Dan's Outside

I go, I see, I do, I walk, I think, I like…

Complex Issue: A Student is Using One of My Photographs Without Permission

Last month a student at a high school on the east coast of the USA wrote to ask if he could use one of my photographs for a school project. His email was very respectful and I appreciated the fact that he was doing his job and asking for permission before – or so I assumed – making public use of the photograph.

In the past I have allowed students to make use of certain photographs depending upon the nature of the use and other factors. For example, a few months ago a student (in Australia, I believe) wrote to say that she was using one of my photographs for a class project. She wanted to know more about what I saw in the image and how I created it. We exchanged several emails and I gave her permission to use the photo for her project.

However, in this more recent case the student was using my photograph as the background for an animated cartoon figure chopping wood! Feeling that this was not exactly the most favorable presentation of my work, and knowing that he could certainly find other images that would be appropriate and available for unrestricted use, I wrote back and told him that regrettably I could not grant permission for this use. He wrote back and said he would remove the photo from his school web site when he got back to school on Monday. So far, so good.

Three weeks later the photo is still on the school web site as the background for the animation. I wrote again this weekend – politely – and told him that he does not have permission to use the image and that it must be taken down right away. He told me he would remove it “by the end of the week.”

Unfortunately, I feel like I’ve been had. He kept the image long enough – I presume – to get credit for his assignment. It has now come to the point where I had to write a pointed email including a deadline for removal of the image – and send copies to him and to the superintendent of instruction of his district.

And now, back to posting photographs…
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June 18, 2006 - Posted by | Commentary

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