Austin Airport Not Supporting Artists

Austin Airport Not Supporting Artists

This one angers me… especially since I am supposed to live in a city that respects and supports artists. Anyway, you won’t believe this story…

So, I was coming through the Austin airport many weeks ago, and in the PRIME spot at the bottom of the escalators is a huge light-up photo display. Inside, I saw a photo that looked HDRish and so I went over to investigate. Down in the corner, it said simply “photo by mapaolini.” So, I recognized that “name” because Mike had taken one of my workshops back in a 2010.

About a month later I saw Mike at the Austin photowalk during SXSW and congratulated him on getting his art up in the airport. He said, “What?”

HDR PhotoAnd so then I got very very interested. After my most recent trip to Florida, I took this photo with my iPad while waiting for my baggage and sent it to Mike so he could see! We then got into a big email conversation while I was trying to figure out what happened… it was pretty much immediately obvious to me, but I wanted to see if my suspicions were correct.

So, get this:

  1. Mike was never informed that his photo was in the airport
  2. Mike was never paid a dime (placement like this should be worth several thousand dollars to the artist, especially if they are going to use it for many months)
  3. Mike’s name is not even correct in the corner of the photo.  His name is not “mapaolini” – that is his Flickr codename!
  4. They made the WORST CROP EVER.  See his original Flickr photo!

Any one of those things is annoying — but all of them together are just embarrassing for the airport and the city of Austin.

Mike did some detective work and called the airport, who said they got it from the Austin Tourism Bureau.  They said this is considered Non Commercial.  HORSE MANURE.  Is all art in the airport non-commercial?  Does no one get paid?  How much did they pay for that huge bronze of Barbara Jordan (who looks like she is waiting on her baggage)? How much did they pay for those gut-wrenchingly awful paintings above the checkin counter for American Airlines?

It’s an insult to Mike, and, by extension, to all photographers and artists in Austin. They know what they did, and I think it’s pretty lousy…

Daily Photo – High-Tech Dining in Beijing

Beijing has some of the funkiest restaurants in the world! I think that some of the interior designers and architects really take some risks to do all sorts of things with lighting, textures, and styles. It doesn’t always work, but I  think it works pretty well here.

This restaurant was right next to the opera (see my blog post on “Amazing Opera Discovery in Beijing“). This was also built inside one of the old imperial bans in this old sector of Beijing.

High-Tech Dining in Beijing Beijing has some of the funkiest restaurants in the world!  I think that some of the interior designers and architects really take some risks to do all sorts of things with lighting, textures, and styles.  It doesn't always work, but I  think it works pretty well here.This restaurant was right next to the opera (see my blog post on "Amazing Opera Discovery in Beijing").  This was also built inside one of the old imperial bans in this old sector of Beijing.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

And, below is the photo that was taken next door at the opera just after the amazing dinner.

The Peony Pavilion at The Imperial Granary I was invited to go see a very special event here in Beijing.  There is an old area that has the ancient Imperial Granaries that date back hundreds and hundreds of years.  One of these has been converted to an intimate opera house.  They bring in some of the best opera actors from all over China to perform here.If you haven't seen a Chinese opera, you are in store for something totally original!This particular performance was called The Peony Pavillion, which was written during the Ming dynasty and is a love story about all kinds of crazy mythical stuff that I don't want to spoil for you.  But it's really a must-see if you are into unique forms of entertainment.  And you do feel a bit like a time-traveller, watching a scene from hundreds of years ago.Even more interesting, there is a trendy and delicious restaurant next door.  Everyone eats together and has a wonderful leisurely meal before meandering over next door to enjoy the opera.  It's a great experience!- Trey RatcliffRead the rest of this entry here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

  • Susan

    Oh wow – this looks like a lovely place – love the greens with the touches of that bold red! Sorry to hear about Mike and the airport – you have often said how much you love airports for their artwork – too bad this happened in Austin.

  • Yeah, that IS a horrible crop… what would happen if one of your images ended up in the Austin Airport?

  • The use of Mikes photo, especially without him knowing, is just insane! Thanks for sharing. I think I will have to write a terms of use page for my site. I get a lot of request for the use of my photos and it seems no one is willing to pay for images anymore.

  • Don’t even get me started on the Nazi’s down at the ABIA. You probably recall that a few years back the city of Austin used our tax dollars to buy a bunch of 6 foot tall plaster guitars and had quasi-famous locals all over Austin paint them and then set them up everywhere. 5 of them ended up inside the airport.
    I did an entire series on all these guitars.
    Here’s a set of them on my Flickr page –>
    Those were waaay before I had even a little clue on HDR, so go easy on the judgement, ok?
    So anyway – When I got to the airport the statues were on the other side of security. So I went down to the information offices and requested information on taking a few pictures of the statues that my tax dollars paid for. They *were* for the tax payers viewing pleasure after all. Right? So there should be no issue with me taking a look at them, right? Wrong.
    I was informed that I needed one of two things to even view them.
    #1 – a ticket to get me behind security where I could view them but not take a picture of them, or…
    #2 – Two separate 1 million dollar insurance policies and some sort of ID that showed I was a professional photographer on an assignment.

