A copyright conversation

Last week, after I inspected the Facebook profile of someone who had sent me a friend request on that service, I found a photograph of Denise Belfon that I'd shot in use as part of a promotional poster on their page.

I left a note making my ownership of the image clear and noting my disapproval of the illegal use.
That's the image in the poster at left.
Soon after, two things happened. The friend request was withdrawn and someone claiming to represent Ms Belfon struck up a Facebook chat with me to discuss the matter.

I reproduce that discussion, having removed the name of the person who claimed to be working on Ms Belfon's behalf, in the interests of a better understanding of the issues related to copyright ownership and the common misunderstandings that underpin such abuses.

I am currently under no illusions that this discussion has advanced either the position or the understanding of the person who communicated with me, but perhaps someone, somewhere might begin to understand the nature of copyright and the value of respecting it.

Alleged Denise Belfon Representative (ADBR)
Hi, my name is Mr. XXXX, Ms. Belfon's assistant. I understand that today you sent a message informing a promoter that you were the owner of an Image of Ms. Belfon, can you enlighten me as to how this is possible? Can you message me, Thanks.

Mark Lyndersay
The photograph used in that promotional piece is my work. I am an independent professional who licensed the work for one time publication in Womanwise Magazine.
I hold the copyright on that work and its use is controlled by me. That said, I actually would have allowed its use if someone had been polite enough to ask. That did not happen.
Just as I cannot use the photograph commercially without reference to Ms Belfon, I expect the courtesy to run both ways.

Okay, that being said, that photo is all over the internet, and who is to know that you own the "so called" copyright, for anyone to be polite enough to ask you for permission to use it?

Mark Lyndersay
Well, I don't agree that it's "all over the Internet." It's on my website. The way most people find it is using a Google search,
like this one...
That turns up the photo with the website information watermarked into it. I have a contact page on my website which makes it really easy to get in touch with me via e-mail. That's a pretty lame position to take given the circumstances.

Well, I also, think it's a lame take on fighting for a photo of someone's Image and Likeness, that you could claim you own!!! and in any case you actually, don't know what you are saying when you say you don't agree that it's all over the internet, it's clear you don't do enough researching.

Mark Lyndersay
Okay, so let's see where we are. I own the copyright on this photograph of Ms Belfon. I hold the master RAW file for this photograph and that is uncontested. I am the photographer and under local copyright laws, I am the only person who is allowed to license it.
Had the promoter come to me directly and asked to use the photograph, I would have contacted Ms Belfon to let her know about the request and asked for her permission to licence the image for that use.
I would have done that, because I respect her rights as my subject and I do not take lightly that she undertook to pose for the session.

You on the other hand, seem quite keen to disrespect my position as the creator of the image and my rights in doing so. I am not currently aware of any other unlawful use of the image and would take exactly the same position with anyone else that I found using the photograph without my permission.
I wish I had the time to run down everyone who steals my work, but that takes time away from creating new work, but I do what I can when I can.

I find your tone unpleasant, nonconciliatory and downright rude and I am not clear exactly what you hope to accomplish by such pointless hostility.
I might have expected someone in your position to explain how this happened, if you are aware of how it happened, to ask permission to use the image formally and to convey my response to the promoter and to undertake to use only images over which Ms Belfon has full control in the future.

Instead, you are being combative and irritating.
I can only hope that you perform your other duties for Ms Belfon with greater control over yourself than you have done here.

You seem to be saying things, that to me, in a tone that i myself don't appreciate. Okay you mentioned if the promoter had contacted you, you would have contacted Ms. Belfon, what would that call be about? you both sharing in the profits of whatever he would have paid? Annoying, what I find annoying is when people like you run behind copyrights etc... for your own gain. But, no one gave anyone permission to use the photo, you speak as if somebody on this team did.

Mark Lyndersay
If that tone is one of ownership, well then you'll just have to get used to that. I live by licensing my work and take a dim view when it's used without my permission. If you don't care for the way I do business, then you may feel free to continue to exercise your right to ignore my services.

If the promoter had called I would have discussed the matter with Ms Belfon. I do not have the right to make commercial use of the photograph without reference to her rights to her likeness. If Ms Belfon chose to levy a fee on the promoter for the use of her likeness, that would have been her choice.

I simply would have wished to be paid for the use of my photograph. Or I might have let it go with no charge, but I wouldn't have allowed that use either without letting Ms Belfon know that her image was being used for commercial gain.
That's how polite, professional do business in the world that I live in.

So yes, I do "run behind" my copyright, because it's what I have to sell and I do so for my own gain - I believe that's called business - but not without reference to my creative partners in the process.
I have no opinion about what Ms Belfon's team's perspective on this matter is since I am not privy to it beyond your bluntly aggressive discussion with me here.

If you find my responses annoying, then so be it, as long as my position is clear. I have no issue with Ms Belfon, only with the illegal use of my work.
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