e mail

Even schools don't care about copyright

If you've been following my writings here on Pixiq and elsewhere, you'll have noticed that I have a bit of a bee under my bonnet about copyright. I've written articles about how infringing on my copyright harms me, and how me having an RSS feed here on Pixiq isn't an excuse to nick my articles.

It's something I'm passionate about, but obviously, it goes beyond that, too: I'm hoping that in the middle of all of this ranting and raving, that my fellow photographers learn something, and that the people who are infringing on copyright understand what the big deal is.

It was a dark and stormy night...

Rewind, for a moment, if you would, back to March 7th 2011. I am alerted by a piece of software I have written that there is a possible copyright infringement, and consequentially, I find a website kept by a teacher at a secondary school in Canada.

On his site, he has pasted a PDF for a photography club final assignment. Whilst I do think that was very good idea, he also copied a whole article from my site. Namely: Giving a Good Photo Critique. Whilst I'm flattered that he thinks it's a good article, I can't help but wonder: Since this is posted to a website, presumably the students have access to the internet, so just a link would suffice, right?

So, 160-something days ago, I send an e-mail to the school, including an invoice for them to pay, for unauthorised use of my content. I also sent the e-mail as a telefax, because I'm aware that e-mails sometimes get lost in school bureaucracies.

What did I expect to happen?

Following my e-mail and fax, I expected them to get back to me and apologise for using my content by mistake, and pleading with me over low school budgets etc, and a promise that it would never happen again.

In return, I would tell them that I thought copyright infringement by a secondary school is a serious matter. And then I would probably not enforce the invoice, because ultimately, any secondary school that has a photography club sounds like they are the good guys, right?

Well, it appears that isn't the case; Instead of getting a response, a whole lot of nothing happened.

A skipping record?

So, on April 9th, I sent another e-mail, this time including the principal, the teacher who copied the content, and the general information e-mail address for the school. The e-mail was met with a wall of deafening silence.

On 21 April, I sent another e-mail, this time to all of the above plus the Vice Principal, the two acting vice principals, and the person who is listed as the Accounts support staff person. Again, no reply whatsoever.

So, on May 10th, I sent them a letter (for the attention of the principal), pointing out the multiple times I had tried to contact them by e-mail, letter, and fax, which, again, was ignored.

On June 29th, I sent them yet another letter (again, with a copy by telefax), including the statement that "I trust that the lack of communication from yourselves is an oversight, and not an indication that [the school] is failing to take copyright seriously."

However, it doesn't seem that this particular secondary school gives a monkey's banana about copyright infringements: Even after sending three letters, four e-mails, and four faxes, all of which were addressed to the teacher in question and four different principals, I have heard exactly nothing back. Not a peep of apology, not a single query about my invoice, and no attempt to take the content down - it's been nearly half a year, but the PDF file in question is still on the website.

What is the message this sends to the kids?

On their own website, the school's principal writes that the school is all about Responsibility and Respect. However, I would say that not responding to eleven separate attempts to make the school aware of a copyright infringement doesn't particularly scream "respect" or, indeed, "responsibility" to me.

So, by not taking responsibility and acting in a simple matter of copyright infringement, what is the message the school is sending to their more than 1,000 students? That copyright isn't worth caring about, perhaps? Or that you don't have to deal with an issue when it crops up? Or maybe that if you ignore a problem for long enough, that it'll eventually go away?

I don't know; but I do know that I'm rather deeply unimpressed. I've already discovered that the police doesn't understand copyright, and now it turns out that schools don't really care that much either.

No wonder that a lot of us who are making a living by creating - whether it's photography or the written word - are struggling.

Finally - closure.

Soon after this article went live, the school's new principal called me, and we exchanged some e-mails. I also received an e-mail from the teacher who originally posted the material. He says he passed the invoice and complaint on, and assumed that somebody else had dealt with it, citing that the school is 'very busy' and that dealing with my complaint was 'not a high priority'.

Nonetheless, on September 12th, the school paid my invoice, and concluded the matter to everybody's satisfaction.

