O’Learys Camera World make me angry

OLearys Camera World Hmm. I’m seething! I’m angry! I’m pissed off! Yesterday I explained why I “reserve all rights” on my photographs. I want control over how and where they are used. I don’t want a photo of my 7 month old son to appear in an inappropriate context. There are other restrictions on usage. When I photograph people, I never get signed model release forms so those images cannot be used for commercial or marketing use. Also, as some of my images are on sale as fine art limited edition prints in a gallery in Kinsale they have a monetary value.

So, it was with some shock that I looked around O’Learys Camera World while waiting to have my lens looked at and I saw two of my images in an electronic photo frame. The two images are Clouds Move At Night and West Cork Landscape. There was also an image of St Finbarrs Cathedral which has been photographed to death and could be by anyone, and 2 images of a large manor-house I didn’t recognise.

When I pointed out the images were mine and copyrighted, that they were downloaded from my photoblog or Flickr I was told they didn’t know how the images were on the device, that they were on it when they got the frame. It seems strange to me that a wholesale distributor of photo frames who probably distributes to many parts of the country and other countries would just happen to put pictures of Cork on their frames. If they do, I need to find out who that distributor is and work out a royalty scheme. If not, how long have my images been used to sell a โ‚ฌ99 photo frame in a prominent city centre photography shop?

I can’t remember if I received an apology, I probably did, but they turned off the frame and took out the memory card and promised to wipe it clean. Do those photo frames come with memory cards?

After that, the purpose of my visit was to have my Sigma 10-20mm lens fixed. The M/AF switch fell out, and I noticed a crack in the plastic casing near the base. It has to be sent to Sigma’s HQ in Bandon and I’ll hear from them in a few days. There was also a โ‚ฌ50 non-refundable deposit, which will be deducted from the cost of repair.

The whole experience leaves a bad taste in my mouth.




  1. Reply

    […] should get used to having my photos ripped off, but I don’t think I ever will. It’s as upsetting now as it ever […]

  2. Reply
    Claire November 15, 2007

    I don’t believe that cover story for a second, they were chancing their arm with that one. I’ve looked into buying a digital frame like that and they never come with the memory card included. That’s not to say that they don’t have a special deal with their suppliers but I think it’s highly unlikely that they would be given a memory card with photos already one it…and of Cork too!

    I don’t think you could have done anymore really. Perhaps a strongly-worded letter to the manager stating what happened and that you would have to take action if it happens again.

  3. Reply
    Matty November 15, 2007

    I can understand you being angry about this. Someone’s obviously taking the piss. Mind you, if it was one of my photos I don’t think anger would be my first reaction!

  4. Reply
    WalaloPC November 15, 2007

    wow, Donncha they do money with your work, actually they should give you a part of that money, it is at least a consciensous decission. Well, but some times, people want to be rich with the work of others. ๐Ÿ™ (My english is the best ๐Ÿ™ lol )

  5. Reply
    John Pozadzides November 16, 2007


    Part of me wants to tell you to burn the place down! ๐Ÿ™‚ But the other part of me wants to advise you not to put photos on the Web that you aren’t OK with having stolen. ๐Ÿ™ (I would never put children’s photos on the Web under any circumstances.)

    I think the general rule is that in this new world order we have to expect that our work will be stolen, and just be grateful when people do actually ask us for permission. If you start with that assumption then you’ll actually be pleasantly surprised sometimes! ๐Ÿ˜‰


  6. Reply
    Alan Cotter November 17, 2007

    For one, these digital camera frames do not come with memory cards, so O’Leary’s were indeed as Claire says “chancing their arm”. You could probably take legal action over this, after all your images were being used to generate money.

    But i cannot believe the cheek, to place photographs of Cork, taken by a Cork photographer, who’s living in Cork, in a a digital picture frame thing in a shop in Cork, with asking permission to be allowed do so… You’d say something if it was a shop in Australia, but Cork!! how did they think they could get away with it unnoticed? Most photographers do tend to visit camera shops from time to time and there being only like 3 in Cork!!!!!!

    Other than that, start placing watermarks on your images. And do not allow for your images to be viewed at “all sizes” in Flickr.

  7. Reply
    Donncha O Caoimh November 20, 2007

    Alan and John – thanks. I was simply shocked that they had the nerve to use them without even asking me. They went to the trouble of looking but didn’t have the courtesy to go that one step further. They would have got some positive PR from my site, but instead this post shows up as the first link on a Google search for their shop name!

