Auto-playing videos come to Facebook

Oh joy! Facebook has embarked on a steady roll-out programme to bring auto-playing videos to all of its users. It started with Android devices, progressed to iPhones, and now the team at TechCrunch has noted that it has made it to desktop. Let us, however, be thankful for small mercies: these self-playing videos will remain silent until you click on them to enable the volume. At least you won't suffer the indignity of perfect strangers knowing that you're checking Facebook in a public loo, or being shown up at work as not concentrating on that deeply thrilling spreadsheet as much as your colleagues believed you were. It's only videos that have been uploaded directly Facebook or shared from Instagram that will play automatically; anything else sits in suspended animation. Do then, be kind to your Facebook friends and link video from YouTube, Vimeo, or elsewhere. Of course, this move fits in with Facebook's need to make make money. Next stop: auto-playing video advertisements.

Facebook video screen shot

There's no way that you can disable video auto-play entirely. However, if you need to watch your data download limits on your mobile network, you can ensure that videos will only auto-play when you're connected via wi-fi. For iPhone users it's Settings > Facebook > Settings > Auto-play videos on WiFi only. Not that this is much consolation for people living where wi-fi bundles aren't cheap and data limits are tight.

Adobe's security breach in October was far more serious than believed

Adobe announced that it had suffered a security breach in early October that had resulted in the compromise of approximately 3 million customers' data as well as the loss of some proprietary source code. Attackers made away with customers' names, encrypted payment card numbers, and card expiration dates as well as the code for the ColdFusion web application and its Acrobat programmes. KrebsOnSecurity, the firm that spotted the initial attack has now placed the figure of customers affected by the breach at some 38 million, and the source code that was lifted is also said to include Photoshop. According to the KrebsOnSecurity blog, it has taken some time to uncover the extent of the violation because:

At the time, a massive trove of stolen Adobe account data viewed by KrebsOnSecurity indicated that — in addition to the credit card records – tens of millions of user accounts across various Adobe online properties may have been compromised in the break-in. It was difficult to fully examine many of the files on the hackers’ server that housed the stolen source because many of the directories were password protected, and Adobe was reluctant to speculate on the number of users potentially impacted.

Over the weekend, a large file of username and hashed password pairs was posted by, which appear to be Adobe account details.

Adobe has contacted all of the active customers whom it believes to have been affected and claims that there has been no 'unauthorised activity' on any of the compromised accounts since the attack. It now remains for the inactive customers to be contacted. And regardless of whether users were active or inactive, their passwords were reset if Adobe believed that they were affected by the attack.

Whether Adobe chose to downplay the extent of the attack earlier in the month because it couldn't be certain of the number of affected customers or because it prefered to minimise the damage does not present it in the best light. One scenario makes it look careless, the other deceptive. I wonder how many customers are now looking for alternative products and providers... or waiting for a replicant based on the stolen code?

(Headsup to Engadget)

Update! Heather Edell, Adobe's Senior Manager of Corporate Communications emailed me in the early hours of 30 October. She stated that:

In our public disclosure, we communicated the information we could validate. As we have been going through the process of notifying customers whose Adobe IDs and passwords we believe to be involved, we have been eliminating invalid records. Any number communicated in the meantime would have been inaccurate. So far, our investigation has confirmed that the attackers obtained access to Adobe IDs and what were at the time valid, encrypted passwords for approximately 38 million active users. We have completed email notification of these users. We believe the attackers also obtained access to many invalid Adobe IDs, inactive Adobe IDs, Adobe IDs with invalid encrypted passwords, and test account data. We are still in the process of investigating the number of inactive, invalid and test accounts involved in the incident. Our notification to inactive users is ongoing. We currently have no indication that there has been unauthorized activity on any Adobe ID account involved in the incident.

In short: 2.8 million users had their names, encrypted payment card numbers, and card expiration dates filched by the attackers. An additional 38 million users had their user IDs and encrypted passwords stolen. However, because Adobe was unable to validate the number of users affected by the loss of user IDs and encrypted passwords, it did not disclose this initially. It has waited until it has more accurate figures.

