Rise of the Copyleft Trolls: When Photographers Sue After Creative Commons Licenses Go Awry
22 Pages Posted: 14 May 2021 Last revised: 30 Aug 2021
Date Written: May 11, 2021
Creative Commons licenses typically signal that a photograph uploaded to the web may be used for limited purposes, such as noncommercial uses or with attribution. Some photographers are monetizing this, uploading photos with little commercial value, searching the web for uses with improper attribution, then demanding payment and engaging in high-volume litigation. This study examines more than 30 cases involving photographers suing after a Creative Commons license terminated, finding that courts are showing a willingness to accept users’ arguments of fair use based on transformative purposes and lack of economic harm, as well as general distaste for the arguments of photographers engaging in this kind of litigation.
Keywords: copyright, Creative Commons, fair use, copyleft, photography
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