We won in court. Sort of.
This guy, Bram Gorissen took us to trial over a picture.
He said he was sueing many blogs and platforms for supposed infringement of his copyright. He took a picture of a train in 2011, posted the picture on a popular Dutch forum, fok.nl. "As a courtesy to the owner of that platform" who is a friend of Gorissen. The picture (as still found on numerous websites online) depicts a joke.
Two Mobypicture users probably saw his post on fok.nl and posted it on their own accounts. We don't know if they deliberately not used his credentials when they posted their finding on Twitter. We cannot even know if his credentials were even there because the picture was deleted by Gorissen. The most important thing to realise here is that Mobypicture cannot be responsible for merely hosting a copyrighted picture.
Five years after the supposed infringement Gorrissen started his crusade about the picture. First asking if the websites which used the picture could delete it. We instantly replied we needed proof the picture was his. Not to get too technical for readibility reasons here, hosting companies are protected by law for this and of course have to comply with copyright holders, once they have provided the right proof they own the rights. We take down dozens of pictures every day. Gorissen just didn't give us the right info.
Gorissen kept quiet about the picture after not giving us the information we asked for. Then a few months later he send me an invoice.
Gorissen thinks he is the one who made the picture funny and therefore his copyright should be on it. We think the agency who came up with the pun has the copyright. Also Gorissen is a operations researcher at the VU. He is not a photographer. He doesn’t earn his living from making photos. There would be no loss in income even IF there was any copyright infringement.
Bram Gorissen calculated that we, as the hosting company actively promoted the picture on our homepage and based on the sizes of the image and multiple formats (we have to adjust sizes to display pictures in different forms on the Mobypicture platform) to come up with a claim. We didn’t cave in.
But here's the thing. I knew that going to court would mean double the costs of just paying the invoice we received. We had to hire an attorney and invest time in preparation.
We won the case and the judge decided that Gorissen had to pay the liquidation costs of the case, not the costs for our defence. The liquidation costs are based on the ruling and amount to 200 euro. Gorissen did his own defence at court, so it didn’t cost him anything. It was during the week, so maybe he had to take some hours off from his work, or a sick day. He probably didn’t tell his employer about his side endeavour, but that is pure speculation from my end.
The judicial system is there to help us, but in some twisted way, we stood up, we defended an outrageous claim, we won but in the end it cost us time and money. Doesn't feel like justice. Just energy wasted.
Update - september 11th 2017
This morning I got an email from a cop. He asked me to call him.
Bram Gorissen went to the police and filed charges against me. :)
Right after I published the article about the justice system I received an email from him in which he said that it was fine to publish the article but he would like me to delete his name from it. I sarcastically replied "Yeah sure, if you take care of all our costs!"
I had to explain that this was a joke over the phone to the cop and that I'm not after Bram Gorissen his money.
I told the cop that I wrote the article for two reasons, one to influence change in the system, so that entrepreneurs are not aggrieved by bullshit lawsuits, but also to warn people against the person Bram Gorissen and that therefor his name is important in the blog.
During the trial he told the judge that there were over 20 websites which hosted the picture and he was sending all of them invoices. He settled with a few and told the judge he was preparing other cases.
Justice for me would mean that he, Bram Gorissen, repaid the settled invoices to the aggrieved websites, drops all the cases and donates the money he cost the judicial system (and Mobypicture and now also the law enforcement system) to a charitable cause. Until then, I'm not very enthusiastic to take down his name.
Update - september 19th 2017
The story continues. Bram Gorissen send me an email with a new invoice on Friday. He claims that I used his funny picture in this blogpost. The invoice is for € 3450.
I did a search on Google with the words "trein limburg ov chipkaart" and created a screenshot from the results. He now claims that this result page is his. I also used a screencap from a YouTube video from the train from the NS YouTube account as the cover image. He also claims that that still image is a derivative of his 'work'.
Kindly Bram also offers me a discount so I only have to pay € 1200.
I guess Bram Gorissen's email was meant sarcastically and should not be considered as blackmail as someone without any sense of humour might interpret it.