Richard Prince on Appropriating “The Catcher in the Rye”

The Catcher in the Rye, by Richard Prince

In 2011, Richard Prince republished a 500 run first edition of the classic JD Salinger novel Catcher in the Rye, under his own name. The reproduction was identical in every way except the author’s name was swapped from J.D. Salinger to Richard Prince.

The production value of the book was astonishingly high, a perfect facsimile of the original, right down to the thick, creamy paper stock and classic typeface. The text on the dust jacket—replete with the same iconic line drawing of the angry red horse—began, “Anyone who has read Richard Prince’s New Yorker stories, particularly A Perfect Day for Bananafish, Uncle Wiggly in Connecticut, The Laughing Man, and For Esmé–with Love and Squalor, will not be surprised by the fact that his first novel is full of children.” It was a dead-ringer through and through —not a word was changed—with the exception that the following disclaimer was added to the colophon page: “This is an artwork by Richard Prince. Any similarity to a book is coincidental and not intended by the artist.” Most shockingly, the colophon concluded with: © Richard Prince.

After the publication Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon interviewed Prince.

Kim Gordon: But what about the change, putting your name on the J.D. Salinger…

Richard Prince: Well, oh. That’s just a favorite book. I’m aware of the implications. It’s kind of the Disneyland of book publishing. You don’t mess with images from Disney. You don’t near it. And Catcher in the Rye is also on lockdown; it’s almost become an institution, it’s very sacred. It’s very rare to get a great first-edition copy.

I reread the book. If you have a book in your collection, it has to be a well-written book. I don’t collect books just because other people collect them, and I’m not going to have books in my collection if I think it’s badly written. Unless it’s deliberately bad or it has to do with the culture. I love deliberately badly written books. But when I reread Catcher I realized how contemporary the writing was, and then I was talking, I had the idea of putting it out again. And I think the idea of republishing Catcher, my contribution to that book was simply—and I know this is going to sound terrible, or maybe it’s not—but I just wanted to double the price.

Kim Gordon: To make it have the value you think it ought to have?

Richard Prince: Yeah, I just wanted to make sure, if you were going to buy my Catcher in the Rye, you were going to have to pay twice as much as the one Barnes and Noble was selling from J.D. Salinger. I know that sounds really kind of shallow, and maybe that’s not the best way to contribute to something, but in the book collecting world you pay a premium for really collectible books. I thought, we charged, I think on the book flap it’s $62. There’s a certain kind of adolescent thinking there that I can’t seem to get away from. And I don’t know if I should get away from it, but I certainly acknowledge that it might not be the most interesting way to contribute to the making of that particular object, but I like the fact that the price is twice as much. And it’s enough.


Photographers Upset By Instagram’s Change in Terms of Service

Update: Instagram just posted a blog post clarifying their intentions with their new TOS. More specifically it sounds as if they are going to be changing the wording on the controversial portion of their new TOS and strengthening your ownership rights over your photos. Seems like all the backlash was enough to make them back pedal on this one.

From Kevin Systrom:

“The language we proposed also raised question about whether your photos can be part of an advertisement. We do not have plans for anything like this and because of that we’re going to remove the language that raised the question. Our main goal is to avoid things likes advertising banners you see in other apps that would hurt the Instagram user experience. Instead, we want to create meaningful ways to help you discover new and interesting accounts and content while building a self-sustaining business at the same time.

Ownership Rights Instagram users own their content and Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos. Nothing about this has changed. We respect that there are creative artists and hobbyists alike that pour their heart into creating beautiful photos, and we respect that your photos are your photos. Period.”

Earlier today Instagram announced that they are changing their Terms of Service effective January 13th 2013.

The most controversial part of the change is outlined below:

“To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.”

Now I have no idea if Instagram actually plans on selling/licensing your photos or not — sometimes the lawyers get a hold of things like this and push the envelope too far with a TOS — but this change seems to go further to me than the typical giving up of rights to your photos for typical social media display purposes.

Facebook’s TOS by contrast reads:

“For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.”

While this appears functionally similar to Instagram’s, Facebook doesn’t actually mention so specifically the idea of selling your content and you getting zero compensation.

Google+’s TOS tends to provide photographers greater protection with a provision that your content there can be used for the “limited purpose of operating, promoting and improving our services, and to develop new ones.” Nothing about selling off your photos to third parties there, folks.

“When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones.”

Flickr takes it even one step further actually dedicating a specific blog post to this issue last year titled “At Flickr Your Photos are Always Yours.