    I can’t remember what the two policies were for, but you needed both of them.
    So I asked, “What if I get the insurance…” ,which I was not even close to doing, “…but can’t show any form of ID saying I am a professional photographer on assignment?” I was told that non-professional photography in the airport is not allowed. I told them that Flickr was filled with thousands of pictures of airports, including ABIA! And they are almost all really crappy, non-flattering pictures. They said those were not allowed either but there is no way to stop anyone from taking I-Phone shots.

    Bottomline? I knew I was going to Cali in a month so I waited and took them then. Walked right up to every statue and snapped away for at least 15 minutes. Security watched me. No one said a thing.
    Lesson? It’s better to ask forgiveness than permission when shooting at airports.

  • First thanks once again to you and your team who did a wonderful job in helping us all .I’m still down loading this side as it is slow, but nevertheless we are getting there. Also stealing is an offence,and have no time for such people,the leased they could do is ask before they take what is not theirs.Now with the thieves off my mined because thats what they are,your 2 pics are very relaxing to look at your mind roams all around the room looking at those tables which seem to be floating and those giant bird cages and not forgetting those dragon flowers which are cascading .These Chinese operas are always an eye opener but with your help i will not be sitting down any more but looking around to grab shots like this one.Love the wooden beams.Thanks God Bless

  • I want to send support to Mike and your argument: Stealing off the internet is a growing offense to all creative (and commercial) work. Copying has just become too easy and the detectability is not keeping up.
    An artist should be paid for this kind of exposure. They want the airport to look nice – and they want to advertise the area. Well: if they hired someone to supply them, they would have to pay. — how can we cheap out? Oh, we just copy off the net.
    Evidence: The turism bureau thought it was a good one for the area. The air port put it in a great place. They KNOW what they are having there.

    If they are not willing to pay, then they can ASK. really simple: Can we put your picture there? We will advertise your art with that. We will put your name there… — you can or can not agree when they ask you.

    But really: the worst for me: That section they took out of a great photograph. Idiotic, stupid.

    A miss-quote of the most horrible kind. No, if that was my picture, that would be the point I would be most annoyed about. If THAT is the section shown: take the name off there. That is an embaressment.

  • Ray

    Wait a minute. The proper course of action is for your colleague to send ABIA an invoice marked up times three for using the image without permission and thereby violating his copyright. In his letter he should also state that if he is forced to seek injunctive relief, ABIA will also be responsible for legal fees. That’s done all the time, especially in our digital world. It’s simply a version of a “cease and desist” letter. Oh yeah, he’d better file for copyright protection first because if it does come down to a legal shoving match, he won’t be able to collect damages without it.

    The problem is more philosophical. Trey, you believe in creative commons. The thinking is great, but it really offers no legal remedies. In the real world, people steal stuff either intentionally or unintentionally. Worse, sites like Flickr encourage “sharing.” This confuses potential clients and users who will claim to think that anything goes. For those of us who make our living making photographs, this really only costs us money because as a wise man once said, ” You are not making XXXX (whatever your product of choice is) you are making money.”

    Yes, Gonzo, if you are shooting professionally in most airports you do need insurance (you can buy it by the day and really costs very little for $1M worth of coverage) and you usually do need some kind of assignment letter. This actually covers you as well as the airport. If you are shooting something more then casually, local security and TSA can and will give you a hard time. The issue isn’t so much official so much as it is dealing with overly enthusiastic low ranking enforcers.


  • Interesting indeed… It does beg the question as to how many people have downloaded and used my work for example without permission. You can never know without actually catching them in the act. Good on you Trey, I think that drawing attention to this will certainly help he case if he does indeed choose to pursue it. This sort of issue does stir up thoughts in the back of ones mind about uploading full res to Flickr and the likes… Food for thought I guess.

  • Simon Morris

    Nice images Trey – I especially like the restaurant one, very chic… looks inviting too!
    As for the Austin Airport incident – that’s terrible… the cheek of it! As for the awful crop (I said CROP) – that has to be the worst I’ve seen… it’s lost half the resolution!
    It doesn’t matter how much we try to cover ourselves regarding copyright infringements – there will always be some lowlife who’s going to violate issues. Interesting point made by Eden – that’s the main reason why I’m going to restrict access to my full resolution images that’ll reside in both SmugMug and Flickr – once I roll out! (I’ll also be adding a copyright watermark). I know – it’s not thief proof, but it’s better than leaving myself wide open… besides, who’ll want to copy my images?! 😉

  • that is just crazy, if that isn’t commercial use then I guess there is no such thing as commercial use. Unfortunately I find my photos pop up on websites and elsewhere almost always without my permission but nothing this extreme. I hope your friend takes some type of legal action of some kind.

