Big Tech and You

On saying, “Okay!”….but User Agreements are so overreaching. Does it remind you of anything?

To the prisoners of Big Tech and those left standing:

“She made her choice,” the judge said about Stephanie Sinclair and her photo on Instagram – that her client, Mashable could use it for free, even though they first offered her $50 that she turned down, exercising her right as the owner of the picture to set the value of her work. But Mashable then went behind her back, and posted it through Instagram’s API, and the Mashable webpage it was posted to was filled with advertising, but Stephanie Sinclair received no payment. The photo was on Instagram so that gives anyone the right to use it for free, so said the judge, and that Stephanie Sinclair made her choice, indeed it was a tough choice, but a choice nonetheless, when she signed up with Instagram, giving Instagram extraordinary control over her work. So ruled in a dismissal of a current lawsuit without any discovery, without any jury trial, and without Instagram even being a party to it.

Big Tech has us under siege – what’s ours is theirs and we have no choice.

I’ve been reading that our photographs are considered “goods” to Instagram, not copyrighted photos, yet we are granting Instagram carte blanche rights to our photos for nothing specific and for no good reason. Show us the harm in the terms, they say, show us a “ripe” example of damage. Really?

After all these years, Sinclair v. Mashable is perfectly “ripe” to test the fairness of Instagram, showing what harm it does to creative individuals who depend on rights to make a living. Do we want the client to use our photo for free, or don’t we? Hmm… on a page with lots of advertising making the client a lot of money on content you posted on your Instagram…. hmmm…  photographers always used to get paid for uses like that. All of a sudden we can’t tell a potential client that they can’t use our work for free, or at all, if we so choose. Who is Instagram to diminish us so?

Look around and you will see plenty more “ripe damage” caused by Instagram.

What about damage to artists getting ripped from our identity to our artwork caused by the automated metadata removal of all photos uploaded to Instagram?

What about the dozens of unauthorized mirror websites like (not to be confused with Instagram’s,,, and more coming online every day, where you can actually download a full res file of any public Instagram photograph, sans copyright management information that we so purposely embedded into our digital files before uploading them to the internet and posting on Instagram? Our Instagram photos run through the Instagram API like a water faucet, that is turned on when you choose to be public, and off if you choose to be private, then on if you choose to be public again, including pornography probably not yours but it becomes associated with your good name and photos. And it all comes up in Google and stays there until you go to a lot of trouble to take it off, so good luck cleaning up that mess. Hope you have plenty of spare time and money for legal fees. And don’t forget to clear your cookies.

What about infringements that are facilitated by that constant pipeline of infringements? I’ll show you examples.

What about the sudden spawn of orphaned photos?

What about posting photos that are not your own, for example, perhaps you are Lenscratch or Magnum Photo, or any number of Instagram accounts that feature photographers, and the implicit transferable/royalty-free/sublicense/ including the indemnity clause and many other over-reaching terms?

What about photographers who shoot for Instagram accounts and that work for hire agreement you are asked to sign retroactively or else? The value of assignment photography is suddenly reduced to nothing.

What about Instagram takedown notices that should remove infringements right away, but instead, Instagram sends follow-up questionnaires, even when you give them the certified copyright registration number of the infringed photo? Whereas all other takedown notices are taken seriously. But somehow Instagram is above the law.

What about Squarespace, a behemoth website provider, partnering with Getty Images to sell $10 photos to Squarespace website users, while cutting out Squarespace website user’s ability to retain copyright management information in the metadata of their digital photographs in order to show up someday in Google Images with a Licensable badge?

What about paragraph 1202 of the DMCA section of the U.S. copyright law?

I own valuable collections of copyrighted photographs. What an abuse of power for Big Tech to diminish an entire class of individuals who own copyrights. It’s like so many freelancers these days trying to get the promised Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, quarantined, in isolation. Individuals, artists, photographers, creatives, calling, writing, crying, for countess hours every day for their promised PUA, simply wasting away by an invisible force and calculated neglect until we are just gone.

No justice for little people. I can tell you all about it. We never did have a choice. How prophetic it was, 20 years ago, for the grandson of 20th Century monopolist J Paul Getty, the pioneer Big Tech monopolist of stock photography, Mark Getty to announce to the world, “Intellectual property is the oil of the 21st Century.”

Now that the damage to individual artists by Instagram is visibly “ripe,” just the way Instagram likes it, how about some regulation? How about a class-action lawsuit?


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

Getting website providers to include our metadata

Squarespace should not diminish our rights and opportunities by stripping away our copyright management information (CMI) that we embed in our digital photographs. 

The Google Licensable badge is the best thing that’s happened for photographers in a long time, and it will empower us to have more connection and control of our digital images, besides maybe even being a licensing vehicle.

