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Wednesday, June 12, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Photographer Says Apple Apps|Violate Copyright Automatically

AUSTIN (CN) - A photographer claims that two iPhone apps called "Unofficial Guide to Hipstamatic" and "Photoinspire" applications scrape photos from the Internet and instantly, and automatically, republish them, stripped of photographers' copyright credit. She seeks damages for 80 of her photos that were republished that way.

Shanti Deva Korpi sued Apple in Federal Court.

She is a member of a Flickr group, "an online social networking and image hosting website owned by Internet company Yahoo! In addition to maintaining a Flickr artist page, plaintiff regularly posts pictures to various Flickr 'groups,' including several groups that feature photographs taken with the popular iPhone app 'Hipstamatic.' Plaintiff's photographs - including her 'Hipstamatic' photos - are clearly marked as copyright protected, with 'all rights reserved,'" according to her complaint.

Korpi says she discovered in June "that her 'Hipstamatic' photos were being systematically extracted from Flickr, and re-published by an iPhone app called the 'Unofficial Guide to Hipstamatic' (hereinafter 'UGTH').

"UGTH is advertised as an instruction manual for Hipstamatic; however, its primary function is to 'scrape' and republish photographs that are 'tagged' or otherwise associated with the Hipstamatic app. UGTH functions on an automatic and continual basis, scraping and republishing photos as soon as they are published to Flickr. In addition to scraping and republishing those photographs, UGTH strips the photographs of all copyright notices and photographer information, thus violating Section 1202 of the DMCA. [Digital Millennium Copyright Act.] ... UGTH is sold exclusively through the Apple App Store (hereinafter, the 'App Store')."

Korpi says UGTH is not the only iPhone app that scrapes and republishes photos. She says she discovered in July that another iPhone app, "'Photoinspire' ... was, again, extracting and republishing her photos; and which was, again, for sale exclusively through the App Store."

The complaint continues: "In marketing materials, Photoinspire is described as 'the ultimate coffee-table book for iPhone and iPad devices, pulling thousands of photographs from a wide variety of sources and providing access to the latest images from all over the world.' Like UGTH, Photoinspire strips photographs of all copyright notices and photographer information before republishing them, a violation of Section 1202 of the DMCA. In addition, Photoinspire contains functionality not featured in UGTH - including the ability for users to re-publish photos by way of Twitter, Facebook, and email - again, stripped of all authorship credits and copyright notices."

Korpi says she protested to Apple at least six times, notifying it of its copyright infringement, but the offending apps are being sold.

"The App Store is the sole retail outlet for authorized iPhone and iPad apps, and

Apple derives a 30 percent profit from each and every sale. Although most apps are developed by third party vendors, Apple provides extensive guidance and material assistance to those developers, including the use of licensed proprietary software (without which it would be impossible to create an iPhone or iPad app), technical support services, diagnostic tools, forums, and other resources," the complaint states.

Korpi seeks a permanent injunction, costs and statutory damages for 80 violations of copyright. She is represented by R. Buck McKinney.

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