Saturday, March 08, 2008

Begging Forgiveness

image copyright rlphotographyOn of the funnest and most popular memes I did recently was the Rock Album Cover meme that combined a band name, an album title and a Flickr image for a cover. The image is taken from a group of highly rated photos. Most of these pictures are from professional photographers and carry a copyright. The photo that got selected for me was by Roland Lacson of rlphotography. About a month after I posted the meme, I got this message through Flickrmail:
This has been brought to my attention, so I'll be civil here & hope you understand that I have every right as to the reason for this message. This is in regards to MY Image ( River Rocks #4) you posted on your site @ W/O MY PERMISSION! I don't appreciate it & am disturbed. Taking into account that at least you had the decency of crediting me, I'm still disappointed that you disregarded what I clearly & specifically stated on my profile, I mean were adults here so just put yourself in my shoes...
Sure enough. On his profile page is this disclaimer:
Not a lot of ambiguity there and I’m definitely in the wrong here. I sent back this apology and explanation:
I apologize for my unauthorized use of your copyrighted image. I have removed the image from the blogpost in question.

Intellectual property rights and the protection of creative work in the digital age are frequent themes on my blog and I was wrong to use your image without seeking your permission.

I used it as part of an internet “blog meme” where bloggers made mock-ups of fictitious album covers as a creative exercise. Your picture was randomly chosen from a pool of the highest rated images on Flickr, of which you should be rightly proud. I and several of my readers and fellow bloggers expressed concern that the “rules” of this game tended to select possibly infringing images. At least one other participant found a way to do the task by only using images available under a Creative Commons license that allow non-commercial derivative work.

My only rationalization (and it is pretty weak) is that my use of your work has no commercial value to you, me, or any third part and can’t possibly have affected any potential revenue for you. I would like to know how you became aware of my blog and if you would have done so if it weren’t for my clear crediting of your work.

I realize that I have destroyed any potential goodwill between us by not asking your permission in advance, but I would like to restore the image to that one blogpost as credited under the clear understanding that it remains your intellectual property. Please let me know if this is acceptable to you.

You did ask me to put myself in your shoes. I am a hobbyist photographer and blogger and make no money from my publicly posted pictures and written works. I have, on admittedly rare occasion, been asked for permission to use my works on other websites (and in one case a printed book) and have always granted permission provided I am credited and linked to. I understand that your standing as a professional artist would cause you to have a different reaction to circumstances under which I would have been flattered rather than outraged.
He replied with this:
Appreciate the gesture & I accept your apology. Regardless of usage be it commercial or non, it is common courtesy to seek permission for something that does not belong to you, by nature I have no problem if my image is used as long as I'm asked first & equally important given the info as to what purpose & due credits (Which I Acknowledged), that's all.

So in light of your sincere message, your request to have the image reposted to your blogpost is hereby granted.
I appreciate the cooperation of Mr Larson and have endeavored to follow his advice. It’s not always easy but it is what’s right.

Next Post: Asking Permission

BlatantCommentWhoring™: What would you have done if you were in his shoes?


Jeff and Charli Lee said...

Wow, you humored him way beyond what I would have bothered with. I think my response would have been much more brief. Something like "pfhhhhhhht!"

Elizabeth said...

Maybe he didn't like that his picture was above the title "The Subject of Cheese"? But then again, like you said, it brought a lot of attention to his photo.

Thumper said...

Eh...people use stuff from Psychokitty all the time. As long as credit is given, it's cool. Well, if it's already been online...I'd be ticked if someone posted text from his books without permission.

The guy might have been right, but you weren't making money off his image, and some things aren't worth getting bent over.

Dave2 said...

If I were him I would have thought "hmmm... maybe I shouldn't bury my "PLEASE DO NOT USE WITHOUT PERMISSION" notice on my profile page, and add it to the description of all my images where people can find it."

If you put an image on the internet, it's going to be used and abused. Expecting anything else is unrealistic. If that's going to send you in a tizzy, then perhaps you shouldn't put your images on the internet to begin with.

All I ever ask is that people credit me for what they take, and my Creative Commons license is on every page requesting this. That's a relatively realistic expectation for something put on the internet.

That being said, I get stuff taken without credit on a near-daily basis. If I freaked out every time it happened, I'd be dead. Maybe it's healthier to just be happy somebody likes your work well enough to bother looking at it at all?

yellojkt said...


Your comment really comes closest to how I really feel. I'm glad to hear that attitude from someone who is a creative genius on the web. And I would never borrow from you without giving credit.

G-man said...

While he has a clear right to his images, he should be more protective of them if he doesn't want someone else to copy them. I second Dave2's remarks. Anyone who posts their own work and doesn't want them used should provide clear notice along with the posting, not buried in a profile.

The Mistress of the Dark said...

Maybe I wouldn't post my photos on the internet if I didn't want them to show up elsewhere. I think it's a huge compliment to find someone using a photo of mine for something or other. After all Flickr is a sharing network and being like that kinda defeats the purpose of sharing.

People need to get lives. It's even worse with people that take concert photos for certain bands. I have some horror stories on that account.

Anonymous said...

Nice avatar, G-man!

I thought the entire exchange was civil, and I would have responded as he did.

We don't always have much control over what of ours (or about us) appears on the Internet. For example, when I google myself I bring up dozens of copies of the same article, in different locations, where someone added my name in the acknowledgments even though I disagreed with the premise of the article. Would love to get that removed. As I would the address of the home I bought and live in, but it's public record.

Sorry for the digression. Since we don't always have control, it's nice to give the other person the benefit of the doubt when we do.