Happy 22nd birthday, Babystock!

Happy Birthday, Babystock! You are not 21 anymore! I remember perfectly how you came about — it was during a conversation with Tom, and we were all in the car, with Anna, driving home from our summer vacation in Montreal. I had taken the new Getty contract with me to read during our trip. It was outrageous! It sucked! Getty changed the rules on everything — our commission was cut down and we didn’t even have rights as they were our agents, because they cut that out too.  I didn’t want to feed their unfairness with my artwork anymore. They no longer deserved it.  So Tom said, we really have to get our own licensing website, let’s call it babystock.com.

We rushed home and I ran to the Internic website to register the domain name. Miracle of miracles, the babystock domain name was free for us to own!

And miraculously, I won an award for “best website” from the photo industry trade magazine, PDN, for my other website, gentieubabies.com. Babystock gained immediate attention from the full page article, which helped, together with my promotions, make babystock an overnight success, and Newsweek was my first babystock client.

22 years later, the world has changed, and clearly stock photography has changed (for the worse) but we’ve kept babystock “as is” — exclusive, respectable, and a pretty great collection of distinctive baby photos that still resonate with freshness and individuality today.

So long, Selling Stock Newsletter

Founded in 1990, the Selling Stock Newsletter, published and mostly written by Jim Pickerell, has been a drive-by documenter of the pathetic demise of the stock photo industry. Often times, Pickerell seemed to revel in the corporate takeover of the small stock photo businesses, becoming not-so-helpful to the photographer. Pickerell is old-guard, but not good at guarding. And now there is nothing left.

Today’s Selling Stock Weekly Digest featured an article titled, Is There A Need For A Publication Like Selling Stock? in which Pickerell comments on his own article from the week before titled, Copyright Protection For Photos Is Dead.

But copyright protection is not dead! Photographers have had some good momentum going on lately in regard to big tech and copyrights. I wonder why Selling Stock is not reporting the good news?

The Selling Stock Weekly Digest of June 6 failed to report the best news photographers have had for a very long time – the McGucken v. Newsweek  June 1 decision that there is no apparent license from Instagram to endusers of the embedding tool that confer rights to use copyrighted photos. Instead, the Selling Stock Digest contained two articles that were written by Nancy Wolff, who is Newsweek’s lawyer in the lawsuit!

And then the next week, in the June 13 Selling Stock Weekly Digest, after Instagram came out and announced to the world, in a June 4 article by Ars Technica, that Instagram definitely does NOT hand out sublicenses for copyrighted photos via their embedding tool, Jim Pickerell questioned whether or not that is a correct legal opinion, referring to the “sad case of Stephanie Sinclair,” (so sexist) not even mentioning that Sinclair v. Mashable was under reconsideration for the April 13 “dismissal” decision. Hmm….

And then just this week, Sinclair v. Mashable decision was overturned, as the judge wrote that “in light of the persuasive authority of McGucken, and in order to correct clear error,” the Court overturned the dismissal because there is no evidence of a sublicense.  But does Selling Stock report that? NO! It would rather paint the industry dead!  Thank goodness for the rejuvenation of justice by a younger generation of artists and lawyers.

And by the way, on May 20, through writing an article on PetaPixel.com, I myself achieved a major victory for photographers.  I managed to persuade SquareSpace, a huge website provider, to change their practice of stripping copyright management information metadata from users’ photographs. Therefore, because SquareSpace changed their policy and from now on, will retain CMI metadata contained in uploaded photos, these photos will be able to appear on Google Images with the upcoming Google Licensable Badge. This is a very good thing for photographers.

It’s been a great year for photography with the recent court decisions, the upcoming Google Licensable badge, and the retention of metadata for SquareSpace users. Copyright protection for photos is far from being dead, unlike the Selling Stock newsletter.

452 Dean Street, RIP George Floyd

What a historic sight it was to see the Black Lives Matter demonstrators, wearing masks and carrying signs, marching up Flatbush Avenue by 452 Dean Street in Brooklyn, on June 6,  2020, in this photo that Anna shot and sent me.

