Before anyone goes and congratulates me on how beautiful this photograph is, I’d like to direct your attention to the photographer actually captured and edited the image.
Bravo Zsolt Zsigmond! Well done sir.
So why am I posting this photo and not one of my own today? I’m glad you asked.
It seems that another photographer by the name of Danny Xeero (AKA Danny Tan) decided that it was ok to steal Mr. Zsigmond’s photo and sell it as his own… or at least half of it.
“Stealing is stealing. I don’t care if it’s on the Internet or you’re breaking into a warehouse somewhere – it’s theft.”
So how do you steal half a photograph? In this case Mr. Xeero used the sky from the above original photograph and photoshopped it into an image of his own from New Zealand.
Nice dramatic shot, right?
What a shame he had to steal another photographer’s work to create the image. What’s even worse — in my opinion — is the fact that Mr. Tan has a lot of very nice work of his own. At least I think it’s his work. After this debacle I’m not so sure I believe that all of his work is 100% his own imagery. If most (or all) of Mr. Xeero’s other photography on his website is his own art, then I really scratch my head and wonder why he felt it necessary to rip off a fellow artist. The man obviously has talent. What he certainly does not possess is good judgment and if one wanted to go further you can certainly question his ethics.
“A stiff apology is a second insult… The injured party does not want to be compensated because he has been wronged; he wants to be healed because he has been hurt.”
~Gilbert K. Chesterton
The composite image that features the two blended shots was originally posted on July 28 and it was only after Mr. Zsigmond discovered the image blatantly posted on 500px (the image was removed on August 6) and wrote about it on Google+ that the offending image was removed from Xeero’s Google+, Facebook, and 500px accounts where it had gone quite viral and received thousands of likes, shares, and comments. What makes this even worse is the fact that Xeero a gallery called The Camera Museum is showcasing his work including the stolen image. Not only was Xeero using the image and claiming it as his own, he was attempting to sell copies of it without compensating or crediting Mr. Zsigmond.
After Zsigmond wrote about the theft on Google+ Xeero came out with a less than heartfelt apology on Facebook.
“A public apology to all the people”
I am sure most of you would know by now for the mistake I made on my latest image titled, “The Poseidon” in which I stole an image (the sky) of a photographer (from Google Images) who goes by the name Zsolt Zsigmond(https://www.facebook.com/RealityDream.photography) and composite it in one of my images. I take full responsibility for my action and I sincerely apologise to all of you for letting you down too with this one mistake. What is important is that the photographer whose image I had used has forgiven me for what I had done and that is what matters the most.
Having said that, I would like to be clear on some facts about my work too. This is the FIRST and LAST mistake I will EVER make. The rest of my work is Authentic and if it were not, they would’ve been taken down a long time ago.
However, this incident has also given me the opportunity to realise who are true friends and who stood by my side after I admitted to my mistake.
For those who can`t accept my mistake & apology, please feel free to unfollow,unfriend,un-circle me.
While many of Tan’s friends came to his defence in the Facebook comments following his apology it was noticed that several negative comments were deleted to make it appear that the overall reaction was positive. As the negative comments became more numerous, Xeero relented and left them there.
I find a few things about the apology to be quite unapologetic. Saying that if his work was not authentic he would have taken it down a long time ago seems rather disingenuous. Especially considering the fact that not so long to go (last week) he was doing the opposite and uploading non-authentic images, promoting them all over social media and attempting to sell fine art prints of the combined images. Saying that he knows who his friends are is a bit odd to me. What do stealing images and friendship have to do with each other?
To me the last sentence sounds very sarcastic and not a fitting way to sound contrite.
“Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.”
Many of the comments in support or defence of Tan talked about his “courage” and “integrity”. There is no courage on admitting that you did something wrong after you get caught red-handed and outed. The courageous thing would have been to admit you had done something wrong before getting caught, apologize sincerely, and make reparations to the offended party. People using the word integrity in this situation clearly need the dictionary definition read to them.
