Last week a Facebook friend let me know that a photograph from my online review of The Bicycle Thief had been used by a major publication and put on their site. It was used to illustrate eating out in Halifax and was written by another food writer with a link at the very end to my blog. The company never contacted me about using my photograph.
As a result of the company’s swift action and apologies, I will not name them. As asked, they removed the photograph almost immediately.
That said, I want to make it clear that my photos and text are my property. A token link is not enough. For those curious, this is how the correspondence went:
My written complaint:
As nice as it is to have my photograph from The Bicycle Thief featured on your site with a link to my blog, you should have asked me for permission first. As a result, I request that you remove it.
I am normally very happy to share my photographs when asked for permission but to use my photograph as content for your online publication without consulting me first is wrong. Please take it down. I never agreed to let you use it.
We’re sorry to hear you’re upset about the photo of yours that appeared in our Food blog today.
With our blogs we always include links back to our photography sources whenever possible, and this has proven to be a source of traffic for those we link to. (In reverse, many bloggers have used our photos but have credited us and our photographers, and provided links back to…) Regardless, we’ve removed your photo from the post and hope you accept our apologies.
My response to their response (I did not think they “got” what I was trying to say)
Thank you so much for writing so quickly, I appreciate it.
I upload my photos to Flickr to try and ensure my copyright is not infringed:
All Rights Reserved appears on every page of my photos
I have never said no to anyone who has asked to use my photographs. I often get paid a little for their use, receive a complimentary copy of the publication or, at the very least, notification when the photograph has been used.
Would you do this to my written review of the restaurant? I fail to see the difference. My words and my photos should not be copied and pasted into any publication. I feel you are setting a very negative precedent.
I had no idea you used my photo until someone happened to send me the link which is just irresponsible. Had she not done so, I may have never of known. Please contact and ask the photographers for their permission and let them know you want to use the images. Just because it is easy to use other people’s content online, does not mean it should be done.
I am saddened by this. I am always very positive about people using my photographs and am really upset that such an important publication such as yours would do that. I would have much rather worked in co-operation and friendship than respond with shock and disappointment. Your print magazine is so impressive, I am sure you pay and credit your photographers. I see no reason why this is different other than it is easier to steal from me.
It does not matter in the larger scheme of things (stealing from anyone is wrong) but I am disabled. I make no money. I do this because I love it. My copyright is all I have.
Again, thank you for your quick response and removal of my photo. If you would like to use my photographs in the future, I would be happy to discuss it but do not do so without my permission.
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experience with us. Once again, you have our profuse apologies.
I hope this got them thinking about their policies. It amazes me that such a huge magazine, one that I sold way back when I worked at book stores, would do this. The ethics in their actions shocked me. I have had weirdos take my images and use profanity with them but a huge print mag stealing from an online blogger for their web site? Dumbfounding and painful. I used to work in publishing. You do not steal!
Such a shame, I would love to collaborate with others but by not contacting me, just taking my images and putting up a token link on another food writer’s post… It is just wrong.
That said, I do love sharing my photos on Pinterest. And, almost every time someone has asked to use my images, I have happily said yes and even spread the good news about it.
Work with me people because you sure as hell don’t want to screw with me.