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Had A Really Weird Experience Today!


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#1 SEOigloo

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Posted 03 February 2007 - 11:25 PM

Good Evening Everybody,
Today, my husband and I took a day trip out to the coast a few hours away from us. We stopped at a store in one of the little coastal villages and picked up the local paper. Imagine my surprise when I opened the paper and found myself staring at one of my own paintings!

The newspaper swiped one of my illustrations off our new birding blog and used it in their featured birding column. Amusingly, the image even has my copyright on it. Far from being out for the editor's blood (which is how I always see folks reacting when people steal their images), I would prefer to turn this into a win-win situation. I am going to contact the editor and say, "Guess who this is?", but I'm trying to think of the best way to have this conversation go once I explain who I am.

All of the images on our blog are copyrighted, and there is nothing there saying help yourself. Obviously, what they've done isn't legal, but I'm just not sure how best to respond to this surprising discovery. I'd be obliged if anyone has any sound advice for me about this, as it's a new experience.
Thank you!
Miriam

#2 A.N.Onym

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 12:22 AM

If you don't ask for any apology and just start like:

Hello there, Editor

I have noticed you used a birding image from our blog, url.com.

I suppose you are interested in quality birding images and material, so I suppose we could write for your column and provide images (provided you mention who provided the images).

What do you think?

you can build a good relationship with some medium (the newspaper).

If not asking an apology doesn't suit you, ask them to feature your birding blog in the newspaper and apologize for stealing the image.

If this fails, ask to write an article about birding for them and ask them to apologize regardless. If you get the article in, the readers might notice a similarity of your blog mentioned and the copyright.

If they steal the article, write a letter to a higher boss. If this fails, find the newspaper organization they belong to.

That should do for a start, I guess.

P.S. I am not a lawyer nor have done anything like this, but those are some suggestions that might get you something out of it.

Edited by A.N.Onym, 04 February 2007 - 12:26 AM.


#3 SEOigloo

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 12:42 AM

Thank you, Yuri,
I appreciate those suggestions. It may sound crazy, but I hadn't envisioned them apologizing to me. Of course, now that you mention it, I suppose they ought to, but I would feel rather mean demanding that some poor bloke grovel at my feet, if you know what I mean. It's odd, isn't it, how having your artwork swiped can be flattering and totally disrespectful and illegal all at the same time? And it isn't as though this was some tiny thumbnail in the paper somewhere, it takes up 1/2 of the page of their newspaper, for goodness' sakes!

I like your suggestion about them using my illustrations for further articles, with permission, in future. My husband and I are just crazy about birding...and wouldn't it be nifty if this little bit of exposure could take me in some future direction that might just lead to someone wanting to use my birding illustrations in a truly professional setting? Probably a far-fetched dream. The world of ornithology is almost as competitive as the world of SEO. Thank you for your thoughts!
Miriam

#4 A.N.Onym

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 02:26 AM

Yeah, I don't like the idea of apology myself, but if you can't cooperate with them, at least get a mention this way. I'd try to cooperate with them first.

#5 Wit

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 03:54 AM

Just bill 'em.

#6 rmccarley

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 04:08 AM

I like Wit's suggestion. :)

Or generate some PR. "Bird pictures so good newspapers steal them" is a grabbing headline (Diggable too ;) ).

#7 JohnMu

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 05:03 AM

Congratulations on getting your foot in the door ;)

I would also try to get a win-win situation out of it; try to find out how you would like to profit from it (profit not directly in a monetary sense). While you might not want to take a strong hand against them, I would still mention that if you cannot come up with a mutually acceptable solution, the formal legal route would remain a possibility. (or mention that you are a blogger and look at all the attention that Jennifer has been getting ;) )

I think, especially if this is a smaller local newspaper, that you can quickly reach someone on their side who is willing to help rectify the situation and who -- if they really like your work -- might want to feature more of it. I doubt you'd get rich from it (especially if it's a local paper), but sometimes it just feels good to see your name in the papers :).

John

#8 ukdaz

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 07:41 AM

Personally I can't see that going in "nice" is going to help. Think about it... they stole your image in the first place! Any journalist (regrdless of newspaper size) is surely going to know the basic laws of copyright...

And taking something and leaving in the copyright is not acceptable - you never gave permission... how many extra papers did they sell because of your associated image...? Perhaps not that many (compared to national paper) but they're using your work to partially help sell or promote THEIR product.

