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Magazine Says Its Stolen Cover Photo Was a Stock Photo… of the Photo

Renowned photographer Nadav Kander was recently surprised to find one of his portraits used without permission on the cover of a magazine. When confronted with this, the magazine’s explanation was that the image was purchased as a stock photo — a stock photo of the copyrighted photo in an exhibition.

The photo at the center of this strange tale was a portrait Kander had made of famed American filmmaker (and photographer) David Lynch.

The UK magazine The Big Issue published an interview with Lynch in last week’s issue (#1365), and the cover photo on the issue was a portrait of Lynch — Kander’s portrait of Lynch.


The cover that used Kander’s photo without permission.

After Kander took to Instagram to speak out against the infringement, the magazine responded in a comment on his post:

Hi Nadav, we’re very sorry you feel aggrieved. This image was sourced by the art team. They discovered it on Alamy. It’s a great image that we felt would help move the magazine. We told Alamy what we were doing and neither tried to pull the wool over anybody’s eyes nor get away without paying.

The first we discovered about the issues with the image was when your agency got in touch at the start of the week. Clearly, Alamy have some explaining to do. We would never intentionally do this. As an organisation that serves the complex needs of thousands of our vendors each year, we understand the need to meet emotional distress with sensitivity. We hope this goes some way to explaining the situation. If you would like to discuss further, please DM us.

Here’s the stock photo that had been made available through the UK-based stock photo service Alamy (and which has since been removed) — it was a photo of Kander’s framed print hanging on the wall at an exhibition with the title card next to the frame.

In creating its cover, The Big Issue had cropped out Kander’s portrait from the stock photo.

Needless to say, Kander was in disbelief at the chain of events that led to the image theft, which he calls “unbelievable blatant copyright infringement.”

The cover photo for The Big Issue #1365 has been removed from the online archive of the magazine.

Kander says that he looked into the photographer who had sold the stock photo and was “doubly insulted” to find that their website stated that permission should be obtained before using any of their work.

“I would never have wanted this photograph sold…” Kander writes. “So photographer who did this, kindly call my studio and we should talk. My alternative is to just go up an avenue that is less than pleasant for you.”

A tip for stock photographers: don’t go around to other photographers’ exhibitions, photograph the prints hanging on the walls, and then sell those photos as your own stock images.

(via Nadav Kander via Fstoppers)


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