Toyota Claims Ownership of Fan’s Photos

I’m going to take a break from the Charleston series to present this "breaking news" article:

There’s this website called Desktop Nexus that allows users to post photos for other people to use as their desktop images.  Apparently, Toyota recently decided to order Desktop Nexus to take down "all wallpapers that feature a Toyota, Scion, or Lexus."  Toyota has used a DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) notice to frame their demand, so they’re clearly claiming copyright over photos that contain those cars.

When pressed for clarification (since some photos could be legitimately infringing and some might not be), the site’s owner was told "all images featuring Toyota vehicles should be removed, even images with copyright belonging to others."  (He was also told that a specific identification of photos Toyota is claiming infringe on their copyrights would involve time that would be billed to Desktop Nexus – something that Toyota is legally obligated to do if they want to file a proper DMCA notice.)

According to Toyota, if I posted a photo of my Toyota automobile on here (or on my personal blog or anywhere else), Toyota could sue me for copyright infringement.  It wouldn’t matter that my car is completely my own (completely paid up).  Since Toyota once put the car together, they claim to own perpetual rights to how that car is represented photographically.

If Toyota gets away with this, where does it end?  Can Coke sue me if a coke can appears in a photo online without their permission?  Does Old Navy sue me because my photo subject happens to be wearing an Old Navy shirt while posing for a photo?

Here’s the article on

Look for a photo of my Toyota car to appear on this blog soon as protest.  I call on all Toyota car owners to post photos of their cars to join in the protest.  Non-Toyota car owners can snap a photo of the nearest Toyota car.  Be considerate, though, and don’t show anything "personally identifying" about the vehicle like license plate number.