How to report a photo on any Offbeat Empire site that shouldn't be there

By: E MagnusonCC BY 2.0
My editors work hard to ensure that we only use photos on the site that we have full permission and licensing to use. We've had solid attribution policies in place since 2011, and tend towards the obsessive when it comes to crediting photographs. Sometimes, however, despite our best efforts and intentions, things go wrong.

First, let's talk about all the different sources for the photos we feature:

  • Flickr users can submit their photos to our Flickr pools (Offbeat Bride | Offbeat Home & Life)
  • Two Bright Lights subscribers (mostly wedding photographers) can submit to us using that site's tools
  • Sometimes photos are emailed directly to us, by prior arrangement (we try to avoid this since it kills our inboxes)
  • We also use Flickr to source Creative Commons-licensed photos for illustrative purposes

In all cases, these photos are attributed to the submitter and/or photographer.

Despite trying to be clear about image use via all our submission channels, miscommunications do happen, and mistakes do get made:

  • We've heard from privacy-minded couples who had no idea that their wedding photographer submitted their photos to us; and the couples were mortified to see their wedding plastered all over the internet. (Photographers: talk to your couples!)
  • We've heard from photographers who were angry about couples submitting wedding photos to us without image rights (Couples: talk to your photographers!)
  • We've heard from wedding photographers pissed that their "second shooter" submitted photos to us without the primary photographer's permission (Photographers: talk to each other!)
  • We've heard from photographers who accidentally set their Flickr photos as OK for Creative Commons licensing, who didn't actually intend to have the photos shared.

In all cases, we've taken the photos down.

There are also OUR mistakes. While my editors and I do our best, we're fallible and human and sometimes we just plain-old screw up or make bad decisions. We published some collaged images a few months ago that included uncredited photos, and received requests to take the collages down. While my lawyer and I both felt like the collaged images were within the limits of fair use, I did indeed take them down.

I recently got my wires seriously crossed on an image that I thought was ok to alter, that wasn't. The reader whose photo was altered was extremely hurt (understandably!), and sent a request to take the image down. I took the image down within two hours of the request being sent, with a public apology added to the post where it originally appeared. I feel terrible when these mistakes happen. This most recent mistake kept me up for a night.

All this in mind, here's what you should do if you see a photo that shouldn't be on any Offbeat Empire site:

  • Email us right away.
  • In your email, include a link to the post where the photo appears, a description of the photo, and an explanation of why it shouldn't be on the site.
  • We respond to all take down requests within a day — although usually it's within a couple hours.

As per our Terms of Service, we generally err on the side of caution with photo removal requests — I can't think of a time when we haven't taken an image down when we've received a request.

Mostly, apologies to those who we have hurt with our mistakes. Readers and photographers place a lot of trust in us when they submit photos, and we do our best to correct mistakes quickly when we've let you down.

  1. Thank you Ariel,
    It says quite a lot about a person when they do the kind thing when it is not easy or quite humbling. We all make mistakes and have accidents. I do it all the time. What we do AFTER says so much for our character. Kudos to you. Thank you very much for managing this. And working to remove my photo/make it right.
    Rosie Wiklund

    15 agree

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