météo France, check their conditions of use at the bottom of theirs pages. For short, as long as their logo is displayed, you are in order.

For the European Commission there are some circumstances (e.g. the use of data from the Caesium Atlas) where you have also to inform them by written that you wish to use their documents.

5. Museum

It seems quite surprising when you are not used to work with media and copyrights that some public museum or national art galleries request a fee to use pictures of their collections, even portraits, statues, books and any object fell in the "public domain" for centuries. Where does this copyright comes from ?

In fact these objects are well in the public domain, and can be seen by anybody visiting these institutions, which access is often free. The fee requested to use an image is charged for the intellectual property right linked to the secondary copyright in the photographs and scans that such museums have taken of those works. When it concerns very old books  (e.g. incunable, etc) the process can be quite complex and expensive. All this material is protected by The Berne Copyright Convention. Unauthorised reproduction of such content may be an infringement of such laws.

A public institution like the National Portrait Gallery of London for example, states that even for an amateur website, personal, educational and non commercial, receiving some hundreds hits per day and wishing to use some images to illustrate its internal pages, "I am afraid we do charge a fee for this, although we have a special domestic rate of 18.00 £ plus VAT per image that your site would qualify for. [...] We could supply you with a JPEG image (25.00 £) or we could give you permission to download the image from our own site. [...] If you do not have a budget at all, then we would not object to you including a direct link to the images as they appear on our own site at NPG. Although not the same as having the images on your own site, it is at least a way for visitors to your site to see the images through the link to our site".

This is one of the reasons for which, for time to time, there is a link under the name of some people or objects listed on this website instead of their image. Not all amateurs can invest 25 £ or 100 € each time they want to get a JPEG copy of an illustration under copyright...

Similar policies are available on request from all publishers and institutions from NASA to National Geographic, including websites providing free wall papers for your personal usage like Webshots or Imagestate.

However, with the development of the Open Data concept, a growing number of museums provide free access to images of art in the public domain without any restriction. These documents can be used in any media. So, in 2014 the New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art released on the web close to 400,000 documents from its encyclopedic collections.

5. Private or amateur works

The same copyright law also applies to works from amateurs or professional photographers like Tony and Daphne Hallas,Dan Heller, Jerry Lodriguss, Pekka Parviainen or myself to name a few people publishing freely pictures on specialised websites like, APOD, and doing in parallel a commercial usage on their pictures.

Internet, Wi-Fi, viruses and spams

Dealing with Internet and newsgroups among other things, recall that Internet is unsecure, uncontrolled and that any computer, even idle and without active connection to Internet but wired to the web (via a DSL connection, a cable modem, etc), can be under attack by a virus in a few minutes !

Then, if you give a valid email address on a public server know that malicious people have programmed robots (or do it themselves) to search all throught the web valid email addresses and send them spams and other unsollicited mails, including viruses.

Be aware to these both problems and take them seriously. Virulent viruses and other trojan can hang your system or damage data stored in your computer. This can happen simply in opening an email sent by an unknown or fake user and reading or running the attached file, which in fact contains a virus.

So, before connecting you to Internet, check that your computer is well protected by a complete anti-virus solution and above all, updated.

The same rule applies to Wi-Fi connections. Without local protection on your computer you can be the victim of hackers. To prevent any abuse, activate the option hidding your modem (SSID=1) and the WPA-PSK encrypting mode, if necessary using a key generator (Cf. this illustrated explanation). Note that today these settings are automated and the encryption system uses a 128-bit key in addition to the router password (and your possible computer session password). So for short, you are well protected against sniffers and other hackers.

Then, if you want posting a message on a newsgroup or a public server, to prevent receiving unsollicited mails, either give a response-email addres directed to a public mailbox (e.g. so that the information can be filtered outside your own system (but the control is never safe) or, better, direct it to a "trash mailbox" where emails can pile up or, simply, don't give any response-email addres or a fake one. It is indeed safer to read responses given by readers only on the newsgroup instead of being locally infected and in pray to spams !

