My good name, Copyright Act, DMCA and plagiarism

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In mid March 2008 I have photographed a man shining shoes of a woman customer. The man’s name is Bryan and he is a well known personality to anyone working or visiting Sydney. He has shoe shining station placed in a very busy Pitt Street Mall. As far as I know, he may be the only person offering shoeshine service in the street in Australia, as it is not a service commonly offered in Australian streets. My photograph of Bryan and his customer, at least to me, is one of a positive attitude and enterprise. Bryan, down on luck, does not beg for money. He puts a solid day’s work to earn his living. In Sydney, where almost every corner of CBD is now occupied by beggars, Brian’s approach to life and financial misfortunes is commendable.

In mid September 2008 I start receiving emails accusing me of being racist. After few days someone with a little bit more sense makes me aware my photograph has been altered (without my authorization) to portray the shoe shine man to be at the time senator Barack Obama and his customer to be Sarah Palin, who at the time was Alaska’s Governor. The altered image was apparently distributed via email. The plagiarist chose to keep my copyright notice, and thus implying the highly controversial image was created by me. It was not.

Originally I have stated I will not publish the plagiarised work. However, now due to other circumstances I have decided to show it, so people can understand why I am trying so hard to defend my name against this plagiarised image. Please note how it still displays my name and the name of this website. I have added wording on top of this image, so if it distributed again, there will be no ambiguity about its authorship.
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Unprofessional and unethical email exchange with a magazine executive producer

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I have been contacted yesterday by this email:

Magazine executive producer:
there is an image of a girl texting. Your photo credit is on it and we will be printing this image. If you would like for us to purchase the copyright we are prepared to do so, however we would remove your name from it…If you want us to print this image we need your permission and your photo credit will remain intact…please contact us either way…thank you

My reply:

Dear [withheld]

“there is an image of a girl texting.”
Can you identify the photographic work a bit more precisely? Its file name or URL location where you found it.

“Your photo credit is on it and we will be printing this image.”
Before you do please read on. You are stating this as a matter of fact, where in reality you have not yet been granted a permit to do so.

“If you would like for us to purchase the copyright we are prepared to do so, however we would remove your name from it…”
You cannot purchase a copyright to my photograph. It is not for sale. You may possibly purchase a licence to use my photograph. You are certainly not entitled to alter my works or remove copyright notices”

“If you want us to print this image we need your permission and your photo credit will remain intact…please contact us either way…thank you”
Now we are talking. I need to know exactly:
a) Who are you representing?
b) which photograph you are interested in
c) nature of the article it will be published it (please attach copy of the text)
d) volume of print
e) size of the photograph on a page
f) will the article be reprinted on the Internet, and if so, on which website

Once I know these details I will consider if I want my photograph published by you, and secondly work out an appropriate licence fee, terms and conditions.

Regards,

Ted Szukalski

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