Update: Fox News Uses Photo After Owner Says No But Yes to AP

Update: Fox News Uses Photo After Owner Says No But Yes to AP

I recently wrote an article concerning Fox News using a photograph after being told by the owner of the picture they could not use the picture. As Paul Harvey would say: "Now for the rest of the story."

A few days ago, I wrote an article concerning Fox News asking Lesley Abravanel if they could use a photograph her husband had taken on November 1, 2017 of accused bombing suspect Cesar Sayoc’s van via Twitter. Abravanel replied to FoxNews on Twitter with: “My husband took the picture but won’t allow you guys to use it because you aren’t a reliable source of what’s going on in our country today. Sorry!” Later Abravanel was alerted by friends to Fox News using her husband’s photograph.

Now for the rest of the story. I contacted Abravanel again to ask if she and her husband had given permission to anyone else to use the photograph. Abravanel told me: “…AP asked if they could use the photo prior to Fox. Via Twitter. I wish I would have asked for payment, but alas, let’s just say I served my country and perhaps karma will reward me in the future.” I recently searched AP Images and found Abravanel’s photograph posted on the photo site. So, it appears FoxNews did not use Abravanel’s image from her Twitter account but instead purchased the right to use the picture from AP Images.

As we can see, Abravanel gave permission for AP Images to use her photograph without asking for compensation and AP Images turned around and sold the picture to at least Fox News and I would imagine several other news outlets. AP Images didn’t do anything illegal, but I believe they are doing something wrong when they ask to use someone else’s content for free and then turn around and sell the rights to other news organizations. They seem to be banking on the person who one time in their life has a piece of content that has value, and they don’t provide any information that they will profit off the content provided. I speculate this is not an isolated case and probably occurs frequently, because the owners of the content aren’t aware they can ask for compensation.

When I looked the other day at AP Images, an editorial usage fee for Abravanel’s photograph was $250.

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Adam Ottke's picture

That's super crappy of AP to do. Super crappy. I guess that's to be expected. But come on.

Daniel Medley's picture

Why is it crappy? Because the photographer didn't ask for compensation?

Adam Ottke's picture

On one hand, of course, the photographer should maybe have done better overall to ensure the photo was used as intended, etc....and to get some compensation for herself. But at the same time, you'd hope an organization built on great content produced from hardworking photographers would make it a point to fairly compensate people...not to take something for free and turn around and sell it for infinite profit. It's just the right thing to do... But time and time again, companies take things for free that they could easily pay even just a little for in order to make it more fair. I'm just disappointed an organization like AP wouldn't do more.

Michael Kormos's picture

Listen, the person who took the picture isn’t some seasoned professional photographer who knows all about licensing and copyright. It’s a common Joe with a smartphone who took the picture on a whim - a picture which suddenly became VERY relevant. Try to see it from this perspective.

Douglas Turney's picture

Thank you for picking up the point that the person who took the photo is not a photographer. They have no idea of their rights or what reasonable compensation would be.

Daniel Medley's picture

I agree to some degree, but they're a business who has a responsibility to make as much money as possible while remaining inside the boundaries of the law. They didn't "take" the image from anyone. It appears as though they asked for it and was given it.

Adam Ottke's picture

Totally. But also supposedly she gave permission for her husband's photograph...that's not how it works. And AP also knew it was her husband's photo since her original post on Twitter about the photo was from her husband talking about when he took it and showed her. But regardless, she obviously didn't realize the extent of what she was doing...and AP should just compensate, period. I'm not saying a LOT. But they have a responsibility to do what's right to keep photographers going, too...

What's supper crappy is that the photographer was a partisan hack who was dumb enough to give away her rights without compensation. We no longer have a "free press" in this country, just partisan bickering.

michaeljin's picture

One could argue that the very existence of partisan bickering is proof that we have a free press... perhaps too free, sometimes.

Matt Williams's picture

If ever we lose our free press, it won't have a damn thing to do with partisanship.

It'll probably have something to do with the President calling the press the "enemy of the people."

The war on the press is not waged by people like this woman. It's waged by people who think "fake news" is an intelligent thing to say.

Duane Klipping's picture

If I gave you a car and you turn around and sell it how would that be your fault you sold it?

Elke Vogelsang's picture

Because I only allowed you to use it, not to own it.

JetCity Ninja's picture

welp, if i ever get that lucky shot, at least i know where to start my pricing and a precedent to refer them to.

Robert Nurse's picture

After seeing your images, I'd say $250 would be a steal! :)

Simon Patterson's picture

This is a classic case of why we have poor reporting. It sells much better than proper reporting.

His first story on this was poorly researched, encouraging people to accuse a news outlet of image theft when clearly there was no wrongdoing. That's one inflammatory story from a non issue, which garnered attention simply because the most important fact was missing. Of course there are no consequences for poor research in journalism, so he got away with it.

But, due to a poorly researched first article, we have a second article with an "update", with the facts that should have been provided in the first place.

But, added to this one, is an inflammatory claim that "AP turned around and sold" the picture to the news outlet. This claim may attract attention, but it's of course a false claim. There will be no consequence for the writer this time either.

Will this give rise to a third article, with an "update" on what AP is, and how it works, or somesuch? Maybe. I wonder how such an article could be spun to evoke artificial negative emotions in readers, and therefore clicks, comments and a fourth article?

So there you have it. Poor initial research led to a big response, and a second article. Poor research in the second article (ie. this one) may achieve the same, and if so it will lead to a third article. If that one is sufficiently inflammatory, it could lead to a fourth. After all, why change a "winning" formula?!