Canon launches its Student Network to get in with the pros of tomorrow

In an attempt to help the next generation of photographers build on both their creative and business skills (and maybe get their claws into them as camera users), Canon has launched the Canon Student Network in collaboration with 11 universities in the UK and Ireland. Being developed in conjunction with these universities, it's meant to act as a complement to their courses. The programme offers opportunities for students on relevant courses to see what it's really like to be a professional fashion photographer at London Fashion Week, or to turn their hands to sports, wildlife, portrait and wedding photography. There are also seminars being laid on across the country and online courses that make use of current professionals' experience and knowledge, competition prizes, and the all-important networking potential, too.

Canon Student Network

To join, first year students need to be studying photography (or its equivalent course) at Ravensbourne, Norwich University, City of Westminster College, Leicester College, Reid Kerr College, Middlesex University, Plymouth College of Art, University of the Arts London, University of East London, University College Falmouth, or Griffith College, and they must sign up to Project 1709, Canon's online image management system. Second year students also need to own a current Canon dSLR and lens (but no one says that they actually have to use it). There's no third year sign-up option at the moment. That'll come in the next academic year, which is rather unfortunate for anyone who's currently in her or his final year. But for those who're are there now, it is free and might be worth checking out.

Interested students can check out the terms and conditions and register if they fancy over on the Canon Student Network website.

CSR Pictures, a stock agency devoted to corporate social responsibility images, wants contributors

There are hundreds of stock agencies out there, so if you want to break into the market, you have be certain of at least two things; first, that you're providing a service that buyers are demanding and second, that your business model is one that photographers will be happy to supply. On the Ground Media thinks it has identified a niche and from early 2014, it hopes to be providing images specifically relating to corporate social responsibility and sustainability through its new stock agency CSR Pictures. Thinking that a stock agency devoted to corporate social responsibility images might be somewhere on the small side of niche, I asked the people behind it how they felt they might attract a client base. It's not as if the sorts of images that people compiling CSR communications are thin on the ground; type 'poverty', ''money laundering', or 'fraud' into Getty, Alamy, or Corbis and you're presented with thousands of photos. If you're looking for rain forests, polluted oceans, or chimneys belching fumes, you've an even larger selection. Furthermore, when iStockphoto has just changed its name to iStock by Getty as a reflection of people identifying with the brand names, there's a case for bigger is better.

Screen Shot 2013-09-18 at 18.40.53

CSR Pictures isn't concerned by either of these issues. To start: 'Our research suggests that many of the people who need to bring CSR themes to life—CSR managers, corporate communicators, even HR staff—don’t necessarily have the time or inclination to sift through endless images. They’re not traditional image buyers. They want a much more focused search experience. And they want us to work with them to understand their needs and channel to them a steady stream of top-notch images.'

As for the sorts of images CSR Pictures wants to supply, it recognises that there are plenty of generic photos, but very few that are specifically CSR-oriented, for example impact investing, compliance with anti-bribery legislation, mining industry transparency or beneficial ownership of shell companies. It's CSR Pictures' aim to 'work with some of the best image-makers around the world to come up with new and compelling ways to illustrate such areas.' In its opinion, there really is a gap in the market.

Market duly identified, it needs some photos. It is, therefore, inviting photographers the world over—including those from Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America, many of whom lack outlets for their work and steady income streams—to submit their applications to contribute. If you're wondering what sorts of images it's looking for, there's an extensive list on its website. You can submit your application on the site, too.

Should everything go well, CSR Pictures aims to establish a global network of photographers and designers for bespoke photo shoots and projects that its clients can commission.

There isn't a pricing structure in evidence on the site yet, but I've been told that the cheapest royalty-free image for web use will be in the region of £20 to £30 and the website states that each sale is split 50/50 between photographer and agency. They don't demand exclusivity, either. If you've the right images and the agency will be as much in demand as it thinks it will, it could make you a few pennies.

Interested? Think it has legs? All of the details and the opportunity to sign up to contribute are on its preview website.

