Samsung Sorry for Using Photographer’s Nikon Photo in Advertisement


Samsung found itself in an embarrassing copyright infringement controversy earlier today after the company published a street photographer’s work without permission as an advertisement on its Facebook page. It wasn’t just the unauthorized use of the image that was embarrassing; here’s the kicker: the photograph was actually shot using a Nikon camera.

The hoopla started when Orchard Road, Singapore-based “weekend photographer” Danny Santos II noticed this image shared on Samsung’s Facebook page with the text, “Crisp. Cinematic. This street shot is taken by one of our Samsung photographers! Share your own Singapore Street Shot photo. Who knows, it might just win you a Samsung NX300!”:


Santos then posted on his own Facebook page to protest the infringement, saying, “What the hell.. one of my photographs is being used by Samsung in their FB page without my permission.” That post received hundreds of comments, likes, and shares, and began making the rounds on the web.

Here’s the original photo the advertisement used (here it is on Santos’ website):


A quick peek at the EXIF data reveals that it wasn’t captured with a Samsung mirrorless camera at all, but rather with a Nikon D700 DSLR:


To Samsung’s credit, the company took quick and public action rather than stay quiet or try to cover up the mistake. About an hour after Santos’ post, he received a call from Samsung that said the company was investigating the matter. Apparently one of the photographers that had been commissioned to shoot with the NX300 had submitted Santos’ photograph to the marketing agency running the promo.

After a few more hours, the company apologized to Santos’ and updated their original Facebook post with this statement:

We sincerely apologise to photographer Danny Santos. The photograph in question was mistakenly uploaded while an agency was helping us prepare for this online campaign. We have reached out to Mr. Santos to explain what had happened and are now working on rectifying the situation.

We always respect all copyright laws and expect our agencies to do the same. We are taking this incident very seriously, and will work on making our processes more robust to prevent similar incidents from happening again.

We’re guessing that’s the last time Samsung will be publishing submitted photos as advertisements without checking the EXIF data in the images.

Thanks for sending in the tip, Alexander!

  • CrazyCancukPhotog

    What if they check the EXIF and it “looks” correct, but really someone edited it to show different Info? Not hard to manipulate the EXIF data to make up any of the info in it.

  • Kay O. Sweaver

    Having seen a few cases like this over the years one has to wonder how commonplace this kind of thing is and how many go unnoticed. I saw one of my photos in a facebook ad for the first time last week. Fortunately I tracked it down to an old client pretty easily so no big mystery, but what if I hadn’t seen that particular ad?

  • Fullstop

    How embarrassing.

  • Renato Murakami

    Oh, you can be shure that the cases that get detected and actually reach the news don’t ammount to even 0,1% of what’s out there… my guess is lots of photographers out there would be completely paralized and frozen with indecision about what action to take if only they made a simple image google search with their own images, finding out it was used and abused everywhere…

  • 3ric15
  • muddyclouds

    Nice To Meet You Samsung, ‘I Am Nikon’

  • Ingemar Smith

    The online world is just beginning to reveal, just beginning, the degree to which the rich create their wealth by stealing from the rest of us. Things will really get interesting once tracking tools become commonplace. We will begin to see just how much and how flagrantly the big companies steal.

  • Duke Shin

    I’ve had a photo of mine being used on the hijab fashion scene.

    mfw it’s actually a red tablecloth

  • Jonathon Chambers

    I respect their response to it. At least they did what they could to fix it rather then be a bad company and try to hide it.

  • Joshua Tan

    How can it be a mistake , when your marketing agency should have been the one vetting all photos submission by checking EXIF data.? Using this for a commercial agency , I hope samsung compensate this photographer sufficiently.

  • rrr

    samsung =Korea=lie=fake

  • Joshua Morin

    Wow… that’s a very insightful comment

  • Mark Ryan Eugenio

    instant millionaire Danny :))

  • Mukul Burman


  • Hao Chun Lien

    Samsung? It’s not suprise me!!

  • we

    no surprise!because it’s samsung!

  • David

    Samsung did such thing several times !if you wanna have pure and new technology you shouldn’t buy Samsung.

  • guillermo de la maza

    Considering how innovative -read copycats- the guys at Samsung are, this looks more intentional than a mistake. Besides, who has a Samsung camera anyway!

  • Jim Wu

    If the apology states that the photo was submitted through an agency, that means there was never any “Samsung photographers” to begin with. It means there is more than just one lie with this whole story.