I wouldn't write asking for an apology - I'd write to ask them how much they are prepared to pay, perhaps not to you (so you don't look "greedy") but instead a donation to a local bird protection charity or organisation that could really do with the money... they could then look good themselves offering an apology to their readers and you could promote your keen interest in birding and look ethical too...

Daz

Edited by ukdaz, 04 February 2007 - 07:42 AM.


#9 EGOL

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 10:09 AM

You are in the driver's seat.

This newspaper is a professional publisher and they should be VERY aware of copyright. It's not like a seventh grade student who gets busted from copy/pasting from wikipedia. Newspapers are professional dealers in content. Ignorance is no excuse.

So, decide what you would like to get out of this.

If you have no interest in letting them use your content in the future then let them know the price you would have charged for their use of the painting plus the cost of your time to get it out of them, plus an extra measure if you are fired up about this.

If you want to make it win-win then decide on the optimum outcome for YOU. Then tell them your vision. In my opinion, the worst thing that you can do is to sell yourself short.

Lots of people with very successful businesses got their start as being a regular columist with a newspaper... then their work was distributed to many newspapers.. .this lead to successful (personally owned) websites, retail ventures, endorsements and more.

Whatever route you deicde, I think that I would enter the discussions by letting them know that you are clearly in the superior position and that they are the ones who needs to respond to theft. How hard or gently you play that depends upon your personal style and what you hope to accomplish through it.

#10 Wit

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 10:34 AM

With the above statements in mind, I stand by my suggestion. Just be polite AND decisive. Don't exaggerate and keep the door open for future cooperation.

#11 bragadocchio

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 12:02 PM

Hi Miriam,

I imagine that was an odd experience, to see your picture in a newspaper. The images on the bird blog really are great, and I imagine that it's a little flattering to see the image being used in the first place.

But they really should have asked for permission, or to pay for the use of the image. The editor may not have known that the image wasn't used without permission - we don't know what the person who submitted it with the column might have said when it was sent in.

If it's a weekly paper, they may not have the largest budget in the world. But it could still be a good way to get your pictures out to a wider mainstream audience.

They may not be looking to replace the person writing the present column, but they could possibly be interested in using other images in the future - possibly with a better attribution of where they came from.

At the very least, you should get an apology, even if it isn't public. Some great suggestions above.

#12 AbleReach

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 01:16 PM

My husband and I are just crazy about birding...and wouldn't it be nifty if this little bit of exposure could take me in some future direction that might just lead to someone wanting to use my birding illustrations in a truly professional setting? Probably a far-fetched dream.

Is exposure more important to you than protecting your copyright in this instance, as long as you are respected?

How can you make a stand for both?

I used to know an accomplished illustrator whose dream was making political cartoons for newspapers. Raising a family on cartooning just wasn't practical. There aren't a lot of salaried positions for political cartoonists, and living comfortably during his family-raising years was more important.

He enjoyed reading the opinion/editorial pages. He got into the habit, off and on over the years, of sending fan mail to writers, cartoonists and the editors of op/ed pages. Sometimes when an editorial gave him an idea for a cartoon he'd send one in with his letter. Once in a while they'd use the cartoon, though at first there wasn't money involved. They got to know him. He got to know them. They enjoyed each other.

By the time he was ready for a part-time post-retirement job, do you think he was putting on a paper hat for some fast food place? No way. He was welcomed into his dream job by people he admired.

Is the birdwatching column worthy of your fan mail? If so, I'd probably send the author a card that contains a friendly letter about getting together for coffee to talk about birdwatching. Cards are harder to lose and more memorable than email. To encourage an RSVP suggest a specific day and place for meeting. Also mention that your copyright slipped under the radar of whoever manages legal affairs for the paper, and ask who you should contact about permissions and licensing. Make birdwatching the main event of your letter. Be more specific about your birdwatching intentions, but do not leave out the copyright issue.

Giving them room to react well also gives you room to learn more about their attitude.

If they don't get back to you, then write a firm letter specifically about your copyright, and send it to whoever would have been responsible for approving the column. If they do get back to you, you've opened a door.

