Noam Galai’s Stolen Scream

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The Stolen Scream: A Story About Noam Galai from FStoppers on Vimeo.

A lot has been written about improper use of images, copyright and the rights of photographers but this video is a great living example of one photographer (Noam Galai) and his experience of having one of his images used in hundreds of instances without his permission – on numerous accounts for financial gain of others.

Video produced by fstoppers.

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • Hi

    I empathize with Noam and thoroughly enjoyed this video. In retrospect, his image bears some resemblance to one I took in profile view – I had no idea about his shot so any similarity is mere coincidence. I might have another look at the one I shot almost straight on – I bet the similarities become stronger.

    Regards, Erik

    Ice Fish: http://t.co/GW23Sk9

  • House Mommy

    Wow! What a wake-up call! And, how sad that some people will stoop to claiming that his photo is theirs. I can understand how some would use the image to emphasis a cause, but to use it to make money without asking…I call that down-right larceny!

    Certainly could give many photographers second thoughts about posting outstanding photos anywhere on the internet.

  • All this guy needs is a lawyer, and he’ll be dirty rich.

  • Paul

    In response to “house mommy” I had a much lesser experience on photo thievery. Several years ago my wife posted a photo of a bird I took on some site she subscribed to. Several months later she found a site that had a bird picture contest where my photo won the contest but had someone elses name on it. she went back to the site that she posted that photo and sure enough it was the picture I took, this really peeved her. Now I don’t let anything out there unless I at least put some kind of watermark on it in a very conspicuous place.

  • Sadly, you need to register works of art in the US to get “full” protection. IIRC you need to register with 90 days to be able to claim for anything other than loss of earnings.

  • Companies who have made money on this image are guilty of theft; any self-respecting organization would send Noam a big fat check once they discovered the photograph was his. I would be interested to know what resolution the original picture posted on Flickr was. Would posting a very low res. have made any difference? For example, could a 400×600 px at 72dpi be used to print the image on T-shirts, or in magazines?

  • Lon

    That is a really great image that Noam created (the one with the low, oblique perspective). I can understand why so many people would want to use it – it is powerful, conveys strong anger and emotion, and is binary meaning it can be used in all sorts of mediums (silkscreening, graffitti etc) and doesn’t lose its “quality” when reproduced. Absolutely Noam deserves the credit for his work along with the vast royalties that he should rightfully be collecting. He seems upset that so many have misused it, altered it, taken credit for it – obviously some have blatantly stole from him, where I think others are either just lazy or genuinely don’t understand how to go about crediting an artist. I think for many people the idea of public domain and copyright is hard to comprehend, but I think most of us would want talented artists like Noam to prosper for their wonderful creations. It is inexcusable that even other artists such as graphic designers, journalists, publishers, painters and sculptors would do this to one their own, but it is the internet and reprodicing digital files all over the world is what it does best. And for Noam, its not like this is over, the whole point of copyright law is not to legislate morality but to give producers the legal rights to seek compensation for ingringement of their IP, and the power of the internet and sites like tineye.com are the tools he has at his disposal to do so.

  • Phil

    I believe it has been stated time and time again that posting of photos on the internet should have some kind of watermark…Some people have no scruples when it comes to this type of theft. A lesson can be learned by anyone who places any kind of artistic work on the net that there should be some kind of copyright. And even that is no guarantee…

  • Lorenzo

    The worst and the best of the Internet. That’s all. You can’t publish anything pretending not to be used by others. That’s quite a jungle out there. I totally agree you should always be recognized as the author. In real life anyway you’re publishing an image and making it available to others. I don’t know how you feel about it, but I’d be glad to see my pictures used in most of the situations. As Noam said, I think what makes the difference is making money from them.

  • Mei Teng

    Stealing isn’t just confined to physical things. Integrity is rare these days.

  • I love this story. While I’m upset along with other people profiting from the image, I’m inspired by the movements using it. I also hope that the many photographers out there that are stealing music for their own websites will see this and make the connection.

