Skip to main content

Photographer takes copyright infringement case to the Web, gets DKNY to pay up


As the old saying goes, crime doesn’t pay, especially these days in our ever-so-connected global community. That was the situation clothing company DKNY found themselves in when they used copyrighted images for an in-store display.

DKNY had wanted to license 300 photos from New York City street photographer, Brandon Stanton, who has garnered some recognition thanks to his Humans of New York photo project. DKNY, which had planned to use the photos in their stores around the world, offered a one-time payment of $15,000 to Stanton. The photographer negotiated for more money, believing he was being low-balled, but DKNY walked away.

Related Videos

It’s common for business transactions to fall apart, but it seems the memo didn’t get through to certain parts of DKNY. Thanks to a fan in Thailand, Stanton was sent a photo of a DKNY store in Bangkok plastered with his photographs without permission. Instead of filing a lawsuit or cease-and-decease letter, Stanton explained the situation to his more than half-a-million Facebook followers and asked them to encourage DKNY to donate $100,000 in Stanton’s name to a YMCA branch in Brooklyn, New York. Stanton did not request to be personally compensated.

It worked: Stanton’s post was shared and reposted, receiving thousands of comments. It didn’t take long for DKNY to respond. For their part, DKNY didn’t deny the improper use and explained it was a simple error, saying, “It appears that inadvertently the store in Bangkok used an internal mock-up containing some of Mr. Stanton’s images that was intended to merely show the direction of the spring visual program. We apologize for this error and are working to ensure that only the approved artwork is used.”

DKNY said they would make a donation to the YMCA, albeit at $25,000, much less than what Stanton had suggested. It seems, however, that Stanton is satisfied. “That really made me happy,” Stanton wrote on his website. “I went to bed last night thinking about all the kids who’d be going to summer camp.” To make up for the rest of the $75,000, Stanton has turned to Indiegogo to help raise the funds via crowdfunding. “ I started thinking about the kids who wouldn’t be going to summer camp. And I thought: ‘You know what, wouldn’t it be awesome (and fun) if we made a $75,000 donation?’ That way, a bunch more kids could go to summer camp,” he wrote.

Stanton seems happy to close the book on this chapter. “In ten years, I don’t want to look back on this week as some sort of missed opportunity. I’d rather remember it as that time we took something negative and used it as an excuse to send a bunch of kids to summer camp – who otherwise would not have had the resources to go.”

Had it not been for an eagle-eyed fan halfway around the world and the effectiveness of social media, Stanton never would have known that his work was being infringed upon, and DKNY would have gotten away with it.

(Image via Brandon Stanton / PetaPixel)

Editors' Recommendations

Businesses take note: Instagram could be gearing up to implement boosted posts
how to manage multiple Instagram accounts

It's no secret that it rubbed many small and medium-sized businesses the wrong way when Facebook changed its business model and implemented boosted posts. Having a system of boosted, or purchased, posts virtually forces businesses to pay money to in order to ensure that their content is shown in their subscriber's news feeds. The move caused many business owners to look to other social networks, like Instagram, to continue building their audience for free.

Well, if some currently unused code in Instagram's latest software is any indication, it appears that the golden days for businesses on Instagram may be coming to a close as well. As referenced recently in Adweek, Eliot Miller, head of innovation at Social Chain, decompiled Instagram's latest code and found some breadcrumbs that point to the direction the social network is heading. Miller wrote about his discovery in depth in a post to Medium, in which he points to four currently unutilized variables: can_boost_post, can_see_organic_insights, can_convert_to_business, and show_insights_terms as proof of the intention to bring boosted posts to Instagram.

Read more
DJI’s 2022 drone contest offers record prize pool
A photo taken from a drone.

Leading drone maker DJI has teamed up with the SkyPixel online community for its eighth annual photo and video contest.

Whether you’re an experienced drone pilot or an absolute beginner still finding your way, the contest is the perfect opportunity to send your machine skyward in a test of your creative skills.

Read more
How $80 of photo processing software magically saved me thousands
photo editing topaz labs denoise ai phil camera

It's a good time to be a photographer, whether you're just starting out and really don't have any idea what you're doing, or if you're a seasoned pro looking to try something new.

The gear is better than ever, making even entry-level bodies better than what the previous generation started out with. Software options make cataloging and processing your photos faster and less destructive, so you can revisit things for years and give old pics new life.

Read more