x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Dubizzle in copyright wrangle

Classifieds website Dubizzle regularly carries adverts that breach copyright rules, claims Dubai-based photographer.

Gerald Donovan claims Dubizzle has republished his work without seeking permission.
Gerald Donovan claims Dubizzle has republished his work without seeking permission.

The classifieds website Dubizzle has come under fire for alleged breach of copyright.

A photographer claims it has republished his work more than 100 times without seeking permission.

Adverts posted on the site by property agents have featured an image of the Burj Khalifa, the rights to which are claimed by photographer Gerald Donovan, based in Dubai.

Mr Donovan claims, despite having sent more than 100 "take-down" notices to Dubizzle, the site continues to accept advertisements that feature his photograph.

"Dubizzle clearly just do not care. They think they can get away with continuing to accept [the] images," said Mr Donovan.

The going rate for the online use of an image is US$200 (Dh735), he said.

While all the adverts have now been taken down, he claims Dubizzle continues to accept ads featuring the image.

"They know specifically about this image because they've received so many take-down notices about it."

Dubizzle says it takes copyright seriously.

"This is an issue that every sizable user-generated content service across the world has to grapple with - Craigslist, Youtube, Flickr, Ebay, even Facebook," said JC Butler, the co-founder of Dubizzle.

He said Dubizzle complied with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act as outlined in US law, which states sites that rely on user-generated content are not responsible for the copyrighted material until they are made aware of it.

"Once they are made aware of it in the form of a 'take-down' notice, they must remove the offending content expeditiously," Mr Butler said.

"After taking down the content we notify the originator of the content and warn them of their liability.

"We have even suspended and disabled accounts of paying clients who have been repeat offenders"

But Mr Donovan claimed that approach meant Dubizzle continued to accept ads featuring his copyrighted photograph - and allegedly profiting from it by selling advertising space next to the posts.

"They're not doing anything proactive about it," said Mr Donovan. Mr Butler said it was impractical to screen all images submitted to the site for copyright breaches.

Stephen Jiew, a senior associate in intellectual property law at Al Tamimi & Company in Dubai, said copyright owners were offered protection under UAE law.

"Penalties for copyright infringement include incarceration, fines, compensation, confiscation, and destruction of the infringements."

However, he said the onus was on the copyright holder to prove ownership.

"He would need to establish his ownership claim over the work … A system of registration of copyright exists in the UAE, which would facilitate the burden of proof."

 

bflanagan@thenational.ae