  • Howes Photography

    It’s sad when large companies, book publishers, etc. think that it’s all right to steal photos from Flickr. It’s even worse when you realize that these large companies have been around long before digital photography and have legal departments that fully understand copyright issues. Shame on them!

    I wonder if Noam could hire a copyright attorney on spec to go after some of the infringement. At least the book, magazine, and the woman selling Glicé art prints would result in a good settlement.

  • Great story which has convinced me to use Digimarc on my images and to register them with the copyright office. Not that hard or expensive to do and the fines are pretty hefty for violating the copyright. Most large companies will back off if misuse is brought to their attention.

  • Susie

    Incredible, fame no fortune………….. sad

  • Mark

    He definitely needs a lawyer. A good lawyer would track down infringing uses and request a strong fee from the abusers or sue them. In the US, you are protected the minute you print a hard copy of your image(the digital image cannot be copyrighted until made physical), but to take anyone to trial you need to register the copyright. This is very inexpensive to do and is worth it, but you do not need to register every image unless you have a legal action that you want to pursue. International lawsuits are very difficult to pursue unless the offender is a large corporation.

    Flicker is really a bad thing for photography when you look at the total impact. It is hard to sell images when so many can be stolen so easily. So yes as ugly as they are watermarks must be used and not little ones in the corners or edges. I rarely post images and mostly at critique sites. If I am unhappy with an image for some reason, the critiques are helpful at improving the image. In these cases I feel the gain is worth the risk, but I do not post the final image after improvements are made! I guess the bottom line is: Post at your own risk!

    PS I have taken several college courses regarding US Copyright as applied to computer programming and they had chapters on general guidelines that specifically mentioned photography.

  • steve

    Read before you upload. Most sites have terms to which you must agree before you can use them (that “I agree” box you check mindlessly while proceeding to the next step). Read them carefully- you may be agreeing to give that website the rights to modify, copy and dsitribute your work. For instance, here is the verbage from Snapfish’s agreement:

    “…as a condition to your Membership, you hereby grant Snapfish a perpetual, universal, non-exclusive, royalty-free right to copy, display, modify, transmit, make derivative works of, and distribute your Content, solely for providing or improving the Service. ”

    They at least limit their right to use the work soley for providing or improving the service. Other sites may not limit themselves so ethically. Once you’ve agreed to their terms, you may have little recourse.

  • Stephanie

    That is awful that so many profited off of his talent and work. What an amazing picture. I hope that this publicity gets him recognized and perhaps allows him the chance to succeed off future work. Such a horrible thing to happen but I sure am grateful for the knowledge of how dishonest other people/companies can be, and how to protect our work. Hopefully his story will prevent this from happening to others.

  • Lille

    My-
    I have heard it done to an RU student. Career services offered and promoted a program to create a post Graphic Design Portfolios. Within minutes her portfolio was stolen.

    I have heard another similar story, watered down. When it’s global, it is something else.

  • re

    Lawyer ? way too late…

  • Stephanie

    @Alan. Agreed about the comment regarding music for web-sights. I’m planning on launching my web-sight/photography business very soon and was actually curious about music on the web-sight and how to go about using it correctly. You wouldn’t happen to have any guidance would you?

  • Eijei3

    Oh my word, that is so striking. I’d be so shocked.

  • @stephanie. Run a search for “Royalty Free Music.” “Triple Scoop Music” has a very nice selection and loves photographers. Or if you have an unlimited budget, you could license music through BMI and use almost any song you want.

  • is there a quick way to watermark all pix already uploaded to flickr?

Some Older Comments

  • Andrés March 24, 2011 01:35 pm

    http://www.imdosoc.org/?p=3447

  • shaun/tenzenmen March 16, 2011 02:20 pm

    is there a quick way to watermark all pix already uploaded to flickr?