Faceifi lets you identify people using photos

'Why can't I find out more about somebody from just a photograph?' That was the question that started Faceifi, which is a bit like a social directory where you identify people using images of them rather than by name. That makes it an actual, digital facebook, I suppose. The theory goes Faceifi helps you to control your online identity. You create a Facifi profile by uploading at least five photos of yourself and providing a link that tells people more about you. The link can direct to Facebook, Twitter, a blog, or anywhere you like. Using the Faceifi database anyone can search for you, either by looking for your image or by using a photo of you that they have, and then find out more about you from your link. Yep, if you have a Faceifi profile and someone snaps a picture of you on the Tube, they can find out whatever you've chosen to share. And that's not creepy. At all.

Right now, Faceifi has a desktop and an iOS interface, with an Android version in the works. It's also planning on expanding what users can share, for example with a short biography, and introducing in-app messaging. But it doesn't have very many users, which means that at present you're unlikely to find the person for whom you're searching. That has the potential to change as and when more people sign up to Faceifi, but will they?

I can't say that I'll be signing up for Facifi anytime soon. Sometimes, I rather appreciate being nothing more than a face in the crowd.

What do you think? Useful, or just a bit over-indulgent?

(Headsup to The Next Web)

What's in a name? Pentax Ricoh to become Ricoh

From 1 August 2013, the Pentax Ricoh Imaging Company Ltd will be no more. Instead, it will be the Ricoh Imaging Company Ltd. It took a little while in coming, but a new name wasn't wholly unexpected after Hoya sold Pentax to Ricoh in 2011. The Pentax name won't be going away entirely, however; it'll remain as the brand name for dSLR and interchangeable lens cameras as well as binoculars. The Ricoh brand will apply to compact cameras and new technological innovations.

After Olympus and Fujifilm axed the lower half of the compact camera ranges earlier this year, Pentax/ Pentax Ricoh/ Ricoh is taking a slightly different tack. Rather than axing the line (something that might happen in the future), the cameras are being severed from the Pentax name. That's one way to maintain brand integrity!

Fujifilm and Panasonic come together to create a thinner, more sensitive imaging chip

The development of the imaging chip has focused overwhelmingly on resolution, and the desire to cram more and more pixels onto smaller and smaller sensors. However, improvements to image quality can only come from so much increased resolution; the focus now needs to shift to improving dynamic range, sensitivity, and pixel accuracy. We've already seen the potential for a graphene sensor developed at the Nanyang Technological University, but camera manufacturers are also looking to improve sensor technology, too. To this end, Fujifilm and Panasonic have been collaborating on a thinner, more efficient sensor.

Between them, with Panasonic focused on boosting image quality with semi-conductor device technology and Fujifilm devoting its attentions to an organic photoelectric conversion layer (more on those in a moment), they have developed an organic CMOS sensor with higher dynamic range, increased sensitivity, and a wider incident angle. This should lead to better image quality from smaller sensors.

A conventional image sensor comprises a silicon photodiode to capture light, a metal interconnecting layer, a colour filter, and an on-chip micro-lens. Fujifilm has swapped the silicon photodiode for an organic photoelectric conversion layer. This is more sensitive than the silicon photodiode as well as significantly thinner.

Fig.1: A thinner light sensitive layer makes for a more efficient imaging chip

Panasonic's contribution has been to increase the ability of sensors to handle electronic signals, preventing highlight clipping and reducing noise. It estimates that these new sensors have a dynamic range of 88dB.

Fig. 2: Higher dynamic range and lower noise levels

Furthermore, between them Fujifilm and Panasonic have managed to increase the area of the sensor capable of harvesting light. They estimate this should boost sensitivity by 1.2 times compared to a conventional sensor, helping to capture images in lower light settings.

Fig. 3: A larger light-gathering area means increased sensitivity

Finally, by swapping the silicon photodiode for the organic photoelectric conversion layer and reducing its thickness, there's been an increase in the angles from which the sensor can detect light. Instead of an incidence of 30 to 40°, you're now looking at about 60°. You can see this illustrated in Figure 1. This should allow for for more faithful colour reproduction and possibly more flexibility when it comes to lens design.

