Tired of "aggregators" stealing his pics, a photographer sues

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

One photographer has had enough of a viral content site nicking his photos:

California-based photographer Jeff Werner has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the popular website ViralNova for publishing (and profiting from) his photos without his permission.

Exhibit B

Theft is not curation. Somewhere along the line, the arguments we made a decade ago about curation and aggregation being valuable service to the reader in an age of information overload got corrupted. The bastard offspring of those arguments are these “viral content” outfits, which are, essentially, indulging in wholesale content theft.

It’s not what we called aggregation, which existing in the spirit of pointing people to good things on the internet. These outfits are just lifting good things from the internet – and monetising them. I suspect – and hope – we’ll see more court cases like this – and some punitive victories from the courts.

Here’s a good rule of thumb if you want determine if you’re curating or stealing:

  • Are you just reproducing someone’s work? You’re stealing.
  • Are you quoting someone’s work, and encouraging people to check out the original? You’re curating.


You can see the full complaint at PetaPixel.

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.