This change today has upset a lot of photographers and content creators. The New York Times takes apart the new TOS here. Blogger Robert Wagner puts his view more succinctly in a blog post titled Goodbye Instagram and f*** you.

Personally speaking, I trust that Google will not sell my photos out from underneath me. I think their TOS is pretty clear about their limited scope of use. I applaud Flickr for taking it one step further with a blog post spelling out that you always own your photos on Flickr. Interestingly enough, even before this announcement I saw my first “I’m leaving you Instagram for Flickr” post this past weekend.

Wired has a post that shows you how to take your photos off of Instagram and delete your account.

Gizmodo seems to take a different view of this situation, calling folks concerned with today’s announcement whiny little babies.

What are your thoughts? Will you continue to use Instagram? Are photographers overreacting here?

My own view is that I think Instagram is pushing it a little too far with this one. I think I’d rather pay them a subscription fee like I pay Flickr than have them out there selling my photos.

Hey “Emerging Arts Professionals” Thanks for Stealing My Photo

One of the Best Views in San Francisco


Alot of my photos get ripped off. There are thousands of them all over the internet. I personally am a big believer in sort of letting the small stuff go you know. I’m about making art and as an artist the more people that see my work the better — you’ll hear this alot from me. I mean people *should* ask and if they do ask I say yes most of the time — unless it’s a commercial situation and then I’ll ask to get paid, but I’m a reasonable guy who likes to share.

But every so often someone steals your work and they just hit all the right hot spots for you. So I was bummed to find out the other day that one of my all rights reserved photographs (and I don’t have alot of these, almost all of my work is licensed Creative Commons non-commercial which still requires attribution though) was pilfered by Emerging Arts Professionals. Even lamer was their excuse posted above for why they posted my photo without permission, attribution or compensation as required by a license.

“Hi Mike & Thomas: If this photo belongs to one of you, I do apologize on behalf of EAP. We found it, unattributed, on this site. It’s also available in other places online, also without attribution.”

So let me get this straight. The excuse for why an Arts Professionals organization steals my image and thinks it is ok is because they found my image somewhere on the web? These are supposed to be Professionals working in the Arts industry and they think it’s ok to steal images?

Now you might ask why I care as I’ve got a pretty liberal attitude towards the use of my work. In this case though I care because my work is being pilfered to promote a talk given by three representatives of the SF MOMA — (Megan Brian, Education and Public Programs Coordinator SFMOMA, Melanie Hwang, Membership Manager SFMOMA, and Louise Yokoi, Development Associate, Individual Giving SFMOMA).

The very same SF MOMA that threw me out on my ass a few years back for the crime of photography. The same SF MOMA that had their Director of Visitor Relations and two security guards personally escort me out of the museum and boot me right out the door to the curb along with a nice lewd hand gesture towards me. This, when I was a paying and sustaining member in good standing at the Museum which allows photography.

The museum accused me of voyeurism at the time (I was shooting the interior architecture of the museum with a 14mm lens when I was booted, you can see my “voyeuristic” shot I took here). Since ejecting me from the museum, the museum has never once apologized. They’ve never once tried to reach out to me to express regret over the situation. They even had the balls after accusing me of voyeurism of running a specific show at their museum dedicated to of all things *voyeurism*! — you know the sorts of shots that they accused me of taking with my 14mm lens before kicking me out without even giving me a chance to show them my ultra wide angle photos or explain. SF MOMA’s press release for their voyeurism show comes complete with a photo of some woman’s ass by the way — but hey, I guess that’s “art,” unlike my crappy photography which is only good enough for using to promote talks by their executives.

Arts Professionals should know better than to steal photos without asking I think — and if they are going to steal a photo, it’s probably best that they don’t steal a photo promoting a talk by an organization that treated someone so rudely and horribly in the past.

Oh, and SFMOMA? You still owe me an apology for throwing me out of your museum without just cause. I won’t be holding my breath. Emerging Arts Professionals? Shoot me an email and I’ll tell you where you can send the check to pay for the image which I would have told you you couldn’t use to promote the SFMOMA had you bothered to ask.

And just because something’s on the web unattributed, doesn’t mean you can just take it if you feel like it. It takes about two seconds most of the time to use a reverse image search on Google to see who owns a photo. Arts Professionals like you guys really should keep up with the latest technology, especially when some of you work for an organization as “prestigious” as the SF MOMA.

