On Tuesday I posted a review of the new Fitzroy cafe called Felice’s. By Thursday morning Three Thousand had stolen a photo from my post, paraphrased my text and published their own story by editor Penny Modra.

Neil from Melbourne Metblogs commented on my Felice post about the use of my image on Three Thousand. It’s a cropped version of one of my photos. When you place it over my original there is no doubt it is my image – it fits exactly. The exact position and angle I was standing in to take the photo cannot be replicated. No permission was given for its use.

3000felice Three Thousand and other social media parasites

A screen capture of Three Thousand made on 11 June 2009 at 12pm

felice2 Three Thousand and other social media parasites

The original image from my post

I called their office and left a terse message for Modra to remove my image and to return my call. When I got back from lunch the page had a new image, but I did not have my call returned. When I got home, I found an email from Modra dated 1.09pm. It states:

Hi there,
Post: http://www.threethousand.com.au/eat-drink/felices/
Cropped image and source image attached. Taken on my iPhone at 10am this morning.
All the best,

That’s it: no acknowledgement, no apology, no promise not to do it again. Pathetic.

3000felice2 Three Thousand and other social media parasites

A screen capture of Three Thousand made on 11 June 2009 at 3pm

Three Thousand know that they have done the wrong thing because they previously demonstrated they knew how to do the right thing.  I gave Modra permission to use one of my photos on their story about Smith St restaurant Rice Queen in exchange for an attribution after she contacted me and made a written request. That was a one-off: we have no ongoing arrangement.

I would have given permission if they had asked me again, so their failure to do so when they could have been confident of success is puzzling. The dismissive email suggests that they neither understand nor care about the real issue: respect. This is not about money; it’s about ethics and professionalism.

Three Thousand is a commercial site and I grant permission for my work to be used on commercial sites on a case by case basis. So far my work has appeared in Three Thousand, Grid urban maps and the Melbourne Leader (where my work was used without attribution). I took News Ltd to the Australian Press Council and won. News Ltd was forced to publish an apology.

Not every social media entrepreneur does the wrong thing. In one example of outstanding copyright management one of my images was reposted without consent by a user on a commercial coffee review site. The user included a link my original post. The site owner noticed this, informed me and asked me what I would like done. I asked for the image to be removed and it was. I thanked him for his professional management of the situation.

Unfortunately there are numerous other cases where entrepreneurial social media parasites seek to exploit the work of non-commercial content creators. Last week I exposed how the News Ltd news site The Punch is misusing content created by Flickr users.

Corporate media types have an obsession with turning the service of delivering information into a coercive for profit business and furiously uphold their intellectual property rights. The irony is that while legacy media blames blogs and social media for copyright theft and the collapse of their profits, they are busy stealing the intellectual property of non-commercial content creators.

Flickr user Bootload (Peter) wrote about a another case where his images were used without permission on a site called Weekend Notes. I did some searching to help find the offender and posted the information on Flickr as a comment:

Weekend Notes says “Copyright © 2009 On Topic Media PTY LTD”. At www.orble.com/about/ it says “Orble is owned and operated by On Topic Media PTY LTD, an Australian company based in Sydney. On Topic Media’s founder and CEO is Dr Jon Deutscher.”

Commercial media parasites like Modra and Deutscher can fuck off to the gutter where they belong. They’re either too stupid or too greedy to be trusted.

I criticised Three Thousand in my review of local review publications and suggested that they should be posting a lot more. If I can do two posts a day on Fitzroyalty (which is run as a non-commercial hobby) while working full time and maintaining a busy social life, then a media business like Three Thousand should be able to do much more.

No one publication can get the scoop every time. Three Thousand wrote about Cibi before me, for example, and I got to Felice before them. The difference is I didn’t steal their photo or barely rewrite their text to avoid plagiarism in my review: I went to Cibi and did some original reporting. The people behind Three Thousand are lazy, greedy and unethical and their product is not worth reading.

Three Thousand and other social media parasites

53 thoughts on “Three Thousand and other social media parasites

  • 12 June 2009 at 8:53 am

    I think google image search is partially to blame. While people that pull images off net this way Should do the right thing and contact the taker, google images doesn’t encourage this. Instead of displaying a grid of photos it should be pushed to include more rights and author information for the photo.

    However the onus is always on the writer. The problem is also the internet is a feeding frenzy of rapid publishing, turnover and cannibalism. In an age of information overload slip ups.

    I can see you’re pissed off but I think its unfair to taint all the work done by three thousand as lazy, greedy and unethical. Additionally a terse approach isn’t always the best way to encourage communication with people when they do the wrong thing. As a friend of Penny, I think she you’d find her a person of high standards whose open to talking things through.

    I blame the society!

    • 12 June 2009 at 9:45 am

      I refute all these excuses in my article. My photo was unique content, only two days old and available no where else. Given that Modra already knew she could contact me and ask permission to use an image, none of these excuses is valid.

  • 12 June 2009 at 10:16 am

    What a fucking baby. Get over it, christ.

  • 12 June 2009 at 10:19 am

    he did you a favor, bro. he cropped out your shitty overblown highlights and turned your 2/10 shit-photo into a solid 7/10 classy shot. you should beg him to teach you he does it.

  • 12 June 2009 at 10:22 am

    Stop acting so self important about shitty pictures of a little cafe in a hipster suburb. Nobody gives a fuck about the banshee cries of plagiarism, just stick to posting pretty pictures and saying “I liked this meal” or “this meal is too salty”.

    • 12 June 2009 at 10:26 am

      I’ve allowed the comments to go live. I don’t know why I bother. Does anyone have an informed opinion about the ethics of social media?

  • 12 June 2009 at 10:24 am

    That bitch took a better photo with her iPhone than you did with your camera, m8.

  • 12 June 2009 at 10:28 am

    I’m done with this blog if every other post is going to be you whining about this shit. Maybe I’ll resubscribe to your feed in a few months, if you’ve managed to grow up and grow a pair. Fag.

    • 12 June 2009 at 10:30 am

      I don’t want homophobic morons as readers so good riddance.

  • 12 June 2009 at 10:39 am

    Guess what, you write a blog about food in a Melbourne suburb. 95% of your readers are homophobic morons. You can’t be successful in Australia without pandering to racists and homophobes and the dregs of society.

    • 12 June 2009 at 10:44 am

      If you know anything about the inner north of Melbourne, including Fitzroy, then you would know that homophobia is relatively rare here, it is a predominately queer friendly area where homophobia is not welcome and actively challenged.

  • 12 June 2009 at 10:41 am

    dont listen 2 these guys. theyr all dumb. dont let that bitch steal ur hard work. luv ur site and givem hell mate

  • 12 June 2009 at 11:42 am

    Stealing content is definitely not an ethical way to run a business. Remember that thing people used to say that cropping a photo by more than 70% removed the copyright? It’s bullshit. Good to see they’ve removed it though.
    But accusing them of paraphrasing you’re article is a bit rich. The two articles bare very little resemblance, except for the facts. You have a valid complaint but you do seem to come off a little precious and overblown.

    • 12 June 2009 at 11:47 am

      It seemed quite obvious that their article was based on the content of mine, not on the results of their own investigation and reporting. We had a prior relationship that was cordial and mutually beneficial, but they chose to destroy it. The consequence is they may lose the trust of other potential contributors.

      I also think there is a fundamental difference between reusing content (even illegitimately without attribution according to creative commons licenses) by non-commercial bloggers who are only interested in sharing a particular piece of information with their community and commmercial sites who make money out of publishing content.

      Stealing from people who give content away is lazy and greedy. Making profit from free content is unethical.

  • 12 June 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Nice one Brian. I had quite a few people use my Guiseppe Arnaldo and Sons pic without attribution – including a blog run by Herald Sun journalists.The excuse was they found it on Google images.
    I’m happy to let people use images who are non commercial and give attribution.

    Commercial ventures, it depends who they are and I’d quite like payment.

    • 12 June 2009 at 2:22 pm

      Thanks Ed. As a journalist who has worked for the major papers, what is your understanding of the general level of awareness of copyright amongst journalists and sub-editors? Even if the journalists are genuinely or naively clueless why aren’t the sub-editors and editors stopping this unlawful appropriation of content?

      I can’t see how anyone working in media (print, online, broadcasting etc) can have entered their industry without a basic understanding of copyright, an awareness that there are rules to follow and that there are consequences to taking lazy shortcuts.

  • 12 June 2009 at 2:34 pm

    I’m curious to know where all these commenters are coming in from (i.e. email or another blog). Seems a bit one sided.

    Taking pictures and cropping them without any acknowledgement is not on. It would have been one thing if they gave credit. While I enjoy Three Thousand and know some of the staff, it’s very unethical for an experienced editor like Penny to publish someone elses cropped picture. ThreeThousand and Right Angle Publishing are pretty big players in the Melbourne blog/events and it’s a black mark against the editor.

    It does seem like her summary was paraphrased from your post and the additional things she listed on her post:

    “Go to Felice’s if you want to get an espresso, an espresso with grappa, an espresso with Sambuca, a nice midday glass of red, a nice midday bottle of Coopers Red, and absolutely no bullshit.”

    was read from the picture of the menu on your post Brian. Very suss, what’s the EXIF information say about her picture?

    • 12 June 2009 at 2:55 pm

      Most people are coming in from my RSS feed in their Google readers. I wonder if by accident I have some juicy keywords in this post that are attracting some new visitors via search. This may account for the redneck element.

      Do you mean her cropped version of my picture or her subsequent original picture? She sent me her picture in the email I mention, so I could check it later. I am sure she was reading the drinks off the picture of the half finished menu board.

      Basically I’ve had enough of the blatant hypocrisy of corporate (commercial) media blaming social (non-commercial) media for stealing their content and undermining their scarcity based business model, while at the same time commercial media is busy stealing from non-commercial media.

      These supposed professional journalists, editors and publishers are either incompetent in their ignorance of copyright or unprofessional in their indifference to copyright. It’s about time they’re held to account.

      The ABC’s Media Watch should have an interactive blog where you can post media critiques with evidence for all to see. They have a few bloopers in their doghouse section but could do so much more…

  • 12 June 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Hi all,

    I know Felix and spoke to him at his cafe before posting this article. Thanks for all your comments.


    • 12 June 2009 at 3:18 pm

      PR spin. No acknowledgement of the issue, no confirmation and no denial. You should be working for the PM.

  • 12 June 2009 at 3:22 pm

    It would have been better if you’d kept this post about the photo. It’s the only fact here – the rest is rumour and speculation, and is reflecting poorly on your attempts to beat this up as something that’s bigger than it really is.

    Penny knows Felix, and has been watching the place develop over the past few months. She lives a couple of hundred metres from the place. She told me about their coffee, the model plane and the Handsome Steve’s resemblance early in the week, when she went there. She wasn’t cribbing from you, they’re just obvious things to talk about in reference to the place. The reason for your ‘scoop’ was that Three Thousand publishes on a Thursday, in a magazine kind of way, which might answer your questions about infrequent posts.

    Just trying to clarify things and keep this… discussion… on track.

    • 12 June 2009 at 3:46 pm

      The most original thing Modra says is when she compares Felice’s to Handsome Steve’s, because what I originally wrote is that Steve was at Felice’s when I was there. I’m presenting it as it is: one example (and I cite several others) of commercial media ignoring copyright and journalistic ethics when it is convenient to do so.

      Her failure to acknowledge or apologise for her actions (by email and in her comment here) demonstrates a further refusal to take responsibility for the problem. That’s the typical PR approach that only makes it worse for the perpetrator.

  • 14 June 2009 at 4:15 pm

    Perhaps, Brian: and yet there is something about how, and how often, you find cause to stand on your slightly Pooteresque dignity that does undermine your arguments a little. Arguments wasted on some of the above knuckle draggers, granted, but still…..

    • 14 June 2009 at 4:16 pm

      You are not the only person to claim this, but I have not yet heard a reasoned explanation of how. You have an emotional response to my writing which is yours to have, but your emotion does not undermine my reason.

  • 14 June 2009 at 7:17 pm

    This is a complete non issue. Knowing Penny, I’m sure she’d be happy to let you do the same thing with one of her pictures – and it sounds like she never intended to use yours in the newsletter anyway, given that she had taken her own. Get a life.

    • 14 June 2009 at 8:12 pm

      You miss the point. I don’t need to steal Three Thousand’s content because I create my own; that is the purpose of hyperlocal social media. In case I have to spell it out, I am critical of Three Thousand for stealing my content because they were too lazy to make their own and too indifferent to bother asking for my permission, which would have been granted. The final amusement on my part is to watch their PR failure by refusing to acknowledge reality.

  • 14 June 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Three thousand have quite clearly stolen your content. Copyright and intellectual property are important issues too often ignored. You have an outstanding website here, I’m sure they would steal a lot more if they could.

  • 15 June 2009 at 11:49 am

    Going through emails and updating the story. Here is an email from Penny and my response. First the email from Penny:


    What a shame it is that we didn’t get to discuss this. I’m sure the reason Robbie didn’t get your number down was that he was shocked at how rude you were on the phone. Having heard about it, that was the reason I sent you such short email.

    You know, from experience, that we don’t make a policy of using other people’s images without credits. Having emailed in my copy after visiting Felix on Thursday, I had to drive into town to upload my photos in the office (my mac is so old it doesn’t cope with USB connection to the new iPhone I’m using, it freezes). Unfortunately an intern in our office thought it would be helpful and efficient in the meantime to get the post up with a temporary image, found on your page. You know that I wouldn’t have done that without requesting your permission. You had called by the time I arrived at work. I explained things to this person and they now understand the rights and wrongs of the situation. I think one of the points of an internship is learning on the job, and that can mean making mistakes. I think it’s important that we give people a chance to do this. And I’m sorry it meant that we used part of your image briefly on our site.

    The really unfortunate part of all this is that I wasn’t going to explain this in a comment on your blog – the person feels bad enough as it is. I think your article revealed how far you’re willing to go towards slandering someone online. I had no idea you held my work in such contempt, or would consider me likely to lift an entire article from someone else. It’s also a shock to discover that you’re out there really hating ThreeThousand, and seeing an adversarial situation between us where I never felt one existed.

    For the record, you’re still welcome to use any of the images I publish with my own articles.


    My response:

    Hi Penny,

    I was angry and terse on the phone to Robbie; I was not rude. How convenient to now claim this. I think it reasonable to expect that my number and message have been taken down when given.

    Now you deflect responsibility from yourself and your company by blaming the least experienced person in your team.

    Had you posted this explanation a couple of days ago and admitted your company made a mistake it would have looked much better for you. This PR failure is of your own making.

    Slander? I doubt it. Your article is implausibly similar to mine. Paraphrased to avoid plagiarism, but almost certainly lacking originality. That’s an opinion, by the way, not a concrete fact.

    I have no need of your images as I make my own.


  • 15 June 2009 at 2:18 pm

    I’m not sure about the ethics or professionalism of publishing emails online. Then again I’m not sure why you’re still fueling this argument. There was obviously an honest acknowledgment that your permission should have been granted – and an apology.

    • 15 June 2009 at 3:31 pm

      To answer your question, I believe I am covered by fair use dealing in quoting the email as I have attributed the author and named the source – ie email from Penny. Copyright of the words is retained by the author but this does not guarantee confidentiality. When I took News Ltd to the Australian Press Council for unauthorised use of my work and won they were bound by a code of conduct and were forced to publish an apology. I am yet to see an honest acknowledgement from Three Thousand of what occured. If they claim they are a professional commercial media business, they would meet the standards of the Australian Press Council and publish an apology.

  • 15 June 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Obviously you’re pretty annoyed and I think you have a right to be. The copy on 3000 is very similar to your copy and while I wouldn’t be surprise if it was quite simple a rewrite it’s a big call to say that it was. They stole your photo, they shouldn’t have and you were wining the argument so you probably should have left it there. Having said that it’s a bit rich of them to complain about you being rude when they have just stolen your work. They should have simply explained and apologised and posted an apology on their site. Interestingly I only know about this issue because people have been discussing it. So you’ve made your point and a lot of people now know that 3000 stole your photo and good on you for calling them on it.

  • 16 June 2009 at 9:41 am

    Fascinating discussion. Holding the intern responsible seems a bit weak to me. Is Penny taking responsibility? It doesn’t look like it.

    Storm in a teacup to the rest of us, but entertaining nonetheless.

  • 16 June 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Brian, said with love, I think the point people are trying to make is that you can be a little “too in your face”. You are absolutely right in where you stand and I totally agree with you on this issue however I think most people would have said things differently to the same results.

    Whats that saying “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”

    Its your prerogative to express yourself however you want, but you do come off as a ranty, angry man waiting to explode on someone, a lot. Your blog, your reactions et et and I know you dont care if noone reads it as its your personal joy to deliver.

    You remind me of me when I first moved here from Sydney. :D

    • 16 June 2009 at 2:44 pm

      I don’t wish to reveal my entire publishing strategy, but my friends remark on the significant difference between my real personality and my online persona. To stand out and make an impression online, a degree of intensity is helpful. Think of me as an intellectual Max Headroom…

  • 16 June 2009 at 2:47 pm

    actually having said all that and seeing pennys response… fuck them. totally bullshit. you smelled a rat, called them on it, they rebuffed you and initially denied it which would have seen me completely raged filled.

    good on you.

  • 16 June 2009 at 2:48 pm

    “Think of me as an intellectual Max Headroom”… BEST :D

  • 16 June 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Had some journalist friends send this link from Australia to the U.K. There’s a lot of this going on and it’s certainly not good p.r. I don’ think the public really cares but you don’t want to be known as the person who takes other people’s work do you?
    I don’t think using the image “briefly” matters at all. If it was me I would have said sorry someone put it there and once we realised our mistake we corrected it and ran an apology.

  • 16 June 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Jesus, she changed it as soon as she found out about it, didn’t she? What was it – up for 20 minutes? It’s obvious she already had photos of her own. Why would you have any reason to think she was doing it on purpose? You’ve said she has asked your permission and credited you in the past. She’s explained and apologised. How unfair to put this ‘image stealing’ crap out there when ThreeThousand do so much great work and obviously don’t mean you any harm at all.

    • 16 June 2009 at 3:56 pm

      Please keep up, we’ve covered all this already.

  • 16 June 2009 at 4:55 pm

    Commercial media parasites like Modra and Deutscher can fuck off to the gutter where they belong. They’re either too stupid or too greedy to be trusted.

    This statement is — without question — a despicable, derogatory attack on individuals that in my view completely and utterly negates any vaguely sensible argument you may have originally held against Three Thousand.

    Your continued inflammatory remarks and unwillingness to concede that efforts were made by Three Thousand to rectify the situation, which by all accounts was speedily resolved (aside from this extended bickering on your part) do precious little to help your cause.

    This could (and should) have been handled by you in a dignified and professional manner, without resorting to such humiliatingly slanderous and aggressive language. Melbourne is a small town, and Fitzroy even smaller – and the Internet doesn’t forget.

    • 16 June 2009 at 5:13 pm

      I don’t think most of you have actually read this thoroughly. To summarise, Penny did not apologise, and she did not acknowledge what happened. She avoided doing both and thus turned a minor publishing workflow error into a bigger public relations issue. Yes I was inflamatory. I was not slanderous.

  • 16 June 2009 at 5:03 pm

    If anything three thousand is doing you a favour.
    Get over yourself and think about the positives.
    But really, relax! Are you that sensitive you poor dear?
    She did everything right and within her powers, apologised and you’re still a jerk.
    Oh, no you’re right three thousand does nothing for Melbourne. I’m sick of them supporting the community.

  • 16 June 2009 at 5:15 pm

    The indulgent dandy strikes again.

    Re the email above did you get pennys permission to print her part of the email. You only own the ip completely on your words. Kind of ironic/ hypocritical that you should disregard this given your whole pedantry on the matter.

