Saturday, November 20, 2010

Privilege Denying Dude Fights Back!

PPD has been shut down after a complaint by the photographer of the above image. Although the creator of Privilege Denying Dude mentioned several times she bought the rights to the stock photo, there are apparently contractual implications regarding usage of images in a meme, to put it bluntly.

A Jezebel commenter takes us to school:


"I license images for my job (and often use iStock), so maybe I can help explain what is going on here. I assume it is this prohibition in the iStock license that is causing a problem:

incorporate the Content in any product that results in a re-distribution or re-use of the Content (such as electronic greeting card web sites, web templates and the like) or is otherwise made available in a manner such that a person can extract or access or reproduce the Content as an electronic file

The copyright holder is probably arguing that since it is being reproduced on memegenerator it is a violation of the iStock contract.

She does explicitly state that the person is a model and it is a stock photo, so a reasonable person wouldn't assume that the model is endorsing the views expressed, nor could it be considered libel."

Read the rest of the discussion here

Hope you make it back soon, Privilege Denying Dude. Of all the memes in all the internets, it seems a little suspicious that the feminist one garnered such blowback.


  1. Hi,
    I am the photographer of this image. The issue here is first and foremost to protect the model.

    The content lisence agreement only allows to use an image in this way if it is clearly stated in every representation of the image, that it is a model.

    Since this is not being done, it leads to certain problems. The model himself is distressed and I am trying to help as well as to protect my business. I do not want other models to stop working with me.

    Second point, which is important but not as important, is that it is not allowed to upload a legal stock photo to a website like memegenerator which simply reproduces it a million times without purchasing a license.

    I hope this explains the issue.
    Best regards,

  2. Hi Luis! Thanks for your comment. It's unfortunate the model is distressed. Have you two thought about launching something else from this project? There's been so much exposure now that it might actually be good for his career! I wonder if you could come to an arrangement with Diana, the original creator of the meme and purchaser of the image. You can probably tell it's out of control now - you won't be able to take down all the images at play, especially now that there is journalistic value in publishing them. This has become an important way to communicate certain social justice themes with humour and light-heartedness, which is sorely lacking in the usual practice. Any chance you guys would be willing to chat about a special arrangement?


  3. hi sarah,
    as a photographer I have to take care of my models. one of my jobs is to avoid that their photos get misused. models do not become famous because they are used in random ways on the internet.
    this meme had very controversial messages posted on them. At the moment many of my models are considering to stop working with me putting my business at risk.
    this whole thing has caused us a lot of damage. Im just trying my best to limit that damage.
    i have already spoken to diana and offered to make a new special image for here. memegenerator is using a new image now. i am in touch with tumblr, facebook, google and twitter and working with them on a solution. my agency's lawyers are going to look at it soon too.
    i am completely supportive of free speech and believe this should continue, but i would prefer that a model is used which is aware of the consequences and which agrees to this.
    hopefully i can close this chapter and pass to something new.

    thanks for your understanding.

  4. Hi Luis,

    Controversial messages? That's an interesting way to put it. I guess it's hard to definitively say "this is satire" on the internet. Can I ask you what kind of feedback you were getting? Who did it come from? It's funny that there's been such a push back against this - Tumblr is so full of re-purposed copyrighted images that I wonder what it was specifically about the messages that were so provocative. Did you hear from other people than your models? I'd love to chat about this with you and/or the model - if you're available for an interview, please let me know!


  5. Hi Sara,
    Indeed, its difficult to say what is satire, controversial and what is not. That is why every stock image comes with a Content License Agreement which prohibits the buyer of adding any message to the model which may give the impression the model endorses it, regardless of the message.

    Since it is difficult to prove whether something is satire or not, stock models are protected by simply forbidding any message which could appear to be assigned to them. This protection is essential, for model and photographer. Do you think models would work with me if they didnt have such a protection?

    Many people on the internet have reacted badly against our actions because they do not understand the use of stock photography. They also do not understand Fair Use of copyrighted material. Fair Use allows news and editorials to use the copyrighted material for news purposes. Memegenerator was being used by hundreds of people, most of them clearly unrelated to any type of news reporting.

    That is the reason why we are taking this so seriously. Most people think its against free speech. But it isnt. It is against using stock models in a way which hurts the stock photography industry.

    If people want to do memes, then they should find models who agree to the consequences.

    I know that tumblr is full of illegal material. But that should discourage me from protecting my models and apply my legal rights. I cannot speak for others who do not enforce their copyright.

    I hope this info helps you. If you want to continue discussing this with me, feel free to contact me via my website:

    At the moment the issue is being looked at by the Licensing department at iStockphoto and hopefully we will be able to protect our rights.

    thank you for your interest. I wish you a nice day!