I got an email the other day purporting from a young model, just starting out, that I featured on this blog. Imagine my surprise! Here's what it said:
Dear Blog Owner!
I found your Blog via google my own name. First thank you for your support. But you are not allowed to post these pictures on your blog.
You don't have the picture rights. This is illegal! Please delete all Pictures from me, all Names and Information.
If you do not delete immediately i or my agency will employ a lawyer. Just delete the pictures and everything is fine!
As you might imagine I was a bit taken aback by this missive. First of all, I am sure that this model, whose name is Leon Legeland, is not the owner of any of these photos, and secondly, I cannot imagine one good reason why an aspiring model would not be happy to get any kind of exposure they can get. Also, I understand that not everything online is public domain, and copyright holders have every right to keep their work off of any website they choose, but I found the demand that all names and information be removed rather disturbing. Curious.
Well, I did what any sane person would do, ignored the email and put it out of my mind.
A few days later I got another email, this time from a person named Christina Abartzi from an outfit called Cream Model Management in glamorous Frankfurt. Here's what the lovely Christina had to say:
we found our model leon legeland on your website which we are managing.
first of all he's not gay and what you do is illegal!!!
you're not allowed to post our picutres on your site,
as you don't have the picture copyrights.
if you don't delete his pictures and information within the next week
i will be forced to sue you and get my layer on this.
The words I want you to take particular note of are these: "first of all, he's not gay." Somebody has tipped their hand.
"First of all, he's not gay."
It would be safe to say that I drew a few conclusions from this letter. Also: I. Was. Pissed. Off. Here is my hastily composed reply:
Dear Ms. Abartzi,
Thank you for contacting me about this matter. I must confess that I am a bit confused, as I have never heard of your agency, nor did I get any photos from your site. I am also a bit confused about your assertion that Mr. Legeland is not gay, as I have not implied that he is, nor would any reasonable person assume that he is simply from reading. No matter, if you are the copyright holder on these photos, I will be happy to remove them. Before I do, however, please consider this. I receive thousands of page views on my blog every day and include among my readers many people in the fashion industry. I have removed photos only once and that is when the actual photographer asked me to . This is the first time that I have been requested to remove photos because the subject is homophobic. If you are the copyright holder you have the perfect right to ask me to remove the photos, but not to remove any information. If you think you have any right to restrict information, your understanding of the law must be very poor. I have committed no libel, no slander, in fact the most I wrote about Mr. Legeland is that he's interesting. When I remove the pictures I will make sure that all of my readers and the readers of my friends' blogs know the reason why you want them removed from my blog, and not from any of the other sites on which they appear, is that you, your agency, and your client have some kind of problem with gay people. Is that the message you would like to send? It's up to you.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts in this matter.
I received a reply, which I won't reproduce here to the effect that Christina Abratzi herself is the photographer of (apparently) every photo of Leon Legeland that has ever appeared online, that of course there is no homophobia involved ("in this business you should know that") and that my response was blackmail. (It isn't blackmail. It's a vicious threat.) I then removed Mr. Legeland's photos from my site, because I don't like to showcase people who I believe to be small-minded bigots.
So, dear readers, there you have it. What do you think? Did I overreact? Was I in the wrong? Do you agree with Legeland and Abratzi. I'd love to hear your opinions. And be sure and let Ms. Abratzi and Mr. Legeland know how you feel too. I'm sure your letters of support would mean a lot to them.