Proper research would not have received anywhere near as much attention in the first place, and would not have warranted subsequent articles. So why would anyone research their "news" stories properly, when their job is first to write stories? Poor research leads to more attention and more stories, which is exactly what we have here.

And that's why we rarely see properly researched news stories. There is a huge incentive to write poorly researched, artificially emotive stories, because those are worth much more each, and they lead to further stories.

And so the poorly researched, artificially emotive stories will continue forever, and they'll continue to sell the ad space for publications, including FStoppers. There's too much incentive to do it, with little or no negative consequences to the writer.

Jen Photographs's picture

Speaking as someone with editorial background at a news organization: While I don't disagree that this, if written by a news reporter, wouldn't pass muster with a halfway decent editor, I also try keep in mind that Fstopper is more of a blogging/social forum platform than an actual news-media platform.

It's up to the Fstoppers owners to decide whether to implement better QC standards.

Simon Patterson's picture

Speaking as someone who worked in local government for many years and knew first hand about many issues that were reported in published media, I can say that every journalist I ever saw was *never* 100% accurate, with only one exception.

Proper journalists' articles don't usually contain such glaring errors as we see here, however what this writer has done is still a classic example of what journalists do every day. It is exactly what the "news media" relies on to create and sell content. Hence why I pointed it out here, as it was a blatantly obvious case.

I agree about Fstoppers - I imagine nobody comes here for news because it's not a photography news site. We go to Petapixel and other places for photography related news, because Petapixel and others are more responsible and much more timely with their reporting.

Fstoppers is great for ideas, tutorials, critiques, humour and more off-the-wall links, and good on them for that. My main point is not to criticise Fstoppers (although I'm aware I'm implicitly doing that too), it is to use an Fstoppers article to highlight a wider issue across all "news media".

Jen Photographs's picture

All fair points, except: "Petapixel and others are more responsible and much more timely with their reporting."

They are slightly better than FS in this regard, true, but they have posted several questionable more-blog-than-news-reporting articles in the past. I occasionally post when I spot them, but it's pretty much tilting at the windmill until the owners decide to make a change, anyhow.

The cynical side of me thinks that they probably won't because news is "boring" (air quotes here), while controversial or questionable opinion articles are more likely to garner engagement, which is good for their marketing analytics. The more engagement they get, the easier they can sell ad space.

Simon Patterson's picture

I agree with that. I think it is unlikely there is such a thing as a reliable or trustworthy news source on the face of the earth. That includes Petapixel - I'm certainly not singing their praises, even though Petapixel is slightly more responsible with facts than Fstoppers. Which isn't saying much really...

michaeljin's picture

Fstoppers is not a news outlet and its writers are not journalists. It would be a mistake to hold them to the same standards.

Simon Patterson's picture

Let's face it, the bar is already very low when it comes to journalistic standards. A simple check such as going to Wikipedia to learn if AP really does "turn around and sell the rights" of content to networks like this one shouldn't be beyond anyone. Even to an Fstoppers writer.

michaeljin's picture

But Fstoppers writers are not journalists so why would you hold them to any sort of journalistic standards at all no matter how low those standards are?

Simon Patterson's picture

Because I think it beats simply making things up and publishing them as fact, no matter who we are. I'd prefer to read the truth. Wouldn't you?

michaeljin's picture

In general, yes, but I don't expect people to tell the truth. This is the internet. People publish wildly inaccurate things as fact all the time—even trained journalists who ought to know better. If you're going to be upset that a glorified photo blog posts inaccurate information, I'm not really sure what to say.

Ultimately, if you care that much, you need to do the fact checking yourself rather than expect others to do it for you. It's just a sad truth about the world we live in and complaining about the state of affairs is not likely to change anything.

The problem is not that people don't tell the truth. The problem is that we've become a society too lazy to seek out the truth for ourselves and who, instead, just believe the words of others at face value. The author in this case is a symptom of the issue, not a cause.

Simon Patterson's picture

I agree with that.

The author's update is just more speculation. Key facts are still missing. He didn't verify whether Fox bought the pic or whether AP sold it. Just writing a whole "update" article based on more guesses.

Simon Patterson's picture

I just can't wait for his next episode...<ahem>..."update"...😂

Robert Nurse's picture

"When I looked the other day at AP Images, an editorial usage fee for Abravanel’s photograph was $250."

Well, AP Images is obviously selling it. If Fox News didn't buy, they're using it in an "odd" manner.

Douglas Turney's picture

Yep. That was my thinking also. That's why I checked the AP Image site prior to writing the second article.

Douglas Turney's picture

Simon Patterson there is no intent to develop a series of articles on this subject to generate clicks like you try to imply over and over in your response. I take pride in my articles and try to provide articles that are of interest and value to Fstoppers readers. The best pay for me is to see comments from people saying how much they enjoyed the article. Why? Because I want them to have a moment of joy while they read the article and second because they will come back to read more articles. I do not get joy out of fooling people to click on my articles and never intend for that to happen. Fool them once shame on me, fool them twice and they go elsewhere. One must also realize that the article was never meant to be hard hitting in depth news article but rather a story of someone dealing with a new agency and then a press wire agency. It is a story and not meant to be the equivalent of reporting the Pentagon Papers or the Watergate Break-in. Your disapproval seems more grounded in a distaste for news journalism than a STORY on a photography website. Perhaps you should contact a news organization and write a researched article on the failure of news organizations to research, and verify information from multiple independent sources.

I hope you have read my other articles on Fstoppers and find them to be better written than this one in your opinion.

The opinions voiced here are mine and only mine.

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