If you're at the 2013 International Image Sensor Workshop to be held in Utah on 15 June, you'll be able to hear more about the technology. However, they are anticipating it will be used across the spectrum of imaging products, so I suspect we'll be hearing more in the future.

Olympus getting out of cheap compact cameras? Good!

The news that Olympus is ditching their compact camera division this week caused quite a stir, but I can't help but think that the camera manufacturer is on to something. I've long thought that entry-level compact cameras are a Bad Idea. Nikon's line-up is a great example: Their SLRs are phenomenal. The Nikon 1 series are incredibly capable machines. But their $80 entry-level cameras are best avoided. It's not a particularly closely guarded secret that they're contract manufactured in a completely different factory, the design isn't done by the core Nikon team, etc. Basically, the entry-level cameras don't look or feel like Nikons.

The same goes for Olympus, but they also have a couple of other challenges they're facing.

I think Olympus is probably better off without these fellas.

There are two ways to look at this:

1) If your first camera is a cheap Olympus camera, you might be happy that it didn't break, and you'll buy another Olympus further down the line

2) If your first camera is a cheap Olympus camera, you might be appalled by the build quality, and decide to go elsewhere.

It's a hard gamble, because for cameras that are sold for less than a ton, it's pretty obvious that camera manufacturers have to cut corners somewhere. Cheaper enclosures and naff colours mean that they look and feel cheap. Cheaper LCD screens makes it hard to see how good your pictures came out. And cheaper lenses, sensors, and processors means that the camera will be slow, that there's a physical limit to how good the photos can be, etc. On top of that, the cheapest cameras often end up in the hands of people with the least of a clue - the very same people who could benefit the most from having a more 'intelligent' camera.

So, in deciding to pull the plug on their cheapest cameras, Olympus is making a wise move: They probably can't (and shouldn't) compete in a market that's a race to the bottom: Developing a cheap camera that is designed to be as good as it can be means spending a metric arse-tonne of cash on development, then another huge amount on manufacturing an enormous quantity of them, then piling in the marketing dollars to shift 'em. And even then it's a gamble, hoping that Nikon or another bottom-end manufacturer didn't happen to release a slightly better (or slightly cheaper) model a couple of weeks before you did.

Good riddance, I say: Olympus can now continue focusing their attention on the spaces where they are true innovators: The Olympus OM-D, the other mirrorless cameras, and their superzooms.

The Flickr Spectaculr: what's right, and what's wrong

Flickr front page 'Make Flickr awesome again.' That was the Internet's message to Marissa Mayer when she was appointed CEO of Yahoo! last year. Last night's announcement of a new-look Flickr with a new business model was her, and her team's, response to that claxon. But are the changes all that awesome?

To summarise, 'New Flickr' has done away with the divide between 'Free' and 'Pro' accounts. Before, 'Free' membership meant limited image display that was supported by ads. 'Pro' accounts cost about $25 a year, enjoyed unlimited storage, provided statistical analysis, and were ad-free. Now, everyone has one terabyte of storage for free and photos are undoubtedly the heart-and-soul of the newly designed site.

The new-look moasic-style photostream

If you want to enjoy Flickr ad-free and have access to statistics, you need to pay $50 a year. For $500 a year, you can buy a Doublr account and double your storage space.

Understandably, the split between the 'Wow' and the 'Grr' reactions seems to fall along the divide between ordinary members and 'Pro' members. For ordinary members—those who didn't pay about $25 a year for unlimited uploads, statistical analysis, and no ads—it's a win. One terabyte of storage for free, full-resolution display, and some of the organisational tools that were previously the preserve of 'Pro' members: what's to complain about?

There are two primary complaints that Flickr needs to solve, and quickly. The first is the treatment of its old 'Pro' members. I paid for Pro membership because I wanted the unlimited storage, I appreciated the statistical analysis, and I liked the ad-free experience. 'Pro' exists no longer, and instead there is a great deal of confusion as to which old 'Pro' members will be grandfathered in to the new deal on their old terms. It seems as if some might, and some won't. Apart from not being able to determine easily if our previous contracts will be honoured, why the differentiation at all? Flickr's 'Pro' membership was a relatively small percentage of its overall membership; giving all these loyal users the benefit of the doubt seems only fair.