As many of you know I have written several articles on my blog about copyright in photography and this is a subject that is dear to me. You can find links to all the articles on photography copyright issues in the sidebar of my blog to the right-hand side. If you’re looking to protect yourself as a photographer I suggest reading the interview with Joe Naylor the CEO of Imagerights. Joe is a fountain of knowledge about the subject and his company is doing great things to help photographers protect themselves from copyright violators.
All too often these kind of image copyright violations go unreported or are not pursued. Many people are afraid to be the one to take a stand and call an artist out for stealing work and claiming it as theirs. By turning a blind eye to these infringements it only encourages other people to do the same in the future. I’m puzzled by the people who are defending Xeero. Sadly all the puclicity in this debacle is going Xeero’s way and what we need is more people sharing and publicizing Zsolt Zsigmond’s work. On that note…
Facebook: Follow me on Facebook
Deviant Art: Realitydream.deviantart.com
Red Bubble: www.redbubble.com/people/realitydream
Fine Art America: fineartamerica.com/profiles/1-zsolt-zsigmond.html
I’m curious to hear what you think and I won’t delete any comments. Please keep the discussion civil.
For more articles on © please check out the following posts:
Michael Woloszynowicz says
Excellent post Ken. Nice to see this permanently etched into history for all the web crawlers to feast on. The only thing I wish is that we had the original description that Danny attached along with the photo when he posted it. He went on about how incredible the scene was and how lucky he got, how he saved the best image for last, etc, etc. The description really drew me into the image even more and it all turned out to be one big fraud.
At least swift justice was done thanks to the photography community that came together and exposed and shared this with so many others. I can’t see anyone taking Danny seriously from this day forward and it frankly tarnishes his entire past catalogue. That should be punishment enough.
Gordon Chiam says
I don’t quite like his public “apology”, especially the last two paragraphs. I don’t see any sincerity in his apology.
Inge Hartgerink says
The word/term ‘a mistake’ in the apology is so strange, copying, pasting, processing and publishing are deliberate actions, not just a mistake, and go against everything a serious photographer stands for and against all copyright and intellectual property rights. And like you, I can’t understand why a good photographer would need or even think about using other people’s photo material
Russ Bishop says
Great post Ken! It’s unfortunate that the “everything’s free on the internet” mentality permeates our society, but stealing is stealing and just because today’s tools make it easy doesn’t make it right.
Joe Meirose says
Really sad and irritating…it’s as if one of our own has betrayed us. I won’t be a hypocrite, I unfriended him on all social media fronts. I just can’t accept the context of his apology as a ‘mistake’ and continuing to support his work would, to me, be condoning it.
Jimmy McIntyre says
Well said Ken. I spoke to Danny about this a week ago and urged him to apologise publicly – advice he chose to ignore. His belated response was nothing more than damage control.
Peter Parkorr says
He’s shameless, clearly. Is he even a real person, has anyone met him? He might just be a fictional profile entirely created from stolen images.
Anyway, a fitting justice would copying all his remaining images and selling them on a new site with profits going to a copyright campaign fund or similar.
Has anyone pointed out he should change his name to Danny Xerox?
Ben Canales says
1. Thanks Ken for taking the time to bring clarity to this. I’ve been wondering what the hub-bub was about all this.
2. My first reaction is “F that guy”
Theft of work is NEVER ok, and for him to be selling the composite is the step that officially goes to far. IMO, he is clearly in the wrong.
3. My second reaction after reading your blog is, “This is getting blown way out of proportion to the situation. My comment is only going to add to the inflation.” But, Ken, you asked me, so I’ll throw a few thoughts out.
4. Danny is probably getting SLAMMED with hate messages/comments and I’m sure the # of that volume isn’t equal to the offense done. But, that’s the nature of “going viral” and he is unfortunately going negatively viral. This is a big reason for my initial hesitation to join the conversation. One guy stole a picture and composited it into one of his. End of story.
In the big scheme of things- this is small potatoes.
He isn’t a marketing director for a major corporate ad campaign.
He didn’t fake a winning photo for a major photo competition.
He didn’t throw a basket of kittens off a skyscraper into traffic.
He doesn’t deserve the volume of ire that has risen up against him.
But, in the big scheme of things, he is the wrong person doing the wrong thing at the right time. He is bearing the online community frustration for all theft done. This is unfair.
