Toyota Update: Carmaker Backpedals

On Sunday, I reported about Toyota claiming to own all photos containing Toyota automobiles.  I also posted the story to my photography forum (same one that the Wandering Gnome came from).  Someone there (in a roundabout way) got a response from Toyota’s legal department.  Here’s the response:

Response (XXXX) 11/18/2008 04:34 PM
Thank you for contacting Toyota with your comments and concerns regarding the use of vehicle images. The letter asking the DesktopNexus site to remove all images featuring a Toyota, Scion or Lexus vehicle was the result of mis-communication at Toyota, which we regret.

Copyright law protects the creative work product of artists, photographers, and other creators. Toyota respects these rights, including those of photographers who work with Toyota. Toyota purchases the rights to the images it posts on its sites, and welcomes public use of those images where we have the rights to give. However, this permission is limited to editorial or personal use, not commercial use, such as advertising any products or services. That’s because the photographers – not Toyota – retain the rights to any commercial use, and we cannot give permission to use those images for that purpose. In response the concerns raised by DesktopNexus, Toyota is working with photographers to determine what images may be used for non-commercial purposes, and what we can do to provide broader access.

We hope you will understand and appreciate the legal constraints we face.

Toyota also welcomes interested members of the public to use their own images or photography of Toyota’s vehicles, and we confirm that we have no objection to this use.

We appreciate your interest in our products.

Toyota Customer Experience

I am glad that they’ve backed down from the "all your car photos belong to us" stance, but their reply sounds too much like:

We found a couple of legitimately infringing photos on your site but rather than give you specifics we decided to be lazy and just order them all down. We figured you’d just roll over and take it, but then you had to spread the word. Now we’re facing a ton of bad PR so we’re going to limit our claims to just those originally infringing photos.

This is probably overkill now, but I took these photos intending to post them in protest of Toyota’s stance.  I don’t want them going to waste, so here’s my Toyota automobile.  (The dent was from someone in my office’s parking lot using my car as the signal that they backed up too far.)