The old 'Pro' members were the old Flickr stalwarts, who stuck by the site when it felt as if Yahoo! had put it out to seed, but continued to pay them their money and keep the community alive with images and conversation. What could have been a positive transition, with clear communication and recognition for their loyalty, feels more like a shafting. It is, however, an easy fix.

The new-look sets lay-out

Second, can Flickr please fix its metadata-stripping antics? Display an image online and you run the risk of it being purloined and used without permission; that's a fact of life. However, there are measures that many of us take to protect our images. Some of us use watermarks, some of us only upload small versions of our images, I've disabled the downloading function on Flickr, and most of us append metadata to our pictures. Metadata are a bit like a dogtag, identifying who took an image, where, and when. Unfortunately, Flickr strips images of their metadata, (or takes the collar off of the dog, if you like) so if someone does manage to download one of your pictures, its owner can't be identified. Now that pictures are being displayed bigger and brighter and bolder on Flickr, this is more important than ever. Ensuring that metadata aren't separated from images really would be awesome.

In terms of the look and the feel of the new Flickr: I love it. If the images can't do the talking, then why bother? And the new moasic layouts and easy enlargement options make it all about the images. When Yahoo! addresses the issues that people are finding troubling, Mayer might've answered the Internet's request. goes down: the response from Sterling Publishing

The decision by Sterling Publishing, a subsidiary of Barnes and Noble, to close its popular photography blogging platform Pixiq on Friday 10 May, has been met with shock, surprise, and consternation by both its contributors and readers. It is understood that unless they had already tendered their resignations, all contributors were issued with termination agreements earlier this month. However, no details of the closure process were made explicit; no explanations were offered and no timeframe was presented.

I made contact with Pixiq's managing editor on Friday morning, to ascertain the circumstances of the site's closure, but it was Caitlin Friedman, Sterling Publishing's Director of Marketing and Publicity, who initially responded:

Yes, we closed the site down, which is why we ended the agreements with all bloggers but a sincere THANK YOU for everything you contributed to the site.

You can imagine my dismay at this response. A 'sincere thank you' for our contributions doesn't explain why the decision was taken to shut down the site and neither does it explain or excuse the management's failure to offer prior notice of the closure.

Thus followed a rather frustrating exchange of emails where Ms Friedman proceeded to obviate the questions I put to her. Finally, I received an email from Gillian Berman, Sterling Publishing's Director of Legal Affairs, stating:

Sterling Publishing has performed in accordance with the terms of the blogger agreement that we entered into with you, and Sterling Publishing has and will perform as contractually required under the attached termination agreement.

Translating the legalese, this amounts to 'When we agreed to terminate your contract, we said that we could pull the content at any time between then and when you would have served out your notice. That's what we did. We'll give it back to you in accordance with the agreement.' According to the contracts, Sterling Publishing has acted, so far, entirely legally. What it hasn't done is act with courtesy or respect towards its contributors or readers.

Er, okay then...

Undoubtledly businesses do not have to justify their decisions except to their shareholders; however, the decision to pull the plug on the website without so much as an advance notification email to its contributors and an explanatory post to its readers strikes me as unthinking and maybe tactless at best; at worst it is cruel to the contributors, discourteous to the readers, and an indictment of the worst practices of big businesses in general.

Barnes and Noble's financial status has been of concern to the markets for sometime, despite the share-price hike last week following speculation of the sale of its Nook ebook system to Microsoft; the decision to close Pixiq does nothing to assuage fears that it is not best placed to handle the movement towards digital content and neither am I convinced that is a great example of how it handles its employees and personnel, either. site goes down, leaving authors and readers in the lurch

Sterling Publishing apparently shut down the popular photography blogging site Pixiq today, only a few days after serving notice to all their bloggers, stating that the staff would no longer be required. Barnes and Nobles have a few things to celebrate this week, including a 20% hike in stock value when the rumours of Microsoft sniffing around their Nook e-book reader started seeping out on the internet.

