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News & Insight

How a Blogger Confronted Newspaper for Plagiarized Work

By fotosiamo on May 17th 2012

While this isn’t about photography, it is related to our field because of copyrights, the right that we have to protect our creative creations. It’s just like my previous post on how social media took down a wedding fauxtographer who was stealing entire sessions of other wedding photographers to pass as her own. While it seems that no monetary compensation was not paid out by that photographer, this new story about the blogger did went to the newspaper that plagiarized his work and asked for compensation. It’s a pretty good lesson in how to do something like this.

In a nutshell, Duane Lester of Holt County, Missouri published an article “Changes Implemented After MO Auditor Finds ‘Serious Shortcomings’ In Holt County Sheriff’s Department on May 1st, 2012. Shortly thereafter, a local newspaper ran an article that was practically a carbon copy of his article, including his typos. The only thing they really changed were the removal of “MO” from the title and the addition of another paragraph at the end.

After consulting his lawyers and researching about copyright laws, Duane decided that he needed to either get paid or sue for copyright infringement. And he decided to bring a camera along to record the entire incident. You can read the story on his blog post on All American Blogger.

So what do you think? Did Duane took care of it the right way?

By the way, I went to an APA (America Photographic Artists) event in Los Angeles recently on a seminar about copyrighting (Copyright: Know it or Blow it) and one of the panel speakers, Jeff Sedlik talked about how his most famous photo is his iconic Miles Davis photo (Google it!) and how it’s been used, copied, etc. by so many different people. Some uses it as inspiration for their own art, while others blatantly use it without permission or attribution. Jeff said that while he doesn’t go after everyone for money, he does ask for credit. And whenever it is for a made-for-profit publication or advertisement, he does send out a friendly copyright letter and invoice, stating that he noticed the photo, that there is a copyright registration as attached, and that they can continue to use the image provided that they pay for the licensing. He said that rather than getting angry whenever someone copies your work, see it as an opportunity for another income stream, and of course, approach it professionally.

I think both Duane and Jeff showed that just because someone used our work without permission or attribution, doesn’t mean that we can’t get paid for it. They also showed that we as creatives, we can stand up for our copyright and do so in a professional manner.

Have you ever had issues of having your photos used without your permission or attribution, or know someone who went through it? If so, what steps did you take to rectify it, if at all?

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Joe is a fashion and commercial photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. He blends creativity and edge with a strong style of lighting and emotion in his photographs.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Ed Rhodes

    good for sticking up for his rights!

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  3. Raymond @ Man On The Lam

    Good on Duane for confronting the old codger. Bob got defensive because he knew he was in the wrong. I thought he was going to say “40 years ago I was taught it was okay to steal!”

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  4. West Cobb Photographer

    Goes to show… there are not only rednecks in the South (they appear to be in Oregon, too).  That old coot would have decked Duane Lester had the videographer not been there.  That being said, Mr. Lester went into the paper’s office with a noticeable chip on his shoulder from the get-go, causing redneck Bob to immediately get defensive.  He should have approached this in a much more diplomatic way first, and then got more aggressive if he had to, once Bob became more belligerent.  As it looks now, Mr. Lester was in a sense of the word, instigating something.  

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  5. Anonymous

    I’m from Missouri and had to get a laugh at this.  It is just a local paper but the guy writing him the check at the end (no matter how much he hated to do it) tells you everything you need to know… that they were wrong and a simple phone call before running the article could have saved the paper $500.  Lesson learned by the paper.  Ignorance is not an excuse for stealing, nor is small little “no one really reads this stuff anyways and everyone has done it already” approach.

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  6. Leroy Skalstad

    If I was a lawyer for Duane I would confront him and say WTF. Here I am working my @ss off for you and you go in with a cam for whate surely will be a confrontation?  You should be compensated for infringement but not like this. This only makes you look like a cheap adrenaline junkie.

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