  • Wow, Trey! Being from the Lone Star State….I can’t believe that. Also, that crop is really bad (ESPECIALLY if you go to the flickr link provided). I have had several flickr friends say lately, they are posting low resolution images in case that happens. I hear the watermarks can be removed. Too bad they didn’t just contact Mike and ask for permission or ask what he would charge for the photo.

  • Gail in Montana

    Beautiful photos, Trey. I like the one of the restaurant the best, but the opera house is great, too. What a shame about the airport incident. Mike should bill them. After all, you have the proof in the photo. Sounds like a lot of photographers have had trouble at airports. I bet you wouldn’t run into that at our little airport in Missoula, Montana or even the smoke jumpers museum there. Montana, the land of the extra friendly people!!! Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. Oops, did I already say that yesterday, probably. Oh well, have a great weekend, everyone around the world!!! 🙂

  • The restaurant shot is awesome! On my second look I noticed it looks like it is a fabulous waiting room to a minivan dealership! LOL. The image stealing thing is really crazy…thanks for shining a light on this!

  • That’s pretty sad. It doesn’t matter if it’s “commercial” or “not-commercial” … stealing is stealing. And you were right about the “worst crop ever” … they cropped out the best parts!

  • Airport and Tourism Bureau – both run by functionaries and both will give you that one answer that makes my ears bleed; “hey, I’m just doing my job.”

  • Mike needs Right away. However the airport officials define their use, it is a direct breach of copyright and useage rights.

    And, >everyone< who cares about what happens to their images should make certain that their Flickr settings are such that no one else is able to download images except for the account owner.

  • I’m not actually clear on how the airport is using the photo commercially.

    Just because I sometimes pay for the right to use an image, does that alone mean that I can’t ever use a creative commons image, for the same purpose, provided that that purpose is non-commercial?

    The airport isn’t charging admission to view the image, at least not directly. Arguing “price of the ticket is defacto admission” seems a little weak.

    The image doesn’t seem to have a no-derivs license, which is the thing that would make the bad crop a legal problem.

    If an airport executive printed up the image and hung it on his bedroom wall, that’s clearly fine. What if he hangs it in the conference room at his office headquarters? How does this differ from hanging it in the concourse?

    I do agree that they didn’t do a good job with the attribution, but, “please include my full name and a link” is very different from “omg! theft.”

  • Camilla – The Austin Airport is private property and a commercial business. By your argument, Best Buy could also put up his image on the wall since they don’t “charge admission” to get into Best Buy. You’re not thinking clearly, and it is obviously this kind of flawed logic that is at the root of the problem.

    Ray – you say, “Trey, you believe in creative commons. The thinking is great, but it really offers no legal remedies.” But you are wrong. If the image is copyrighted, then of course there is legal possibilities. Creative commons does not mean “free-for-all”, but you can read more about Creative Commons on their page if you wish. Case in point:

  • I think Best Buy could in fact put your image on their wall, as long as they aren’t selling the image.

    I can put your image on my bedroom wall, and my bedroom is private property. Does who I am change what I can legally do? Does everything a commercial business does become commercial use, even if it’s not part of a commercial transaction? If I put a cc licensed image on my bedroom wall, then hold a business meeting in my bedroom, have I just violated the terms of the license?

    Now, if they hire and pay an advertiser to come up with their ad, the advertiser can’t use your image in the ad, because the advertiser is making a commercial transaction in selling the ad to their customer, and the ad itself constitutes commercial speech.

    I can see that the airport is implicitly advertising city tourism… but it seems like a stretch to say that putting the picture on their wall is actually commercial speech.

    “They’re a commercial business … therefore” is sloppy reasoning. I’m actually thinking about the problem, even if I’m wrong, and you haven’t answered me on that level.

  • This is not right! Trey, do you think it would be a good idea to circulate some sort of “petition of outrage” that could be sent to the Airport? Are their legal actions that Mike should take? Per Daniel’s question, I’m also interested to hear what you would do if one of your photos ended up in the Austin Airport without your knowledge and permission?

  • Camilla, you are dumb.
    “I think Best Buy could in fact put your image on their wall, as long as they aren’t selling the image.” – this statement illustrates that you are not well-equipped to engage in this conversation.

  • Ok, I just had a chat with my resident expert…

    He is with you that hanging it on the wall at Best Buy is out, and that if the airport is not a public institution, then their use of it is potentially commercial use, even if it is not directly making money for them.

    But, that many airports are public institutions, and it hinges on the particular status of the particular airport. (And I don’t know that off the cuff.)

    The fact that the airport has a payroll is irrelevant; they may still be a public institution.

    I don’t think this case is cut and dried; you may still be right, but the subtleties of interpretation matter here.

  • Chris Sparks

    This is nasty. I love it when things like this get busted. It’s amazing to me how often people plagiarize or steal art, especially when they have the means to license it. Exposure is nice and it can open doors, but many times, it’s just flattering. If a commercial business is going to use it to dress up their establishment, they shouldn’t look at it as a cheap alternative to actually seeking out the artist that created the work.

