MANHATTAN (CN) - Kodak's photo-sharing social media website does not have the responsibility to police 9 billion of its images for evidence of copyright infringement, a federal judge ruled.
Sheila Wolk, a professional artist for more than 40 years, runs an online store that exclusively sells her work, but says she did not even know what a URL was before she signed up with Photobucket.com.
She took advantage of a feature that allowed her to put a watermark on her pictures to prevent users from downloading her images without paying her. She says she did not know that the software gives users tools to remove the mark.
In late 2007 or early 2008, Wolk noticed that her images were being copied, displayed and modified by other users. She told Photobucket about it months later.
Wolk sued Kodak Imaging Network, Eastman Kodak Co. and Photobucket.com on July 6, 2010.
U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet threw out her case on Dec. 21, in an order that was filed Tuesday.
"There is no dispute that any reproduction, display or transmission of the plaintiff's images by or through the Kodak Gallery website is an automated process with no human intervention by any employee of the Kodak defendants," the order states. "The fact that Wolk's images are copied into product simulations in addition to being transmitted to fulfillment vendors does not constitute a volitional act where the copying is automated."
The judge said Photobucket cannot be expected to self-police its users.
"Photobucket is a website that consists of over 9 billion images and videos. Under the plaintiff's theory, Photobucket would be required to police its website for infringing copies of her work wherever they may appear," Sweet wrote.
On Jan. 24, Facebook, Google, Twitter and other major user-generated websites plan to have a blackout to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act, which authorizes the federal government to shut down websites suspected of copyright infringement.