See here for information about Google, photo metadata, and the Licensable badge:

See here for a new tool to help you embed the metadata required for Google Images to display a Licensable badge on your photos:

Here’s how to reach Squarespace to request that they not strip our important copyright management information (CMI) metadata from our photos so that we can benefit from Google’s upcoming Licensable badge and better protect our copyrighted photos we put on the web:

For so much of this quarantine, I have been trying to get Squarespace, a behemoth website provider to photographers and other website publishers, to not strip out important copyright management information in the metadata of our photographs that we put in there to help us license our photos and also help to keep them from getting infringed.  We subscribed to a full year of Squarespace on April 12, only to discover that important metadata had been stripped out of the files that were uploaded to the new Squarespace website! Here is my communication with them:

April 27, 2020 —
How does one keep metadata in one’s photos, your option to retain metadata still strips important metadata out, metadata that will empower photographs to be displayed in Google’s upcoming “Licensable Badge.” My daughter and I are very frustrated and shocked that Squarespace would cut that out, even in your hidden option to retain metadata, which I would never imagine had to be turned on, on what I thought was a photographer-friendly service. But she did turn it on. And she just paid for an entire year upfront with you. She shouldn’t have to sacrifice her Google opportunities, and so please let me know what needs to be done so that her metadata travels with her photos. Seems like a DMCA violation to deliberately strip out her metadata that would enable her to take advantage of Google’s new licensing badge.

April 29, 2020

Hey Penny,

I appreciate you reaching out. You’re through to Alex in Dublin.

You are correct that metadata importing needs to be enabled before the metadata from the file is collected. Guarantee that your pictures incorporate the metadata you need. Contingent upon your camera or image editing software, the data fields may look different.

It is also important to note that the image data does not import to Image Blocks. Only images added to Gallery Blocks and Gallery Pages will consider the metadata.

Also, if the metadata should not import it can be added manually as seen in step 3 of this guide:—add-your-images

As a note, Squarespace imports image titles, descriptions, tags, and GPS longitude and latitude. The other thing that is important to mention is that metadata can only be imported for .jpeg and .jpg files with metadata stored according to the EXIF (IDO) and IPTC standards.

We do not want to sacrifice the Google opportunities of your daughter and I can send this as a feature request to our developers. I am assuming that your daughter is importing PNG files as it seems to not be working. Can you please confirm this?

If the metadata should not import, although meeting our requirements, can you please send an image so we can take a closer look?

Thank you in advance! I’ll be on the lookout for your reply and we’ll continue from there.


Alexander D.

April 29, 2020

Hey Alex, Thanks very much for your email and willingness to help us enable the result we we are after, which is to be Google-ready when Google launches their Google Licensable Image Badge, and that could be any day now.

I personally prepared the files for Anna, outputting them in Lightroom at 900×900 pixel jpgs and inserting the IPTC fields required for the badge, which are the copyright notice, Web Statement of Rights (also called Copyright Info URL), Licensor name and Licensor URL. Also Creator and Credit Line. Anna uploaded them onto her website with your metadata importing option.

When we right-click to download the photo, the licensor and licensor’s URL are missing.

Attached are two self-explanatory jpgs —

Friemoth-9229 uploaded to website.jpg
Friemoth-9229 downloaded from website.jpg

Also, a screenshot of her website.

I hope this is helpful for you to take a closer look. We appreciate anything you can do to persuade the developers to keep the metadata intact. As professional photographers, Anna and I are inspired by the upcoming Google feature and know it will help our businesses. We’ve been spending countless hours getting ready for it.

I have learned way more than I ever thought I had to, in the past few months about metadata… I have a WordPress site that I just discovered needed to have the ImageMagick plugin to maintain my metadata. Anna happens to really like Squarespace, as do a lot of other photographers. If you could add this capability to retain this required metadata, I bet you could use it to advertise Squarespace to photographers as being Google-ready.

If you need anything else, let me know.

Thanks very much for your time,

Penny Gentieu

May 1, 2020

Hey Penny,

Thanks for reaching back out to us and getting us that information.

I’m going to escalate this ticket for review. We’ll reply back to this ticket directly with more information as soon as possible.

Please note that escalated tickets can take a bit more time to resolve. It may be up to several days before you receive a response.

Additionally, any replies you send to this ticket will not be received immediately. If you have any urgent questions regarding this escalated ticket, please submit a new ticket here:

Apologies for any inconvenience and thanks for your patience while we work on this for you.

Jerek B.

May 3, 2020

Hi Penny,

Thanks for your patience.

I can confirm it is not currently possible to import the metadata you are looking to keep. Only the following information can, at this time, be imported is:

image titles, descriptions, tags, and GPS longitude and latitude

This is documented here:

Importing image metadata – FAQ

This section lists where you can add/check this using Lightroom:

Importing image metadata – verifying metadata

I understand that with the launch of this new Google feature (I see it is still in Beta), it would be very useful to have more information import along with the images you upload. I will pass this request on to our Products team as a Feature Request. We cannot guarantee that every suggestion will get implemented, but all get reviewed, and this type of feedback is an important part of how we continue to improve our platform, so we sincerely appreciate the input.

Let us know if you have any question!


Segolene T.

As a matter of fact, I do have a question! Does your partnering with Getty Images to sell $10 photos to your users have anything to do with your deafness to my important issue about you stripping out metadata in my files so my photos will never show up on Google Images with a Licensable badge?


May 13, 2020 to Squarespace:

I am following up on my requests from last month about whether or not you will be letting my photo metadata remain in my image files so that my photos will come up with the soon-to-be-launched Google Licensable badge.  I have sent you plenty of information about it, so I’m sure you are aware of it. Thank you for your consideration. I paid for an entire year last month, only to discover that you automatically strip out the necessary Licensor fields in the embedded photos’ metadata. You told me that you would be taking it to your Products team as a Feature Request. What did they say?

May 15, 2020

Thank you for reaching back out and for your patience. Given the current circumstances regarding COVID-19, we are responding to a record number of requests, so our response times have unfortunately been taking longer than usual.

With regards to your request for allowing image metadata to be retained when images are uploaded to a gallery section on a 7.1 site, I can confirm that this request has been submitted to our product managers. That being said, due to the volume of requests that we receive each day, our product managers are not always able to respond with information regarding when or if they will integrate a given feature. With this being the case, we have not received any specific updates as to when or if this functionality will be implemented on our platform.

As a note, feature requests are often approved based on the volume of requests we receive. So, if you know anyone else who uses Squarespace and would like the same feature, you can encourage them to write in and let us know.

I also encourage you to keep an eye on our blog where we announce new features and major updates:

I certainly understand that—as a photographer—this functionality is extremely important to you, so I apologize for not having more specifics regarding when or if we will make changes to the metadata that is retained when images are uploaded to gallery sections on our platform. However, I genuinely appreciate your understanding, and I do hope that this is something that will be integrated in the future.

If any other questions or requests come to mind, please do not hesitate to get back in touch.


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.

Embedded Instagram posts

But the citizens were totally unaware….
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Anna Friemoth (@annafriemoth) on

That’s me and Duane Michals on Anna’s Instagram.

These self-portraits are copyrighted, and they better never show up on any other website besides mine or Anna’s without my permission. I gave Anna permission to post these on her Instagram to wish me Happy Birthday, but I never gave permission for my photos to be used in any other way.

I had to wrap my head around the hot topic of embedding Instagram posts, so I tried it myself.

Here is one of my Instagram posts, or it was before I went “Private” to protest.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Penny Gentieu (@pennygentieu) on

“The link to this photo or video may have been broken or removed.” Ha! that’s to put it very politely! It means this:

The photographer went “Private” in protest of Instagram’s draconian misuse of her copyrights. Because switching her Instagram account to “Private” was the only way that she could keep her photographs from appearing on commercial websites that, without the free content giveaway from Instagram of her Instagram photos, would otherwise be paying her to use her photos. That’s how professional photographers make a living.

But my punishment for going “Private” to protect the value of my work is that I won’t be able to connect with anyone beyond my small network. So what is the point of being on Instagram anymore. I have no choice but to give my rights away in a draconian take-it-or-leave-it contract with Instagram that gives them unlimited sublicensing rights to my Instagram photographs to give to anyone they want to, outside of the Instagram universe, without any compensation to me, or else I cannot be a part of the inner sanctum of the Instagram universe. It’s a really high price to pay, totally at odds with my best interests, because I’m a professional photographer.

Read about Draco on Wikipedia:

Draco (/ˈdreɪkoʊ/; Greek: Δράκων, Drakōn; fl. c. 7th century BC), also called Drako or Drakon, was the first recorded legislator of Athens in Ancient Greece. He replaced the prevailing system of oral law and blood feud by a written code to be enforced only by a court of law. Draco was the first democratic legislator, requested by the Athenian citizens to be a lawgiver for the city-state, but the citizens were fully unaware that Draco would establish laws characterized by their harshness. Since the 19th century, the adjective draconian refers to similarly unforgiving rules or laws, in Greek, English and other European languages.

Photographers are unaware, that’s for sure!

Isn’t giving Instagram free content for their advertising-driven Instagram platform that makes them billionaires off of our artwork enough for them?
Besides being forced to have to allow your public Instagram posts to be embedded in websites that you don’t know anything about or have any control over, Instagram gives away your photos wholesale on Clear your cookies if you ever go there. This is my Healthcare Photo Stock Facebook page’s post about Picuki. Embedded, of course.

Why wasn’t a jury allowed to decide on the Sinclair v. Mashable copyright lawsuit involving Instagram? Two years on the judge’s desk and no discovery?  If a jury were allowed to hear the case, things wouldn’t have turned out this way.  Instagram, after all, is like a utility, with the majority of the population of America and much of the world using it daily. Their content being entirely our content is not enough for them? It’s an abuse of power for a whole class of individuals who own copyrights to be diminished by this Big Tech Goliath.

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?