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Family's Christmas Photos Hawk Groceries In Prague 263

Hugh Pickens writes "The Telegraph reports that Jeff and Danielle Smith sent a photo of themselves with their two young children to family and friends as a Christmas card, and posted the image on her blog and a few social networking websites. Then, last month, a friend of the family was vacationing in the Czech Republic when he spotted a full size poster of the Missouri family's smiling faces in the window of a local supermarket in Prague, advertising a grocery delivery service. The friend snapped a few pictures and sent them to the Smiths, who were flabbergasted. Mario Bertuccio, who owns the Grazie store in Prague, admitted that he had found the photo online but thought it was computer-generated and promised to remove it, and 'We'll be happy to write an e-mail with our apology,' he says. Meanwhile Mrs. Smith has received 180,000 visitors and over 500 comments on her blog since she posted the story. She says she is glad the photo wasn't used in an unseemly manner. 'Interesting. Bizarre. Flattering, I suppose,' writes Mrs. Smith. 'But quite creepy.'"
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Family's Christmas Photos Hawk Groceries In Prague

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  • Really... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NervousNerd ( 1190935 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @01:50AM (#28332205) Journal
    Anything (well unless it's something I'm trying to find) you post on the internet can be found. It's common sense.
    • Re:Really... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by evalhalla ( 581819 ) * <elena,valhalla&gmail,com> on Monday June 15, 2009 @02:01AM (#28332261) Homepage Journal

      That's true, but a supermarket owner should know that they're not supposed to use a random image from the internet for commercial use; the defense "it looked like computer generated" does not work: there wouldn't be model rights, but the image would still be under copyright, unless the image was posted under some permissive license like CC-BY.

      • Total Hijack (Score:2, Informative)

        by anagama ( 611277 )

        Sorry to be totally offtopic, but I'm very bothered by the junk showing up on slashdot articles, specifically, short horizontal and vertical gray bars and grey, green, and red dots/pills which do nothing but obscure content. Here's an example: []

        Is there a way to fix this?

        • by grrrl ( 110084 )

          mod parent up.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by 6Yankee ( 597075 )

          If I let this kind of nonsense out into production, I'd be strung up by my genitals.

          As far as a "fix" goes, in Firefox with Firebug installed, I right-click the offending image, click "Inspect Element", and delete a character from the background-image url.

        • by orzetto ( 545509 )
          Let me guess: you're using NoScript, like me. Then, allow scripts from
      • Re:Really... (Score:5, Informative)

        by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) <jwsmythe@jws[ ] ['myt' in gap]> on Monday June 15, 2009 @03:47AM (#28332737) Homepage Journal

            His admission of guilt and means of acquiring the photo appeared to be a second hand quote. Hearsay, if you will.

            More than likely, he hired someone to do his advertising campaign or at least make the graphics for it. I can't say that I've known many business owners who do their own graphics work, unless it's a graphics firm. They would be the ones that made the photo, and edited the background and text into it. Not an amazing feat, but it was done none the less.

            Probably whoever did it was confident in that no one would ever find out. Heck, who would expect that someone who knew the family in America would happen to travel to the Czech Republic and happen to spot the sign? It's not to say that it was right by any means, it just was impractical to think that they would find out.

            Hell, one of the edited photos that I made, which had absolutely no bearing on the original other than the human form (substantially edited even at that), showed up on a national news broadcast. It was the main image from my site, and showed up in a flash in a set of other photos showing anonymity on the Internet. No, we didn't catch it on the DVR, and I didn't care enough to try to find the clip online to verify it and complain about it, but it was still my original work used improperly by a major broadcast company. If I hadn't happened to have looked at the TV just then, I wouldn't have even known it ever happened. People are generally pretty confident in the idea of "what they don't know won't hurt them."

            Hopefully they learned a little something from this. Don't post hi res pictures. There's no need to anyways, bring it down to a reasonable displayed resolution. If they had, that photo would have been skipped over and another would have been used. As it is, that photo is probably floating around in a few stock photo libraries now, tagged as "average family, man woman children". Maybe whoever stole it assumed that it was already a stock photo, so they were even less likely to get caught.

