Another day, another former acquaintance of a celeb flogging their old pictures to a red top. This time it’s The Sun with a front page “picture exclusive” splash of unseen Adele.

Our exclusive pictures show the star had the confidence to go all the way even as a 16-year-old schoolgirl“.

The surprise for me was that one of the six “exclusive” shots supposedly taken by her former Brit school classmate Allan Rose was actually taken by me.
Captioned “Early hit…singing ballad Daydreamer for classmates” as if it dated back to 16-year-old Adele’s school days, in reality it’s an 18-year-old Adele in a support slot at the late lamented Luminaire venue in Kilburn, North London.

The pic in's most read story of that day

I’m not sure what irked me most, The Sun blatantly stealing my photo without permission or consent, concocting a fictitious story about where the picture was taken or that “Copyright The Sun – OUR LAWYERS ARE WATCHING” (their capitals) was emblazoned across the piece and my photo (not to mention an email address offering the picture for syndication).

Clearly there wasn’t much I could do about its use in print but I emailed News International requesting the photograph be removed online.

“I am contacting you regarding today’s “Adele Picture Exclusive” as trailed on your front page and featured online and in print.

Adele @ The Luminaire 18/09/06
My original photograph of Adele in 2006

Both articles include a picture that is in breach of my copyright, and that you do not have permission or a license in place to use.

I require The Sun to cease and desist from using the image immediately especially given that currently the image identifies itself online as copyright News International (and the end of the article states “OUR LAWYERS ARE WATCHING!” (your capitals).

The picture in question is labelled “Early hit…singing ballad for classmates”, it was in fact taken in Kilburn in front of about 8 people in 2006.

I have the original photo in RAW format, along with others taken by me on the same night and from the same angle. The image on Flickr also clearly states that “All right are reserved” and that it should not be used without permission or credit.”

To their credit, The Sun responded the next day:

“Hi Neil
The pictures were published in good faith, and as you can see the chap who talks to us in the article assured us they were his.
Whilst I wasn’t involved in this, I would be grateful if you could call me direct to resolve this matter”.

The chap” in question is Allan Rose, an aspiring singer songwriter who’s yet to match his classmates success and who it would be east to paint as the scoundrel in this story. Selling his former friends early days for a bit of loot and publicity while assuring the trusting Sun that all the pictures were his.
On Facebook Rose gushed at how EXCITED he was waiting for a Sun photographer to take photo’s for a ‘lil story about HIM. Could anyone really be naive enough to believe the article would be about him?
I have a mental image of a weary Sun photographer going through the motions of taking Rose’s photo then deleting them as soon as the door closed and they’d got their mitts on his Adele piccies.
The lack of a follow-up post from Rose saying “I’ve been duped, this wasnt the article I expected” seems self-explanatory.
I’ve contacted Allan but even if he did assure The Sun all the photos were his, surely the responsibility for checking copyright rests with The Sun?
I emailed back:

“Is “these are my photos, honest” really the level of journalistic rigour you apply to image use? A 5 minute browse on flickr brings up both my photo and the black and white picture which I remember Adele herself using on her myspace back in the days people used it, so I doubt that picture is the chaps to sell either. In short it’s not acceptable to buy the results of a google search and slap “picture exclusive” and copyright notices all over them”.

The trouble is it’s much easier, not to mention cheaper for News International to just publish any picture they stumble across irrespective of ownership. If the owner doesn’t notice, it costs them nothing, if they do, just offer the standard amount you’d pay for a stock photograph.
It’s a case of Win Win, institutionalised thievery.

Hi Neil

Hopefully when you return you will be able to send me a full hi res version of the photo which will satisfy me that the photo is indeed your copyright. Any other pictures from the sequence to back this up would also be helpful.

I’m sorry but I am unable to accept a Flickr site with Neil365 as sufficient proof.

Flickr appears to be a site, where anybody can post photos.

Whilst I am sure it is great for showing people photographs, it is not one we use on a regular basis.

We are more accustomed to using sites like Rex, IDS, Camera Press, AP, PA, Reuters, EPA, Splash, or one similar where professional photographers tend to post their work.

The copyright notice appears at the bottom of the story and refers to the text and not the photographs.

The Sun is always happy to pay for any photographs we use.

Fortunately I had a copy of the original on my laptop so I sent that along with a link to other pictures taken the same night. I did however take issue with the slightly comical line – “Flickr appears to be a site, where anybody can post photos

“It’s true Flickr is a site where anyone can post images, although as two out of the six exclusive pictures in The Sun Adele story originate from Flickr does that make The Sun a website “that posts anyones photos” with or without permission. Flickr has a deal with Getty images and clear copyright restrictions next to every picture.
As a newspaper that as you say is used to dealing with the big picture agencies and professional photographers I’m surprised that you have absolutely no system or interest in checking the origin and copyright of photographs you publish. As I said in my previous email I found an earlier copy of the black and white picture you’ve used in about a minute. Is some bloke assuring you the photos are his really enough of a check for a professional newspaper.

Also as a side note I’m surprised that the picture desk of a national newspaper hasn’t heard of the largest picture hosting site in the world with over 40 million users (and owned by yahoo)”.

The copyright notice wasn’t just relating to the text, and it also offered them for syndication.

If you click on my picture on The Sun website this message comes up “Copyright 2008 News Group Newspapers Ltd and/or its licensors. No use without permission. Contact [email protected]“. So not only does the copyright notice refer to the picture it also offers my photograph out for syndication!
Can I reiterate for the third time, that I still require The Sun to cease and desist from using the image immediately. The image has been used without my permission or consent.

At the third time of asking the image finally came down:

I will ask for the photo to be removed as quickly as possible.

I think Flickr’s deal with Getty is only with photographers, who pre select to opt in to their service, and isn’t blanket coverage.

We have a subscription service with Getty which gives us rights to use their library images.

I would urge you to place you picture with an agency who can pay you royalties, as such an early picture of Adele would be a source of revenue for several years to come.

If you care to pass me your details I will ensure you get paid.

Despite the punning title of this piece, telling me how much revenue I could make kind of misses the point, I didn’t want the photo used. Especially not by News International, and without any consent.
I’ve not yet found out what “We’ll make sure you get paid” means but I imagine it means what they’d pay for a stock photograph if they had sought permission.
Such a large company will always feel it can get away with paying for the theft of an image with what the image would originally have cost (if it was available in the first place).
Why not try out their approach down your local retailer? Fill up your shopping basket, sneak out the door and happily quaff your ill-gotten gains. If the shop keeper happens to notice you on CCTV simply let him know he’ll be paid for the goods. Simple!

taken by overview at Hoxton Bar  GrillWhen they removed my photo online they filled the space lef t behind by doubling the size of the black and white image I’d already informed them wasn’t taken by Allan Rose either.

It took me exactly 1.3 seconds to find out the picture wasn’t his or The Sun’s copyright (using but as no one had complained they’re not interested. I vaguely recalled the photo from Adele’s Myspace back in 2006, and sure enough after a tiny bit of digging I found an old archive with it Adele’s own Myspace, and credited to Overview.

Obviously it’s only an Adele picture, and by the scale of News International’s well publicised problems with journalistic standards it’s but a drop in the ocean. Also I’m a music blogger so lectures from me about copyright have to be taken with a slight pinch of salt.
And besides stealing photos and making up what they show can be fun!

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