But on newsgroups as well, viruses can be attached to threads. Thus, take care when opening a message associated to an attachment. By security, do never open an email if it is sent by an unknown system or user. Delete it simply. If the sender really want to contact you he will surely find another method.

Do give only a valid response-email addres if your computer or network is protected by a complete anti-virus solution and installed in a DMZ (with firewall, IP and mail filtering, etc) in order to neutralize all viruses and trojans, reject all unsollicited emails and spams.

Of course, as usual if the violator is well identified, the most secure method to contact this person is still to send him/her a registered mail with optionally a statement (PV) by post. The minus side of this method is its slowness which is really not adapted to the light speed of Internet traffic.

By way of conclusion

Voilà in a few words all you need to know if you decide to publish a document belonging to others on your website, blog, RSS, newsgroup or even in a magazine, it is personal, non-profit or at commercial purpose. You probably also know more if you have to protect your interests. For short, all is protected, even implicitely, and aims to protect the author's interests from any abuse.

Internet traffic an ordinary day visualised with Arc Map, a 3D software developed by Stephen G. Eick at Bell Laboratories-Lucent technologies.

Of course, whatever could be your reasons, the other solution is to publish the document without permission, but know that even with the mention of a credit line you incur a legal prosecution for this abuse, and many organizations, private or commercial, are not refrain to do it. Regularly, legal departments from Reader's Digest, PBS, webmasters, editors or photographs take the time to browse Internet searching for person guilty of fraud.

At the time of Internet and network management, we can quickly identify a server and any people infringing a copyright, and if needed initiate legal proceedings. In a State of right, it is normal that such delictual behaviour fall under the law application. As the law applies practically everywhere in the same terms, the case is quickly solved.

If the tone or the form used to notify the offender don't please him, that he avoids to receive such notices in respecting rights attached to authors' works.

Let's recognize that some responsibles of blogs or members of newsgroups among others are sometimes unscrupulous and naïvely believe that all is permitted in the best of worlds. Unfortunately, they will learn to their expense that we don't live in such a world and that the freedom of each stops where begins the one of others... So, as one says in this case, an informed man is worth two of them.


Blog : webzine or personal diary kept online. Pages are usually associated to advertisings. They are often updated, like news websites. Updates are usually not executed by FTP but using a complex management system, and they must stay online during updates (sometimes with a password). They can become as large as true websites. They can be used for commercial purposes and reach a wide audience. More than one blog's responsibles don't respecting the copyright law, to protect my interests I unfortunately decided to not permit them to reproduce my documents or the one of people who have supported my project.

RSS : Really Simple Syndication, is also a mean to publish quickly information on Internet.

For more information

About Copyright

US Copyright Office

Berne Convention

Stanford Copyright & Fair Use

Copyright Act (Can.)

Copyright and neighbouring rights, European Union

Copyrightlaws (international copyright right)

10 Big Myths about copyright explained

Codex Online (news and more) (ask a lawyer, forum and more)

Juriscom (legal precedents, F and B)

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA, law)

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (comments)

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (examplar, .doc)

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Google examplar)

How do you send a DMCA ? (Seologic)

Directive 2001/29/CE (EDRi aka EUCD)



Photographers publishing instructions about copyright

Dan Heller (very complete)

Tony and Daphne Hallas

Jerry Lodriguss

Pekka Parviainen


Registration companies

Copyright Website (USA)


Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle (INPI, F)

Dépôt-Web (F and international, with legal assistance)

Any notary

About commercial right

To buy or not to buy from overseas ? (on this site)


European Digital Rights (EDRi, wider scope than DMCA)


Copyright (Wikipedia English, informal)

Intellectual Property Court Cases

About policies

Library of Congress about pictures of Albert Einstein

NASA Copyright Notification

Greenpeace policy

National Geographic

Met Office Reproduction Licence Application

NOAA About page

Restrictions for Using NOAA Images

Reproducing images from NPG collections (UK)

NRCAN Copyright / Permission to Reproduce (Canada, en français)

AFP News Agency copyright notice

CNN service agreement

Finding Species non-commercial license

Anti-virus and spam reporting


Symantec (Norton)


How To Complain To The Spammer's Provider


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