My last post entitled “The end result” seems to have caused some what of a stir. The wallpaper I designed for the post is based on a powerful, iconic photo by Michael Yon (see the photo on the home page of his site), an independent war photographer embedded in Iraq. The photo is entitled “Strength and Compassion” and the imagery is that of a fatally wounded baby girl being held by a US soldier after a car bomb explosion in the city of Mosul, 225 miles north west of Baghdad.
For the design, I cut out the composition from it’s original background and carefully drew the soldier’s legs into the image. The end result was a vector sketch filled with a palette of camouflage colours. The wallpaper was available for download.
Over the weekend I was contacted by Michael Yon’s attorney advising me that displaying the photo on my blog, as well as creating an “unauthorized reproduction” of the photo was infringing on the image’s copyright. By placing my own copyright on my design in the form of a website address the design was improper and illegal. Furthermore, I must remove both the photo and my design from my site.
I understand why the copyright has been placed on the photo and how it guards the photo from uses which are inflammatory, political or commercial in nature. I also understand I am guilty of not leaving a reference to Michael Yon’s photo from within the image, only the blog post I display it from. I am not questioning if my design infringes on the copyright. I am just questioning the complexity of the copyright on the photo.
Michael says: “Interest in the war is waning back home, I’m told, which may explain the thinning ranks of reporters over here. Ironically, with fewer reporters here every day, it’s even more critical to keep the few sources of news on the ground working. Please continue to spread the word about my work and please support this site by clicking here.”
In today’s world with social media being such a powerful marketing tool would it not make more sense to change the wording on the design (as I recommended to Mr Yon’s attorney) and use the design to further the viral campaign for Michael Yon’s work.
This to me would be a far better solution with much better rewards for Mr Yon’s courageous work.