There are a lot of (bad) reasons for not respecting your copyright. Maybe some intern found the image online and wrongly assumed that everything on the Internet is free -- in a small town weekly that is very possible. Aside from the wrong that has been done to you, at the very least what you have here is the admiration of a fellow birdwatcher and an opportunity to educate others about the copyright of art they see online.

Edited by AbleReach, 04 February 2007 - 01:23 PM.


#13 EGOL

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 02:07 PM

AbleReach, this is very good advice. I like the part about discovering their attitude.

#14 send2paul

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 02:44 PM

Just go straight for the juggler Miriam! NO WAIT! What would Jonathan Smith have done? :banana: :) :banana:

#15 SEOigloo

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 02:51 PM

Good Morning Everybody,
Some really super advice here, and I want to add, it gives me such a feeling of confidence to be able to come here for input of this caliber. Everyone's suggestions are good. After reading everyone's thoughts...I think the approach I want to take will go something like this...

1) Expect a private apology
2) If they behave decently about it, be friendly back to them and say I'd like to see them using my illustrations with full attribution to my blog.
3) If they behave disrespectfully about it, (which I doubt they will) request a public apology and a check for the use they made of my illustration.

On this last...I haven't the slightest idea what the going rate would be for this. I'm used to selling actual paintings...not selling the use of an illustration.

It's a small paper, from a hippy town, but on the other hand, the town is a big tourist destination, and actually, I'm betting just about every tourist who visits the coast picks up a copy of this paper...so, the publicity could actually be somewhat far-reaching. So, what I'd like this to turn into for me is a bit more exposure. No, I won't get rich from it...but it would give me a bit of 'street cred', as in, "yes, my birding illustrations have been published in various places."

There are so many good birding illustrators out there. Few of them get published. My husband and I have dreamed of writing a birding guide for our region of the world. The blog is our attempt to do this on-line, but you can bet I'd love to write a real book about this, illustrated with my paintings. Do folks here agree that it would, potentially, make me seem a bit more of an authority if my work had been used by a newspaper?

(as an aside, look at what Google has done to me, making me want to become an authority source!)

I can see benefits in all the approaches each of you have suggested, and I just want to reiterate how I value being able to come here, knowing that I will receive such intelligent feedback! I will follow up on this post to let everyone know how this turns out.
Kind Regards,
Miriam



Holy cow, Paul! You nearly made me fall out of my chair laughing. :rofl:

You'll just have to take my word for it...I never watched Highway to Heaven. Honest, I swear! Little House on the Prairie, yes...but no...not Michael Landon just for Michael Landon's sake.

That image is a riot. What was that show about, anyway? Was he an angel or something? I have this vague memory of it.

Thanks for the convulsive laughter, Paul!
Miriam

#16 send2paul

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 04:32 PM

Miriam - LOL - yes, he was an angel sent to do good things and make people repent etc etc.

I to watched Little House on the Prairie - and I cried when they had to blow up Walnut Grove to make way for the railway! ;) (at least in the TV programme anyway).

By the time the last series of LHOTPrairie was showing it used to be written, produced and directed by Michael Landon. My brother and I used to joke that there'd be something in the credits which said: "... and Michael Landon produced by Mr & Mrs Landon".... :)

Paul

#17 SEOigloo

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 01:25 AM

Hi Everybody!
I wanted to follow up on this thread to let everyone know how this turned out for me.

Today, I spoke with the editor of the erring newspaper. She was extremely apologetic and told me a very serpentine story about how they believed the painting they took was the work of someone with the same first initial and last name as mine's x-wife. Very, very weird.

However, it has all turned out for the good. Not only do they wish to feature my birds every month (with full credit to me and the bird blog) but they will also be running ads for my web design firm. So, there, I'm famous now. Ah, yes, fame....

Well.... :nah: At least, I'm famous if any of you go to a teeny tiny town hanging out in the Pacific Ocean off of California and see my illustrations in the local newspaper.

Yipeee!

Thanks for all the helpful, bolstering advice.
Miriam

#18 AbleReach

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 04:01 AM

"Local" fame is like becoming a precious natural resource of the area. You're now a known quantity in their community.


:cheers:

Congrats!!

#19 SEOigloo

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 04:24 AM

Thanks, Elizabeth!
:D

That's a nice thing to say. I like that.
Miriam

#20 A.N.Onym

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Posted 08 February 2007 - 04:37 AM

Nice. I hope they link your county blog, not the main national one. In any case, congrats :clap:



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