Timeslive.co.za: Stealing my photo isn’t just illegal. It’s unfathomably lazy!
By Dave Fox
So… I discovered that a huge South African newspaper, whose website contains multiple statements about their commitment to journalism ethics, has used my photography without my permission. At first, I was pissed off. But I also happened to be hungry.
So I went into the kitchen to make sandwich. And I was about three bites into my sandwich when I was struck by the utter absurdity of the situation. I cackled so hard with laughter, I almost choked on my sandwich.
Let’s break this down:
- Timeslive.co.za, the online edition of The Times and The Sunday Times, has stolen a photo I took in 2010. They swiped it off of my website. This is a violation of international copyright laws.
- In 2010, I was living in Seattle. Now, I live in Singapore.
- I shot this photo in Johannesburg, on my way to teach a travel writing workshop in Botswana.
- Times Media and its affiliated newspapers have their offices in… Johannesburg.
Hey, editors and photographers at The Times: Are you so freaking lazy, you couldn’t take your own photograph … in your own city? You couldn’t walk your asses out the door and down a few blocks to find a billboard in your neighborhood? You had to steal a photo, of Johannesburg… from an American freelance writer in Asia who, in his entire life, has spent a total of three days in South Africa?
It’s not even a good photo!!
I shot this photograph through the window of a moving taxi! In a pounding rain storm! A seven-year-old kid with a camera phone could have taken a better picture than this! Doesn’t one of you have a son or daughter who could have snapped something on their way to school?
If you needed a photo of a billboard in, say, Singapore, or Seattle, stealing something off the Internet, while still illegal, would have made a bit more sense. Maybe you couldn’t afford to fly a photographer to Burma, or Iceland, or India, or a long list of other places I’ve worked. But… holy crap! If you’re this lazy about your photography, what can we assume about your news gathering and reporting?
And the laziness gets deeper:
You could have contacted me for permission — I’m easy to track down — but you didn’t.
You could have credited me by name as the photographer, but you didn’t.
You note the URL of the web page you swiped my photo from (which does not make what you did legal) but… you didn’t even make it an active link.
As much as it pisses me off when people steal my work, I’ve gotten a good laugh out of your apathy. Not a good enough laugh that it makes this okay, mind you. Times Live editors, you owe me an apology. And some money, which I’ve outlined in my other article.
The next time you need photographs of your own city, perhaps you should get your butts out of your chairs and take a walk, instead of stealing work from freelancers on other continents. That is how professional journalists behave.