5. In regards to his reply- it certainly seems he copy/pasted comments. But HEEEYYYY EVERYONE!!! ENGLISH IS NOT HIS FIRST LANGUAGE!!! I’m saying this loudly, because as Amercians that’s how we talk to people when they don’t speak our language and they don’t understand what were saying. WE REPEAT IT LOUDLY.
So, again, first, yes, I thought he was scum to copy replies.
But, second, he just posted a frustrated vent of not being able to convey his feelings in his first language.
Maybe we should all learn his language and hear what he really wants to communicate.
Maybe copy/paste replies is the best way he thought to share replies that mirrored what he actually felt.
I speak english and a few words of other languages. I would be terrified to defend myself in court in a language that wasn’t my first.
Let’s all take a breath and stop beating his door down. The guy is struggling to translate his feelings.
6. In the end, Danny got his public flogging- everyone put the torches and pitchforks down and let’s all take up a big celebratory high five to instead be pumped up that our online community is self policing. In the massive world of internet posting- one person’s theft was seen and corrected. Internally justice has been done and our fragile online ecosystem has proven to be more robust then we fearfully think it isn’t.
So, Ken, good job to you. Everyone else involved bringing this to public attention- good job to you.
500px for pulling the image down- good job to you.
Danny, you f’d up. Go sit in the corner for awhile and then we will guardedly let you come back and play with everyone.
To everyone else- if you’re drafting a hate/blast message to Danny and you have no connection to him or the photographer whose content was stolen- stop typing. I’m sure he’s gotten enough hate mail and doesn’t need yours.
7. Go back to work and make something pretty, cool, and inspired.
Live in positive intentions and don’t dwell on someone else’s f-up.
Ken Kaminesky says
Thanks for chiming in Ben.
I appreciate your insight into the matter and while I agree with you on several points I do not agree on the small potatoes statement. He may not be a marketing director, fake a winning photo for a contest, or murder countless cute kittens. However, he is a photographer… One of us. While he may not deserve the volume of negative attention he is getting on this, he certainly does not deserve a pass or to be called a courageous person with integrity.
I don’t personally know Danny but yet I feel that he has betrayed the community and the profession by doing what he did. Like I said on Facebook, I am far more disappointed than I am outraged.
Regarding the copy and pasting of the apology and English not being Danny’s first language, would it not have been easy for Danny to get one of his many English-speaking friends to help him craft a more sincere apology? He had over a week to do so.
I hope that nobody goes so far as to leave hateful email or messages for Danny publicly or privately. I’m hoping that people remain levelheaded and classy in their comments and opinions.
My goodness, that’s no apology at all, just a bunch of formalities!! I agree with Inge: that is no mistake, it’s a deliberate act with full acnowledge of the implications, with the diference that this time he was caught. If he hadn’t, he wouldn’t have said any of these “nice” words. I haven’t seen the rest of his work but I trust you when you say it’s beautiful, but someone capable of doing this is not trustworthy to me. I don’t think he has quite realized how much this has damaged his professional image and saying just “if you don’t like it unfriend me” sounds very arrogant. Either he has done it before and knows nothing really happens, or he really trusts that much in the transitoriness of things on the internet.
Kevin Newsome says
Nice post. I watched (and participated in the discussion) recently when a very high profile “photographer/instructor/mentor” was also caught red-handed copying and pasting several (and by several I mean two dozen or more) blog posts into his own blog without any credit to their original authors – facebook status updates (from humorous status websites) – and even his own “about me” bio (stolen from an attorney’s website). He sat back and accepted all the accolades, likes, and adoration of his fan base for being “so funny, so clever, so inspirational” over and over (and by over and over, I mean over a two year period minimum). When finally outed, he came forth with a weak apology for his “mistake” and also blamed it on a phantom “copyrighter.” He never once owned up to it, yet received undying support for his “courage and integrity” in comment after comment by those who support him. It was disheartening to see the shear number of people who blindly accepted his plagiarism as petty and scolded those who spoke up against it. “It’s only words folks, It’s not like he was stealing pictures!” Uhmmm, yes, yes it was exactly like he was stealing pictures. The Internet… makes you want to just shake your head and reset technology back to about 1985 all over again.