Update: So when I and a few other people commented on the image on Emerging Arts Professional’s blog objecting to the infringement they deleted the comments. These were respectful comments rightfully objecting to the unauthorized use. How forward thinking for a so called “Art’s” organization to employ censorship in addition to infringement and bad customer service. What a fine organization.

Photographer Glen E. Friedman Sues Graffiti Artist Thierry Guetta and Wins

Exit Through the Giftshop

“Good artists copy, great artists steal” — Thomas Hawk

Alot of people wondered if the graffiti artist known as Thierry Guetta (aka Mr. Brainwash) in the Banksy Oscar nominated documentary film “Exit Through the Gift Shop” was one huge elaborate hoax by Banksy. If you haven’t seen the film yet, do yourself a favor and go check it out. It’s far cheaper than going to art school and you learn twice as much. If you have Netflix, you can see it on “Watch Now” here.

A big part of the film chronicles the rise and fall (just kidding, but he did fall and break his leg in the film) of artist Thierry Guetta, who started out documenting much of the earliest street art scene, including big roles played by Los Angeles artist Shepard Fairey and Banksy himself. In the movie Guetta plays an affable, over the top, unlikely artist with a larger than life personality that many have suggested was too fake to be true.

With Banksy being no stranger to huge massive hoaxes, it seemed possible that the whole success of Guetta was one massive prank.

But news is out yesterday that Guetta just lost a lawsuit as himself in Federal Court to photographer Glen E. Friedman over the appropriation of one of Friedman’s most famous and iconic photographs, an early photograph of rap act RUN DMC.

I’m not sure how much money Freidman successfully sued Thierry for. Does anyone know how much he got? [Ed. update: From William Beam in the comments below: “The case was ruled on summary judgement in favor of the photographer. Next, they’ll proceed to the damages phase, so the amount hasn’t yet been determined.”]

What is interesting though, is that this business of photographers successfully suing artists who appropriate their work seems to be becoming something of a trend. Some other recent high profile cases involving artist image appropriation where artists have lost or settled include artist Richard Prince’s recent loss for infringing on photographer Patrick Cariou’s work, and Shepard Fairey’s own recent settlement with the Associated Press over his very famous and iconic image made of President Barack Obama.

Personally this trend worries me a little bit. I’m all for photographers defending the rights of their images, but image appropriation and new transformative works based on culturally iconic imagery has been a place where many great works of art have come out of in the past. You have to wonder if artists like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein (who also appropriated work that did not belong to them) would also end up being sued if they were still around today. They probably would be.

In another interesting legal mindbender, in 2010 a claim was made by Lichtenstein’s estate against a band that was using an image that Lichtenstein HIMSELF had stolen.

Of course photographer Glen E. Friedman and artist Shepard Fairey (who featured large in the Banksy film) have collaborated on works in the past and obviously know each other — it would surprise me if Friedman and Guetta didn’t at least know each other through Fairey. Which makes you wonder if perhaps the Court Document itself isn’t just one huge fabrication, prank and stunt.

I did google the supposed judge who signed it, Dean D. Pregerson, and he does seem to be an actual Federal Judge. And the case does seem to actually have gone through court. I doubt a Federal Judge would be in on a Banksy prank too, but hell, you never know with Banksy. It’s probably a real case, but wouldn’t it be grand if it were a huge massive prank.

By the way, if you aren’t familiar with Freidman’s photography, it’s well worth a look. I own his book Fuck You Heros (where the original Run DMC image was published) and it’s a highly recommend documentary style book of the punk rock and skateboarding scene in Los Angeles during the 80s.

I’ve also spent some time documenting some of both Banksy and Fairey’s work — you can see those sets of mine here:


Shepard Fairey

Thanks, HotBox!

So What Can You Do When a Company Steals Your Photograph and Uses It For An Advertisement on Facebook? Apparently Not Much

I do love technology

A few weeks ago Veronica Belmont alerted me to a photograph that I’d taken of her that was being used as an advertisement on Facebook (see above). Veronica wasn’t very happy with her likeness being used to promote the company Wireless Emporium and also pointed out that my photograph (which is not licensed for commercial use) was also being used without authorization.

At first I wondered if this was just part of some sort of Facebook rights grab. I’d heard that Facebook can use your photos in advertisements unless you specifically opt out of this — but the thing about this photo was that neither Veronica or I had actually ever uploaded the photo to Facebook. (By the way, if you want to opt out of Facebook using your photos for advertisements you can do that here like I did.)

