Photographer sues BuzzFeed for $3.6 million over image use


posted Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 1:23 PM EDT


BuzzFeed is something of an unstoppable juggernaut of viral media, encouraging users to share the site's posts all across social media. But one photographer is not only taking issue with BuzzFeed using his work without permission, but also for encouraging it to be shared, and is suing the website for $3.6 million.

As reported by PaidContent, Idaho photographer Kai Eiselein is taking the company to court over one of his images used in the “The 30 Funniest Header Faces” image list. Now retitled “The 29 Funniest Header Faces,” the image series shows the awkward faces made by soccer players while heading the ball — all without attribution, though some are watermarked.

Eiselein alleges that not only is BuzzFeed at fault for using his image without permission, but also for “contributory infringement,” since it encourages sharing of content from BuzzFeed to other sites. Eiselein has put together a list of dozens of websites that contained his image after BuzzFeed uploaded it, all used without permission.

The image in question is most likely this shot of his, originally found on Flickr. It's not on the current incarnation of the BuzzFeed list, but is found on some of the other sites he cites. A quick reverse Google image search reveals it has been shared widely.

BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti has previously claimed that these photo montages are transformative, which makes them possibly usable under fair use, but that is obviously debatable. 

This isn't the first time BuzzFeed has landed in hot water over attribution. They've been accused of wholesale lifting of other's content, using professional photographer's images without licensing, as well as from amateurs. These days BuzzFeed includes attribution links on its lists, but these are generally to places like Imgur or Reddit, without any attempt to track down the origin of the photo. 

(Via PaidContent)