  • Alan March 14, 2011 02:23 pm

    @stephanie. Run a search for "Royalty Free Music." "Triple Scoop Music" has a very nice selection and loves photographers. Or if you have an unlimited budget, you could license music through BMI and use almost any song you want.

  • Eijei3 March 14, 2011 05:52 am

    Oh my word, that is so striking. I'd be so shocked.

  • Stephanie March 13, 2011 11:02 am

    @Alan. Agreed about the comment regarding music for web-sights. I'm planning on launching my web-sight/photography business very soon and was actually curious about music on the web-sight and how to go about using it correctly. You wouldn't happen to have any guidance would you?

  • re March 13, 2011 04:27 am

    Lawyer ? way too late...

  • Lille March 11, 2011 01:43 pm

    My-
    I have heard it done to an RU student. Career services offered and promoted a program to create a post Graphic Design Portfolios. Within minutes her portfolio was stolen.

    I have heard another similar story, watered down. When it's global, it is something else.

  • Stephanie March 11, 2011 10:33 am

    That is awful that so many profited off of his talent and work. What an amazing picture. I hope that this publicity gets him recognized and perhaps allows him the chance to succeed off future work. Such a horrible thing to happen but I sure am grateful for the knowledge of how dishonest other people/companies can be, and how to protect our work. Hopefully his story will prevent this from happening to others.

  • steve March 11, 2011 05:46 am

    Read before you upload. Most sites have terms to which you must agree before you can use them (that "I agree" box you check mindlessly while proceeding to the next step). Read them carefully- you may be agreeing to give that website the rights to modify, copy and dsitribute your work. For instance, here is the verbage from Snapfish's agreement:

    "...as a condition to your Membership, you hereby grant Snapfish a perpetual, universal, non-exclusive, royalty-free right to copy, display, modify, transmit, make derivative works of, and distribute your Content, solely for providing or improving the Service. "

    They at least limit their right to use the work soley for providing or improving the service. Other sites may not limit themselves so ethically. Once you've agreed to their terms, you may have little recourse.

  • Mark March 11, 2011 04:21 am

    He definitely needs a lawyer. A good lawyer would track down infringing uses and request a strong fee from the abusers or sue them. In the US, you are protected the minute you print a hard copy of your image(the digital image cannot be copyrighted until made physical), but to take anyone to trial you need to register the copyright. This is very inexpensive to do and is worth it, but you do not need to register every image unless you have a legal action that you want to pursue. International lawsuits are very difficult to pursue unless the offender is a large corporation.

    Flicker is really a bad thing for photography when you look at the total impact. It is hard to sell images when so many can be stolen so easily. So yes as ugly as they are watermarks must be used and not little ones in the corners or edges. I rarely post images and mostly at critique sites. If I am unhappy with an image for some reason, the critiques are helpful at improving the image. In these cases I feel the gain is worth the risk, but I do not post the final image after improvements are made! I guess the bottom line is: Post at your own risk!

    PS I have taken several college courses regarding US Copyright as applied to computer programming and they had chapters on general guidelines that specifically mentioned photography.

  • Susie March 11, 2011 03:54 am

    Incredible, fame no fortune.............. sad

  • Fred Gary March 11, 2011 03:25 am

    Great story which has convinced me to use Digimarc on my images and to register them with the copyright office. Not that hard or expensive to do and the fines are pretty hefty for violating the copyright. Most large companies will back off if misuse is brought to their attention.

  • Howes Photography March 11, 2011 03:20 am

    It's sad when large companies, book publishers, etc. think that it's all right to steal photos from Flickr. It's even worse when you realize that these large companies have been around long before digital photography and have legal departments that fully understand copyright issues. Shame on them!

    I wonder if Noam could hire a copyright attorney on spec to go after some of the infringement. At least the book, magazine, and the woman selling Glicé art prints would result in a good settlement.

  • Alan March 11, 2011 02:42 am

    I love this story. While I'm upset along with other people profiting from the image, I'm inspired by the movements using it. I also hope that the many photographers out there that are stealing music for their own websites will see this and make the connection.