That didn't stop Sterling Publishing (who operates the Pixiq brand) from shutting down the entire site, posting a message on the site's homepage stating that the site no longer is active.

The message reads "Thank you for visiting Sorry, this website is no longer active. For information about Pixiq books, please visit", and it appears that Pixiq just flicked off the switch, weeks before their contracts with the bloggers expired.

Er, okay then...

Farewell, Pixiq. You had a good run.

The site didn't communicate its intention of shutting up shop ahead of time, neither to its readers nor to the dozen active writers on the site.

"This is ridiculous", says one of the Pixiq bloggers. "It means I can't get my content back, even though the copyright was still mine, even though I had specific talks about that

Luckily, Photocritic staff Daniela Bowker and Haje Jan Kamps had a backup of their content, and were able to publish all the content on with a minimum amount of downtime.

None of the editorial or management staff from Pixiq could be reached for a comment as this article was published.

More murk at Olympus


The bigwigs at Olympus were probably hoping that the investigation they commissioned into the case of higher-than-expected payments to merger brokers would uncover a sloppy but somehow explicable chain of miserable accounting practices and they’d be able to restore a bit of stability to the company and reclaim some of the millions it has lost in share prices since Michael Woodford was sacked in early October. But oh no. Instead it would seem that piles and piles of bloodied linen are about to be laundered very publicly.

Not only does Olympus have to contend with dodgy dealings with Cayman Islands-based companies, rumours of Yakuza involvement in the business, a revolving door of presidents and chairmen, and plummeting share prices, but it could well face being delisted from the Japanese stock exchange, too.

It looks as if Olympus might’ve been concealing losses it had accrued on securities investments by covering them with funds from previous acquisitions. And it might’ve been going on for over 20 years.

Vice President Hisashi Mori has been dismissed following these revelations, and President Shuichi Takayama – who only stepped into the post at the end of October after Tsuyoshi Kikukawa stepped down – has been very quick to place the blame on his predecessor, on Mori, and Hideo Yamada, the firm’s auditor. Well, he has to do something; this doesn’t look good at all for Olympus. Its share prices have taken another dive (so they’re down about 70% since Woodford was kicked out) and the speculation about the future of the company is rife. Not good; not good at all.

(There’s more on the BBC and the Financial Times.)

Some very odd goings-on at Olympus


Oh Olympus, you’re supposed to be in the news for developing exciting camera technology, not for sacking your newly appointed British CEO, issuing contradictory statements about financial transactions, behaving in a way that could generally be perceived as a bit unusual, and seeing your share prices drop by 40% because of it all. But that, in a nutshell, is what’s happened. And it has all happened very quickly. So here’s a potted history of the Japanese camera giant, the British CEO, and the alleged financial irregularities.

Just over two weeks ago Michael Woodford was appointed CEO of Olympus. He was already the company’s President and he’d worked for them for over 30 years. So when they sacked him on Friday, citing a cash of management styles, it seemed a bit, well, odd. I mean, you might think that they’d have known how he operated after so long with them, wouldn’t you? And if his management style were so problematic, how had he managed to rise so high and then be appointed CEO? Perhaps something else was going on?

According to Woodford, yes, something else was going on. And it was very odd. Woodford had noticed some accounting irregularities and asked auditors PriceWaterhouseCoopers to take a closer look. He’d spotted that a payment made to a Cayman Islands-based company as part of the take-over deal of Gyrus (a medical imaging company) was on the excessive side. According to Woodford, it’s usual to pay a fee of 1 or 2% of the total sale price to the broker when a takeover happens. Olympus paid about $2billion for Gyrus, and around $675m in fees to the mysterious Cayman Islands company. So in this instance the fee paid was 36%; he thought that this deserved investigation.