Daniel N. says
This has been an interesting event to follow in the past 24 hours.
The problem here is that Xeero used the image of another photographer, to enhance his own. Not only did he not ask permission (or licensed it), but he used it and promoted it (and even got it in a gallery) without hesitating.
This is called image theft.
Sometimes it happens that an amateur uses an image without real knowledge of photographer rights and copyrights, but this is an established professional photographer who did it. He had no excuse.
And now, when looking at his beautiful gallery, one just can’t completely trust that ALL images are his, even if he claims it publicly.
Some might say this is blowing out of proportion. Maybe so, but the reason for it is not just the theft, but the so-called apology that sounds more like an attempt to “save his ass” than to truly apologize and try to fix his mistake.
If he really was sorry, he wouldn’t have added a few snarky replies in his apology. Instead of really taking the blame, he tries to pass for a victim.
So because we pointed out that he stole an image and didn’t defend him, we are not his “friends”? Sorry but most photographers don’t want to be friends/associated with image thieves anyway.
Photographers already struggle to keep making a good living and the industry is dragging prices down (because everyone has a camera yo!), so having other established photographers stealing away freely is like backstabbing your own profession.
Brian RUeb says
This is a shame. I think we’ve all been to some really cool places where the sky didn’t quite cooperate, and we felt extremely disappointed that we spent the time and money to come to a location, only to have it fail to live up to our desired intent. I think in this age where we have so much creative freedom to work with images after the fact, it’s seems a simple solution for this photographer would be to keep a folder of sky shots on hand for just such occasions. I mean for ever cool location I have been to where the sky did not cooperate, I’ve been to some really AWFUL spots where the sky was nothing short of amazing. Seems that using a sky from one of HIS shots would’ve been the way to go. Then the only option would’ve been how much the photographer wanted to divulge on the post-processing he used in the final image.
I think acquiring a nice sky image of your own is quite an easy thing to do, and worse case scenario, it might take a week to get one if that were your sole intention. I get the overall feeling that this was not the only time that it has happened…merely the only time he was caught.
Landscape photography is a tough gig for sure, and the more photographers we get in the field the harder it is to find original images, and putting up photos that will generate ‘likes’ and ‘shares.’ It’s sad when it gets to this point that someone will steal another photo to help push that process. I liken it to stand-up comedy in a way. There are certain generic topics everyone covers (dating, jobs, etc.) In a way many comedians are going to have some slightly different version of the same premise. We all have shots of valley-view in Yosemite, or the Grand Canyon, but they are twisted slightly to our style and vision. What this photographer has done is the equivalent of stealing a joke word-for-word, and passing it off as his own. This kind of behavior is a huge black mark in the comedy world, and I think it should carry similar weight in the photography world.
I’m glad that the photographer apologized, that’s more than many photographers who have their work stolen receive. Photography is global in its scope now, and if someone 2,300 miles away steals your work…they are in a way doing so because they know the difficulty that would be involved with the offended party seeking financial compensation. If the photographer were sincerely sorry, I think he should’ve offered up to pay for the use of the image at that photographers’ rate.
I’ve had people steal my images before, and apologize…but I tell them, “while I accept your apology, unfortunately that doesn’t pay the bills…and this image has already been used…thus it needs to be paid for.”
Joe Azure says
Well-said Ken….. Also, thank you to everybody who has chimed in with comments here as well – I like a good conversation :)
I have been following this for a few days, and when I shared Zsolt’s post yesterday morning, I was not surprised by the majority of the reactions that I saw. Of course most people are going to be ticked-off at what he did. And as with anything else, some people are going to be more vocal and extreme than others as they comment and talk about it.
I do have to say that reading some of the comments related the original posts, AND comments related to Danny’s apology, has allowed me to develop more fully-formed opinions of many people…. both good and bad opinions :)
Good for Danny for owning up to what he did. That is better than ignoring it and hoping that it will go away. I hope that he and Zsolt are able to resolve things – but that is their issue, and I have no place in it. It makes me glad that situations like this can be brought out into a global forum via the internet where they can be discussed and saved forever :) I have learned a lot – I hope others have too.