So I concluded that the only way for this photo to get into a Facebook advert would be for someone to steal the photo and make the advert and upload it and buy space to promote it on Facebook.

Of course the first suspect that I thought of was the company that was actually being promoted in the advert, “Wireless Emporium.” After a few tweets about the advert, one of the company’s representatives Greg Daurio, who seems like a very nice guy, got in touch with both Veronica and I. We traded a lot of back and forth emails and he ultimately provided me the following statement below on their position on this unauthorized photo use:

“About two weeks ago we here at Wireless Emporium noticed a bit of chatter on Twitter regarding a Facebook ad that was promoting our company. Unfortunately, the chatter was of the negative variety, as the model whose photo was used in the ad (Veronica) and the photographer who took the picture (Thomas) hadn’t given permission for that image to be used.

In terms of people power, Wireless Emporium is a relatively small company with less than 30 employees. In order to stay competitive, we outsource a portion of our SEO efforts to professional firms. While we do our due diligence to make sure we only do business with reputable firms, unfortunately, one of the firms we contracted wasn’t living up to their end of the bargain.

After doing some investigating, we concluded that this firm tried to leverage the popularity of Veronica in the tech community to grow our brand awareness without her permission and without consulting us before moving forward with the ad. Unfortunately we have no concrete evidence that this firm indeed was the one responsible for the rogue Facebook ad. Nonetheless, within 4 days of finding out about the ad, we terminated all business relationships with this SEO firm based on our internal investigation.

We are extremely apologetic to both Thomas and Veronica and appreciate their patience and understanding while we investigated the matter internally. We are also thankful that this was brought to our attention. It is extremely important to everyone here at Wireless Emporium that we grow our business in a moral and ethical way. And when we discover that one of our partners isn’t following those same guidelines, it is important that we act swiftly and accordingly.

Lastly, we here at Wireless Emporium would like to thank Thomas and Veronica for allowing our voice to be heard on this matter. They certainly didn’t have to do that. We wish both the best of luck moving forward.”

I don’t know very many people at Facebook, but I did put a Facebook message into a fairly senior person there to see if he might be able to help but never heard back.

As far as I’m aware there is no real mechanism for a photographer to use to get Facebook to tell you who paid for an advert illegally using your image. I don’t know the name of the alleged SEO company that stole the photo and I’m not sure that there is ever any way that I will know. Such is life on the web for photographers.

Anyone have any thoughts or advice on a situation like this?

Steal My Photos Please!

Back in 2007 I posted a short blog post about the case of Lara Jade, a 17 year old Flickr user who had a non-porn self portrait of her when she was 14 stolen and used as artwork on a porn DVD. I was pleased to see, courtesy of Eric Goldman’s Technology and Marketing Law Blog, that Lara Jade (aka Lara Jade Coton) received in the end a $130,000 judgement over this case of unauthorized use.

The court ruled in favor of Coton and granted her a judgement of $130,000. Yes, $130,000! Now of course Coton has to share some of that money with her lawyers I’m sure and this was about as egregious of a case as one can get with regards to stolen photos — but that’s still a reasonably large judgement. Coton still has to collect the money which might not be easy of course, but it does go to show that in cases of unauthorized use, judgments can be significantly larger than what it would have cost to license a photo in the first place.

From Goldman’s blog:

Net Effect. Coton won this ruling, but I would characterize it as a small win, not a big one. She had so many factors in her favor: copyright infringement, defaults by defendants, sloppy business practices by the defendants and the overall unsavoriness of the tort (associating a 14 year old with porn). At the case outset, if I knew Coton was going to win on liability, I would have estimated a higher case value than $130k. (I presume she got cash from some of her settlements, so the total payday is likely more)

I’ve met a lot of people over the years who fret about stolen photos on the internet. People put big ugly watermarks on their photos. They disable all sized viewing. They disable right click downloading. But the fact of the matter is that if you catch someone using your photos illegally, it very well could be the equivalent of winning the unauthorized photo lottery for you. And catching people using your photos illegally is getting easier and easier with tools on the web. Reverse image search engines like Tin-Eye (for example) allow you to upload any of your photos to their server and it then scours the internet for you looking for where else that photo might be published.

How long will it be before a company like Tin-Eye is able to hook up with the Flickr API and run every single flickr photo in your stream through this sort of reverse search engine? That seems to me like the sort of service that could be huge with flickr users and amateur photographers.

