Many people who contribute data to TroveStar ask about copyrights on imagery. They primarily want to use other peoples' imagery to illustrate examples of items in the TroveStar catalog. The rules and laws are complex, but this blog article will try to help clarify as best we can.
First off, TroveStar uses the 'Safe Harbor' mechanism for copyright protection. Lots of legalese here. In essence it protects both TroveStar and our contributors by giving any unhappy copyright holder an easy way to request a 'takedown' of copyrighted works. So if you use a picture taken by Sarah Jones as part of one of your TroveStar entries, Sarah simply needs to go to our takedown page and request a takedown. As long as we abide by folks requests to take down content, there will NEVER be a problem.
Next most importantly, TroveStar is a 'Reference' database. As such most usage of other folks imagery falls under the Fair Use doctrine. Specifically TroveStar exists as a source of information for scholarship and research and hence technically we can refuse to take down material on those grounds. 'Scholarship and Research' are specifically called out in Section 107 of the Copyright Act as being immune from legal action.
That being said, we are nice people and we don't press the Fair Use rule to fight takedown requests (although we could). The internet already has enough trolls.
Lastly, copyright law only allows a plaintiff to sue for damages. It is hard to imagine that we are 'damaging' anyone's business by using a photograph with a watermark on it. So imagine we did decide to fight a takedown and we went to court and we lost, we would simply have to pay someone the total amount of lost revenue incurred due to our use of someone else's text or photos. By copyright law, this must be quantified, and if it turns out that we are providing free advertising for someone else's business, the settlement amount for any such hypothetical silly lawsuit would be $0.00.
So if you are sweating using an image from eBay or elsewhere, don't. We got you covered.