Selfie time! Knesset member Itzik Shmuli holds the camera as he takes a selfie with Reuven Rivlin, center, and Meir Sheetrit during Tuesday's presidential voting (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Selfie time! Knesset member Itzik Shmuli holds the camera as he takes a selfie with Reuven Rivlin, center, and Meir Sheetrit during Tuesday’s presidential voting (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)


Jerusalem – While Israeli lawmakers hope to sidestep claims that they violated the law by using copyrighted photographs without permission, President Reuven Rivlin issued a public apology for his own misuse of an image taken by a photo agency.

The Times of Israel reported that Flash 90 reached out to the Knesset House Committee in November, alleging that more than 20 Knesset members had used hundreds of its photos illegally on social media and in other forums.  Under Israeli law, professional photographs belong either to the person who took them or the company that hired them to take those pictures.

Rivlin took to Facebook today with a formal apology writing that he had just recently learned about the issue. Rivlin noted that photographers, who earn their living through their images, have been having a difficult time with the issue of copyright infringement in the age of the internet.

“It is very easy to download a picture and use it, as if it had no owner,” wrote Rivlin.  “But every picture does have an owner, the photographer, for whom this is his art and his reputation. I wish to thank the talented photographer Gili Yaari who made me aware of this issue and to admit that I have done this myself on my Facebook page in one instance.  I want to voice my support for him and his fellow photographers on this very important issue.”

After failing to find a legal means to justify use of the contested photographers, Knesset House Committee head Yoav Kisch said yesterday that he wanted to modify existing laws to allow screenshots of photographs to be used without permission, albeit for non-commercial purposes.

Flash 90 uses a computer program to determine if its images have been used without permission. The maximum fine for copyright violations on photos is NIS 100,000, which comes out to approximately $278,000, per image.

An American freelance photographer who sued a French press agency and Getty Images for using pictures posted to his Twitter account after Haiti was hit by a massive earthquake in 2010 won a $1.2 million victory in 2013, the maximum award allowed by law, reported Reuters.

The pictures were taken by Daniel Morel and were provided to Getty Images by an editor at Agence France-Presse, ultimately making their way to the Washington Post and several television networks.

Morel also settled claims against the Washington Post, CBS, ABC and CNN for undisclosed amounts.

As reported by Vos Iz Neias