            I've seen that quite a bit. Places use stock photos that they were provided, but don't know anything about the original licensing. Consider going to a template site. Do you *know* that every photo there is properly licensed for resale? Maybe they're only licensed for the first user, and you're way out of line reusing it on your project, and/or reselling to someone else. Maybe when the same webmaster reuses it on a dozen sites, they were breaking the license for all of them.

            So, shoot your own damned photos, and then you're sure. :) You want to put an average family up on a billboard, put a Craigslist ad up for an average family photoshoot, and pay the $50 it would take to get them to come to you, and sign the model releases.

      • Re:Really... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Aereus ( 1042228 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @04:14AM (#28332873)

        I think the obvious assumption is that he chose the photo specifically because they were from the US and unlikely to ever see the advertisement in his window. He just had the bad luck of the 1 in a million coincidence that someone else who knew the family also happened to be in Prague and notice the picture.

      • by Dan541 ( 1032000 )

        The guy obviously didn't think he just threw up an excuse, a bad one at that.

    • Some follow up. It appears the verdict was reversed on appeal to the CA Court of Appeals, and from there went to the CA Supreme Court which recently heard the case. According to this article from June 4, 2009, a decision is due in 90 days.,0,7389392.story []

    • Do it better (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @03:07AM (#28332553)

      Don't sue them. Give them permission.

      How cool is it to have your family shown in Prague? As noted it's not for unseemly use, and it's some small grocer just trying to get by.

      Don't make him go to the expense (and waste) of having to print a new poster.

      Instead, do the adult thing - accept the apology and let him keep using the image officially until he moves on. Everyone wins.

      • Well, depending on how much traffic they want for their personal blog... I know I'd take it a step further and ask the store to send back a pic of the owner with the photo and his shop to tack it to my page and claim I'm a celebrity in Prague.

        Ride the meme while it lasts, I say!

      • Anyone else love the counterpoint of "For chrissakes, you're American, right?" and "Instead, do the adult thing"?
    • by julesh ( 229690 )

      Do it right. []

      Sue them.

      While America has a law requiring a model's consent for photographs of them to be used for commercial purposes, this is not generally true in the rest of the world. I don't claim to know anything about Czech law, but I suspect if the story you linked happened there he wouldn't have a leg to stand on.

      OTOH, it seems in this case the image was also used without a copyright license, so some form of legal redress w

  • by deft ( 253558 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @01:59AM (#28332255) Homepage

    It would be amazingly hard to sue them, so finding pics of someone in another country that will more than likely never see it, is a fairly safe way to go, and zero costs, with little risks.

    • by lxs ( 131946 )

      It wouldn't be amazingly hard. Just travel over there and hire a Czech lawyer. Amazingly expensive yes, but not that hard.

      • For what gain? You're suing a small grocery shop. If he gets by and can pay his mortgage he's already doing far better than most groceries around the area. You might win the suit after a while, driving that guy into bankrupcy so you'll be out a sizable amount of dough.

        Oh, so to "set an example"? Oh, that works great, the RIAA showed that, since they started suing like crazy filesharing has left the planet.

  • Eh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Daemonax ( 1204296 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @02:02AM (#28332267)
    Eh, I don't see the problem really. If our culture had instead developed along the lines of liberal copyrights, such as the creative commons licenses, rather than the restrictive copyrights that are common, I don't think anyone would care about this. It's a nice photo and wasn't being used in any malicious way. I don't see what is creepy about this.
    • by sopssa ( 1498795 )

      Actually, its not about USA copyrights since the grocer is in Czech. Lots of americans seem to think their laws apply everywhere (not trying to be hostile, but they usually do). Now, I dont know about Czech laws, maybe they have a point in the copyright laws that would cover it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Daemonax ( 1204296 )
        Copyrights being used predominantly in a restrictive fashion is common in every country I know of. I'm not American myself, and here in NZ copyright laws are used in the typical restrictive fashion 99.9% of the time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Moraelin ( 679338 )

      I don't think there's anything about copyright laws in not wanting your photos used by everyone and their pervert uncle without permission. Duly noted, in this case no big harm was done, but I can easily imagine a few uses where you probably wouldn't go "eh, creative commons all the way" about your photos.

      As a still mild example, a case on The Register a couple of years ago involved a family discovering their daughter's photos -- which apparently they did realease under some kind of cretive commons license

      • What I was trying to say is that the reaction here I think has been influenced by copyright and how we treat stuff like music, art and software that we make. That the typical response is to want complete control over it.

