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On Email Requests for Copyright Advice

Dear reader, I receive more than the occasional email request for information or advice. And I happily respond. But I cannot advise anybody in regards to somebody else’s images or copyright constraints on images from a third party website. Even in a general sense. I am not a lawyer.

I received an email today that fit this scenario to a tee – a general question about whether the emailer could print a high quality image of a picture they found online of themselves in flight. A friend had spotted it.

At first I thought they were asking to print a street photograph that I’d published online with them as a subject. My answer to that will always be Of course! If you’re in a picture that I shoot then nothing would make me happier than to have you print it. I offered the guy a higher resolution copy if he’d point me to the specific image. My banter was casual and friendly.

The sender got upset at my first response and wrote that I had been insulting. Very odd. So I scratched my head and got advice – Oh you want to download and print a copy of a picture you’re in from a third party website and want my advice. By this stage they’d bugged out, though. They didn’t reply again.

So here’s my answer. Just in case the reader comes across this post for future reference.

Contact the owner of the photograph. Or the website publisher. I really can’t offer any advice on how to treat other peoples’ intellectual property rights. Whether you’re in their photograph or not. I do know that the picture you see on the website is probably highly optimised and won’t offer the best printing quality so your best bet will always be to approach the correct person politely. You get a lot further with a coherent question in the first instance and a smile.

What you don’t do is send an unsolicited email to somebody like me with an unclear question that may be vague to understand on the first read. And nothing is more insulting than having a total stranger get antsy with me for trying to help.

That’s just the wrong way on so many levels. Think about that one for a week or two – it should make sense. You sent me an unsolicited email and then became rude.

I don’t mind giving advice (and opinion) but I don’t get paid for it. Just be nice.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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