Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mo. family stumped: How did Christmas photo get in life-size ad in Czech Republic store?

We just talked about this at class on Tues evening - what are the ethics of using photos you find online AND what do you do about it? Here's a news story that will be of interest:
ST. LOUIS (AP) — It's an international mystery: How did a Missouri family's Christmas card photo end up in the Czech Republic, splashed across a huge storefront advertisement?

Danielle Smith said Wednesday that the photo taken of her family last year got sent to family and friends, and was posted on her blog and a few social networking sites. The photo showed her and her husband Jeff holding their two young children.

About 10 days ago, one of Smith's college friends was driving through Prague when he spotted their huge smiling faces in the window of a store specializing in Europeann food. He snapped a few pictures and sent them to a flabbergasted Smith.

"It's a life-size picture in a grocery store window in Prague — my Christmas card photo!" said Smith, 36, who lives in the St. Louis suburb of O'Fallon.

Mario Bertuccio, who owns the Grazie store in Prague, said the photo was from the Internet. Details were sparse, but he said he thought it was computer-generated. When told it was a real photo — of a real family — he said he started taking steps to remove it.

"We'll be happy to write an e-mail with our apology," said Bertuccio, who said he would send the Smiths a bottle of good wine if they lived in his eastern European country.

The Smiths and photographer Gina Kelly hadn't authorized anyone to use the pictures. Kelly said she has asked a professional photographers' organization to help figure out how her image wound up in Prague.

Smith has gotten 180,000 hits to her Web site since she recently posted the story about the well-traveled snapshot. She said the photo wasn't used in an unseemly manner, it was just used to tell potential shoppers about the store's delivery service.

Smith said next time she posts a photo on the Internet, she's going to lower the resolution or add an electronic watermark to make it hard to reproduce. "This story doesn't frighten me, but the potential frightens me," Smith said.

Associated Press Writer Karel Janicek in Prague contributed to this report.

1 comment:

1 Solo Mom said...

Ahhhh, at last, I get to have my say about this issue. (there was too much to cover in class for me to say what I really wanted to say on Tuesday night, so here it is.)

I have worked as an art buyer for ad agencies and know the ins and outs of negotiating fees to use professional photographers images that they allow people to 'VIEW' on the internet. Notice the word 'VIEW' Not 'Download'.

Any photographer knows that you NEVER make your hi res images available for the public to use and share, if you intend to make money off them. Why would anyone, even a lay person upload a hi res image to the internet and not protect it, if they didn't want someone to use it?

As far as I'm concerned, if you are uploading your photos (hi or lo res) to sites like Flicker, putting them in Blogs (without embedding your name in the image to prove that it belongs to you), sharing them on other social network sites, you are asking for trouble. Even if your image is on a website it can easily be grabbed and used for other online use. If you are a photographer you are always on the lookout for stuff like this and oh, it does happen all the time.

The person who takes the chance of using an unauthorized photo usually knows that they probably won't get caught so they take the chance. Unless you are a Coca Cola or a Dell the owner of the image is probably not going to see it because it doesn't get enough views, so it is often worth it for the user to take the risk.

If you are sharing your photos online, expect that someone may use it without your permission. Once you upload it the internet you have lost control of your possession. That is why sites like Getty Images water mark their images for download, but they do provide lo res images without water marks for presentations and believe me, plenty of people use those lo res images for online work and never pay for them. This is the world we live in.

If I was that family, I would be flattered that the store like the photo so much, and ask them for $1,000 payment to keep using it.