Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What is the Internet's most ubiquitous stock photo?

My vote is for this one, I see this backpack-clad girl at least once a week, typically when I mistype a URL and end up on some domain squatter's landing page, for example

Clicking on the image will lead you to a quick and easy search with my new favorite "similar image search" tool, GazoPa from Hitachi (bye-bye TinEye!) reveals many web sites using this stock photo. That said, I was not able to find the source (Flickr, microstock sites like iStockPhoto, etc.) - anyone know where to find the original?

Do you have a contender for the Internet's most ubiquitous stock photo? Share it below!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Found my photo used without permission

Found my photo used without permission


Unexpected hiking partners

Thanks to jakerome, who saw this Tuesday night, I found one of my photos being used on Toyota's new 4Runner web site without my permission.

For the record, I was never contacted for permission or licensing, the image is (and has been for some time) licensed All Rights Reserved and the way it's "protected" (weak as that is) on Flickr they had to have circumvented the protections (e.g. screen shot) to copy it.

Also I've had the following disclaimer on the photo for some time as well (I habitually do this with all of my popular Flickr photos):

This photo is licensed All Rights Reserved. If you wish to use/publish it contact Michael Calanan / Calanan Photography, LLC

On thing I have never done, but will begin to, is register my images with the US Copyright Office.

For those who might not be able to access the Flash page, the photo is the used at 230x150px, is not credited but does click through to the Flickr page.

I realise that I should seriously consider investing in retaining a lawyer but in the meantime I'd like to hear what others in similar situations have found to be successful.

Some folks half-jokingly suggesting that I send Toyota an invoice for licensing and usage - does that ever actually work?

Also some suggest Toyota is in the clear due to the fact that they link back to the original and one cited the case Kelly v. Arriba Soft:

Your thoughts?

Update #1 09:00 Mountain 04 Nov 2009

There are also discussions at:

And on Twitter via @calanan.

Update #2 09:45 Mountain 04 Nov 2009

Though I have not yet been contacted by Toyota directly, I just received a Twitter update from them stating:

"@calanan @Photo_John @stuartzero We're currently pulling the photos and will be in contact with each photography who was represented."

So much for the licensing/usage invoice I was drafting. :(

Update #3 10:30 Mountain 04 Nov 2009
Flickr jakerome / Twitter @jakerome has created two Flickr Galleries showing all the photos used in the 4Runner campaign:

Toyota, oh what a stealing! - Part 1
Toyota, oh what a stealing! - Part 2
Toyota, oh what a stealing! - Part 3

Update #4 11:00 Mountain 04 Nov 2009
Blogged at Brand's Anatomy: "The bigger the company, the bigger the blunder"

Update #5 13:15 Mountain 04 Nov 2009
There are apparently two separate 4Runner sites, the Flickr photos have only been removed from not from

Update #6 15:41 Mountain 04 Nov 2009
Still no contact from Toyota

Update #7 16:51 Mountain 04 Nov 2009
Another affected photographer, @dmourati speaks out, "Oh What a Feeling"

Update #8 18:20 Mountain 04 Nov 2009
Update from the Toyota Flickr account in Flickr: The Help Forum (still no direct contact from them):

"Toyota apologizes for pulling images from Flickr without photographer permission. Images from a handful of photographers appeared on a Toyota site for five days. We’re working quickly to reach out to the individual photographers involved. Until then, the images have been removed, and corrections have been made to the process of pulling images from Flickr."

Update #9 10:50 Mountain 05 Nov 2009
PDN (Photo District News) has picked up this story at PDNPulse

Update #10 13:45 Mountain 05 Nov 2009
Story picked up by

The Denver Egotist: Toyota Shamefully "Borrows" Image from Local Denver Photographer

CNET: Getty and Flickr deepen photo-licensing ties

Update #11 15:10 Mountain 05 Nov 2009
Another affected photographer, @SnorriGunnarsso speaks out, "Toyota stealing photos of Flickr"

Update #12 09:30 Mountain 06 Nov 2009
Blogged at Shuaism: "7 Lessons learned from Toyota’s 'borrowed' image follies"

Update #13 15:40 Mountain 06 Nov 2009
Blogged at BNET: "Toyota and Saatchi Used Images From Flickr Without Permission"

Update #14 16:50 Mountain 06 Nov 2009
New Flickr images are showing up on the Toyota 4Runner minisite

But not this version

Update #15 13:30 Mountain 07 Nov 2009

Blogged at Photo Attorney: "Protect Your Flickr Photos"

Update #16 17:30 Mountain 07 Nov 2009

Another great article on this issue Advertising Age: "User-Created Ads Create Rights Conundrum"

Update #17 11:10 Mountain 09 Nov 2009

Another blog post about this issue: A Photo Editor "The bigger the company, the bigger the blunder"

Update #18 10:10 Mountain 10 Nov 2009

Found more articles online:

iMediaConnection: "Toyota's social strategy lands it in hot water"

Adland: "Paris Hilton not amused by 'Vacant' billboard's truth in advertising + Toyotas flickr-pillaging"

Digital Wedding Forum: "Maybe Their Web Designer Did It"

D-Photo: "Billboard Not So Pretty..."

Update #19 08:00 Mountain 15 Nov 2009

Another article: Software Cinema: "More Corporate Thievery, This Time Toyota and Saatchi - Don't They Get The Photographer Needs To Be PAID?"

Update #20 16:00 Mountain 18 Nov 2009

Article by Joseph Pobereskin: "Eat at Joe's: Why Don't I Drive A Prius?"