MIchael PA says
The whole concept of stealing someone else’s art is disgusting to me. In this case, the photographer got caught, and hasn’t really done a good job of apologizing or making reparations by any means in my opinion. However I don’t know what he’s said to the original owner, so might be wrong and accept that. It’s not an object he stole, its someone’s hard work, passion and artistic touches that he stole, and that’s before getting into the fact that he tried to sell it as his own work to a high end gallery.
Makes me sick.
For the Instagram generation, it is common to use another person’s photograph and add to it, or alter it in some way – I have been asked twice to “loan” an image to a stranger. The finished product is presented as a “collaboration” and both photographers’ names appear under the image. I see this all the time. Unfortunately Mr. Xeero used an image without asking or giving credit, and is now receiving very public humiliation. When I checked him out I noticed that 1) He looks to be about sixteen years old 2) He lives in Malaysia (Therefore has no excuse for stealing other’s landscape imagery– where as if he lived in El Paso, TX I might cut him some slack). I hope Mr. Xeero learns from his mistake before his surname matches his self-esteem.
Richard Wong says
What a shame. I remember seeing this photo a while back and was impressed, until reading this. People seem to forget (or never understand) these days that what makes amazing landscape photography amazing is that sometimes amazing scenes are actually seen and captured by the photographer. Photoshop can do crazy stuff but one thing it can’t do is provide the experience of actually witnessing something special. I think someone like this is more concerned with aesthetics than of actual experiences.
The guy is obviously only sorry that he got caught. His use of the damage control term “mistake” is what lots of people do these days. What he did was not a mistake, a mistake is giving someone the wrong size print, theft is not giving someone their print. Taking other people’s stuff off the Internet like he did is theft, theft is a crime and he willingly and knowingly committed a crime. I would prefer to see the other party on a case like this take legal action for damages as this would be appropriate in the case of criminal theft. This guy got caught wilfully “stealing” as a professional and should be treated accordingly to set an example for everyone. Sorry to sound harsh but standards need to be enforced and respected.
Jared Ropelato says
Great write up Ken. Interesting story to follow, and a little sad all the way around. Glad some light is being shed.
Emily Bristor says
I have to disagree with this statement: “There is no courage on admitting that you did something wrong after you get caught red-handed and outed. The courageous thing would have been to admit you had done something wrong before getting caught.”
No. The thing to do is to not do the thing that is wrong. He knew it was wrong. He should never have put the image in front of anyone.
Elia Locardi says
Nearly every photographer who shares work online has considered that their images may at some point be stolen, downloaded, or otherwise used without permission. We’ve seen it happen countless times and we’ve all read posts about photographers who’ve had artwork stolen and/or used by others. Usually the theft is done by small time advertising companies, businesses, or random people on the internet that are just trying to get a few likes on Facebook.
What really struck me about this case with Danny is that the theft was done by a well known photographer who’s also a part of our very own online community; a photographer that I’ve also seen post about his own images being used without permission and his outward feelings of dismay at the situation.
The bottom line is that image theft should never be tolerated. The fact that it was done by a popular “social media” photographer makes it even worse. When you’re in the spotlight, you have a moral obligation to your following, an understanding that people look up to you, whether it’s for advice, guidance, or just photographic inspiration. The people who follow you are influenced by your words and actions and you must take responsibility for that. As a photographer, stealing an image and making it your own is one of the highest forms of hypocracy in the business and it cannot be justified.
Now, maybe me helping to bring this out publicly was a bit harsh. I can certainly see where people are coming from when they say that. BUT, consider that by letting these things slide off the radar we do nothing to promote the ethical responsibilities to the photography community at large. In addition, by not calling attention to these issues in a vocal and public way, we only encourage people, like Danny, to do it again since they can obviously get away with it. What message would we be sending to the online community then? That it’s ok to steal other people’s work because as long as you’re well known on Facebook, nobody will call you out?
Imagine if it was your photo that was used… How would you feel about it then? Would you want the online photography community to stand up for your rights? I know I certainly would.
