Making It Right

by Suzanne Heron.

Lately I have learned a lot about intellectual property laws and how they relate to the art I create.  I have unintentionally infringed on the rights of twelve photographers whose photos are the basis for some of my work. For this, I am profoundly sorry.  I am committed to working within the laws and moving forward with a better process and full understanding. I respect the photographers and their work and never intended to create a situation where they weren’t receiving recognition for their work.

When I was contacted recently by a photographer whose photo was the basis for a painting that was used on cards and prints without permission, I contacted all the photographers to whom this applied. I had obtained permission to use these photos to create images in a calendar but not for the extended uses such as cards or canvases.  I’ve offered 100% of my profits as compensation to the artist, and have refunded purchases of these pieces to the public upon request.

My mistake was thinking that “permission is permission,” so when a photographer gave me permission to use their photo for the purposes of a painting for the calendar, I didn’t go back to obtain permission for cards or prints.

I also made a second mistake sourcing raw images from the internet.  I found some images online without any attribution, and I used them to create paintings. One of the photographers told me it happens all the time, his images pop up without credit. I know now this doesn’t mean the image is copyright-free.

These two types of mistake apply to 24 of the 1,050 images I’ve produced over the past 7 years, and 12 photographers.

I’ve also learned about “reverse image look up” and have been able to track down a few images for which I couldn’t previously find attribution. I’ve contacted those photographers as well to offer my apologies and my profits as compensation.

I have compensated and settled with 7 people for unauthorized use of their photo and am in the process of attempting this with the remaining 5 photographers. In some cases I now have an ongoing license agreement and will continue to work with the artist.

For the future I have a written agreement that lays out exactly what usage a photo may be for, the way of giving the artist credit, and compensation where applicable.  I will only be using photos from people who give me explicit permission.  I am reprinting cards to give credit to the photographers I was previously not able to identify.  All of this now happens with a mutually-agreed license agreement.

I’m very grateful for the people who have helped me to learn and to navigate and rectify these mistakes, Thank you also to the photographers who are working graciously with me to resolve things in a professional manner.

One Response to Making It Right

  1. I apologize to these photographers for using their images for purposes beyond what I had express permission for:
    Ken Conger
    Elizabeth Johnson
    Melanie Leeson
    Ed Lowe
    Ben Madison
    Jesse Montes
    Brandy Saturley

    November 21, 2017 at 1:05 am