  • Issues like this one make me regret that I don’t have a talent for painting. It’s harder to steal a painting than a photograph. Not impossible, but harder.

    I’ve come to the realization that there’s a very important course to follow:

    1: Register all photos with the US Copyright Office (preferably) before sharing or publication.
    2: Realize and accept that people will steal your photograph.
    3: File suit in a Federal court for any US Commercial entity that steals and uses my photo without a license, consent, payment, etc.

    That last step is an attention-getter. I know many photographers who get riled when someone uses their photo, but they don’t have them registered with the Copyright office. They make demands to take them down, send invoices to the offenders, etc. It’s much like peeing in the ocean – it may make you feel better, but it has no real impact. Offenders routinely disregard invoices. If they wanted to pay, they wouldn’t have stolen something.

    That Federal lawsuit is something they can’t ignore, though. It may cost you money to get it started, but it’s going to cost them much more to deal with the issue, either by settlement or paying for their own attorneys to fight the suit.

  • I’m looking at the document here:
    which is essentially a big poll of what people (both content producers and creators) think “noncommercial” means.

    Page 54, there’s an entry on the chart for “Work would be used by a for-profit company, but no money would be made.” which is split about in thirds between “definitely a commercial use” “can’t say” and “definitely a noncommercial use.”

  • MM

    The problem here isn’t copyright- the tourism bureau claims they can use it outside of copyright because it is not commercial use (I guess they’re claiming “fair use”) – the photographer still needs to take them to court to get the copyright enforced.

    Post a good photo on Flickr and eventually this is what will happen. It has happened to millions of photographers- flickr is like the wild west. People think it is open season on images- they’re posted for the world to see, so we can take them and put them somewhere for more people to see… And naive photographers think that becuase the copyright law is on their side, none of their images will be stolen. Uh, wrong. People steal images all the time because they think a) the law doesn’t apply to their use, or b) THEY won’t get caught.

    I’d like to say the airport and tourism bureau is at fault, and they are. But the first fault lies with anyone who posts anything on the web and is then surprised when it gets stolen, IMO. The copyright laws are there to protect photographers. But the law only protects those who are willing to go the extra nine yards to get it enforced. Unless you’re willing to get lawyers and courts involved, and pay for it in the hopes you’ll win (and be prepared if you don’t), then you need to protect your images.

    IMO, Flickr is the worst thing that ever happened to photography.

    OK- so here it is being said- If you post an image on Flickr, and it gets stolen, it is the “once” in “Fool me once, shame on you…”

  • Did I hit a nerve? I’m a little surprised that you immediately started insulting me. After all, you’ve got something like 19 out of 20 blog comments solidly supporting you, so it doesn’t seem like my dissent should be awfully threatening.

    If I am just so very wrong, I think ignoring me makes you look better.

    If this helps, I am a private individual, employed in the educational sector, with a baby sleeping on my lap (right now). I’m not affiliated with any airport, nor am I near Austin. One of my own hobbies is cutting jigsaw puzzles (by hand, for my own children no commercial use) and I follow some licensing discussions and online photography, to find images to use on my puzzles. I hadn’t found occasion to introduce myself before, but I’ve been following for a while.

    (I didn’t mean to appear as a drive-by, special-interest obsessive in my commenting… and it should be permissible to disagree on the definition of non-commercial use, when it appears that it’s far from a cut and dried issue over all.)

  • Aaron

    Nice picture of the restaurant Trey! You said you had an amazing dinner there. I wonder what you ordered.

    Yeah, the crop is horrible. Is Mike bringing the matter to court?

  • I get annoyed when people take the side that are against artists out there trying hard to make a living. In this case, laws, rules, and common sense are all on my side and the side of all artists who share their work on the internet.

  • Nick H

    While I fully support photographers rights, I think this issue with the Austin Tourism Bureau speaks more to the ambiguous nature of the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.0 license than it does with them stealing.

    If the Austin Tourism Bureau is like most tourism bureaus, they’re a 501(c)6 tax-exempt organization. Judging by the fact that they have a board of directors, I think it’s safe to assume that this is the case. So, you have a tax-exempt organization using an image outside of commerce to promote their aim.

    When I worked at a not-for-profit, we ALWAYS confirmed with the artist that it was OK to use their CC-NC images before using them to avoid this kind of thing, even though our usage was probably within the terms of the license. As Camilla points out, the CC-NC license is too ambiguous to really be useful in many situations.

    Did they attribute the image properly? No. Is the crop horrible? Yes. Are they supporting artists? No. But to call it stealing? I don’t know…

  • One thing I’ve learned about copyright over the years; it’s almost impossible to prevent theft and even harder to win a case when someone does infringe. So, the solution is to NEVER put high-res work on the web where it can be stolen. I refuse to use Flickr because of their rules on rights of use. While I do have thousands of images all over the web, they are all low res and impossible to reproduce for commercial purposes.

