My photo was plagiarized... what would you do in this situation?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Ara Ghajanian, Apr 6, 2006.

  1. Ara Ghajanian

    Ara Ghajanian Member

    Messages:
    368
    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2004
    Location:
    Providence,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'd like to know other photographers' opinion on this because it's really bothering me and I can't let it go without some recourse:

    I did a very unique photograph last year on April 22. I had posted it on APUG shortly thereafter, so there is definite proof that I had done it that long ago. A photographer who I know through my girlfriend took that concept and rephotographed it himself recently thus stealing my concept. The concept was a photo of a woman in a bath tub pointing a gun at the camera. I came up with the concept years ago when I moved into my house and realized I had a nice bathroom to take photos in. When I met my girlfriend last year, it was the first photo she modeled for me. She had modeled for him at one point a few months before we met and she definitely sent him a copy of our photo after we did it. He was well aware of this photo because we are both members of modelmayhem.com and I have had that photo posted on there since July 30, 2005 (there is proof on the site). Recently, I looked at his Model Mayhem page only to find that he had a very very similar photo taken recently (posted March 27, 2006). Obviously, I was rather upset, but I have not said anything to him yet. I wanted to consult with my trusted colleagues on APUG first before I proceed.

    I am not naive, I know this happens often. What bothers me is that he knows me and the model in the photo and it was an obvious plagiarism. I want to at least make him aware of my outrage and inform him that he has betrayed my trust. What would you do?

    In all modesty, my photo came out much better and (here's the icing on the cake) his is shot in digital. Lazy crook.
    Ara
     

    Attached Files:

  2. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    4,124
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2004
    Location:
    Jacksonville
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Simple....tell the "other" girl to pull the trigger next time!
     
  3. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    7,075
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Location:
    Basin and Range Province
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    While a simple bit of acknowlegement to you may have gone a long way, as far as niceties go, simple photo "concept" is not really something you can claim as intellectual property. If he had stolen your actual image, that would be different. I would take it as flattery.
     
  4. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    3,754
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2003
    Location:
    Meeshagin
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    What is it they say? "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" ?

    If you're good, it will happen often. Don't sweat it. Let him know YOU know and let it go at that. Although there IS legal recourse in certain situations, his image is not close enough in composition to be considered an infringement of your rights. The concept of beautiful women in various states of dress with guns is not new. Because it is in a bathroom doesn't change this.

    Nice shot though.

    Bill
     
  5. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    18,034
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Plagiarism would actually need the images to be far more similar. The idea of shooting a girl in a bath with a gun is far from new anyway, I've seen plenty, after all look at the film Nikkita :smile:

    The photographer has produced quite a differeent image to you so don't read so much into it, OK he liked your idea but he has not tried to recreate your image !

    Ian
     
  6. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,299
    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2003
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Plagiarism in girlie photography? There's no such thing. Sorry Ara, but there are very few original ideas any more in girlie photos. Girl with a gun is pretty cliche. Been there, done that, have the t-shirt.

    What should you do? Take more pics of your great GF.

    Art.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 7, 2006
  7. Cheryl Jacobs

    Cheryl Jacobs Member

    Messages:
    1,717
    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2003
    Location:
    Denver, Colo
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Sorry, Ara, but the previous posters are correct on this one. You can't do a thing about it, as irritating as it is. The photos are different in execution, and the concept is not something you can own.

    I deal with this A LOT. It's incredibly annoying. Some of the imitators have gone to great lengths to duplicate my shots down to the last detail. Frustrating, but that's just the way it goes. On the other hand, I've had entire text pages of mine ripped off, and I mean paragraphs literally cut and pasted without a single word changed. That's a different story, and I can and do take action in those cases.

    - CJ
     
  8. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

    Messages:
    527
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    Two photographs in equally poor taste. If I were you, I'd try not to let anyone know that you'd made one of them. Blame them both on the other guy, if you can.
     
  9. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,980
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    hi ara

    sorry to hear of your woes.
    they said it all before me, unless he actually took your image and publised it as his own, youreouttaluck. i remember when you posted that photo a year ago, and it looks as good now as it did then :smile:

    now you must know how ansel adams must feel with all his tripod holes filled with other people's tripods ! :wink:

    see you around!
    john
     
  10. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    4,351
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2005
    Location:
    Montréal (QC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    My response to you would be: read the copyright law and how it applies in the USA. Copyright is not too hard to understand, and if you're willing to know what is the real world situation with this, then know your rights. You may or may not find comfort. As said above, copyright is not like patents. You have a copyright on your picture, not on its idea. (If I'm fumbling through legal concepts here, someone please correct me).

    I'm no lawyer and Canadian so I can't help you further here, but I do sympathize with your assholeness allergy. Perhaps one simple thing to do would be to call up the guy and tell him he's lame.
     
  11. dylder

    dylder Member

    Messages:
    57
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2005
    Location:
    St Louis, Mi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If it upsets you, let him know.

