Photographer Claims Daily Mail Stole TwitPic Photos

Earlier this month, the Daily Mail published some photos taken at a Dalston polling station during the British General Election by Emily James of Just Do It.

James’ photos were originally uploaded via TwitPic. Later, they were republished on several other sites, including The Guardian and Times Online, initially without permission or compensation. However, The Guardian and Times both offered James retroactive compensation. The Times offered £250 for using one photo, along with a brief emailed apology for using the image without permission.

The Daily Mail, however, initially incorrectly credited the image to someone else, then removed the credit line altogether.  James sent them with an invoice for £1170 — a rate set at £130 and multiplied by three per image to compensate for their lack of knowledge or permission.

The picture editor at the Daily Mail responded, saying:

Thanks for the invoice.

Unfortunately we cannot pay the amount you have requested, these images were taken from twitpic and therefore placed in the public domain, also after consultation with Twitter they have always asked us to byline images by the username of the account holder.

We are more that happy to pay for the images but we’ll only be paying £40 per image.

James, aware of the difference between TwitPic and Twitter Terms of Service, responded to the Daily Mail:

I’m afraid that you are wrong about the terms of publishing on Twitpic. If you read the terms of service you will see that copyright is clearly retained by the poster:

Third parties who wish to reproduce posted images must contact the copyright holder and seek permission.

You should have contacted me if you wanted to use the photos, as every other news outlet did. had you done so, you might have been in a position to get the photos for £40’s each.

However you didn’t contact me, even though this would have been very easy to do, nor did you inform me that you had used them. Instead, I had to uncover that you had used them, that one of them was not credited even with the correct twitter account, and that none were credited as I would have asked them to be.

James and the crew at Just Do It Films say they are still waiting for full payment and an apology.

This seems to be a similar issue that photojournalist Daniel Morel has with news agency AFP over whether images distributed over TwitPic and Twitter warrant free public distribution.

(via British Journal of Photography)

  • cougarmicrobes

    how low will the Daily Mail sink?? If i took a story they published and re-posted it on my blog surely they would expect compensation.

  • Tim Rawlings

    Daily Mail, crap newspaper, crap people, and now thieves!! About time they went down!!

  • Seb Ashton

    This is the second time (I've heard of) a british newspaper has taken images from an internet site (the other was from flickr during all the snow) and wrongly assumed “its on the internet we can use it for free”, they should to be aware of the terms and copyrights they are breaking. Glad that The Guardian and The Times paid up.

  • alexblock

    Copyright infringement is not theft.

  • commatose

    Do you routinely infringe copyright? Because I can't see someone with intellectual property making such a statement. Perhaps by definition it is not 'theft', but indirectly, it inarguably is taking someone else's work and using it for your own gain.
    Just like stealing someone else's paycheck or car and using it for your own purposes would be theft, only they don't call it paycheck/car infringement.

  • alexblock

    On average, people infringe someone's copyright about 10 times per day, whether they are aware of it or not. That's not the point however. You cannot call copyright infringement theft because it changes the fundamental meaning of the crime.

    If I steal your cellphone, your paycheck or your car, I am depriving you of your possession. If I make a copy of an image, I have not deprived you of your image. You still have it.

    You also seem to be jumping to the conclusion that I encourage copyright infringement or theft. I do not. I believe in appropriately calling it what it is: Copyright infringement is not theft.

    Perhaps you should view this video on the differences between theft and copyright infringement:

  • kentsparkman

    It would also be considered theft of service.

    I live in Texas so I will post the definition of theft of service from that district:

    “(2) having control over the disposition of services of another to which he is not entitled, he intentionally or knowingly diverts the other's services to his own benefit or to the benefit of another not entitled to them;”

    since photography on the professional level is primarily a serviceit is not only considered Copyright infringement, it is indeed considered theft.

    I do hope that you do not consider a cartoon simplification of a very complicated law justification for theft?

  • Alex Block

    #(Mean't to reply to kentsparkman, replied globally)

  • Alex Block

    Why would a digital file on a computer be considered a service? If I were to hire you as a photographer and then not pay you, that would be theft of service. If I were to splice in a cable splitter on my neighbors cable line without paying for it, that would be theft of service.

    Copying a file without the owner's consent is not theft of service. It is copyright infringement.

    Copyright infringement is not theft.

  • commatose

    You are taking semantics to newer and more useless heights. The fact is that what the paper did was wrong, and it technically constitutes theft since they took, used, and did not credit the person who created the photograph, without even asking him.

    I'm eating a cheeseburger that I paid for. You take it, use it, and don't even hand me two dollars in compensation. You definitely stole that cheeseburger. It's all the same thing. It was wrong, they knew it was wrong, but they did it anyway. Call it what you think it is (and what you're arguing on the internet about), it's still taking something that is not yours and using it for your gain.

  • zanoii

    Only with images, you can still eat your cheeseburger, make profit off of it and do whatever you like with it. Only someone else already gained profit from a copy of your cheeseburger without your permission.

    The comparison is a bit.. strange, don't you think?

    Copyright infringement is not theft. Stop comparing them.

  • zixmail

    Earlier this month, the Daily Mail published some photos taken at a Dalston polling station during the British General Election

  • Reflekterat

    Thats bad..

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