In 1860 at the age of 18, our ancestor Pierre Gentieu immigrated from Orthez, France to Brooklyn, staying with his aunt and uncle above their Darrigrand French bakery, at 452 Dean Street.

452 Dean Street, 2004

It took a while to realize that 452 Dean Street was right there on the corner of Flatbush, and, as we lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn and had a photo studio in Soho, we had been passing it every day on the way to work.

452 Dean Street, 2016

After the Civil War broke out, and Pierre had moved to Louisiana, Pierre signed up with the Union, with the 13th Connecticut. Pierre was vehemently opposed to slavery.

France had abolished slavery in 1792, long before Pierre was born. When he was growing up in France, his father read him installments of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

“The story was published as a serial in the daily papers; and I remember how intent we were in the evening to hear our father read each installment, and all the remarks we were making about it—how it was possible that the country boasting of being ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave’ could legalize such an institution, when in France, which was not then a republic, would not tolerate such a thing; for to us children, all the people before God were equal, and the color of the skin had nothing to do with it; but it was only the degree of instruction and civilization that made the difference in people.” from Pierre Gentieu's 1915 letter to his nephew explaining why he fought for the North in the Civil War
452 Dean Street, 2014 – for a while the storefront went back to being a bakery – a Jamaican bakery. This photo is collaged with an envelope addressed to Ulysee Darrigrand postmarked from Orthez, France, April 14, 1872.
452 Dean Street, 2008
452 Dean Street, 2020

Here we are in 2020, at this historic moment, protesting police brutality and the killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police. This is a meaningful photo for our family history. It’s an even more meaningful photo for our country’s history. This may be the first time there has ever been a demonstration near the corner of Flatbush and Dean St. This same protest is happening concurrently and in solidarity with hundreds of thousands of like-minded protesters in streets all over the country.

I know that Pierre would be so disheartened about what has gone on that has led to this, 155 years after the end of the Civil War.  The hatred, the violence, the prejudice directed at black people in our nation is unacceptable. Pierre and our collective ancestors fought in the Civil War and sacrificed everything, so that all men women and children would be free. 

Morel v. Agence France-Presse & Getty Images

Our social media photos – free to take? fair use? Who is fooling who?
"Then there are bloggers who have a disdain for paying for anything, and think that anything they use is fair use. They don't understand that just because a photo is of the news or illustrates something newsworthy, that doesn't mean it's fair use. Otherwise Time would never pay for pictures." PACA (Picture Archive Council of America) attorney Nancy Wolff commenting on “fair use” in PDN August 2007.

Thirteen years later, guess who is representing Newsweek and claiming fair use for displaying without permission a copyrighted photo on their website? That is, if the Instagram sublicense defense doesn’t work? Already in this case, which just this week made it past the dismissal phase, the judge ruled that it is not fair use nor is it transformative. The judge ruled that with no valid sublicense from Instagram, it is a willful copyright infringement. For these reasons, and since there is no evidence of a sublicense from Instagram, the case moves forward.

[update: June 5:] Instagram told Ars Technica in an email on June 4: “Instagram does not provide users of its embedding API a copyright license to display embedded images on other websites.”

The photos we put on social media are not free!

Daniel Morel v. Agence France-Presse & Getty Images, 2013, is a landmark case for photographers.

The jury awarded Daniel Morel the highest possible statutory damages available for each photograph infringed by Agence France-Presse & Getty Images, who stole Morel’s 2010 Haiti earthquake photos that he put on Twitter, removing his name and sold 996 downloads of his photos for publication. Morel was awarded $150,000 for each one of the eight photos they infringed on his Twitter account – 1.2 million dollars! Plus he was awarded $400,000 for DMCA violations – the removal of his copyright management information from the eight photos (his name) and (doubling it) for the dissemination of false copyright management information.

Anna’s notes. Anna went down to the New York Southern District Courthouse to witness firsthand the drama of the copyright infringement trial of the decade, Daniel Morel v. Agence France-Presse & Getty Images.

