Ripped off: Emap earns an invoice (and some free advice)

This entry was posted on
Wednesday, June 20th, 2007
11:40 am and is filed
under Photoshopping.

Partial scan of Page 31 from Zoo Weekly, Issue 174I was at a panel discussion last night. The subject was The Dark Side of Social Media. It was an industry event, but we only really got down to the nuts and bolts of how this dark side might impact directly on brands right at the very end.

Just before I left, I found myself chatting with a couple of chaps about Zoo and Nuts and their bad habit of publishing other people’s work without permission or payment. I described it as ‘a growing storm’ that organisations like Emap (owners of Zoo Weekly) should be just a little more aware of and far more sensible about.

Life being what it is, I arrived home to see an email telling me that an alternative 2012 logo that I produced and published two weeks ago was reproduced in Zoo (right)… without permission or payment.

Recently, the people at Zoo have stopped pretending that these images are sent in by readers and have more or less admitted what some of us have suspected for quite some time; that they simply lift the bulk of the material for their ‘You’ve Got Spam’ feature from the front page of… in fact, the following message now appears in teeny-tiny print next to this weekly fixture (and appears to have been in use since February of this year):

“Except where specified, all pics from If you’re the person who took any of the spam pics, let us know. We’d love to give you a credit”

This appears to be a nod to the following PPA copyright advice;

If you want to use a photograph and you are not using a picture agency (they usually manage the copyright) you will have to make every effort to find the person who took the photograph… If all else fails and you cannot ascertain who owns the copyright you could show that you have acted in good faith by putting a statement to say that although every effort has been made to acknowledge all copyrights contained in the [magazine] [article] you would be interested in hearing from any copyright holders who have not been acknowledged.

But if you join me now on a short journey from image to creator, you can see that it’s only three simple (and rather direct) steps from image to profile to my website. Even if they don’t get that far, B3ta has a ‘send a message to this user’ feature.

I don’t think that ‘every effort’ was made to get in touch with me. In fact, it appears that no effort was made at all.

Judging by some of the past disputes that have popped up on the messageboard, this is typical of Emap’s attitude. Emap further complicate matters by dicking people around when they do get in touch to claim ownership.

Emap are also fond of throwing freebies at copyright owners, instead of paying money (and sometimes I can’t help but wonder if the sponsors know that their promotional goodies are used in this way).

Further, they’ve been maintaining this attitude for so long now that it becomes less likely as each day passes that they’ll be able to settle this ongoing matter amicably and/or without significant damage to their brand.

Zoo is your chum, you see… your cheery, happy-go-lucky chum. That’s a vulnerable brand, that is… and just take a look at some of the people involved in the past disputes that they’ve tried to settle, stymie or sweep under the carpet:

Beau Bo D’Or, The Great Architect, HappyToast… just stop for a moment and have a think about what these people happen to be very skilled at. Also consider that they have an obvious ability to reach Zoo’s readership.

Emap should take a step back and look at what they’re doing… for the sake of short-term gain, they’re motivating gifted communicators to subvert or damage their brand. Sooner or later, this is going to blow up in their faces.

Normally I invoice people for this kind of advice, but today I’ll be invoicing Emap for their use of an image in circumstances where I can easily prove ownership.

Later, I’ll be blogging the response.

(Tch… look at that… I’ve just become part of the problem.)

UPDATE – Relevant thread.

UPDATE (22 June) – Emap have offered to pay the invoice.

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