It seems that everyone else at Olympus wasn’t quite so convinced that it needed further investigation and maybe this was the clash of management styles to which they were referring, rather than that he’d uncovered something that he shouldn’t have? Sort of like, not washing the company’s dirty linen in public. Whatever, Woodford was summarily dismissed, told to hand over the keys to his flat (of which he owned 51%), and informed that his driver wouldn’t be able to take him to the airport.

Yesterday, Woodford turned up at the Serious Fraud Office in London and presented them with all of the evidence that he’d accumulated associated with what he regarded as Olympus’ not-quite-okay dealings. In return, Olympus has said that it plans to take legal action against Woodford. It has also denied and confirmed making an excessive payment to the Cayman Islands company.

Since Friday, when Woodford was dismissed, Olympus’ shares have plummeted by about 40%. That’s swiped $3.2 billion off of its market value. That’s a super high price to pay for a divergent management style, isn’t it?

Woodford has given quite a few interviews since his return to the UK. You can hear his own explanation of things to both Channel 4, embedded below, and to the BBC.

This murky and convoluted story is one that could run for a while yet. It’ll be very interesting to see how it unfolds.

Model release grief for

A lovely Golden Hour Winter Rose, taken by our very own Daniela

Oh dear. Another photographer and two companies with teams of lawyers who should know better are in hot water over the unauthorised use of someone’s image. This time it’s in Georgia; the photographer’s Roger Kirby, the websites are and HealthCentral, and the woman in question is Anne Read Lattimore. As with any of these stories, it comes in several parts. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall relay the sorry tale of the shiny new hair cut and the maybe-less-than-gleaming websites.

When Anne Read Lattimore’s hairdressing salon set up a new website, the owners asked her if she wouldn’t mind having her photo featured on it. Apparently not, as photographer Roger Kirby took her picture at the salon and Read Lattimore agreed to her image being on the website. She didn’t agree to her image being used anywhere else and no paperwork was signed, but so far, things seemed hunky-dory.

It’s hunky-dory until Kirby uploads his photos to Stock.xchng, a free stock image website run by Getty Images. The licence says that the images can’t be used to endorse a product, but somewhere along the way, this appears to have been overlooked or missed.

Before you can say ‘Mark Getty’, and HealthCentral are using photos that look suspiciously like Read Lattimore to advertise their dating site and to support a story about coming out as a gay person, respectively. Both of these uses might come as a surprise to anyone who knows Read Lattimore: she’s happily married to a man named William. In fact, her friends who saw her advertising on places like Facebook were mighty surprised. And so was she. Given that she is now suing Kirby,, and HealthCentral for defamation and misappropriation of likeness, I’m guessing she’s a bit more than surprised.

Fair enough. If I were to find my image being used to advertise a dating site, I’d be mortified. And I’m single. If I were married, I think I might be verging on the livid. It’s not that hard, people. You get the model to sign a model release and you honour its terms.

Or is it that difficult and I’m missing something here?

The papers were filed towards the end of September, so there might be a little way to go yet until we know anymore, but the moral of this story is undoubtedly, use a model release.

(Headsup to Techdirt)

Settled out-of-court: the model, the album cover, and the polaroid

Vampire Weekend - Contra

Over a year ago there was a bit of a hoo-haa involving the band Vampire Weekend, the photographer Tod Brody, and the former model Ann Kirsten Kennis. In a nutshell? Brody licensed an image of Kennis to Vampire Weekend, which they proceeded to splash across on the world on the cover of their album, Contra. Slight problem was, Kennis claimed that she never signed a release for the image and that Brody had no right to use it commercially. Kennis filed a law suit against Vampire Weekend and Vampire Weekend filed a suit against Brody. Up to speed?

Well, a year on and Kennis has settled out-of-court with Vampire Weekend and their record lable, XL. The sum is undisclosed, but Kennis orginally looked for $2 million.

The case of Vampire Weekend versus Brody is on-going, however, with Brody defending himself because his lawyers, Lavely & Singer, quit in June. Seems that lawyers don’t much like it if you don’t pay their bills and don’t at least try to co-operate with them when they’re trying to defend you.

(Headsup to PDN)