        If our culture had developed the other way, I think that is this situation there wouldn't have been any problem as it wasn't being used in a way that I think the people would have objected to if they'd been asked first.

        The examples that you gave I think are different, because people ar
        • And my point is that one's image is inherently a different thing than knee-jerk copyright reaction, even if copyright ends up the trick used to get someone to take it down.

          You can use my source code, if you have any use for that. You can repost my messages, if you think it makes some point better than you can be bothered to. (Yeah, right.) You can repost or modify the mods I did for Fallout 3 and a couple of other games, and even cheerfully tutored or helped other people make competing mods. You can take my

          • Well I myself just wouldn't care if this was a photo of me, it's not being used in any way that I'd have a problem with. I also being a Free software (GPL) type person (and hence on slashdot) am not against my work or images helping the rich, I don't have a moral problem with that, especially if they were to use code I wrote as they're in a better position to get it used in more areas, and as a result I would hope, help to improve society. I do have issue with large corporations, but them using code or an i
  • "You can make that apology out to Jeff and Danielle Smith. Don't forget to sign it."

  • by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @02:25AM (#28332387) Homepage

    ... when you use common file names that typical cameras use for their stored photos. Most people never change them. I took the part of the file name of that family's photo (removing the appended reduced size that was used) which was "img_1053". Google images found this []. People should think about what they put online. Google is watching.

  • Now the Czech Republic only has 11 more years of the Simpsons to catch up on.
  • by Karganeth ( 1017580 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @02:52AM (#28332501)
    From [] "Her blog post and most of the comments here are retarded. That image was not stolen. There's no way that large format print was produced from a 500 pixel wide Facebook rip. If you read her post she says a professional photographer "friend" took the image. The friend most likely sold it to a microstock agency which is where the design agency for the Czech supermarket chain bought it and is now denying it. With tens of thousands of decent quality high resolution images taken on pro/semi-pro equipment available for a few dollars each on microstock sites, there's no way any designer would troll blogs to find a usable random photo of a family among point&shoot and low rez photos."
    • by kklein ( 900361 )

      There's no way that large format print was produced from a 500 pixel wide Facebook rip.

      See, that's what I thought as well, and wondered why I was the only one. Now I know I'm not. The image is clearly a professional shot; if you're looking for a culprit, that's where I'd start looking.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by QuantumG ( 50515 ) *

        What "culprit"? He's the photographer.. he owns the shot.

        • What "culprit"? He's the photographer.. he owns the shot.

          Not unless the subjects signed a model release.

          • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <> on Monday June 15, 2009 @04:12AM (#28332857) Homepage Journal

            ... this is like the 3rd post where I've had to explain to someone that a photographer is not required to get model releases.. the publisher is required to get model releases.

            • by gaspyy ( 514539 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @05:53AM (#28333231)

              Technically true.

              It goes like this: photographer goes to publisher with a photo. Publisher sees the a face on the photo - asks "do you have a release with that photo? If not, please provide one, or we won't use your photo." Most of the time the publisher doesn't know the person on the photo and doesn't even care, so in the end it's still photographer's job to get the release.

            • this is like the 3rd post where I've had to explain to someone that a photographer is not required to get model releases.. the publisher is required to get model releases.

              What you wrote was that the photographer "owns" the photograph.
              For any reasonable definition of "owning" a creative work, a model release is required.

        • Sorry, but no. You own the right to your image (unless you're a celebrity or another "person of public interest"). It varies from country to country to what degree, but one thing works for most countries I know: An image that has clearly YOU as the subject requires YOUR ok to be published.

    • by Chuck Chunder ( 21021 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @03:17AM (#28332593) Homepage Journal
      Perhaps the supermarket has access to the same sort of computers as they use on CSI, NCIS etc. They probably have 3d models of the family, reconstructed based on DNA obtained by enhancing the Facespace photo and zooming in to the atomic level.
    • RTFB (Score:3, Informative)

      by dabadab ( 126782 )

      If you would have read the linked blog entry you would have seen this, written by the wife:
      "I take FULL responsibillity for posting this picture with the incorrect resolution (read: too high)."

      So we can take this "their friend sold their photo out" theory to rest.