  • Ray

    Trey, I am certainly not opposed to Creative Commons. In fact, I like the idea. But, it causes confusion with those people who want to use pictures. I have heard some image buyers say that they can use what they want simply by crediting users. That’s not true. It’s more of a philosophical thing then a practical issue. Part of the issue comes from the open way that the internet functions and should continue to function. Yes, as you wrote in a later post, laws and rules are on the side of the artist. But, most of the laws are broken on a very regular basis which is why there are so many search companies who look for unlicensed images and who hope to make a living from “protecting” us. Trust me. I’ve been there for a long time and continue to be there. The best defense is education. The second best defense is to be vigorous in our legal approaches.

  • not commercial? with all the shops in AUS, the airport looks a lot like a shopping mall to me… except the security is friskier.

  • For a long time I wondered if any of my images had been stolen. For those not familiar with this site you can use it for free (non-commercial) to check the web for all instances where a picture appears. It’s not perfect and doesn’t always find images even when its there but it does a pretty good job.

    You can either upload your image or just provide a link and you get an answer in seconds

  • Disagreeing with your interpretation, even publicly, doesn’t make me against artists (NB: I have content of my own up under a similar license). I’m really curious now, though: suppose I print one of your images, and frame it with an appropriate attribution notice; which of the following may I do with it?

    a) hang it on the wall of my bedroom
    b) hang it on the wall of my home office, from which I ship ebay or etsy orders, for profit
    c) hang it in my office wall at a 501c non-profit place of business (where the public does not have access)
    d) hang it on my office wall in a private corporation, where the general public does not have access
    e) hang it on the wall at a coffee shop (open to the public), that does not sell anything except coffee and cookies
    f) hang it on the wall of a waiting room, which is located inside a non-profit hospital
    g) hang it on the wall of a doctor’s office in private practice
    h) hang it on the wall of an orphanage in Bolivia
    i) hang it on the wall of the nursery at my church

    I’m asking specifically about your intentions in licensing it as such, not about what we think the license actually means. (I’m guessing that you’d have a problem with (e) and (g) given the above discussion.)

  • Chris Oaten

    Pretty simple. They stole his pic. They didn’t attribute. They didn’t pay. They mutilated the work. They didn’t ask for permission. Me? I’d be talking to a lawyer about it.

  • Camilla – you just contact the artist and ask about the situation, and they will tell you what they agree to and at what price (if any).

    The point is that you don’t have to guess or have a menu of examples when you can simply contact the artist and work out an agreement.

    Because, otherwise, the list could go on and on and on and on… you could go on to:

    q) make a photo-realistic painting of the photo, take a photo of the painting, and then hang it in a gallery that was funded by the Creative Commons organization.

    r) use the photo on a t-shirt, but that t-shirt can only be worn by the members of the artist’s direct family.

    s) use a high-powered projector to show the image on the moon, and then use a network of parabolic mirrors to show the photo inside of a restaurant in Tibet where only monks dine on gluten-free products.

  • Camilla, I think you answered your own question/comment about commercial usage when you said: “I can see that the airport is implicitly advertising city tourism”. Advertising something = commercial usage.

  • I would be a mess if this happened to me. I really hope it works out and in Mike’s favor too.

  • I always get nervous when people have a link to a “source” and it starts with “wiki.” Not your best source for info to back your argument. Nicole you are right… “Advertising something = commercial usage. ”

    Thanks for the laugh this Saturday night Camilla 🙂

  • “The point is that you don’t have to guess or have a menu of examples when you can simply contact the artist and work out an agreement.” And that sums it up right there Trey.

    No one can rationalize WHY the artist cannot be contacted for their own work to be used for commercial use. People can find loopholes in the law, make psychologically pathetic arguments about how plagiarism and/or copyright infringement should make someone feel “special” and a bunch of other garbage but NO ONE can provide a legitimate reason as to why the artist cannot simply be contacted by the interested party, just a bunch of Seinfeld style “yadda yadda” lol.

    And LMAO @ your q, r, and s descriptions. Cryin’….

    Anyway, I really like your photograph of the day.

  • @Camilla – though others corresponded to various aspects of your quandary I think that the very root of it is much simpler: “suppose I print one of your images” – physically possible, morally and legally (if image is copyright registered) wrong. The rest is irrelevant. As Tray mentions – the very first step is “ask the artist” and that solves it completely. Austin people should have done that too.

  • Kim Harrold

    Scott Appnel of Clear Channel Airports will certainly be interested in this response from the folks at AUS – that the use of graphics at the airport are non-commercial. Using the logic that AUS uses, Clear Channel can post their advertisers images free because there is no direct commercial sales transaction at the airport, ergo it’s a non-commercial use and no compensation is required.

  • Trey,
    Although you know me as a photographer, I am also a part time airline employee and spend several days a week at the Austin Airport. I had noticed (happily) that the airport had been spiffying up their image with some new photography recently including Mike’s HDR image and a huge image by fellow HDR Spotting editor Dave Wilson. I know the airport licensed Dave’s image and I would assume he was compensated for the use so I find it interesting that they would feel they could use Mike’s image without compensation.