Reg of The Spain Scoop says
It’s a real shame when this sort of theft happens. Whether it’s writing, or photos, or art, or music, it seems to me that there are enough ideas out there to be original, and not need to steal from others. One thing is finding inspiration in another artist’s work, which is not the same as taking his image and photoshopping it to be your own. I think the arts have enough trouble without fellow ‘creatives’ robbing each other’s work!
Ken, first of all thumbs up for writing this post and continuously making efforts to bring the topic of copyright infringements to pictures to the attention of fellow photographers and readers. Happy to also read that many people have the same point of view that this photographer has crossed the line big time, especially in this world where it becomes more and more difficult to protect your pictures online.
As a former intellectual property lawyer and photographer I have noticed the practical difficulties of protecting pictures online and taking action against infringers, but also the change in mindset of people as regards to stealing photos. Some people unfortunately just think it is ok, probably think it will not be discovered and will only apologize after they have been caught just because the community forces them. Question is if they will really stop. And of course, people in different parts of the world have different views on this topic, sometimes just caused by the fact that copyright laws are not really in place or enforced.
The damage for this case has been done, but how about future cases? Personally I think we as a community should also put effort in creating awareness that it is not ok to steal pictures, that when using pictures of someone else, you should at least acknowledge the original photographer (, or if he/she is unknown state this), but especially do not pretend they are your own and take commercial advantage of the photos made by someone else.
Than there is the matter of protecting your pictures better online yourself, which is something too little people are aware of, or don’t care until they are a ‘victim’ of copyright infringements themselves. Also that should be something to educate more people on in my opinion, e.g. be aware of social media forums and the ease others can download pictures from these forums. Of course with the technology of these days someone who really wants to, can still steal your pictures, but at least you can create some obstacles yourself.
Lucas Gilman says
I agree with many of your points and appreciate you bringing attention to the matter. I feel like this is just one case in millions of stolen images everyday and a highlight (or lowlight) for the blatant disregard for Intellectual Property we currently face as photographers.
Ever use http://www.tineye.com ? That will really scare you… See how many people blatantly stole your images with reverse image search.
Ken, thank you for posting this blog article and linking it from G+. and thanks to Elia Locardi for pointing me in this direction :)
Without all the facts and awareness, all I saw were Elia’s post about the theft and then a fairly quick public apology from Danny to his stream. With just that information (and after doing an image search on several of his images….and coming up with nothing), it seemed that he truly made a dumb mistake.
HOWEVER. After being brought to my attention the timing, the copy/pasting of someone’s comments on his apology, the last two paragraphs being a bit melodramatic and arrogant, and reading the comments on your G+ post…I can’t believe that he knew what he was doing, was trying to get away with it and was sorry that he got caught.
I do appreciate that this led to the discovery of Zsolt’s amazing work….but I think that from my standpoint, even as a super amateur photographer that’s still learning, it would never occur to me to steal someone else’s work (be it whole or a part) and make it my own, let alone try to profit from it.
Thank you for bringing this to our attention.
David Smith says
Thanks for posting this. I too am a travel photographer and have had my images stolen and published in online news magazines (last, in India). They even cropped out my copyright info.
Unfortunately in this case for Zeero bad publicity is better than no publicity; hopefully this will not be true in this case.
BTW Ken – I totally enjoy your Blog and images. Amazing stuff!
I developed a style of painting in realism in Martha’s Vinyard Mass
year’s ago. It was put in the front window of Kennedy Studios in Oak Bluffs. Three year’s later in Key West I found an artist who not only stole my painting by reproducing it, he stole the style and made his mark in the art world. Your apologies mean only that you got caught period. You and every thief and criminal look for absolution because why? You got caught stealing the struggle and sweat of other artist personal soul and spirit and calling it your own. How dare you look for forgiveness? Please don’t tell me you found Jesus. A thief,liar,murderer, robber, are all the same. Your sorry when your caught. Can you get my style back please? Of course not.It’s gone ,stolen by the likes of you. If you feel true remorse, stay out of the art world. You made your mark. Live with it.
Rick Hildebrandt. Artist.
