Yes, we asked for permission
It's not copyright infringement right? It's just a mistake - an oversight caused by tired editors working feverishly to meet deadlines.
And sometimes the Toronto photographer, who didn't know his un-commissioned photo of Chi Pig got pulled from Myspace and printed in the Montreal Mirror, is actually in Montreal having a beer and flipping through the weekly.
"I'm not out to screw anyone, but if it's fit enough to print, it's fit enough to pay," explains freelance photog Nic Pouliot. He says it's fairly common to see his watermarked photos make the rounds on blogs and he wouldn't care if a student publication poached one of his concert shots.
"But this is a commercial publication," says Pouliot. And that's what makes the difference.
Montreal Mirror Editor Alastair Sutherland says there was no malicious intent.
"We should have checked further. It is getting to be a habit to take photos from Myspace and 90% of the time or more it's fine," he says.
"It's tricky. So we're not going to use anything on Myspace? The bands themselves are saying ‘please go to my Myspace site - take the photo'", he says.
That's where Nic's band shot problem arose. SNFU frontman Chi Pig had the image on his site and it was incorrectly deemed to be commissioned promo material.
You see, in Canada, a commissioned work actually belongs to the person commissioning it, not the person snapping the shot. This is a strange point in Canadian copyright law that doesn't occur internationally and some photog associations have been pushing to have it altered as part of Bill C-61.
In all other cases, the person who takes the shot owns it. Even when they die, they still own it for 50 years - that's better than patents.
Pouliot ended up calling the Mirror up and asking for $350. He explained that the amount was deliberately higher than the $150 he typically gets for a show shot because he figures the paper never intended to credit him and his watermark was cropped out.
The Quebecor-owned Mirror ended up sending him a check for $150, which Pouliot took - saying the threat of lawsuits wasn't something he could handle.
"We paid him twice our normal rate. This was a small photo in a column," explains Sutherland. He says the shot was removed from the paper's website right away, and they all felt "shitty about it".
"Photographers need to know their rights and editors need to know as well," he admits.
They're worth knowing too. Cases involving photo theft can include damages for profits earned by whatever media outlet uses them - damages that can run thousands of dollars.
The web has only made this haze worse. The perceived free-for-all of Facebook albums (Facebook grants itself all kinds of terms - but images remain property of the shooter), and to a lesser degree Flickr archives just sit there, with their wicked "free" content and victimless distance.
Well, sometimes that distance evaporates when you happen to be in town having a beer and flipping through the paper.