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  • I recently had a water park contact me about the photos I took of their place while we were there last year – they found them by doing a search on Flickr. They said they wanted to use them on their website. After a few emails & phone calls, we came upon an agreement of payment. It’s very thrilling seeing my photos on their website, but even more seeing my name on the photos and knowing I was paid for them! I’m no pro, not even close, but was very happy this company did the right thing by contacting me instead of just taking my photos. Flickr isn’t all bad, and not all companies are bad either. I’m sorry Mike is having this problem and I hope the airport will do the right thing, whatever Mike feels that is.

  • Although I may disagree on a fundamental level with Camilla, I must say she opens the debate up to various levels that I’d not considered. To call her dumb lowers yourself in my estimation, and I agree in this thread with Stephen who points at your profile legend that you are a “warm hearted, old school gentleman.” I think, as a gentleman, you owe Camilla an apology.A few deep braths always work for me.

  • It sucks that artist rights, whether it be musicians, photographers, whatever, are not respected and people thing it’s ok just to steal their work. Trey makes a great point, if it’s in any way a question whether or not it is alright to use it in a particular situation, just ask. Isn’t that a lesson we all learned back in kindergarten?

  • Nonac_Digi

    OK, not the first time I’ve heard of an artists work being ripped off in a manner they had not intended, and I agree that a large commercial business such as an airport should have the common decency to respect and pay for an artist. What I’d really like to know however is now you’ve had your very public rant about this and informed Mike about the placement; what are you going to do about it now? As a self promoted, and now well respected prominent public figure on his side, do you not feel (having brought this to light) you have a social responsibility to help as you may?

    Keep us posted as this develops please, as I’ve stated, it’s not the first time I have seen this and your efforts now may have many repercussions down the line.

  • The Blind Beggar

    Trey on Twitter.

    Thanks for all the interesting and thoughtful (for the most part) feedback on the Austin Airport Art story today

    @nicolesy Nicole S. Young
    @TreyRatcliff Lemme guess … “for the most part”‘s name is Camilla, right? 🙂

    @nicolesy hehe yes… I just wrote another response to that gal… sheesh… hehe

    Could you be more condescending?

  • Well, when you publish a photo under a creative commons license, you do give me some rights to it, and that’s almost always interpreted to include my right to make a print and display it at home. If what you intend is “you may not make prints unless you ask me first” maybe you’re using the wrong license. I’m aware that some of the items in my list are contentious, but I did expect that you would say that you intend at least (a).

    When I use artwork (I mentioned earlier that I make jigsaw puzzles by hand) if the work has a creative commons license that’s compatible with what I’m doing, I usually contact the artist after the fact. I’ve never had a negative response to “I made this puzzle out of your work, thank you for making it available to me under the generous license terms.” It feels to me awkward, and likely to cause disappointment, if I say “I’d like to use your image to make a puzzle, I’ll show you how it turned out when it’s done” and then to come back a month later and say “oops, it didn’t work out after all.” I do ask, and I am meticulous about it, if the license doesn’t allow my use-first-ask-later approach, but the extra turn around time and overhead really discourages me from using those images. I personally feel much more pressure if I ask for an image, to make the puzzle cutting safe and mundane – I worry that if I mess up, I’ve done something worse than simply wasting some plywood and some time.

  • Well I am kinda late on this but totally agree with you. Mike got cheated and disrespected, hope he gets compensated for his work.

  • Margaret

    There has been some press lately about online photo sites having in their TOS that, while the artist retains the copyright to their photos, they have the licensing rights to any photos uploaded without having to compensate the photographer. Flickr was one I saw on the list of sites with bad TOS.

    I also had someone take one of my photos from an online site and use it for a sign at a music festival! Someone sent me one of the signs. It was an absolutely horrible print, and cropped terribly. I was actually glad they cut my watermark off the photo. I didn’t take any action because it was inexperienced people running a small community event.

  • Without getting involved in the wider argument over interpretation of the various flavours of Creative Commons, I strongly suspect that the exhibits department at ABIA was not involved in the misuse of Mike’s picture and that some other misinformed organisation must have set up that display. From my experience, the folks responsible for art in the airport are extremely professional and well-versed in photography licensing practises. I’ve dealt with them twice in the last couple of years, one interaction resulting in the 30 foot banner of my HDR “Lone Star” image that is currently hanging above one of the main security lines in the terminal. This picture is licensed under a CC non-commercial license and ABIA fully understood that their use was commercial and approached me for a license. We agreed a price, determined the delivery format and supplied the image the same way as for any other commercial client.

    On the question of supporting Austin artists, if you look at the art within the terminal, you will find that the vast majority is produced by locals. The other large banner that was recently hung, for example, is by Carol Watson, another local photographer who has at least one other image hanging inside the terminal.

    While I condemn the use of Mike’s image without proper licensing, my experience suggests that Austin Airport actually does a pretty good job with the local artists they approach. I don’t know what happened in this case but it doesn’t seem to represent my experience of dealing with ABIA at all.