Jarrod Chan says
Well said, Ken. Straight to the point. Stealing in any manner should not be condoned. The chinese have a saying “once dishonest, never dependable”. Now all his images have become suspect. How can we be sure, apart from checking his RAW images, whether the “sky” or the “sea” (skin) has not been cut from somewhere and “glued” together in photoshop ? :) As a Penangnite, I am sad that his dubious composite photograph have become associated with this beautiful island, through the Camera Museum, which does not see fit to suspend the exhibition of his works.
Jay Patel says
As with any other photographer I am against the theft. It is not acceptable especially to sell it as your own work. I have no doubt that the photographer knowingly and willingly tried get away with it. Coming clean was the only correct thing to do.
Now comes the question of apology….I for one am NOT willing to sit as a judge or jury about the motives and/or sincerity of the apology. We all make dumb choices and I know plenty of famous photographers to have done dumb things. I have made quite a few myself.
While this may not make me popular with you, here is my opinion: I am unwilling to throw stones at others as I am not quite perfect myself.
For me, for an apology to seem sincere it needs to be backed up by actions to make amends. Words are seldom enough. So, for example, “I’m sorry and here’s the money I received by selling this image plus 50% extra as a gesture of goodwill.” or “I’m sorry – and let me promote your work at an exhibition free of charge to compensate” or something like that.
I’m presuming that this is something that could be pursued through the courts but that the parties involved would (sensibly) prefer not to do that. So, acknowledging the severity of the “mistake” by making amends would seem to be to be a good solution.
And perhaps that’s what has happened after all – I certainly don’t know enough details about what happened. But it doesn’t seem to be the case from what I read here. It seems more the classic politician’s reply…”I’m sorry I got caught.”
Yeah, seriously… Great friends you have there if they don’t mind that you not only steal but try to make money off it. Why would that come up in your mea culpa anyway? What an awful, awful man. It was horrific enough, but his “apology,” half not even written by him as you pointed out in the Facebook screen-grab, makes it worse. I mean, at least TRY to explain yourself.
An awful, awful man?
I’ve only just become aware of this and have been reading through the comments. The most legitimate anger here is that of professional or semi-pro photographers (like myself) who work ethically for somewhere between ‘no’ and ‘not enough’ money. It is theft and he got caught. Good.
Then comes the witch hunt. Please, let’s not even pretend that the internet is a ‘classy’ place when something like this goes viral. Many of the attacks are pure ad hominem and ridiculously overblown.
This guy is going to have to slink away, lick his wounds and in all probability re-engineer his web presence. That’s a punishment that fits the crime by any reasonable measure. Legally, the matter seems to have been resolved between the two photographers directly involved.
very disappointed by the lack of understanding of copyright by this post.
what you have is not property, and was not stolen. you are given a state-granted monopoly privilege to be the exclusive producer of copies (and derivatives) of a particular good, (i.e. u have a monopoly to print it at the cost of anyone else who could print it) and this privilege last only 14 years (originally) and just as recently as the 70s, can be removed from you if you did not affix the correct name/address/expiry_date/contact_detail, the familiar c in a circle symbol on the cover, if a single one of those were incorrect, you lose your copyright privilege. not to mention that before 1972 in the US, copyright was not automatic. you had to pay a fee to get it.
Everytime you repeat the enemy’s language, a piece of human freedom just crumbles and dies. we should not rely on myths about copyright, we should learn the truth.
Rena Pearl says
Brilliant post. As a professional photography, copyright is very close to my heart, I certainly would not have accepted such a shallow so called apology, I would be suing for breach of copyright.
I have to say that personally, I do not like the composite image. It looks fake, and the sky does not go with the foreground.
I think Abi makes a truly excellent point in her comment that it’s akin to a politician’s response: “I’m sorry I got caught.” He doesn’t seem to be actually sorry.
It’s sad this keeps happening in photography because to me it is 100% clear what’s right and what’s wrong. This isn’t a gray area, it’s very black and white.
Thanks for working so tirelessly to protect photographer’s rights, Ken.
