Sion Fullana who is a New-York based street photographer was shocked to find that a company as reputable as the Spanish arm of “Vogue” could stoop so low as to lift two of his photos from his Instagram account and publish them as their own. He tweeted, “Shamless conduct by @VogueSpain on #Instagram stealing my photos (1): Is this what a magazine of such name should do?” On top of that, he tweeted again, with regards to another one of his photos which was taken in New York and was tried to pass off as something in Paris by the folks over at Vogue Spain, “Shameless conduct by @VogueSpain on #Instagram, stealing photos (2): Not only steal, but lie that a NY photo is Paris.” The street photographer is obviously not happy and despite having a group of followers 72,000 strong, his profile has now been changed to private.
As for the company that made the mistake, its Instagram account went offline for a short while and the photos were nowhere to be seen, after being grilled by another Instagram user, the company issued a seemingly half-hearted reply to the photographer with a comment in Spanish that read, “It was a mistake, we apologize for the damages.” After a while Vogue Spain posted an image that is embedded below, on their Instagram account which apologized for the incident without actually clarifying what the situation actually was with the rest of its followers who remain clueless.
If Vogue Spain is to be believed, they “accidentally” chose not one but two photos from the same photographer after which they posted it claiming them to be theirs. For a company as reputable as Vogue Spain, to commit simple theft like this, the least it could have done to make up for the damage was a public apology as opposed to one comment buried in the midst of others, followed by a seemingly out-of-context pictorial apology with the photographer tagged but not mentioned.
With great applications available for use by photographers to highlight their work, the chances of theft is admittedly very high and while watermarking images seems like a viable solution, it does detract from the quality of the piece. That said however, the internet is truly a very free place, but there are rules and laws that must be obeyed. If the companies that deal with the internet on a daily basis cannot adhere to the rules, what more can be expected from individuals who are just there for information.