  • Good – well I hope Mike gets properly compensated for this. I’m just trying to help the guy out and future artists that get their work in the airport. I figure that the Austin Airport isn’t always doing stuff like this, but they gotta get their act together. I know my friend Dave Wilson has had success in working with the ABIA in the past, so none of this makes sense. Either:

    1) It was a willful act of deception, or

    2) It is the result of incompetence of an embarrassing magnitude.

    Either way, Mike got screwed, and I’m sticking up for him.

  • Hello Trey,

    “….gut-wrenchingly awful paintings above the checkin counter for American Airlines?” ha ha ha ha. You made my day with that one! I’m just a guy who loves taking pictures. And I like to think that I have a pretty good “eye for photography”. I’m always shocked when I see pathetic looking art in places that know better.

    I don’t know what to say about Mike’s situation. It’s bad enough your image is used without your permission… But then it’s cropped! Oh man! Talk about adding insult to injury. Yeah, I hope it all works out for the guy.

    I can’t believe Time did that to you!! Good for you for fighting back!

    Trey, your photography is amazing! But I have to say I’m more intrigued at how on earth you manage to travel all over the world with all of your gear. Surely that’s got to be some work just lugging all that stuff around. And I can’t imagine what it’s like dealing with customs with all that gear! I do volunteer missionary work. The older I get, then less gear I want to bring. I could use to tips on traveling with gear. Thanks

  • Kleber Steinbach

    Hello Trey,
    Congratulations on getting your “New York Times Square” in every CVC Travel Agenci in Brazil…
    Hope they have your permission/lincense.
    Your work is fantastic.
    Regards from Brazil.

  • Alex

    I completely agree that it is shame about the photo. But been a photo editor for a magazine before you take advantage when needing things. If people don’t put the correct set up on their photo accounts, technically they can used by people. I always use to contact people and make sure as I being a photographer believe in doing things the right way. So I am not sure what his settings where but go onto your flickr accounts and fill out the information carefully. You can simply search, and then Advance search and a few clicks, ” Find content to use commercially ” and bang photos. And in a technicality you can use them without technically asking.

    so just a heads up for those who havn’t gone thru their settings on flickr.

  • AE

    Gee, I’ve used Flickr as a source for good photos for my non-profit “clients” for whom I’ve volunteered. I’ve found that many folks are perfectly happy to let me use their images for free. How do I know? Gosh! I actually ASK them! How hard is that?

  • AE – Yes I agree – there are a lot of photographers out there who would be honored and would donate their photos for free for many purposes… it’s so easy just to ask. 🙂

  • Julie

    Camilla’s vehement response leads me to wonder just exactly what she sells on her Ebay & Etsy accounts. I find it hard to believe she has never taken the opportunity to sell someone else’s photography as a puzzle. After all, who would know? Her arguments though are precisely the reason I do not use Creative Commons. I am far from being a professional photographer, but I want credit if my image is used anywhere. A little money would be nice too, but I don’t take pictures to make money. I take pictures because i enjoy taking them, and the more I take the better I get – hopefully anyway. Generally speaking though, if someone asks, I would likely give permission to display or use my work in certain situations without charge. Trey, someone earlier was right, It doesn’t matter if any of us agree with Camilla, it is wrong to call anyone dumb.

  • Fuzzy

    I’m a bit late for this discussion, but some things in here bug me. So:
    – Camilla obviously clueless about commercial use, as evident in her best buy example, but that’s no reason to start name-calling.
    – dusanmal: “I think that the very root of it is much simpler: “suppose I print one of your images” – physically possible, morally and legally (if image is copyright registered) wrong. The rest is irrelevant.” Well that’s just wrong. There are tons of laws to consider here not even counting the fair use policy (you all seem to forget the other two hundred odd countries on this planet). And the moral thing is event more complex :).
    – Nicole Young: “Advertising something = commercial usage” Yes… unless it’s not. I’ve seen a TV ad for… mathematics (it generally said “learn maths it’s useful”). Someone got payed for that (by the local government), but how is that commercial?
    – Trey: if you want people to contact you about every single use of the images, that’s fine by me. But why then do you expressly state they’re published under CC-NC license (and without any link to the actual license)?

  • Good question…and thanks for feedback… As for expecting people to contact me — I don’t all the time because many things are clearly fine under Creative Commons Non-Commercial… such as posting on your blog and linking back. There are thousands of blogs out there that use my images and link back, and that is perfectly okay, and one of the main reasons that creative commons existis. So, if the user thinks “Well maybe this IS commercial”, then they should contact the artist.

  • TW

    Camilla….nothing personal but as Trey said, just contact the photographer rather than making the decision on your own that you can do as you wish with any image they probably put blood, sweat and tears in.

    Your logic is rather….screwed!

  • LOL I burst out laughing at the worst crop ever part, but seriously that’s my bs right there

  • wow….I find it ironic that your “About me” page claims that you are “Warm-hearted”….not when it comes to poor Camilla. All this pompousness is disheartening. She chimed in and is engaging in a conversation that may, in fact, enlighten her – better than none. Calling her dumb and saying “thanks for the laugh” are condescending and do little help to your cause. Be a good teacher….don’t make people feel stupid for seeking knowledge.