A few months back one of my friends in DMU had a radio station illegally use one of her photos. I asked her how much she wanted for it and we decided on $700. At first the radio station balked and didn’t want to pay. But once we got their legal counsel involved they settled for $700 really quick. She probably could have gotten more money had she actually gone to court, but $700 was what she wanted and it saved her the aggravation of having to go through an actual lawsuit.

Personally I don’t worry about stolen photos. I put all of my photos up in their full high res glory without any sort of watermarks whatsover. Will I have people that use my images? Sure. I don’t care. If people use them for personal or non-profit use my license already allows for that. But if people use them commercially (and as a photographer I want to make it as easy as humanly possible for this to happen) I can sue for much more than the real underlying value of the use of the photo might be if I so desire (or settle with them if this is easier).

Coton’s blog post on her victory here. Dan Heller, “Making Money from your Stolen Images.” Photo Attorney: “Photographer gets $12 million verdict

Thanks, Davis!

Another Day, Another Site Ripping Off Your Flickr Images, This Time It’s

Wapfever, seems to be an image downloading site similiar to imagelogr that was shut down yesterday. This time they are hosting your images without attribution or links back and allowing people to download your images directly from the site under their wallpaper section.

Check your flickr name here to see which images of yours they are ripping off.

Thanks to Burnt Umber again for the heads up.

There’s a thread on this in the Flickr Help Forum (where I’ve been permanently banned it would appear) here.

Is Trying to Be the Largest Copyright Infringer of All Time?

One of My Full Sized Images on Imagelogr

My friends ZeeAnna! and Burnt Umber tipped me off today to a new search engine operating out there called Imagelogr. Only it’s not like your traditional image search engine. Most image search engines like Google or Bing include a link back to the images that they search from the web.

Not so with Imagelogr.

Imagelogr claims to be scraping the entire “free web” and seems to have hit Flickr especially hard, copying full-sized images of yours and mine to their own servers where they are hosting them without any attribution or links back to the original image in violation of all available licenses on Flickr. If people on Imagelogr want to they can manipulate your images, rotate them, see them at different sizes up to 300% and even download the images with a download button directly from the site.

Want to know if they’ve stolen some of your flickr Images? Just go here and type in your flickr name in the search box and see if any come back.

I don’t know much about the new search engine. There is not much information to identify who is actually behind it. According to their masked domain registation, the site, currently registered with godaddy, was set up there in April of 2010. The site currently boasts to be tracking over 24 *billion* (yes, billion with a B) images. If their numbers are true, this may in fact be the largest image grab in the history of Flickr.

At the site under a “legal” link there is a Terms of Service page that reads “coming soon.” Under their contact link they provide you the email address: imagelogr [at] gmail [dot] com. I emailed them to ask what is up with their view of image licensing and will report back if I get an answer back from them.

Under their main page of the site they have a site description that reads as follows: “ is an image & picture search engine. We try to index pretty much every picture & image currently available on the free internet. With our powerful search engine finding these images should be fairly easy. We also offer a few image manipulation tools to stand out from the competition.”

I think it’s a bit misleading for them to try and tie their search engine with the “free” internet. It might give people the impression that any images that are on their site can be used for free, which is definitely not the case. People who erroneously assume that they can use the images on this site may end up being liable for copyright infringement if they do.

Interestingly enough, it looks like they are even indexing a bunch of Getty Images photographs, which I guarantee you won’t last long. In fact it appears that while the thumbnail images for Getty are still there, if you click through to the larger sized images many are already showing as not available on the site.

Some users at Flickr started complaining about this in a thread in the Flickr Help Forum, but in usual Flickr fashion they censored the thread by locking it down. Wouldn’t want it getting out there now that there was a wholesale rip off of flickr images going on. Thanks alot Flickr!

Update: It looks like Imagelogr is rapidly trying to do damage control. Since I wrote this post they have added a disclaimer on images that they may be copyrighted as well as added a source link to images and a link to their site for “image removal” which reads as follows:

“If you are the owner of copyrighted content that is displayed on, we will gladly remove those images.

Please email us the exact links of the image pages where your content is being displayed.

Make sure you send us the links to the image page, NOT the search pages.


Email your removal URL’s to imagelogr [at] gmail [dot] com and we will remove them within 48 hours.”

I’m not sure why they’d think that giving people a way to have their images removed absolves them from image theft, but we’ll see what happens. They seem to be adapting quickly.

