Facebook Pixel Photo "Stolen" From Art Gallery, Used on Magazine Cover Without Permission

Photo “Stolen” From Art Gallery, Used on Magazine Cover Without Permission

Last week, The Big Issue published an interview with renowned filmmaker David Lynch.

And the magazine put a headshot of David Lynch on the cover.

All of this would have been fine…

…except that the headshot of David Lynch wasn’t actually a headshot at all.

Instead, it was a photo of a framed David Lynch photo. The original was taken by Nadav Kander and displayed as part of a gallery exhibition.

In other words, a photographer attended Kander’s exhibition, took a photo of the framed David Lynch portrait, and the photo ended up on The Big Issue’s front cover. Note that this thoroughly violates copyright law, as Kander has ownership over all of his gallery images.

Kander vented his frustrations via Instagram:

[A] ”photographer” goes to one of my exhibitions and photographs my framed print of David Lynch…Unbelievable blatant copyright infringement. Sad behaviour and more. I would never have wanted this photograph sold.

View this post on Instagram

READ THIS: a”photographer” goes to one of my exhibitions and photographs my framed print of David Lynch. He uploads this picture to a stock site called Alamy. Now this week The BiG Issue which is a magazine in the U.K. publishes a interview with David and buys this despicably shot picture of my photograph, crops in and uses it on the cover of the mag this week. Unbelievable blatant copyright infringement. Sad behaviour and more. I would never have wanted This photograph sold…So photographer who did this, kindly call my studio and we should talk. My alternative is to just go up an avenue that is less than pleasant for you. I wish now I had not got your name taken down off the BI site. Then all could have seen you and “your picture”. My god I work hard to make my work what it is… but this is doubly insulting because added to this your site states clearly that permission should be sought before using your work!!! Go figure. #copyright #copyrightingringement #impissedoff

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How it happened

But how did this happen? How did The Big Issue, a reputable magazine, end up with a stolen photo on its cover?

As it turns out, The Big Issue did not purchase the David Lynch image directly. Instead, the image came from the stock site Alamy, which sold the image to The Big Issue.

The Big Issue writes, in response to Kander’s anger:

Hi Nadav, we’re very sorry you feel aggrieved. This image was sourced by the art team. They discovered it on Alamy. It’s a great image that we felt would help move the magazine. We told Alamy what we were doing and neither tried to pull the wool over anybody’s eyes nor get away without paying.

The first we discovered about the issues with the image was when your agency got in touch at the start of the week. Clearly, Alamy have some explaining to do. We would never intentionally do this. As an organisation that serves the complex needs of thousands of our vendors each year, we understand the need to meet emotional distress with sensitivity. We hope this goes some way to explaining the situation. If you would like to discuss further, please DM us.

This apology would probably be fine, putting the blame squarely on Alamy and the photographer. Except that it turns out the stock image purchased by The Big Issue is different from the image that appears on the magazine cover.

Specifically, the David Lynch photo-of-a-photo acquired by The Big Issue showed a clear frame, as well as an information plaque. It also included shadows that fell across the glass:

But The Big Issue cropped out the frame and the information plaque, apparently oblivious to the photo’s illegal nature.

(Since then, the photo has been removed from The Big Issue’s website, as well as from Alamy.)


Who do you think is to blame for this fiasco?

Is it the fault of the photographer, who took the picture and sold it to Alamy?

Is it the fault of the stock agency, Alamy, who put the photo up for sale on its site? Or is it the fault of The Big Issue for using a questionable photo in the first place?

Let me know right now in the comments!


Featured image photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

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Jaymes Dempsey
Jaymes Dempsey

is a macro photographer from Ann Arbor, Michigan. To learn how to take stunning nature photos, check out his free eBook, Mastering Nature Photography: 7 Secrets For Incredible Nature Photos! And to see more of Jaymes’s work check out his website and his blog.