  • Doug

    The photographer of the picture explicitly chose a license that permitted use of his photograph under certain conditions. If he wanted to require people to ask permission to use the photograph, he should have chosen a difference license, or no license at all.

    The only (legal) issue is if the use at the airport is commercial or not — and like Camilla, I’m inclined to think it could go either way. The only way to be *sure* would be to take it to court — which would cost far more than the issue is worth.

    If the author wanted to be stubborn, he could sue, and if the issue went through the courts, he could possibly win … or could lose. If he won, he’d probably get less than what it cost him to sue.

    And if the airport or tourism bureau wanted to be stubborn, they could refuse to settle and let the issue go through the courts and possibly win or lose. And even if they won — it would probably cost them more than it would to just settle with the photographer.

    If you’re looking for a clear cut case of legal theft/copyright infringement — this isn’t it.

    Morally, the tourism bureau probably should have contacted the photographer, at least let him know the picture is up there, even if the license doesn’t require it (assuming that this use is not commercial, which is likely to remain uncertain.) Certainly, leaving themselves open to the possibility that their use is commercial (and therefore copyright infringement) wasn’t wise.

    And they really should be spanked for cropping out the best part of the picture.

  • CWS

    I’ve worked with the exhibition dept at ABIA in the past and, like another person who commented, they were very professional. I wouldn’t necessarily put the blame on them. Many of the spaces reserved for art are not paid for, but temporary exhibition opportunities for artists or non-profit orgs. From what I read, it appears that the exhibition opportunity in the space was given to the Austin Tourism Bureau (?), Austin Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, I’m guessing is what they meant, and they chose to submit an image that they did not have permission to use. I’d encourage Mike to follow through and contact the Marketing Department and the Tourism Departments of the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau since they should have knowledge of who authorized the use of that image at the airport on behalf of their organization. From my experience, ABIA does a nice job to help promote local artists, artisans and non-profits. I hope this can be resolved amicably between the artist and ACVB. One cannot assume the terms of use for any artists work. Ask. Always.

  • Mandy

    I know the image in the airport is a poor crop and they should have had respect to ask permission but the photographer does have his stuff under creative commons of some rights reserved.
    The airport or whoever pulled it legally was allowed.

  • Kimberly

    Camilla…think about what you are typing before you type it. Seriously.

    I don’t care what kind of license he had or has or didn’t have. The airport had absolutely no right to use his image without his knowledge and they sure as hell shouldn’t have cropped it. It’s rude. Common sense and common courtesy go a long way.

  • Nathaniel

    Kimberly –

    These licenses were created for a reason – so that there are consistent standards for how an image can be used. It makes no sense to tell people that they have to contact each artist individually to see how they would like the license to be interpreted.

    The simple fact of the matter is that the image was released by the artist under a Creative Commons license that allows for:

    1) Non-commercial use – while the airport may house commercial tenants, the airport itself is owned & run by the city of Austin, which is non-commercial.

    2) Alterations – As it is a share-alike license, others have the right to alter it as long as it is released under a similar license.

    Additionally, the license required attribution, which according to Creative Commons standards may just be his screen name.

  • Quock

    It’s definitely commercial since it’s being used to promote either Austin or the airport itself. It’s usage is to improve the image and be nice on the eye to patrons of the airport and tourists.

    Def. Commercial. Rape them in the Courts buddy.

  • Well, that was a fascinating little read. Your ENTJ colours are coming through in this debate, Trey 😛

  • I just want to let everyone know, ABIA and have reached an agreeable resolution for all parties and signed licensing. They were good to work with once they were made aware of the issue, and worked quickly to address it to everyone’s satisfaction. In spite of the suboptimal crop, the picture will also remain up in it’s current incarnation and location.


  • I’m glad to hear there’s an agreeable resolution. I hope a lot of folks learn from this example.

  • Wow! I’m glad my mediocre work is not subject to this sort of situation! Very interesting, albeit heated, discussion on this topic. @Mike – so glad that you were able to work something out with the airport…it’s too bad they didn’t ask you to use the beautiful original and not the crazy crop they did. If they’re going to rip off a photo, they should at least do it well ;). Fascinating discussion.

  • don rexroad

    Trey, you did the right thing, i am now 80 and the present generation has so many that think the world owes them a living and what is available is theirs for the taking. our people in goverment seem to have found this policy fits their needs. My contacts with teachers and professors where all of the mind set ALL you can take is FREE, seems to be the norm that makes this situation happen and you deserve all our thanks for illustrating “whats mine is NOT yours”. don

  • Eddy Voss

    Savvy piece . I learned a lot from the analysis . Does someone know if my company would be able to get ahold of a blank IRS 1098 version to work with ?

  • Eliejulz

    Hi Eddy Voss. my assistant got ahold of a sample a form document at this site

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