Copyright Infringement: ‘The Lady Loves Couture’ Published My Work Without Authorization
Today-i.e. the 26th October 2016- at around 5.30am, I discovered that a digital fashion and lifestyle platform titled, The Lady Loves Couture published an image on their digital platform and Instagram that I had styled and am creative director of. The picture was featured without authorization and just as importantly, the image was published on The Lady Loves Couture without any team credits. If it looks like copyright infringement and smells like copyright infringement, then it most likely is copyright infringement. Oh and another thing- Lady Loves Couture is an online platform owned by Majorie Harvey. That’s Steve Harvey’s wife. Steve Harvey the legendary American comedian, television host, producer, radio personality and author. Continue Reading…
First things first, lets start of with the image in question-
On 10th October 2012, I published the above image on my blog- My Fashion S/ash Life- the post was titled, Teaser Shots From Online Editorial Project.
As you can see the post clearly stated the team credits for this look which are as follows-
Creative Direction and Stylist- Biki John
Photographer- Frauke Fischer
Hair and Makeup- Servullo Mendez
Model- Tara Rodgers at Modelwerk
My contact details are stated clearly on my blog and Instagram, despite this The Lady Loves Couture used the above image without authorization on their following platforms-
The Lady Loves Couture’s blog- Published on 25th October 2016
The image was used in the below article titled, Style School: Sheer Delight
The Lady Loves Couture’s Instagram- Published on 25th October 2016
As you can see from both The Lady Loves Couture’s blog and Instagram- my image was used and no team credits were given.
So where do I go from here? The next obvious step is to contact The Lady Loves Couture. However I chose to write this article first because quite simply- the company should have known better. If you visit their site you will see The Lady Loves Couture’s team consists of a ‘blog editor in chic’, content director, director of PR & social media, fashion photographer and photo editor.
I find it hard to believe that with all these esteemed titles, no one on the team knows that if you want to use someone’s image you find online, you need to seek permission and be granted authorization from the source. I find it quite ironic that the title of the blog they used my image is titled, Style School: Sheer Delight. Dear The Lady Loves Couture, it appears you need to be schooled on copyright infringement/abuse/violation.
This article is to educate The Lady Loves Couture so that in the future they seek permission before using or what some might say- stealing images online. I am not out for blood or lawsuits but one day another photographer might be. Assuming that using my image without permission was a mistake made by The Lady Loves Couture, this article is to let them know that it is not a mistake they can afford to make again. Literally.
For those of you thinking- hey the photographer took this image, so it’s their copyright that has been infringed. This is normally true, however in this case the project was executed by me- I sourced, paid and directed the team. I was also the one who used the image online with the express consent of the photographer.
So back to the topic at hand, The Lady Loves Couture-yes, but obviously- The Lady does not love copyright law.
Another thing is when I contact The Lady Loves Couture, many things might happen- for instance, they may never respond. I’ve worked in the fashion industry for over 10 years and I’ll tell you that moral ethics are hard to find. Before this morning, I had never heard of The Lady Loves Couture and have no idea of their popularity, however I know they have one big thing, a huge name behind them- Majorie Harvey. The wife of media icon, Steve Harvey. In addition, they have 311K Instagram Followers. This sure beats my lil’ name- Biki John and my 230 Instagram Followers. I know how majority of fashion people think- when I send them my email they are likely to factor in that I am not ‘a name’, that I don’t have a lot of Instagram Followers and so this may lead them to either ignore my email completly, reply to my email but not address the issues, simply change the image in their blog post without responding to me and addressing the issue etc.
This is why I love social media, yes it is a double-edged sword in that companies can use your image without permission and are more likely to get away with it, but it also means that you can alert the public via social media if a company does do this.
Let me also stress here- I would have been more than happy for The Lady Loves Couture to feature my image if they had sought my permission first and we could have come to an agreement on how the image would be used.
Before I end this article, for photographers who wake up to find their images used without permission as I just have, Daniel J. Schneider states you must do the following 3 things immediately-
- Take a screenshot of the page
- Save the link to the page where your image is displayed
- Right click the image and choose “Copy image URL,” then save that URL to the image itself on the server*
Lastly, I chose to stop being a full-time editorial & runway stylist for a reason but it’s an art form that is in my blood. In my 20s I would not have been able to say what I can say now in my 30s- I have a talent for it. And not only that, my work is timeless- the image above was shot in 2012 and looks like it was shot a minute ago. The look has a lot of me in it- the turban, belt and sequinned bolero the model is wearing are all mine. But it’s not all about me- the shoot would not have been created without my amazingly talented team.
In using my picture, The Lady Loves Couture has proved they know talent when they see it, they have a good eye…but where do they stand with right and wrong, or quite specifically in this case- copyright infringement?
I will contact The Lady Loves Couture and let you know. Follow the development of this story on my Instastories and Facebook Page.
Black lace blouse- Irene Luft
Mauve palazzo pants- Marcel Ostertag
Bolero, belt and turban- Vintage (Stylist’s Own)
Black sandals- Scholl