“I am proud that my five years of effort on this case have helped to eliminate some of that ‘havoc’ and to give my fellow photojournalists an important tool to protect their rights and fight against those who would try to trample on those rights…. May the next generation fight on and persevere.” Daniel Morel to PDNonline, June 3, 2015.

50th Anniversary of the Kent State Massacre

Howard Ruffner, photographer and student at Kent State University, was hired by Life Magazine to photograph the events of May 4, 1970. His photo is on the cover of the May 15, 1970 issue of the Life Magazine cover story about the Kent State massacre. He has published a thoughtful photographic memoir of the few days surrounding May 4, 1970 – Moments of Truth, (Kent State University Press, 2019.)

gasp masks, no students on campus, no graduation ceremony, unpopular president, protests, overwhelming resistance. We will commemorate the 50th May 4 online.

The irony.

May 4, 1970. Monday at noon.

In a monumental movement, college students across the country were standing up for what they believed in, standing up to The Power.  But then The Power pulled their guns and shot them.  At Kent State University, in Kent, Ohio.

The Ohio National guard’s excuse was that stones were being thrown at them, by Kent State students who were 100 feet away, at the bottom of the hill. Most of them just on their way to class.

“Guard! All right, prepare to fire!”


1,  2,  3,  4,  5,  6,  7,  8,  9,  10,  11,  12,  13

In thirteen seconds, the National Guard shot 64 bullets at the students, striking thirteen students; four shot dead.

Here’s what Life Magazine had for us on May 11:

“Nixon in a Crisis of Leadership.”  Nixon got the headlines.

They wouldn’t dare shoot bullets into a crowd of Yale students, but Kent State was a small town public university in Ohio where maybe they were considered expendable.

Nixon withdrew troops from Vietnam in 1971.

Newsweek, April 28, 1980

It took nine excruciating years for any money to reach the victims of the Kent State Massacre in a long and painful court case, and then an appeal. No guilt admitted. For this, many students, including Howard Ruffner, the photographer, who was the lead witness with his extensive photo documentation, had to devote extensive periods of time during the 1970’s to testify in court about the Kent State massacre.

There is no justice for little people.

Moments of Truth by Howard Ruffner. A photographer’s experience of Kent State 1970. Published in 2019 in remembrance of the Kent State massacre.

A Monday just like the day I’m posting this, on Monday, May 4, 2020, during the Great Pandemic.

But still:

“Stay passionate for what you believe and stand together to make changes.” -Howard Ruffner

Tommy and the band years

I’ve been making this book about Tom and the bands he has been in. It’s good to take a trip down musical memory lane when you are stuck in the house.

Some of the ticket stubs that mysteriously made it through the years.
Tom’s band Flirt, from Detroit, was often booked with bands such as Sonic Rendezvous Band, Destroy All Monsters and DEVO.
Flirt often played in New York at Max’s Kansas City, Danceteria and Hurrah’s. Booked with Johnny Thunders this night at Max’s.
Flirt playing at Max’s Kansas City.
After we moved to New York, Tom played with Glad Corp. They were very arty. Here they are playing at CBGB’s.
Glad Corp had an interesting following!
Then Tom played with No Thanks, a pseudo hard core punk band.
And then Measure of Disorder – arty, loud and noisy.

William Brewster, 11 GG

William Brewster (1566-7 – 1646)

Of the William and Mary who came on the Mayflower. Nothing is known of his wife.  William was the oldest Mayflower passenger to have participated at the First Thanksgiving, in his early fifties.

400 years ago

Before coming to America on the Mayflower in 1620, William Brewster helped form the Separatist church in England. When the group was found out by the King of England, they fled to Holland, in 1608.  While in Holland, Brewster had published a number of religious pamphlets which were critical of the Church of England. One caught the attention of the King, and Brewster had to go in hiding until he sailed to America on the Mayflower.

William Brewster was the Reverend Elder of the Pilgrim’s church at Plymouth.

I love it that I’m related to such a dynamic radical who is so personally responsible for the ultimate founding of the United States of America. As there are about 10 million Mayflower descendants in the U.S., I figure that William and Mary might have ultimately begat a million of us, so in that respect I feel like I’m one in a million.

Is life the car or the road?