Ethical Photo Use?

white_flat-book_©Gale Everett

Every once in a while I check Google for my name and see what come up. I browse through multiple pages and click links that I’ve not seen posted before. Friday, I ran across a class taught at the Virginia Arts of the Book Center using one of my images for advertising a class. Wow, I have to admit I was shocked to see use of my work in this manner.  Ok, a little background:  this image is being pinned all over Pinterest along with other book creations I’ve made. Bookmaking is not a full time job, but something I like to do every once in a while. I created a tutorial because I had received a nice request from someone in the UK. The end book was photographed in my studio but I FAILED to place a © on the image. My studio name is on the photo along with the year. The class listing did note my name under the photo, but failed to spell it correctly. They at least gave a nod of credit my direction yet I have absolutely no connection to this organization.

Here’s my question to you:

Do you think it’s ethical for an arts organization to use images pulled from the web without even attempting to contact the artist who created the work?

Why wouldn’t the artist teaching the class provide a good image of their work?



Published by paperstew

I'm an artist in Albany Oregon focusing on paper and natural objects for inspiration.

22 thoughts on “Ethical Photo Use?

    1. Thanks for your comment Wayne. It is almost impossible to track everything happening with images, however an arts organization should know better. I’ve worked for multiple art group for 10 years and seen mostly good things with the exception of another arts fair totally ripping off our website design (even failing to remove links back to our site and schedule from the previous year). They should have asked and I wouldn’t have refused the request. The main point is that they should have asked!

      1. You are correct and it should not be like that, but sad to say…we are in a world that assumes anything on the web can be used and processed without thought to source. It is almost like…”if someone tells me to remove it, then I will worry about it” I do have to start adding some kind of watermark or signature to my work so at least I can get some credit maybe? The internet is still the wild, Wild West.

      2. Wild is right.! I had a chat with the person who runs their site. Apparently it was the instructor who didn’t follow the appropriate rules of conduct. I received a nice apology from the group. My image will be removed and a note will go out to the organization members to remind them about proper photo etiquette. 🙂
        Thanks for your comments!

  1. Good news, you took a good, strong image that is being shared. Bad news, they should’ve contacted you and/or used one from the workshop artist. Very odd behavior on their part. You might want to educate them on proper photo useage…

    1. I did write them a short, curt note via FB since I couldn’t find an email address (and yes, the image is on their FB page too). I would have allowed the image use if they had contacted me. Why the artist teaching the class didn’t use one of their pix is beyond me. It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    1. This morning I received a sincere apology from the artist/instructor. I think she will be much more vigilant with asking permission. 🙂

  2. A lot of this comes down to common courtesy. I think you absolutely did the right thing by contacting them, and there is a positive outcome if they are educating their own students on the protocol of using images. Of course, if your name is on something that is reused, in theory it is all good publicity for your work, but you do need to know how and where it is being used. I don’t put watermarks on my own work because in general I think they really detract from the work, but I keep the resolution fairly low so that if the images are printed they won’t come out well. It is a bit of a jungle!

    1. Hi Anna!
      Yes, it can be a bit of a jungle out there. Low resolution and watermarking are probably the best solutions. I know this won’t be my last time experiencing this sort of thing. I received a big apology from the arts center yesterday and another from the instructor today. It’s all taken care of. 😀

  3. i actually can’t understand the issue – are they saying you belong to the class and therefore misrepresenting you? or saying your book type will be what’s made in class?

    If they credit the image that counts doesnt it count as fair use as far as I can tell (ideally a link back would be better, permission more so)

    1. The instructor used my photo to show potential students what they would be creating in the workshop. I think the students paid $20 for the class.My problems was that no one asked to use the image for teaching a class (that they made money from) and didn’t even spell my name correctly for the photo credit. Asking permission. That’s all I wanted.
      I received apologies from the organization and the instructor. All is at peace between us.

  4. It’s about good manners and they have been very bad mannered. Good for you for contacting them. Like Anna, I tend to use low res images unless it’s something I don’t mind being reproduced.

    1. Yes, Anna made a good point in using low res images. I’ll probably go even lower now! All is at peace between myself, the arts organization & the instructor. Apologies have been received and accepted.

    1. 🙂 Yes, it is a compliment. I did manage to get a few good shots that day of an odd book configuration.

  5. They certainly should have asked you, manners sadly seem to be undervalued these days! Glad you got it sorted but also I’m with Hansi – its definitely a compliment!! 🙂

    1. Yes, it was a compliment, but I just couldn’t let it slip through the web world without my commenting. I’m moving forward with new projects that make me happy and not dwelling on things that piss me off. 🙂

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