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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69 Comments

Previous comments
Michael Glenn's picture

It is a wire service. If you give, or sell it to them, they will sell it to any and all that come. There should be no suprise. Sad that the photographer did not rightly ask for payment. Hopefully, people will learn.

Douglas Turney's picture

Please try to understand that the person who took the picture is not a photographer and doesn't understand what is normal practice of selling their rights.

@Douglas Turney, Your "rest of the story" isn't a story. Rather, it's just more assumptions and beliefs. You did not verify key assumptions. Did Fox buy the image from AP or not? Did AP sell the image to Fox or not?

David Cannon's picture

That’s not crappy of the Associated Press to do, as that’s just business… Buy low and sell high. That’s on the photographer for not being a good enough business person to sell their valuable work for a reasonable rate. For those of you on your moral high horse, if somebody gave you a brand new, latest and greatest camera body, but it wasn’t your brand, would you turn around and sell it?

Douglas Turney's picture

You missed the point that the people (husband and wife) are not photographers. They are just some people where the husband snapped a picture to send to his wife several months ago that became relevant today. They had no idea of what value the photo had however AP did. Illegal? No, probably not. I'm not an attorney just a Turney. Ha get it? Anyway I just find it a little sad that a large organization would take advantage of someone without offering some sort of payment. This also impacts the professional photographers who are trying to make a living off of selling their images to news agencies. Why pay them when you can simply get photos from the common man who has no idea their image has value? I wouldn't do that to a model I shoot. Would you?

The Photographer could have told AP yes - with the proviso that FOX NEWS was OUT and not able to use the image.

He should have asked for payment. Then again, maybe he knows what his work is worth?

Douglas Turney's picture

The photographer is just someone who snapped a photo with their cellphone and is not a photographer who understands copyright. Apparently according to AP Images the image is worth about $250 for editorial use. I check the site myself for the price.

I may be missing something here. I have worked with magazines and news outlets in the past. Sometimes I was the retoucher, and sometimes I was the photographer with the image they wanted. I have always retained my rights to the photo regardless if I have gotten paid or not. I never work with AP, and frankly, I don't care if I ever do. But what's the point of the article? What does copyright and ownership of an image have to do with receiving compensation?

I do understand that the husband is not a pro photographer or a hobbyist at that. But who in their right mind would agree to sign their rights away to their property? Anyways, I believe she was right about karma, if she went with Fox, I am pretty sure they wouldn't have tricked her to sign her rights away and sold it to multiple news outlets behind her back. LOL

Tommy Vidal's picture

I wonder if fstoppers.com pay AP or the photographer to use photo for this posting?