Mark (mhaithaca) wrote,

The GQ kerfluffle

On Thursday evening, my friend Rich congratulated me on Twitter for my photos being used in a GQ piece on the Finger Lakes. It was the first I'd heard of it. GQ published four of my photos accompanying the feature, and while there was a teeny "" under the accompanying text, I don't consider that attribution. My Flickr profile clearly states what I consider proper attribution: my name.

I tweeted about the theft, which caused a flurry of discussion, and several retweets. It wasn't surprising that GQ noticed (we were, after all, using their Twitter handle) and, during the day on Friday, I got a message on Flickr from their photo editor:

Hi Mark,

I was alerted to some tweets from you claiming stole your photos for our Short Order Finger Lakes piece. I am the photo editor and checked and saw your photos were under a creative commons license. They we actually all used for editorial use which wouldn't be the same as commercial ad use. I do apologize for the misunderstanding and would be happy to issue you our standard online editorial fee of $50 for stock photos. We did credit your flickr page in the piece but please let me know if you'd like to be credited differently.

Look forward to hearing from you.


Corrie [nameredacted]


Frankly, I'm perplexed at the idea that the photo editor of a major publication could conceivably not know what "commercial use" means, and that you can't simply take photos you find on the Internet and publish them in a commercial publication. Here's what I'm sending in response:

Hello, Corrie. Thank you for your note.

I think you've misunderstood the nature of the Creative Commons non-commercial license. That term doesn't mean "not to be used in a commercial," but means "not to be used by a for-profit, commercial enterprise."

GQ and Condé Nast are a for-profit, commercial enterprise. You are selling advertising and selling subscriptions. Your publication is not a hobbyist blog intended to casually share things that amuse you personally, but a commercial publication intended to make money. This is without question a commercial use.

If my interpretation of non-commercial surprises you, perhaps you would find the Creative Commons study on the subject enlightening. (Don't worry; you're not the only person who's ever been confused by the license.)

When noticing that my photos are covered by a Creative Commons license, you no doubt also noticed that they were available for licensing through Getty Images. That's to make it easy for commercial enterprises, such as Condé Nast, to license my work.

Of course, when the CC license does apply, the attribution aspect of the license requires licensees to provide proper credit per the requirements of the rights holder. My Flickr profile makes my wishes along these lines remarkably clear. Please credit "Mark H. Anbinder."

My standard license fee for commercial uses is $250 per photo. A local non-profit recently paid my non-profit rate of $75 for each of two photos they wanted to use in the program booklet for an event. In fact, they insisted on paying when I wanted to donate them.

Please send payment for $250 for each of four photos, or a total of $1,000. My address:

Mark H. Anbinder
106 Park Lane
Ithaca, New York 14850

Let me know if you need a formal invoice, and I'd be happy to submit one.



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