  • Mei Teng March 11, 2011 01:22 am

    Stealing isn't just confined to physical things. Integrity is rare these days.

  • Lorenzo March 10, 2011 08:43 pm

    The worst and the best of the Internet. That's all. You can't publish anything pretending not to be used by others. That's quite a jungle out there. I totally agree you should always be recognized as the author. In real life anyway you're publishing an image and making it available to others. I don't know how you feel about it, but I'd be glad to see my pictures used in most of the situations. As Noam said, I think what makes the difference is making money from them.

  • Phil March 10, 2011 05:34 pm

    I believe it has been stated time and time again that posting of photos on the internet should have some kind of watermark...Some people have no scruples when it comes to this type of theft. A lesson can be learned by anyone who places any kind of artistic work on the net that there should be some kind of copyright. And even that is no guarantee...

  • Lon March 10, 2011 04:02 pm

    That is a really great image that Noam created (the one with the low, oblique perspective). I can understand why so many people would want to use it - it is powerful, conveys strong anger and emotion, and is binary meaning it can be used in all sorts of mediums (silkscreening, graffitti etc) and doesn't lose its "quality" when reproduced. Absolutely Noam deserves the credit for his work along with the vast royalties that he should rightfully be collecting. He seems upset that so many have misused it, altered it, taken credit for it - obviously some have blatantly stole from him, where I think others are either just lazy or genuinely don't understand how to go about crediting an artist. I think for many people the idea of public domain and copyright is hard to comprehend, but I think most of us would want talented artists like Noam to prosper for their wonderful creations. It is inexcusable that even other artists such as graphic designers, journalists, publishers, painters and sculptors would do this to one their own, but it is the internet and reprodicing digital files all over the world is what it does best. And for Noam, its not like this is over, the whole point of copyright law is not to legislate morality but to give producers the legal rights to seek compensation for ingringement of their IP, and the power of the internet and sites like tineye.com are the tools he has at his disposal to do so.

  • Elizabeth Coughlan March 10, 2011 03:18 pm

    Companies who have made money on this image are guilty of theft; any self-respecting organization would send Noam a big fat check once they discovered the photograph was his. I would be interested to know what resolution the original picture posted on Flickr was. Would posting a very low res. have made any difference? For example, could a 400x600 px at 72dpi be used to print the image on T-shirts, or in magazines?

  • Andy Mills March 10, 2011 12:28 pm

    Sadly, you need to register works of art in the US to get "full" protection. IIRC you need to register with 90 days to be able to claim for anything other than loss of earnings.

  • Paul March 10, 2011 12:21 pm

    In response to "house mommy" I had a much lesser experience on photo thievery. Several years ago my wife posted a photo of a bird I took on some site she subscribed to. Several months later she found a site that had a bird picture contest where my photo won the contest but had someone elses name on it. she went back to the site that she posted that photo and sure enough it was the picture I took, this really peeved her. Now I don't let anything out there unless I at least put some kind of watermark on it in a very conspicuous place.

  • Danferno March 10, 2011 09:23 am

    All this guy needs is a lawyer, and he'll be dirty rich.

  • House Mommy March 10, 2011 07:32 am

    Wow! What a wake-up call! And, how sad that some people will stoop to claiming that his photo is theirs. I can understand how some would use the image to emphasis a cause, but to use it to make money without asking...I call that down-right larceny!

    Certainly could give many photographers second thoughts about posting outstanding photos anywhere on the internet.

  • Erik Kerstenbeck March 10, 2011 06:54 am

    Hi

    I empathize with Noam and thoroughly enjoyed this video. In retrospect, his image bears some resemblance to one I took in profile view - I had no idea about his shot so any similarity is mere coincidence. I might have another look at the one I shot almost straight on - I bet the similarities become stronger.

    Regards, Erik

    Ice Fish: http://t.co/GW23Sk9

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