Unauthorized Photojournalism Images Turned Into Custom Smartphone Cases on Amazon

Copyright laws and moral decency come into question with disturbing smart device cases.

stolen war images
stolen war images
Stolen war images appear on smart device cases for sale on Amazon.

A gut-wrenching image of a lifeless child being carried away from the scene of a bomb blast appeared today, emblazoned on an iPhone case for sale on Amazon.

The image was originally shot by The New York Times photographer Tyler Hicks, who'd captured the it earlier this year. The photo had appeared on the front page of The Times.

The paper_ _did not grant permission for Hicks’ photograph to be used by these Amazon-authorized sellers, and most certainly not for an iPhone case.

Hicks is not the only photographer who has found his work appearing on unapproved Amazon products. Tomas van Houtryve, a photographer for National Geographic, also saw his award-winning photo being used for iPhone cases on Amazon.

Houtryve contacted Amazon in hopes that the roughly 50 cell phone cases illegally using his photograph would be removed. Instead, Houtryve was met with a barrage of automated messages, and no solution. As of now, it looks like the cases aren't coming up in search, so the publicity may have brought the issue to Amazon's attention.

In the search for his own photography being used on Amazon, Houtryve also found smart device cases using images of an Ebola patient and a Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 victim.

Houtryve continually contacted Amazon in hopes that these stolen, and disturbing images would be removed from the site, but the cases remained for sale. In a last attempt, Houtryve contacted the agencies of the fellow photographers whose work was also used illegally.

Since it appears that the cases are being fulfilled by a third party source, the chain of responsibility gets a bit muddy. While Amazon is providing the store front for the products, they're not actually the seller. The whole thing can get pretty tricky. That said, it's important to make this distinction, as we've seen some people saying, "Amazon is stealing images," which just isn't the case.

While the copyright infringement issue is both frustrating and illegal, the use of these saddening and raw images for entertainment purposes may be far more disturbing.

From: PBS

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