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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Simon Patterson's picture

Douglas I don't for a minute think you set out in the first place to write a series of articles that deliberately mislead readers into clicking on the next one.

Of course you want to write articles that people enjoy and come back and read more of, as you state. There's nothing wrong with that, in itself.

So, in both articles, you did just enough research until you had an article that would likely be interesting and clickable, and then you stopped researching and posted your articles with essential facts missing. You probably didn't even know the facts were missing, because you hadn't bothered to research them. To me, that's not you deliberately fooling people, but instead it's more likely just laziness, which just happened to benefit your aims.

My main point is that there is no incentive for you to do otherwise. In fact, you are disincentivised from doing proper fact checking.

If you had interviewed both sides of the story in the first place, like any genuinely fair minded person would, then your initial story would have been much less engaging. That's no incentive!

If you had checked all your factual claims in your second story, such as your claim that AP sold the picture to Fox News, then you would have lost a substantial part of your article - the most juicy part. Why would anyone want to lose the most engaging part of their article?

So you have little incentive to do any different next time. Instead, you have dismissed my points as expecting a standard of investigation equivalent to the Pentagon Papers or Watergate, so you have learned nothing except to continue in the same vein. Which is exactly what I said I expected, as per the incentives I already outlined.

I'd rather see you equally consider both sides' points of view in future stories like this, and do some basic research of your intended factual claims. That's as simple as research for an article gets, really! But, as there is no incentive for you to do this, and a strong incentive for you not to bother, I'm not holding my breath.

Douglas Turney's picture

Well Simon, I'll just chalk these articles up as something you didn't care for. Never meant to imply that I'm an investigative reporter.

Simon Patterson's picture

Ah, the "I'm not an investigative reporter so I'm free to just make stuff up and publish it as fact" approach.

I agree, you *are* free to just make stuff up and publish it, and you're right, it's not an approach I care for. Glad we agree on a couple of things, anyway...

Douglas Turney's picture

You keep stating that I made stuff up and didn't tell the truth, which I did not do. I wrote what I knew at the time and when I learned that Abvaranel had spoken with AP Images I sat and wrote the second article with new information. This article is not in any way implied to be a deep investigative report, which you seem to be demanding for your free usage of Fstoppers. As others have pointed out to you, you are free to do your own investigative report. You can reach out to Abvaranel as I did via Twitter. You can attempt to find someone at Fox News to comment along with finding someone at AP Images. If the quality of reporting is such a concern for you, and I would not call my article a report in the news sense, then take it upon yourself. I'd love to read it. You have written more words in this comment section criticizing my articles than my two articles combined. Again if you are so interested in an investigative report then take it upon yourself and learn the facts yourself. I have done that myself in other areas that have turned into great opportunities for me.

But to continue saying I made stuff up is at best speculation on your part and incorrect speculation at that. I didn't make stuff up. I wrote an article that I thought would be interesting to Fstoppers readers. Then when I learned more about the story I wrote a follow up that cleared up some questions. I have even spent a fair amount of time in the comments section, not trying to defend myself or the article, but rather to give some more insight to the depth of the article. Yet nothing seems to satisfy you. The view must be rather impressive from your high horse.

So let me sum it up in for you. Stop relaying on other people to do all the work for you so that you can simply critique. If you think can do better than do it and not rely on others to live to your standards. No one is stopping you and especially not me. As Theodore Roosevelt said ""It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat." So that it is clear to you, I'm not implying I'm some great fighter, but rather you are the critic that can only point out how others stumble. Try being one who does.

Simon Patterson's picture

Douglas Turney said "You keep stating that I made stuff up and didn't tell the truth, which I did not do".

Douglas Turney said "AP Images turned around and sold the picture to at least Fox News".

That is simply untrue, AP did not sell the picture to Fox News. You made that up.

AP is a not-for-profit news cooperative, owned by its members, one of whom is Fox News. Rupert Murdoch was even on the AP board once. AP doesn't "sell" its content to Fox News, AP shares its content with its owners (and subscribers), of which Fox News is one.

So AP did not sell the picture to Fox News, as you claimed. Selling content to Fox News is not something AP does. You made that up yourself.

" 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."

Another way to look at this (the non-mercantile way...) is the this user provided AP the means to make a small profit in order to keep the show running and keep an actual, good and honest press outlet in business.

Would have done the same thing.

Daniel Medley's picture

Yet another story accusing evil Fox News of image theft that turns out to be false.

Douglas Turney's picture

The fact that the article was written has nothing to do with Fox News. I would have written the same thing concerning any other news organization. But thank you for jumping to conclusion that it was meant to target Fox News.

Tim Ericsson's picture

Don't worry about those snowflakes who get butthurt whenever their propaganda-of-choice gets accused of something that doesn't fit into the world they've made up for themselves. Some people appreciate your follow-up on the story. Douglas.

Daniel Medley's picture

Not a snowflake, and I'm not butthurt. I don't even watch cable news. Just pointing out that it's yet another article accusing Fox News of using images without permission that turned out to be false.

Tim Ericsson's picture

Fair enough. And balanced!

Daniel Medley's picture

I've seen a couple of similar articles like this regarding Fox News. They've all turned out to be incorrect. That's all I'm pointing out. https://blog.photoshelter.com/2018/05/he-said-no-fox-news-used-his-image...

If you see where I said anything about you specifically targeting Fox News kudos to you, because I didn't.

Simon Patterson's picture

The problem is that your method was biased. You interviewed the photographer at least twice, but you give no indication that you reached out to the news outlet for their perspective. Your biased approach was exactly the same in both articles.