    Penny has done nothing wrong. You need to take some classes in dealing with humans in the real world. But you won’t because you are a subborn agressive shit.

    Please get out of fitzroy.

    That is all

    • 16 June 2009 at 5:16 pm

      I explained the IP and the law that allows me to reproduce the email.. Please read before making a criticism of something that has already been explained.

  • 16 June 2009 at 5:24 pm

    What a clever way of getting traffic to your blog!

    Well done.

  • 16 June 2009 at 6:39 pm

    I’d say your persona was more like that of Kenneth Williams in his latter years…..not that there’s anything wrong with that, though looking around the internets, the querulous pedant persona does get quite a flogging…….and btw: rhetoric is not the same thing as argument. tata

  • 16 June 2009 at 7:48 pm

    I agree that this discussion should be valid and interesting.

    However, by immediately stating ‘Commercial media parasites like Modra and Deutscher can fuck off to the gutter where they belong. They’re either too stupid or too greedy to be trusted’ you demonstrated (I think very clearly) your own personal anger towards these particular individuals, and most relevant here, towards Penny Modra.

    If your ‘terse’ voicemail was anything like as personal and, or degrading as this comment, I would be greatful that Penny replied at all (particularly responding after viewing this post). I’m afraid that your obvious anger and dislike of these persons immediately discredits your argument for a genuinely interested reader.

    I think this is a shame, since there could have been a positive and constructive discussion ‘about the ethics of social media’, as you call it.

    If a formal and professional apology was what you truly desired, a far more formal and professional request should have been made, despite your obvious anger. This might have generated a far more valuable discussion here.

    • 16 June 2009 at 9:01 pm

      Again, explained already, I was not rude to Robbie on the phone because I had nothing against him. No name calling, no swearing. My point is that a professional journalist or editor would know what to do and that did not happen.

  • 16 June 2009 at 9:26 pm

    We don’t have fair use in Australia numbnuts. We have fair dealing. It’s a lot different, and a lot more restrictive. Even in America, which has far more sensible copyright laws, you can’t print an email on the internet without permission from the authors.

    You didn’t explain the law, you made it up. Kind of like this whole thing.

    • 16 June 2009 at 9:28 pm

      Corrected. Fair dealing it is. I considered it relevant as my purpose was to report news (of this event) and for criticism and review (of the event and the subsequent communication). If you want to know more about copyright in Australia download the infosheets from the Australian Copyright Council.

  • 16 June 2009 at 9:37 pm

    It isn’t unlikely that this mistake has been made by an intern (whom Penny was obviously trying to protect). The Thousands are regularly rotating interns, trying to give as many kids as possible the opportunity of a life time. She has attempted to handle the issue discretely, to try to save said intern from any further embarrassment. But, you’ve gone and published seemingly private emails, and are probably having a very great and very negative effect on the intern’s self esteem.

    I think it’s horrible that you are openly attacking individuals and failing to focus on the core issue here. Your post would have been completely rational, had you left out all of the excessive, degrading and personal comments. The fact that an image was used without permission is wrong, but you’ve failed to uphold your argument by churning out a post full of slander.

    Sydney’s answer to ThreeThousand (TwoThousand) has provided me with some of the most valuable experiences, both life and journalistic. I started out as an intern, while I was still in college (and still learning about ethics and making mistakes) and they’ve done everything they can to push me into my chosen career. It makes me really disappointed to read that one little turd (that’s you) could be preventing an aspiring journalist from progressing via filling them with self doubt. Shame on you, and sorry for reducing myself to your level by calling you a turd. I just couldn’t hold that one in.

    PS – You use the adjective ‘anarchistic’ in your bio. You do know what that means, right? Supporting anarchy… absolute freedom of the individual, absence of government and authority.

    • 16 June 2009 at 9:51 pm

      You’ve missed the point. I don’t blame the intern. I blame the editor for not taking responsbility for the consequences.

      I think we’ve all time time to comment on this post so I am now closing it – no further comments will be accepted. Thanks everyone for contributing, particularly those who actually read the post properly and responded on message, not just reacted because you dislike what I wrote.

Comments are closed.