Apparently, Colorado Rep. Douglas Bruce just couldn't wait to start being a hypocrite. Hours before his swearing in, the newly appointed Republican representative delivered a kick to photographer Javier Manzano of The Rocky Mountain News during a prayer, of all things. Apparently Rep. Bruce's sense of Christian fellowship doesn't even proscribe actual physical assaults during prayers, never mind at other times.
In the ensuing brouhaha, video of the action—although it doesn't show the actual blow (which Bruce variously describes as a "tap," a "nudge," and "putting the bottom of my shoe against his exposed knee")—was plastered all over the internet, including here on TOP (on Wednesday the 16th). Bruce's persistent refusal to take responsibility for his action apparently angered his fellow Republicans, who led the motion to censure the fledgling representative. Yesterday, the Colorado legislature voted 62–1 to censure Bruce, the first time in at least 126 years (since records have been kept) that a Colorado legislator has been formally censured.
"I did not foresee him losing his composure and kicking me," said photographer Manzano, at the hearing. According to the News, the censure stated that "by striking the photographer, Bruce also violated the constitutionally protected 'right of public access to the proceedings of the House of Representatives.' "
Going Viral, Anonymously
It's unavoidable that popular curiosities get passed around the internet, a phenomenon known as "going viral." Many times, people who forward such items might technically be violating copyright. That might not be unwelcome to the original creators, because the benefit of the publicity might outweigh the damages caused by the theft of the work.
What's really unfortunate is when someone's hard work "goes viral" and they don't even get credit for it. Such is the case with a set of pictures currently being passed around the internet showing families from a number of different nations pictured with the food they consume in a week. Unfortunately, all the people who have forwarded it to me have done so with the source and credit stripped from it, which was doubtless how they received it.
For the record, not that it will do much good, the pictures come from the website for a book called Hungry Planet: What the World Eats by photographer Peter Menzel and writer Faith D'Aluisio (Ten Speed Press). If you're interested in learning more about the project, here's the website. If someone sends the email to you, you might want to add the credit and the link before passing it on.
Scoundrel of the Week
Such innocent appropriation pales, however, in contrast to the reprehensible actions of one Carrie Kirby, for whom "frugal living" evidently extends to outright theft from other people trying to make a living. In a rather extraordinary piece on a site called "Wise Bread," Kirby 'fesses up to deliberately and systematically stealing the work of a photographer she hired.
We sincerely hope that Kirby's photographer sues for damages. She would win.
For the record, not that I need to remind our readers, people can always negotiate a buyout of unlimited rights with their photographer in advance—actually, they can do so at any time—which would be preferable to unilateral theft carried out furtively and with intentional malice. In the face of stiff competition from Douglas Bruce (who, come to think, kicked his photographer last week), we hereby designate Carrie Kirby as TOP's "Scoundrel of the Week."
Mike (Thanks to Michael G. and Dwight Jones)
UPDATE: The Wise Bread feature entitled "Are You Stealing From Your Photographer?" by Carrie Kirby has been removed by Editor Will Chen.
UPDATE #2, 1/31/08: Following the deletion of the article from the Wise Bread site, one of our readers, Keith Forbis, grabbed it from Google cache and posted it—whole and entire—on his site. A reader named Andre commented, wonderingly, "Keith, did you seriously just copy an entire article verbatim from someone else's web site in an attempt to condemn the theft of intellectual property?" After several scoldings of increasing intensity from Ctein and from me about author's rights, which you can track in the comments, Keith finally removed the article from his site.
However, Keith has now secured permission from Carrie Kirby and Wise Bread to repost the article, so it's back again. You can see it here.
Also, Carrie Kirby herself has responded to me and to her other critics in a letter entitled "Dear Angry Photographers." It's the last of the 36 comments for this post.
Featured Comment by Joe Boris: "Discerning clients look for quality above pricing when choosing a photographer to capture life's special moments. And professional photographers must price their skill sets and output in accordance with competitors in their markets in order to remain in business and support their own families' needs.
"A professional photographer's charges take into account years of education, training, experience, and the high overhead costs of running a small business in a very difficult economy. These costs include business insurance, health insurance, advertising, salaries, employee benefits, office/studio rent, utilities, commercial phone lines, high-speed internet, software upgrades, digital gear, and much more.
"Extremely expensive camera bodies and digital backs, computers, hard drives, and printers will need to be replaced every 3 years to remain competitive in the marketplace. This is because digital capture technology is still in its infancy, and its professional-grade hardware becomes obsolete much sooner than did the necessary 'film' capture equipment of the past.
"And the current ease of scanning and copying photos (© stealing) from a small business owner (the photographer) only makes this industry a more fragile and risky venture when clients choose to flagrantly disregard the terms of the contract they've entered into with their selected photographer.
"Just because there's already a Mercedes plant built in South Carolina doesn't mean that they should give you a car for free just because you want one...or that they should have given you all the E-Class options you 'really wanted' since they 'seemed happy' when you paid for them their base model.
"Choose the most skilled photographer you can afford based upon the quality of their work and the terms of their contract. Then honor your end of the deal.
"Because stealing, as always, is a crime."