Ken,as always thanks for sharing this info and getting some great discussion going. It’s clear the photographer who stole this image was in the wrong. I can see reasons for people doubting the sincerity of his apology too. But what strikes me the most is that he even thought this was an option. For so many years we have seen people (non-photographers) steal the images of photographers for their own gain. As a group (us photographers) have been severely harmed financially by these people. But the environment we find ourselves in now is one where a photographer would steal from his own “family”. I simply find it to be a sad reality that we have come to this point.
Hi! I am the author of @Happyness_blog and thank you for sending the invitation to your blog! This is an amazing work that you are doing! Keep up the good work!
Rajiv Chopra says
This is a difficult question, considering it is no longer about photography. It’s about creating an image. While I believe that you should create an image with all your own photographs, there is a point of view out there that says a photo-illustration need not be all your own work. In pretty much the same way as a DJ can mash-up different soundtracks and audio files to create a piece of music all his own.
In that case, you’re not a photographer. You are a collage artist.
Michael Flaherty says
If someone does not use their real name online I wonder right away about them. Said the guy that on some forums (the ones that tend to get nasty) I use a nickname. I just learned about this. Since I sorta like 500 px I am not happy. I always wonder why I get followed by so many people who don’t upload photos to 500 px. This guy has gotten his public flogging. He deserved it; I disagree with B. Canales that he did not deserve it.
This is typical of many in this age (he’s very young). They seem to think that rationalizing things away is how to “come clean”. If anybody thinks it’s okay to combine your image with another (from another place in the world) and put it up as real landscape photography, they do not understand the art of photography or the genre of landscape. If anybody actually steals the image of another there is really no hope for them. You can forgive them all you want, but if they did it once they’ll do it again. That is how people are. They are either raised right or they aren’t. Zebras do not change their stripes. I know it sounds harsh but that’s how life is. If you don’t think so perhaps you are rationalizing and lying to yourself.
I find things like this infuriate me whilst at the same time pitying the person – what a drab and unemotional world they must inhabit to feel the need to steal and cheat rather than taking the time to learn.
I have started getting more serious about my photography and I go to great lengths to try and improve my art. There are physical, mental and financial costs and each is a challenge unto itself. I’m 40 years old, a mature student studying counselling with psychology. I also suffer from a mental illness but I make sure that I do as much as I can to make sure that it disrupts my life as little as possible. And in doing that, photography plays an enormous part. I learn a little slower than most people but luckily, i actually enjoy the whole learning process – picking up new information that enables you to perform better at your art is a wonderful thing and for myself, the feeling of accomplishment is enormous, especially when i might have been trying to take a certain photo for weeks without having success.
Usually, I like to go on forums and ask other photographers for advice or maybe I’ll read some photography blogs, all in the hope that they provide insight at teach me how to improve my art.
Taking someone elses art and claiming it as ones own – I find it despicable. It is lazy, rude, arrogant and, well, just WRONG – it’s THEFT. If he/she is doing it to make money that is even worse.
I dream of being a professional photographer but I’m a realist too. With that in mind, I’m happy to stand around in muddy fields trying to get that perfect gloomy landscape shot – it WILL happen one day although it’s surely going to be easier once I can afford a tripod! Haha! :) I guess what I’m saying in a roundabout way is, our art, photography, is worth suffering for and doing things the hard way because we learn so much and the results can be astounding. And that is priceless. :)
Vinay Bobade says
WOW!!! such a wonderful Pic r this. i salute u. i really like this.
Best holiday destinations says
Great!!!!write up Ken. Interesting story to follow, and a little sad all the way around. Glad some light is being shed.
Make one mistake like this, ruin your reputation for life … HUGE lesson.
Anon e mouse says
recognise one of the lovely images on this site ?
Dominic Kinkaid says
I hear this happens a lot at Fine Art America. So much so that I wrote a blog about it. All links were severed shortly after a few hours due to a cover up by Fine Art America. If you want to know where people are getting your art and posting it at. Read my blog. Also they had a guy over there that was posting art that wasn’t his name Jean Gabriel Poive and he died and they refuse to take it off the servers of google and are even adding more to it after the guy died. The images on google have been reported to them over and over and they refuse to remove them although they are stolen art. Anyway you can read all about it on my blog if you want to know the truth about where many of your artworks are going.