This week I wrote an article pointing out that Canon Italy (among other Canon EU pages and Instagram accounts) had posted a composite landscape that had a large amount of the image stolen from Elia Locardi. There was an enormous response to this and so I decided to dig for more information and between my research, the community, and Locardi himself, there's rather a lot more to unpack.
Firstly, I used the composite image posted to do a reverse image search and found where Canon Italy had downloaded the image: a website called Upsplash where the image is being provided free of charge for any use, copyright-free, including commercial and it has nearly 2,000 downloads. Cue the collective “uh-oh” as if that has been used in a major marketing campaign, this could get very messy indeed for the uploader.
That person in question is a photographer by the name of Greg Paul Miller and it seems a fairly safe bet that the elements of the image that aren't Locardi's, were taken by him at least, which isn't much in the way of consolation. A quick search for his name on Instagram yields his original posting of the shot back on September 22, 2016.
What makes this worse, is that Miller follows Locardi on Instagram and has even liked the very image that makes up most of the shot in question. The original shot that Locardi took was for the Fstoppers tutorial “Photographing the World,” which means anyone who had that tutorial would also have access to the raw file. In fact, in the “Photographing the World” tutorial, Locardi makes a quip about stealing the raw files because if you get caught, things could get awkward. Well, as Locardi said to me this morning: “In this case, it's definitely awkward.”
Well, so far we have no comment from Miller on his blatant theft of elements from Locardi's image, but Canon Italy have been kind enough to respond and address the obvious composite. Because it is obvious, isn't it?
Oh, apparently it's not obvious. Well, I will say that in Canon's defense, they took an image that was free to use and had added EXIF data that showed it was taken on a Canon EOS 1D Mark IV. As far as that goes, I can't really criticize them; I mean what can we realistically expect Canon to do before learning the truth of the image? However, their handling of this situation is appalling. Firstly, they seem oblivious to what a composite image is, and instead call out the differences between the two photos. Secondly, the willingness to inspire the community to take amazing photos, while commendable, is at best irrelevant to this discussion, and at worst promoting a "by any means necessary" approach to creating a beautiful image.
I truly hope there isn't a part three to this saga, but if there is, I'll keep everyone updated. It's worth noting that the photography community have been utterly superb in spotting this and then supporting Locardi. I've sadly experienced image theft and concept theft and in that case too, the photography community alerted me and rallied around me to get “justice.” I know Locardi would like to say thank you to everyone who has helped and I would too.