12 April 2019Copyright

Chinese stock image site falsely claims copyright on black hole photo

A Chinese stock images provider, Visual China Group (VCG) has closed down its website after it was criticised for falsely claiming copyright on the first photograph of a black hole.

On April 10, shortly after the  European Southern Observatory released the black hole photograph, VCG put its own logo over the image and made it available for sale on its website.

“This is an editorial image. Please call 400-818-2525 or consult our customer service representative for commercial use,” said a caption for the black hole image on VCG’s website.

VCG later revised the note to say the black hole image should not be used for commercial purposes.

In a  statement yesterday, April 11, VCG apologised for advertising the image and said it revealed “weak links” in its management.

It said it was voluntarily closing its website while it carries out “rectification” and “improves the quality of content review”.

According to the ESO, the majority of its images are free to use under a creative commons licence.

Following the event, VCG’s shares slumped by the maximum 10% allowed,  Reuters said.

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