Update: At the request of the Flickr member whose illegitimate use of others' photos prompted this story, I've deleted his name from this post. (He asked nicely.)
A short blog post by Vancouver web developer and photographer Kris Krug caught my eye back in February. He accused a fellow Flickr user [name deleted] of claiming credit for photos Krug had taken.
End of story, I thought, but a cease and desist letter last week from a lawyer demanding that Krug delete the blog post set off a blogstorm that will last a lifetime. See Krug's post, [Name deleted] Stole My Photos and Now is Sueing ME!?!
If [Name deleted] wants to pursue a career in the creative arts, journalism, or any other field that requires a reputation, he'll need to either change names, or turn this into a selling point for his future.
The Google Juice involved in raising awareness of his apparent plagiarism is so powerful, this story will probably always be at the top, or near the top, of an Internet search for his name. He will always be "the photo plagiarist who tried to sue his victims." See Thomas Hawk, Diane Ensey, Chris Garrett and Jeff Nolan on the subject.
Assuming he decides to try to resurrect his name (not a lot of evidence yet, except a couple of apologies), [Name deleted] will need to be very clear, vocal and consistent with his apology, and throw himself on the mercy of the blogosphere that has allowed him to so publicly tarnish his name.
The assault on this guy's reputation was massive. Bloggers were very deliberate about including his name in the headline of their posts, to ensure they would show up in a search for the name. People on Flickr and on Digg related their efforts (including addresses and phone numbers) to contact him, his freelance clients, his web hosting company and others, to spread the news about his transgression..
Pretty harsh, maybe, but right in line with the summary career assassination that would have taken place if he was a journalist.
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