    • by martijnd ( 148684 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @04:39AM (#28332965)

      Not necessary the high res shot was available on her blog: []

      Looking at the URL she is going to be to pleased about this whole brooha as she is running her own blog as a potential business. Links from Slashdot are going to make her happy.

    • As stated in the blog post itself, Danielle posted the high resolution image by mistake, due to her lack of understanding of such things. Slightly dumb? Yes. An excuse for stealing the picture and making it into a huge great billboard without a license? Nope.

  • The moral is (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SpaghettiPattern ( 609814 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @02:57AM (#28332521)

    Really, besides your loved ones, nobody gives a fsck about your personal life unless they can make a bob or two out of it.

    Also, be unmistakeably clear to provide licensing conditions to your content.

    Last, don't whine if you're an idiot. Then again, you're probably still in the long lasting denial phase anyway.
    • People want to be famous! American Idol, Big Brother and similar shows are proof of it. What they fail to see is the drawback: You don't necessarily get famous for something "good", something you want to be famous for.

      For reference, see Star Wars kid.

  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <> on Monday June 15, 2009 @03:07AM (#28332555) Homepage Journal

    The vast majority of people don't understand copyright. If I take a picture of you, I own the copyright on the image, not you. Even if you pay me. For some reason the "work for hire" system never got applied to photographers. This is probably because photographers are typically hired on contract, not on retainer. This is clearly as a case of a photographer selling his portfolio to a stock image reseller. It's not unusual and the people in the picture are not entitled to anything.

    • by m_ilya ( 311437 ) <> on Monday June 15, 2009 @03:33AM (#28332673) Homepage
      It is not completely true. If you take picture of me the copyright might be yours but you are often limited in what you can do with the picture. Unless I sign a model release form []. As I understand according to USA law there are some cases when non-private use is allowed without the signed form but you definitely are not allowed to sell to stock image agencies without this.
      • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) *

        If you had actually READ the page you linked to you would have seen where it specifically said you *can* sell your pictures to stock image agencies without a model release form. It is entirely the responsibility of the publisher to obtain model releases. Sheesh.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Builder ( 103701 )

        Model releases are very much a USA thing. In the UK, we don't technically need them. They're still nice to have to make things perfectly clear to the model, but unless some other contract was entered into when you took the pictures, you own the copyright and can do with as you will.

        How else do you think the paparazzi survive ?

    • by gaspyy ( 514539 )

      Not completely true. You still need a model release (e.g. like this []) to use the photos commercially. No stock agency will accept your photos without one (some will accept photos of persons without a MR for editorial purposes only, but unless you're photographing a celebrity, it's still useless).

  • The way it looks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gaspyy ( 514539 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @03:20AM (#28332605)

    I've read about this over a week ago and it's very strange: There's no way anyone can take a 600px wide pic and blow it up to 1-2 m. 2m is about 80 inches; so that picture would have to be printed at 7.62 dpi (ppi would be more accurate). No way.

    The only way that pic could have been used is if the ad people had access to the original file, which is assumed to be a hi-res picture from a dSLR. How could that happen? I see a few possibilities:

    • The lady printed the high-res pic somewhere and a clerk took the pic, forged the model releases and submitted it to a microstock agency;
    • She uploaded the full size pic to Facebook and they used her pic. I am not familiar with Facebook's TOS (don't use it) so I don't know if you grant them the use of the stuff you upload;
    • The photographer sold the pic - again, model releases should have been required; 'extraordinarymommy' says she did not sign any model release. I don't want to accuse the photographer of anything, I'm just stating the options.

    To keep things in perspective, copyright is mostly respected in all Central and East Europe - it's not like it's a jungle. Stock images from sites like iStock are very cheap and of good quality. A 12-15 Mp file costs $20 at iStock, that's nothing when you have a paying customer. There's no NEED for anyone to steal the pic.

    Course of action: contact the grocery store, find out who made their ad. Contact the ad agency. If they got the file legitimately, they will have no issue cooperating. If the file was from a stock agency, contact them and they will resolve the issue. If the ad agency cannot provide and proof, get a lawyer, threaten to sue but look for a settlement; a trial would be long a costly.

    Disclosure: I am an exclusive contributor to iStock [] myself and I live in another Central European country.

    • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) *

      Ya, you don't need a model release [] to sell pics. It's the publisher's responsibility. Of course, many publishers won't buy pics without an attached model release, but there's nothing illegal about it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      If you read her blog post she says she accidentally posted the original high resolution picture instead of posting a thumbnailish version

      • by jimicus ( 737525 )

        Which is all well and good, except AFAIK Facebook (and I imagine most such social networking sites) automatically resizes images as part of the upload process.

        I'm not sure it's even possible to download the full-resolution image.

        Of course, it's entirely possible she put the photo on a photo sharing site like flickr. They tend to store the image in its original resolution.

      • by gaspyy ( 514539 )

        Apparently she added that after I read her original post. I don't know how Facebook handles upload, i.e. if you upload the high-res, does it resize it and keeps the original or discards it.

        • I don't think Facebook even uploads the original high-res -- the Java applet downsizes the images and uploads the downsized versions. Otherwise it would take forever to upload those 15 megapixel JPEGs...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Swampash ( 1131503 )

      I am not familiar with Facebook's TOS (don't use it) so I don't know if you grant them the use of the stuff you upload

      Irrevocably, forever, in whatever way Facebook wants.

      Anyone who posts photos to Facebook is a retard.

  • This will become more and more common, and then eventually the whole concept of "here's a random image of an unrelated happy family! BUY OUR PRODUCT!" will fall out of favor.

    When it's just a random image, sure, it's stupid but apparently gets the message across.
    When it's just a truly random image from the internet... would you buy from /b/? I mean, for reasons other than lulz?

  • I have long thought that this cafe logo [] is a rip off of the debian logo. If you reverse the colors and rotate by 180 degrees they are almost the same.
  • Big deal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DNS-and-BIND ( 461968 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @04:55AM (#28333027) Homepage
    First, I'd like to say that I'm astounded that a non-story like this has made major front-page news all over the world. It's probably due to the horridly decayed state of journalism, combined with the fact that the kids are blonde. Seriously, this is the sort of thing you'd see to fill space on page D5 of the local city shopper.

    Similar thing happened here a while back, the kids at one of the international schools had class photos taken. A few months later, one of the dads is browsing factory catalogs, and lo and behold it's a picture of his kid and a lot of her friends decorating the pages. Evidently, the Chinese administrators had given the pictures to the factory due to a guanxi relationship. None of them could understand why the parents were upset - they just used the pictures, no harm no foul. Why, did you want some money for it? Intellecutal property is a cultural concept, and people in China just don't understand why they shouldn't be able to copy something as long as nobody has been physically deprived.

    I also "borrow" material from the internet for printing. Guess what, it's not front-page news. Everyone does it, and I'm sure I've published someone's vacation photo before. I try to use public domain images, but if they're not forthcoming then I've got a deadline to meet. Online repositories are a crapshoot, and my 300+ CDs of stock photos lack in entire categories - I've got three CDs of pictures of trucks and roads, and one photo of an airliner which I used a long time ago.

  • Gessh, her blog is getting insane traffic levels. Use the publicity to grow your reader base and stop whining about it. I'm not justifying the pic theft, but if she was smart she'd turn it into an opportunity. Loads of sites would kill for that kind of publicity and traffic boost.
  • 'He said he thought the image was computer-generated'
  • by cdrguru ( 88047 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @11:53AM (#28336115) Homepage

    The truth of the matter is that if you make something available on the Internet, it is there for the taking. If you make something in digital form and someone else makes it available on the Internet, again it is just there. Once it is out there, all control is lost.

    There used to be these things like ethics, copyright and common decency. They are pretty much gone now. If I find your picture and I want to use it in some way, I can and there is very, very little you can do about it. You might try suing - but if an international border is crossed you will find it very, very expensive to do so. You will find many countries take the attitude that Americans have no business involving themselves in their country - go away and take your silly attitudes with you. Americans are there to be abused in any way possible.

    So of you leave yourself open to being abused, you will not be disappointed.

    Sometimes people just assume that if it is on the Internet, it is free to be used. They are pretty much right. It's like music - it used to have to be paid for. Today, it is just there.

    Rule 1 is pretty clear. Don't put stuff on the Internet that you weren't intending others to have. And by "others" we really mean the entire planet.

    Rule 2 is if you were thinking your digital information has value, you were wrong. At least after someone posted it on the Internet. And once it is there, it is there forever.

God made the integers; all else is the work of Man. -- Kronecker