    I'm not trying to start a flame war here. In your example, I see you posting (digital) work that is not your own. I'm not a lawer, but I suspect you've crossed more of a legal line that he has.

    dw
     
  12. Jim_in_Kyiv

    Jim_in_Kyiv Member

    Messages:
    231
    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2005
    Location:
    Ukraine
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    We've got an advertisement in the Kyiv metro of a woman coming out of a bubblebath with a teacup. What she's doing in the bath with full makeup and a three-strand pearl choker on, I don't know. (I haven't tried the tea, either - its bagged in Moscow, not Sri Lanka, so who needs it?) And there are whole calendars full of women with guns. Even if he ripped the idea from you, he might well be immersed in the genre enough to point to half a dozen other examples.

    When it comes to shooting people and firearms, it seems to be a matter of execution.
     
  13. davetravis

    davetravis Member

    Messages:
    659
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2004
    Location:
    Castle Rock,
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Ara,
    I like yours much better! You caught the meanness in the model's eyes, his just looks like comic book...
    Take it as flattery, and move on with "your concept."
    Oh, but make damn sure to tell him to kiss your ass!!!
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. BruceN

    BruceN Member

    Messages:
    585
    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2004
    Location:
    Wyoming
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    He probably covered that - the model in the second shot doesn't appear to have a real gun. It's a humdrum shot anyway. Don't sweat it, Ara.
     
  16. tim atherton

    tim atherton Inactive

    Messages:
    552
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2002
    what would (can) you do about it? Nothing.

    It's not an original idea (seen it many times before - and it's not even a good idea at that) and you can't copyright an idea or concept, only it's physical manifestation - i.e. a photograph in this case - and the two are different (and generic) enough that you would be unlikely to win such a case. Indeed, it would probably be easy to find examples which show your work was copied from something else.

    Now, do you have permission to copy and publish the other photographers image? That could possibly be copyright violation.
     
  17. Ara Ghajanian

    Ara Ghajanian Member

    Messages:
    368
    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2004
    Location:
    Providence,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Bill,
    Thank you for the "kind" words. Funny thing, people used to consider Helmut Newton's work (see avatar at left) to be tasteless, now he is considered by many to be one of the greatest fashion photographers in history. I'm sure you were just trying to be funny, but one major reason I come to this forum is the comraderie and the mutual respect we have for each other's work. Someone once told me that simply making a negative comment about one's work without backing it up with a constructive reason is not criticism, but just plain insult.

    Everyone else,
    Thanks to all the responses so far, especially the one's who can sympathize with my feelings on this. First of all, I wasn't expecting to get any legal retribution on this one, I just wanted to open up this discussion for future reference. Second, I'm sure my idea was not an original idea, but I honestly can't remember where I saw it first (I have a bad memory). If I had been inspired by anyone's work, personally, I would have given them credit (e.g. "inspired by a photo by...").

    What is really troubling to me is that someone who my model and I know personally took an idea from me and used it for his own benefit. In my opinion, this is unethical and he should have at least alerted me or given me credit for doing this. Yes, I can take it as flattery, but I think it goes deeper than that because I know the person's general background and I feel he is basically a dishonest and manipulative person. Obviously, I'm taking this personally. If he were a nice guy and did the same exact photo I would not feel this way. Call it paranoia, call me sensitive, but things like this have happened to me before and I want to prevent or be prepared for this in the future.
    Sincerely,
    Ara
     
  18. cdholden

    cdholden Member

    Messages:
    750
    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2005
    Location:
    Nashville, T
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Ara,
    I agree with the others. It's too different to claim plagiarism. I would recommend the next time you see him at a social function, give a nonchalant laugh and ask him where he buys his toy guns. What caliber is that? BB? At least you used something that appears to be a genuine handgun. The caliber of your weapon seems to instill more "business sense" for those on the business end of the barrel... and you've chosen a better model and more natural pose. Nice work.
    Chris
     
  19. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2003
    Location:
    Milan
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've met more than a few photographers who aren't capable of an original thought. Many will reproduce or copy others work or simply produce bland images. I know of one guy who kept trying to get this one talented woman to shoot him. He wanted to rip-off her lighting techniques.

    I wouldn't worry about it. Tomorrow you'll have a fresh idea or two and this other guy will still be hunting for his first. I was reading some WC Fields quotes the other day and one that stuck in my mind went some thing like this:

    Person One: You're Drunk!
    WC Fields: Yeah and tomorrow I'll be sober, but you'll still be an a$$hole.
     
  20. wfe

    wfe Member

    Messages:
    1,284
    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2003
    Location:
    Coatesville,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Truly a compliment and the original is always better.
     
  21. Ara Ghajanian

    Ara Ghajanian Member

    Messages:
    368
    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2004
    Location:
    Providence,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Mine is a S&W Model 66 .357 Magnum. It took 2 years to find a model brave enough to hold it.