Just goes to show that sometimes, a little bit of public peer pressure is what it takes to be listened to.

Further Reading

This is part of a 4-story series:

  1. What is copyright, and how do infringements harm you?
  2. Protecting your copyright in a Digital World
  3. Just because it's in my RSS feed, doesn't mean you get to steal it
  4. Ignorance is no excuse

In addition, you might enjoy Police Fail: Copyright, what is that? and Even Schools Don't Care About Copyright...

Photocritic by Email!


I know a lot of you are deeply gutted whenever you miss an article on Photocritic. Well, I’d love to think that anyway. But guess what, now there’s a new way of staying up to date – by the power of Email! Such technology! Such splendour! Such a lot of words to basically just make an announcement which could have been done on Twitter! Oh well.


What would MacGyver do? Subscribe to Photocritic via e-mail, of course!

So, yes. In the sidebar of all my article pages, you will now find a small form with the header ‘Get Notified’. (so, if you’re reading this in a feed reader, this probably doesn’t apply to you, because clearly you’ve already found a way to stay up to date, but if you want to see the sidebar, you could try clicking on the permalink to the article you’re now reading. Ooh! Articles linking to themselves! How incredibly ouroborosesque)

In summary, there are three ways of reading Photocritic:

  • Check back often (three times a day would be nice, and will do wonders for my statistics
  • Get the RSS feed
  • Subscribe via e-mail (see the sidebar)

That’s all, folks!

- Haje

Do you enjoy a smattering of random photography links? Well, squire, I welcome thee to join me on Twitter -

© Kamps Consulting Ltd. This article is licenced for use on Pixiq only. Please do not reproduce wholly or in part without a license. More info.

Picking an SLR camera


Back in April, I did a Top 15 entry-level camera round-up, and it’s one of those posts where the comments stayed relatively calm, but I got tonnes of e-mail afterwards, with suggestions, comments etc. I was surprised at the level of passion people had about that one single article, but it got me thinking: I love trying to come up with interesting ways of doing photography, but what if people really want some buying advice? I discovered long ago that this particular blog isn’t really the place, but still… I figured I could do better than a top 15…

So I decided to launch a new website to help you out.


Every week, I get a huge stack of e-mails from readers (well, I get lots of e-mails, I don’t actually print them out and put them in a stack, that’d be ludicrous) who want some help finding a Digital SLR camera. Every time, I have to send them away again, because, well, I’ll be honest with you: While I love, and know a fair bit about photography, my knowledge of actual cameras is limited.

Sure, I’ve used most of the DSLR cameras Canon have launched over the years, and I’ve probably given Canon more than their fair share of my money in the past decade, too, but the truth of the matter is that I’m reluctant to give people advice. I don’t want to re-spark the age-old Canon-Versus-Nikon debate every time I do so either, because frankly, cameras are so good nowadays, that it’s unlikely to be the camera that’ll be the bottleneck in your creative process – it’s the photographer.

On the other hand, I hate sending people away – I like to pride myself on being useful and helpful, and it bothered me that I was unable to help. So I decided to come up with a solution.

Some of you may have noticed that a list of D-SLR cameras appeared on the right of this page – well, that was part of a testing phase, which now is finished, and I’m proud to launch Photocritic SLR.

For every dSLR currently on sale, I have:

  • Researched it, and written an introduciton
  • Gotten a photo of it from the manufacturers
  • Found out what it costs, roughly
  • Found some of the best reviews of each camera out there

As I said, I willingly admit that I can’t give particularly thorough advice, but there are dozens of websites out there that can. As such, the Photocritic SLR site gives you a chance to get a rough overview of the market, and delve into the details in all the reviews that are out there.

Best of all, if you, in your journeys, come across a brilliant review that I’ve somehow missed, you can add the review to the right camera yourself! Fabulous.

So go on, if you’re in the market for a camera, check out Photocritic SLR. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Do you enjoy a smattering of random photography links? Well, squire, I welcome thee to join me on Twitter -

© Kamps Consulting Ltd. This article is licenced for use on Pixiq only. Please do not reproduce wholly or in part without a license. More info.