Bloggers demand right to intimacy as fashionistas 'borrow' their images
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It’s no surprise fashion stores are reading popular fashion blogs and designing clothing that follows their ideas. But what if fashion labels like Zara and Stradivarius started taking images from fashion blogs and printed them on shirts without the bloggers’ permission?
Image courtesy of Michèle Krüsi and her blog 'Beware of My Heels'.
An international fashion retailer pulled a series of t-shirts from its spring collection after bloggers complained the company had copied their photographs from the Internet — without their consent.
Inditex Group, the Spanish company at the epicentre of the scandal, owns eight ‘prêt a porter’ fashion brands including women’s labels Zara and Stradivarius. Bloggers first discovered their photos had been widely reproduced when fashion-followers recognised their faces on Stradivarius’ t-shirts.
Inditex Group pulled the collection immediately and apologised, insisting the fault lay with a design company it had subcontracted to design the shirts.
However, this is not the first time the fashion world “borrowed” from the blogosphere. French blogger Louise Ebel is a recurring victim. Last year, Ebel unknowingly graced t-shirts designed by Zara and Pepe Jeans, while this year her images appeared on two separate Stradivarius shirts.
Now, it seems, other multi-national corporations are starting to use "borrowed" material as a matter of course. In February, a well known Spanish graphic designer called Lady Desidia discovered that several of her drawings had been used to manufacture jewellery sold in supermarket-giant Carrefour stores around the world.
“The Internet makes copycatting easier, but this does not mean it stops being illegal”.
José Alejandro Bermúdez is an attorney specialising in intellectual property and copyright law.
The issue is not limited to the unauthorised appropriation of the photograph and whoever appears in it. There is also a violation of the right to intimacy and to the protection of private information of the girls that appear in the images. According to European privacy guidelines, personal images are considered personal data. To use this without consent is a breach of their rights. These violations normally lead to sanctions.
What this means is this: "Unless I authorise it explicitly, the fact that I publish on the Internet does not mean that I give up intellectual rights and that the content is up for grabs. The Internet makes copycatting easier, but this does not mean it stops being illegal”.
Post written with Andres Bermudez Lievano, journalist.
“The problem is not the picture itself, but the fact that they never asked me. They did it behind my back and the back of other bloggers to make money”.
Michèle Krüsi is a Swiss graphic design and the author of the fashion blog ‘Beware of My Heels’. One of the photos on her blog was printed on a Stradivarius t-shirt.
A week ago I received an email from a Spanish journalist who told me she had found a t-shirt with my picture on it in Valencia. She asked me if I had ever seen or heard about the t-shirt, and if they had my consent to use it. I wrote back saying that I had no idea and that I definitely had'nt authorized them to use it. She sent me one of the shirts by mail, but it hasn't arrived yet.
A day after, an the article appeared in the newspaper I started receiving dozens of emails from other Spanish papers, radio and TV channels. As a result of the scandal, Inditex withdrew the shirts from the stores and offered Louise Ebel and myself, their apologies. They said an independent studio Stradivarius works with was at fault and that they were investigating the matter. I am still waiting for Inditex to call…
I am a bit angry about the whole mess. The problem is not the picture itself, but the fact that they never asked me. They did it behind my back and the back of other bloggers to make money. If they had asked me I would have agreed for a small compensation or at least a free copy of the shirt. In a certain way I'm honoured that my photo has been used by Stradivarius, but the fact is that they never asked me.
I'm sure most bloggers would agree if fashion brands asked for permission. Maybe they might have to pay something, but they earn enough money to compensate bloggers! I think an apology is the least they could do.”