Photo by Ian Espinosa

Big Business Versus Photographer: Social Media Destruction

Photo by Ian Espinosa

Nothing grinds our gears more than a company that has the means to pursue image licensing, stealing an image. It’s even worse when that company is one dedicated to another creative field where theft of intellectual property is rampant.

Hot 89.9, A top 40 Radio Station based in Ottawa, Canada, did just that. Here is the image they stole and the ad they used it in:

The Photographer, Barbi Guild Cameron, of Barbara Ann Studios who is a local to the station, and potentially a listener, contacted the station management, to pursue proper licensing of the image.


Here is the reply as posted to Barbi’s Facebook page.

“The Vice President of NewsCap Radio offered me $40. When I turned him down, he emailed me the following:”

Barb you were kind enough to provide us with a few definitions. Here is one I just looked up: extortion NOUN The practice of obtaining something, esp. money through force or threats SYNONYMS Blackmail-exaction

You are obviously a very talented photographer, I would stick with that. Extortion is not your thing. Cheers SB”

The response is what has left the entire photographic community OUTRAGED. With Hot 89.9 turning off comments on their Facebook Page, people from all over the world have taken to the recommendations area of the page to voice their displeasure. With Barbi’s original Facebook post, at the time of this writing, having been shared over 1,300 times, we sincerely hope that the message gets out that you don’t pick on the little guy(girl). They have lots of friends willing to step up and fight the good fight

We fully support Barbi’s fight against Hot89.9, we want you to do the same.

Only through constant publicity, will companies learn that when we all stand together, we will be heard, and we won’t be bullied or belittled into submission.

Like I said, it grinds my gears.


We’ve received a LOT of feedback since posting this article, from THOUSANDS of people, who firmly reside on both sides of this issue. There’s not too much middle ground here.

Some have chosen to attack the character of the photographer due to a past conviction. Some have related stories of dealing with the photographer. And some, (mostly fellow photographers) have stood fully in support of her.

Let’s be clear here.

We think the way both parties handled this was a case study in how not to deal with a copyright violation. Taking it to social media, before consulting with a professional, experienced in dealing with copyright law, is a move both parties should have made. They didn’t, and we’re all left with the mess, to endlessly debate various aspects of this situation.

If you feel you have been infringed upon, the first and the best thing you can do is separate the emotion, and consult with someone experienced in matters of copyright law.

But at the end of all of this. Creative people have to stand together, and stand up for each other when this happens.

The radio station was caught with their hand in the cookie jar. And should have taken ownership, and made restitution right away. Stating that they normally pay between $40-150 for stock photography doesn’t apply here. This was not stock. This was taken and used illegally, and only once confronted, did the representative make any kind of apology or offer.

All the other information brought to light as a result of this; from the prior conviction to the stories of dealing with that photographer, and anything not related to the issue at hand is unnecessary and unrelated to the theft of the image.

Our interest primarily lies in bringing events like this to light and starting a discussion.

We thank you for your feedback. Remember we will always be on the side of protecting copyright and the rights of creative content creators. That’s what the origin of this article is.

  1. Alicia says:

    Nothing much surprises me anymore, but I will be glad to post my thoughts as well and share this with whoever I can. Appreciate the info.

  2. Craig in Van says:

    Theft is theft, this radio station is dead wrong. Playing the game they are playing proves they are douchebags – I wonder how their advertisers feel about who they are in bed with…?

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