A colleague drew my attention to the following article at the website of the Computer & Technik Magazin, which summarises a TV broadcast on 16 February 2008: http://www.heise.de/ct/tv/artikel/103344
For those of you who cannot read German, here's a brief summary: A couple in Germany, Marion and Folkert Knieper, have put together an online cookbook with lots of photos taken by Folkert Knieper, e.g. the sort of photos of food that teachers like to use in their worksheets, blogs and online worksheets. The online cookbook includes a lexicon and has lots of links to other sites - which puts it high on Google's hit list if you are doing a search. So you search (in German) for an image of tomatoes, carrots, a cup of tea, etc. You find the image in the cookbook and add it to your website, blog, or online worksheet. Now here's the catch. Folkert Knieper uses the image search facility in Google to find his own photos. Bingo! The photo that you have added to your website turns up. He then asks you to pay for it and takes you to court for breach of copyright if you refuse. In Germany the law on copyright is much the same as it is in the UK. If you take a photograph and publish it on the Web you automatically own copyright in the photo unless stated otherwise. Apparently, Folkert Knieper is making hundreds of thousands of euros out of this venture. Nice little earner, eh? It could catch on...
Selling digital photos is a growing business these days: