It is always questionable when someone blends another artist’s work and then labels the product something of one’s creation.
Whether it is fan fiction or art, no matter how well done, the central inspiration and premise is drawn from another creator’s ideas. Today’s story involves an acclaimed weather photographer’s pictures being “stolen” by a digital artist – someone who uses multiple photos to create a composite image – and on top of calling him a “thief” the weather photographer claims this self-proclaimed artist is a liar as well.
How so? Apparently, Jason Weingart contacted digital artist Brent Shavnore who claims that all of the photos that he used of Weingart’s were licensed from Adobe or another outfit. But Weingart rebuts that there are multiple cases of theft, some photos which were never authorized by Weingart for distribution on Adobe or other websites. And, as for Weingart’s accusations, Shavnore says that Weingart is being “childish” and told publication PetaPixel that all of this is a big misunderstanding.
Shavnore initially responded to Weingart, “I would first like to apologize for the mis-understanding…I buy all of my images from Shutterstock and Adobe Stock and have licenses for everything I blend together – if you did not authorize your work on Shutterstock or Adobe Stock please let me know which ones are yours so I can notify them and remove them from my page.”
Weingart added on his blog, “Just to be safe, I searched every thunderstorm image on Adobe Stock and Shutterstock, but found no instances of my work posted for sale on the sites he suggested he purchased them from…Honestly, I didn’t expect to. His story reeked of BS, but best to be certain.”
After a period of nonresponse from Shavnore, Weingart sent him a bill for a little less than $USD 10,000 for using the images.
Shavnore has built quite a following on Instagram by compositing images together – some 130,000 followers as of press – and this fact seems to irk a lot of photographers. There is also some question as to whether these followers are clear on the photographs being a composite. Shavnore does note he is a digital artist, but commenter reactions seem to insinuate that these pictures are real. After all, they are gorgeous, but isn’t their majesty due in part to mother nature and then to the original photographers?
One commenter on a recent photograph depicting something ripped out of Middle Earth reads, “This is astonishingly beautiful. My absolute favorite capture of one of my absolute favorite places.” So, how this fantastical place is this commenter’s favorite remains to be answered but Shavnore responded with two hearts and a “thank you.”
Shavnore told PetaPixel, “I was not sure what photos he was referring to at first—as everything I have been blending together is stock photography from Shutterstock (which I have hundreds of licenses for) so I assumed it was one of my Shutterstock composites…Looking back at the photos he is referring to, I believe they were from Pixabay a few years ago. …When I first started blending photos, I would make sure that I would get them from a free stock photography website like Pixabay and a few other sites-it wasn’t until things really started gaining traction that I transitioned from free-stock photos to paid stock photos…The problem with the free sites is people upload work that is not theirs and pass it off as being royalty free and you run into problems like this.”
Shavnore contiinues, “I respect photographers rights and would never steal something intentionally. As soon as he identified the photos, they were removed and I apologized for the miscommunication…Mr. Jason and his friends are currently going through my friends list sending messages to all of my friends spreading the false news – which in my mind is pretty immature and harassment. If he feels there is a legal situation, then the best way to handle this is going to be through an attorney, not playing childish games on social media.”
Weingart, for his part, is consulting with counsel to potentially take Shavnore to court.
Of course, we’ll keep you updated on anything as it changes.
You can check out Brent's Instagram by clicking here.
What do you think? If Shavnore accidentally download photos that were uploaded to Pixabay without Weingart’s permission, what do you think should happen? What do you think in general? We’d love to know your thoughts on this topic. Particularly, I’m interested in what you think of the digital artist angle. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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