The actual end result

My last post entitled “The end result” seems to have caused some what of a stir. The wallpaper I designed for the post is based on a powerful, iconic photo by Michael Yon (see the photo on the home page of his site), an independent war photographer embedded in Iraq. The photo is entitled “Strength and Compassion” and the imagery is that of a fatally wounded baby girl being held by a US soldier after a car bomb explosion in the city of Mosul, 225 miles north west of Baghdad.

For the design, I cut out the composition from it’s original background and carefully drew the soldier’s legs into the image. The end result was a vector sketch filled with a palette of camouflage colours. The wallpaper was available for download.

Over the weekend I was contacted by Michael Yon’s attorney advising me that displaying the photo on my blog, as well as creating an “unauthorized reproduction” of the photo was infringing on the image’s copyright. By placing my own copyright on my design in the form of a website address the design was improper and illegal. Furthermore, I must remove both the photo and my design from my site.

I understand why the copyright has been placed on the photo and how it guards the photo from uses which are inflammatory, political or commercial in nature. I also understand I am guilty of not leaving a reference to Michael Yon’s photo from within the image, only the blog post I display it from. I am not questioning if my design infringes on the copyright. I am just questioning the complexity of the copyright on the photo.

Michael says: “Interest in the war is waning back home, I’m told, which may explain the thinning ranks of reporters over here. Ironically, with fewer reporters here every day, it’s even more critical to keep the few sources of news on the ground working. Please continue to spread the word about my work and please support this site by clicking here.

In today’s world with social media being such a powerful marketing tool would it not make more sense to change the wording on the design (as I recommended to Mr Yon’s attorney) and use the design to further the viral campaign for Michael Yon’s work.

This to me would be a far better solution with much better rewards for Mr Yon’s courageous work.

7 thoughts on “The actual end result”

  1. Pingback: The end result
  2. Changing the wording on the design and using it in the manner you suggest will not further the viral campaign for Mr Yon. That image is iconic and has been misused and infringed upon all too often. Your suggestion will do nothing but result in further complications, infringement and misuse of that iconic image.

    His readership grows daily, he has earned the respect of high profile journalists in the mainstream media, such as Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News, who link to his site and reference his dispatches, therefore the best way to further Michael Yon’s campaign is to link to his dispatches, and to support his endeavors with small financial donations.

  3. Mark – sad to see you caved under the pressure and threats from our world’s silly law systems… 🙂 Was a great wallpaper and great idea…

  4. I can understand this totally. Those guys are out there risking their necks to bring us these images so they want to make sure it’s worth their while. For example, your rendition of the image, without any reference to the original in it, could have spread around the internet and become famous (for arguments sake) while Yon got no credit… So I can totally see where he is coming from here…

  5. Thanks for the comments guys.

    By no mean am I trying to justify my actions of not putting a reference to Mr Yon on the design, I was definitely at fault there. I just think the design could be put to better use having it referenced correctly and circulated freely campaigning Yon’s work.

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