The reason for your bias is unclear, but the fact of your bias is indisputable.

michaeljin's picture

I imagine that it's not all that difficult to get a comment from an photographer who is feeling aggrieved. Getting a commend from a news organization is a different story entirely—particularly if you're not even a journalist working for an outlet.

Simon Patterson's picture

You may be surprised. Either way, there is no indication he even tried.

michaeljin's picture

I probably wouldn't be all that surprised given the fact that I have yet to receive a response from any number of local news outlets to answer a simple question about whether they would protect their source's anonymity if there was a story about a felon convicted of securities fraud using a pseudonym to run one of the city's more successful real estate companies behind a puppet broker who is on their payroll to be the face of the company.

You would think such a story like that and the fact that one of these felons (who lacks a real estate license of any sort) is the one actually negotiating all of the deals on behalf of the licensed real estate agents, engaging in blockbusting, racist fear mongering (eg. telling people that they should sell soon because a mosque is going up and Muslims are going to be moving into their area), and unethical behavior such as disclosing the precise values of competing bids by showing potential buyers signed offer sheets from competing bidders (all of which I mentioned), would at least spark some sort of response from a news outlet. Not a peep back and those were local news outlets that I was reaching out to.

I don't imagine that contacting a national news outlet for comment about whether they stole a photo they used would even be entertained. Then again, I could be totally wrong.

I suppose I can always dream about it being a story on the local news. LOL!

Simon Patterson's picture

It sounds like a story that would possibly suit an investigative journalist better than a local news outlet, which are generally looking more for the low hanging fruit stories.

Funding for investigating such stories is becoming harder and harder to come by, and the outlets you contacted may have decided that it is not a story worth putting resources into pursuing. Then, it's easier for them to let another outlet put the effort into researching the issues, so they can simply parrot the story on their own network. Most reporting is just parroting another journalist anyway, as it's much easier than doing research.

Douglas Turney didn't research the first article he wrote and Fstoppers published it anyway... Am I off base here or is this how this went down? Bias and preconceived notions do not replace research...

The author is just presenting more unverified assumptions and beliefs. Key facts are missing. It's a waste of time to read this, as it's just more speculation. Did Fox buy the image from AP or not? Did AP sell the image to Fox or not? No facts, just guesses. There's no "rest of the story" here.

Steve White's picture

I'm neither a journalist nor a pro photographer, but I've know what AP is for a very long time. Apparently the author, the photographer, and the photographer's wife aren't familiar with them. Distributing news, in a variety of media is what they do, and if they turn a profit on a particular piece that's just how business works. I'm just guessing, but they've been around long enough that I'd imagine there's very little legal uncertainty about their distribution of IP to others after securing permission from the IP's copyright owner. Complaining about how they use your work after giving them permission is pretty much the same as complaining about how a contest organizer uses your work after you submitted it and gave them permission to do almost anything.

As with any photo, or other IP, if you're going to tell somebody they can use it the onus is on you to be sure you're not giving more permissions than you intended. You should also know enough about Fair Use to understand that sometimes you won't have any real recourse. Even if the photo had been given to AP with a prohibition against distributing it to Fox (or Breitbart, InfoWars, or other right wing outlets) it's subsequent use by Fox or others may well have been a Fair Use because the photo was newsworthy, and letting AP have it for free eliminated any issues over market value.

Perhaps the photographer would have some recourse if the permission was given by his wife rather than himself, but that might blow back on the wife in the form of a costly lawsuit by AP.

FWIW, almost all of you have seen the Pulitzer prize winning photo from the Kent State shootings. IIRC the photographer offered the photo to AP for free, but AP paid him $250. You can still buy the photo on AP's site. If they charged just a penny each time it was used I'd imagine they've still earned thousands of dollars in gross profit.

Douglas Turney's picture

Don't you think a large organization like AP who reaches out to a person who has a picture they would like to use and sell shouldn't at least offer a minimum payment? The large organization understands the market and value while the person (who in this case is not a photographer) does not. How many times have we heard a similar story occurring in the past? You mention the $250 for the Kent State shootings, would it be so wrong to offer something similar? I'm not saying that anything illegal was committed. Far from it, but is this how business is performed now? And what about the professional photographers who are trying to sell their photos? What happens to them when these organizations just reach out to individuals who are not aware of the value of their property? It lowers the pay for professional photographers.

Steve White's picture

Sure, it would be nice if AP offered at least a token payment, but this is how business has always been performed. You try to maximize income while minimizing expenses.

On the other side, giving your photos away has become far more common. In the film days you had to pay to have prints made (or for the materials to make them yourself) and it was more difficult to share the photo with the media. Today the vast majority of "prints" are just files that can be copied endlessly for essentially zero cost, and people who aren't trying to earn a living from their photography are often perfectly happy to share the files and post them on social media. That it reduces the fees others can charge is just a fact of life.

Here's a thought, though. Maybe you should reach out to the photographer and find out if AP just got verbal permission to use the photo or if they got a written and irrevocable license to use the photo.

Gary Pageau's picture

Article headline should have been: "AP licenses bomber van photo to news outlet; photographer doesn't request compensation."

user-55486's picture

So tired of the bashing of conservatives. I've given fstoppers the benefit of the doubt but obviously they are pushing an agenda. Yes, it is only one sided and for that bye. I'm never coming back.

Douglas Turney's picture

Obviously you are wrong because I found the topic myself, and wrote the article myself with no direction from anyone at Fstoppers. You have no idea of my political views. I would have written the same article if the company using the photo was any other news organization - Left, Right, Middle. Not everything is political.

michaeljin's picture

Don't let the door hit you on your way out.

Tim Ericsson's picture

I see you’re already gone, but I hope you’re still reading here: nobody gives a shit that you left! Byyyyyyeeee!

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