11.May 2001  

In response to the above publication, the following communication has been received from Getty Images via the office of BAPLA (British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies):

Getty Images rejects the PhotoDisc advert in European magazine Visuell. A number of people have expressed concerns regarding an advertisement for PhotoDisc, which appeared in a recent issue of Visuell, the European photographic magazine. The advertisement featured a PhotoDisc image of two women which had been altered as if by a 'Magic Marker'. The copy suggested that PhotoDisc images could be used by clients in any way they choose, which is not accurate. We wish to emphasize that Getty Images imposes strict restrictions on the use of the images it licenses and on a customer's ability to alter these images. In this instance, the internal approval and creative sign-off procedures were not followed and, unfortunately, this advertisement neither complied with Getty Images' position nor reflected our philosophy and process for creating and distributing high-quality imagery to customers world-wide. While we regret that it was published, further use of the advertisement was halted immediately after we became aware of its publication and we have undertaken a review of our procedures to ensure that similar incidents do not recur in the future. Please be assured that we respect the imagery our artists create, their copyrights in those images, and the rights of the models who appear in them. Given this, the advertisement was clearly unacceptable, and we apologize if any offense was caused.

Anthony Harris,
Director of Photographer Relations/Getty Images

Peggy Willett,
Director of Photographer Communications/Getty Images

24.May 2001

To Whom It May Concern:

The following is in response to the inquiries about my image, which Getty Images/PhotoDisc defaced and published as an advertisement for PhotoDisc of Germany.

As soon as I became aware of the advertisement, a letter was sent from my attorney to PhotoDisc expressing my disappointment. Never did I believe that my work would be altered when I agreed to contribute to Getty's stock library. Never was I asked for permission to use the image in the distorted manner, nor would I have permitted the use of my image in this manner. Never did I anticipate such disrespect in regard to the image created, those involved with the project (especially the models), or myself. I am disappointed and offended.  


Joan Buccina
Owner and Photographer
Buccina Studios Limited

Getty's advert in Germany
“Do to our images whatever you want to do”
Foot in mouth disease hits Germany !

As if to confirm my recent thoughts on stock photography, PhotoDisc of Germany (part of the Getty Corp.) have just launched a 1/3 page advert in the current issue of VISUELL magazine (15th March 2001), the leading publication for stockphoto libraries and picture editors in Europe.

German humour has always been a bit suspect, so it is refreshing to see that with a little help from our friends across the Atlantic, this is presently undergoing a dramatic change. Ignore the advert at your peril: call it clever, humorous or "in the face", it still is crude, in bad taste, insensitive, obscene and offensive to many.

The conveyed message which translates: "Do to our images whatever you want to do" and "pay once, use forever, for whatever" must be deeply disturbing to all of us - unless of course you don't give a monkeys fart to what happens to your work.

Don't get me wrong: it is not the pathetic execution of the PhotoDisc advert which should concern us - taste is a fragile commodity at the best of times, it is the message the advert conveys: It is a two-fingers-up gesture to the photographer who took the image and the same gesture to the persons depicted. It is a cocky way of saying "to hell with your copyright and all it stands for". The copyright in an image, good, bad or just indifferent, is the most important aspect of photography, no photographer should ever be asked to give it up.

There may be moral and legal implications too: photographers need to keep full control over the way their work is used to protect themselves. International copyright laws generally prohibit derogatory usage of ones work - photographers now have a moral right to object to having their photographs treated in a way which amounts to distortion or mutilation or is otherwise damaging to their "honour and reputation" (Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988, United Kingdom). You may think you covered yourself with a specific model release, but keep in mind that many countries outside the USA treat any obscene or immoral contracts - a model release is a contract - as null and void. When that time arrives the photographer is on his or her own. No friendly chats with library editors, no parties to launch another stock catalogue, suddenly the image with all of the associated problems belongs to the photographer again!

Commiseration to Buccina Studios of Minneapolis and the good people depicted in this pathetic advert. Perhaps we can all draw a lesson from this brainless achievement of creativity and prove that advertising does work after all: the advert clearly exhibits the disrespect of a company to it's stock contributors. But if you still feel the ad is clever, humorous and "in the face", by all means, go and supply them with your photography!

Edmund Nägele, FRPS
Edmund Nägele is a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain and a member of BAPLA
Email:  stock@nagele.co.uk

Copyright © Edmund Nagele F.R.P.S. All rights reserved.