Update #2: Imagelogr is now offline, if you go to their url it is replaced with the following message: “ is currently offline as we are improving the website. Due to copyright issues we are now changing some stuff around to make people happy. Please check back soon.”

Update #3: On Slashdot here.

Update #4: A site called is claiming responsibility for imagelogr with the following explanation:

“What Happened To

If you are wondering why you are being redirected to instead of landing on, this page is for you.

We recently launched a little site called using the Yahoo! BOSS api. It was a little image search engine that was far from finished. The site was just online, didn’t have any traffic, and we didn’t actually host any images. The whole site was maybe 50kb of php files 🙂

Because the ‘back-to-source’ links were still missing, someone started a post on Flickr claiming we stole billions of images. The counter on our frontpage stating (We are now indexing images) was just a number made up by us, and actually didn’t mean much. It was a guess number of how many images Yahoo! would have in its database approximately.

When the news started to spread that we posted full size images without a ‘back-to-source’ link, we quickly took action and added 2 source links on each page and added a copyright notice stating that he image shown might be copyrighted. After the news was posted on Slashdot and countless other blog and news sites, the emails with complains were coming in rapidly.

In the end we just decided to take the website offline.

This whole Imagelogr project was a non-profit website, we did not display a single ad on the site. We simply tried to make a better images search engine than the currently available ones.

For now the website will remain offline, and it is our plan to turn it into a Google Images like website (with frames linking to the original source) over the next couple of days. Until that time, we are forwarding all traffic to this domain.”

Did a San Francisco Bay Area Wedding Photographer Steal Images From a Flickr Photographer or Was It an Honest Mistake?


An interesting thread over at the strobist group on Flickr. Photographer Tim Kamppinen recently was emailed regarding some of his sports photographs that were appearing for sale and as promotional photos on the website for a San Francisco Bay Area based professional wedding phtoographer, Dennis DeSilva.

DeSilva, who operates under the name Studio Seven Photography, was recently featured on KTVU where he talked about his relationship photographing former Senator Ted Kennedy.

When contacted by Kamppinen regarding the apparent image theft, DeSilva apologized in a brief email according to Kamppinen:

Sorry I got it mixed up with my other photographers.


The images of Kamppinen’s were also removed from DeSilva’s site.

Was this a simple case of a pro photographer mistakenly posting photos from Flickr as his own? Or was DeSilva purposely using Flickr to fill in holes in his own portfolio where he did not have photos? Whatever the case, it seems like folks over at the Strobist thread are pretty worked up about it.

Thanks, Os!

Update #1: Dennis DeSilva responds.


It was an honest mistake. It was a sample page, not for sale. Thanks for pointing it out. I thought it was one of our pix. This is my 40th year as a full time professional photographer, I don’t need or use anyone’s images that don’t belong to me. If you look at my body of work over the years it speaks for itself. Thank you.


Update #2, Another photographer on Flickr is now also alleging that DeSilva had stolen his work as well. Flickr user seanmophoto who teaches a high school photography class is alleging that the photos of the swimmers and soccer players appearing on DeSilva’s website are in fact his.

Also in the comments below commenter David points out that another of the photos of the single swimmer which appeared on DeSilva’s site is actually credited to Chris Schmid who appears to be out of Switzerland at Photo Shelter and iStockphoto.

Is Ripping Off Someone’s Idea a Copyright Violation? Where Do You Stand on Idea Appropriation?

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery-celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from-it’s where you take them to.”

-Jim Jarmusch

There’s a big debate going on today regarding the latest music video by Director Keith Schofield (above), Charlotte Gainsbourg’s “Heaven Can Wait” (featuring Beck). The video would seem to clearly rip off and steal ideas from amateur photographers including Flickr user William Hundley. The video above, for instance, features a skateboard sitting on four cheeseburgers, looking almost identical to a similar popular photograph which had been published previously by Hundley on Flickr.

Hundley’s posted about this apparent rip off in his flickrstream in a post entitled Someone is using my ideas… Hundley was tipped off to this rip off by Merkely who also tipped me off to it.

I’m not a lawyer and personally don’t know enough about copyright law to know if Schofield has any legal liability over this theft or not. The image is not the same, clearly, but it would be inconceivable to me that Schofield could have thought up the idea without first viewing Hundley’s original photograph. But is idea appropriation an actual crime? Is there technically any liability? I have no idea, but it’s an interesting debate and maybe someone who knows the law better than I do could chime in.