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The Angling Report has just learned that photographs taken in New Zealand have been used by a company in Patagonia to promote trout fishing in Argentina. The offending company is Argentina’s Anglers (www.argentinasanglers.com). As this is written, that company has photographs on its Web site showing New Zealand guides Miles Rushmer of Miles Rushmer Guiding (www.flyfishingnz.co.nz/fly_fishing_bay_of_plenty.htm) and Andrew Christmas of Taupo Trout Guide (www.taupotroutguide.com) holding trophy fish taken in Kiwi waters. We learned about the misrepresentation from Miles Rushmer, who says he learned about the misuse of images from a friend who was planning to book a trip with Argentina’s Anglers when he recognized Rushmer in one of the photos on that company’s Web site. “They were using a fish I helped a client catch here in New Zealand in marketing their trips to Argentina!” Rushmer writes. “Further investigation on my part revealed that a photograph of another New Zealand guide, Andrew Christmas, also appears on their Web site. That photograph shows Christmas on the Tongariro River with a good brown. I have attached to this e-mail the original image of me that they are using all over their site. Christmas’s image, as this is written, appears only in their gallery section. I have e-mailed the owner of Argentina’s Anglers, and he has agreed to take the images down. [Editor Note: They had not been taken down as of February 22, several days after Rushmer wrote us.] I guess photographs are in the public domain when they hit the Web. However, in this instance, I believe the photographs have been used in a deliberately misleading way to secure business and, at the same time, to steer business away from New Zealand and from me. It just doesn’t sit well with me, or indeed the angling/
tourism fraternity here in New Zealand, to see images of trophies caught in our waters used to promote fishing in another country.”
Here at The Angling Report we agree with Rushmer on all points except one. Using swiped or fake photos of any sort to promote a business is indeed a deceptive business practice. But the act of swiping the photographs in the first place is more than that – it’s illegal, and that is where we disagree with Rushmer. Photographs are not in the public domain just because they have been uploaded to the Web, and we would like to see individual photographers and companies whose fisheries are being “ripped off” begin to affirm their rights. To further that effort, here at The Angling Report we are prepared to “out” any guide, outfitter, booking agent, or public relations agent who is provably using swiped photographs and/or photographs that significantly misrepresent the quality of a fishery. We have already been told that some prominent booking agents have fish photographs on their Web sites that are being used without the permission of the photographer or the knowledge of the guide or outfitter who contributed to catching the fish shown. Apparently, an emerging defense on the part of offending agents and outfitters alike is to blame their webmasters. Here at The Angling Report, we are unimpressed by that argument, but we will publish the names of webmasters provided to us by companies who are using stolen photographs or photographs that misrepresent a fishing service they are offering. We understand that theft of photographs, like theft of music and other intellectual property, is widely tolerated today, and we are willing to be reasonable in our approach to offenders, at least during a transitional period. After that, fair warning – we think it’s just plain crooked to steal photographs and misuse images to deceive clients. Anyone who agrees and wishes to report offenses, can write me directly at [email protected].