    I decided on his Model Mayhem page I'm going to post a comment below his photo stating quite simply "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." I'll change my avatar to show my original photo next to my comment. I'll leave it as that and see what he says.
    Thanks to everyone for their support, it's good to know there are photographers out there who are interested in innovation of thought. Irony of it is that the tools we use aren't considered innovative anymore. :wink:
    Ara
     
  22. jeffneedham

    jeffneedham Subscriber

    Messages:
    172
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2005
    Shooter:
    35mm

    There's no need to be so hostile. I think your comment is in "poor taste". If you want to bash other people's work, at least offer an opinion as to why you don't like it.
     
  23. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member

    Messages:
    719
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2005
    Location:
    Glasgow
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It actually went like this:

    Bessie Braddock: Winston, you're drunk.
    Winston Churchill: Bessie, you're ugly. But tomorrow I shall be sober!



    Lachlan
     
  24. Will S

    Will S Member

    Messages:
    717
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2004
    Location:
    Madison, Wis
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Cheryl,

    If someone really did duplicate your shot down to the last detail you could most likely pursue copyright infringement against them.

    Remember George Harrison and "My Sweet Lord"? He wasn't even aware he stole "He's So Fine."

    Best,

    Will
     
  25. Cheryl Jacobs

    Cheryl Jacobs Member

    Messages:
    1,717
    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2003
    Location:
    Denver, Colo
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Will, thanks for the comment. Yes, in theory, I could possibly have pursued infringement in cases where every detail of my shot was duplicated. In reality, though, it is so expensive to take legal action and so unlikely that the court would find in my favor that the law becomes somewhat meaningless. In the case of copied text, where several lines and paragraphs were copied word for word, I always take legal action.

    Incidentally, a few months ago I did an exchange with the editor of a local magazine. I did a session and provided prints of her kids in exchange for a print ad. Since I don't do any print advertising and really hate busy, obnoxious ads, I brainstormed some ideas for very simple taglines to go with the image I chose to use. I ended up using "Life, exposed." Not terribly cheesy, fairly functional.

    Last week I got an e-mail (friendly wording, but with a bite to it) from a photographer in Boulder informing me that I can't use her trademarked tagline, and that I need to come up with my own original phrase rather than copying hers. Quite a shock to me! I don't know any photographers in my area, and don't have any idea what any of them uses for marketing or whatnot.

    In my note back to her, I assured her that the overlap was completely coincidental. I'm the sort of person who makes a point out of being unique and distinct. Although she thought her tagline was very unique, in reality it's just two words that are used A LOT in portrait photography, put together. When it's two words in question, coincidences are absolutely possible, even likely. When we're talking complete paragraphs (and I mean, one girl used my bio word for word, including my date of birth!) it's an entirely different story.

    Anyway, sorry for the hijacking....

    -- CJ
     
  26. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    9,441
    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I would chime in in agreement with most folks here - I don't think you could get a single attorney to take this to court if you wanted to claim infringement. There are enough details about the image that are different (model A is nude, hidden in soap bubbles, in a tub, in black-and-white. Model B is more svelte, wearing a corset, in a shower stall, using a fake gun, shot at a different angle, in color, with different lighting). While it may show a lack of original thinking on the other photographers' part, it doesn't rise (or descend, as your thought may incline) to the level of copyright infringement. As has been noted here also, you can't copyright a concept, like "naked woman with gun".

    There was a case a few years ago where a photographer shot a sunset through the open legs of a bikini-clad model. Some ad agency saw the image, then hired another photographer to basically duplicate the shot for a client when the original photographer declined to license the image at a price the client was willing to pay. About the only thing that was different between the two was the tint of the sunset - the one was more orange/red, the other more brown. The pose was identical, the lighting, identical. You could even recognize certain elements of the lanscape in the shot that showed they were photographed in essentially the same geographic location.

    THAT is the level of proof you'd have to demonstrate to claim copyright violation.

    Since the other photographers' image has been posted here without his consent, if he were to discover it, he could sue for usage, but not for copyright violation. Nowhere is the ownership of the image being claimed to be that of anyone but the original photographer. He'd also have a hard time getting any kind of punitive damage, since there is clearly no demonstrable profit being made from the use. Worst case scenario, the image link would have to be removed.

    To offer a properly grounded critique of the image(s), I find both of them disturbing and distasteful because of the association of sex and violence. In both cases, the models appear to be responding violently to an intrusion into their private space. These feel like watching some kind of S/M rape fantasy.

    There's an interesting Freudian duel going on between the phallus of the gun and the phallus of the camera. In both cases, it appears that the phallus of the camera, the power of the voyeur, trumps the power of the gun. The voyeur's violation of private space succeeds, in spite of, or perhaps because of, the threat of violence from the gun. That is, the women can only have unfulfilled potential, whereas the viewer has unlimited opportunity to satiate the desire to violently intrude upon the women.