    I’ve thought about watermarking images in the past but I hate doing it. The only image I have watermarked is my Thieving Duck, after it was made into a joke email and sent around to thousands of people .. The images I upload to Flickr are those you see here. They’re only 700px wide but obviously that’s big enough.

    They rang back yesterday about the lens. The repair will cost รขโ€šยฌ90, which I presume includes the รขโ€šยฌ50 I already paid them. Still no sign of a discount, but I noticed someone came to this post from this search! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Reply

    […] Wired staff used many “All rights reserved” in a recent blog post. They’re not the only ones to misunderstand licenses. Honestly, does anyone outside of the blogger and photography communities […]

  9. Reply
    Nik Louch November 21, 2007

    That is disgusting. On the web, there is far too common a feeling that “if it’s online it’s in the public domain”. Too often I have found developers using Google Images or Flickr to get images to insert into documents/sites.

    But such blatant use as you mention, and especially from a shop associated with photography astounds me!

  10. Reply
    Johnny December 4, 2007

    Is there anyone that can help me as I would like to get into the photography world and just bought myself a Nikon D200.I was hoping to do wedding photography.Where do one start? Any advice will help.Great blog keep it up.Thanx Johnny

  11. Reply

    […] November 15th 2007 I took my Sigma 10-20 wide angle lens into O’Learys Camera World in Cork to be repaired. (I found out they were using some of my photos without permission too, but […]

  12. Reply
    Tony April 19, 2008

    At the advise of a friend of mine who visited Ireland recently I went into camera world and was given great time and respect and attention from the staff in there. I met a guy called Dave who couldn’t be more helpful and gave great advice and suggestions as to what to buy and what suited me. What I liked most about it was he didn’t force a camera on me that I didn’t want. And I was more than happy with my purchase. I also met a young lady called Andrea who was chating away to me whilst I was in the shop. ( Very charming too) Over all very friendly staff who obviously know their stuff about camera’s and accessories.

    Good on yeah Camera World. Tumbs up from me. I will be recommending you to all my friends who visit Ireland! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Reply
    Donncha April 20, 2008

    Tony – the staff in there are great. I got my lens back yesterday, over 5 months later, but that was because of the repair company unfortunately. Declan in the shop was very apologetic and didn’t charge me the final รขโ€šยฌ40 that was left on the bill.

    The main point of my post here and why they made me angry was their denial that they knew anything about how my photos were used in their digital frames. You’d think that a company that deals with photographers every single day would be at least aware of copyright and licensing laws and norms. None of the images they used were licensed under a creative commons or public domain license. That’s what annoys me and makes me angry.

  14. Reply
    Guy August 15, 2008

    Hi Donnacha,

    I am very surprised and shocked about your story, since I purchased a few lenses and equipment from this shop. The fact that they used your pictures without your prior consent is obviously not on and as professionals they should not do that, especially if children are involved. As for the digital frame, I got one for my girlfriend which I bought in a shop in Kinsale and I can assure you that these dont come with memory cards with pictures already on them. They have got a hard drive and you need to download your own pictures either via the USB cable provided or the inlet for the smart card. Some of the top end of range can also have TV connectors.

    Hope your issue has been resolved now.

    All the best man!


  15. Reply
    Donncha August 15, 2008

    Guy – thanks, I haven’t gone back there since I had my lens fixed!

  16. Reply
    Ovidiu September 3, 2008


    The issue is with a double face. You can easily sue these guys for breach of copyright but you could also be sued for using a landmark building for commercial purpose. The law is stating that if a landmark building is appearing in your photo, then consent from the owner has to be obtained. It look like you took the picture from a multi-story car park. That makes the whole thing worst. Private property therefore consent from the owner has the be obtained. It sounds crazy, but this is the reality. Went to a seminary in UK for all these issues and the things they told us there are absolutely crazy. Basically you could be easily sued for any photo you are taking ๐Ÿ™‚ However, if the photo is sold through a art gallery, it is considered art therefore no model release or approval is needed.
    regarding the shop and generally all the camera shops in Ireland I have two words. Pure robbery. I got my D700 in UK for ร‚ยฃ2100. Camera+24-120+Lowepro Super Trekker AW II+8gb Memory card+Spider Pro. And all I had to pay extra was รขโ€šยฌ30 flight thicket.

  17. Reply
    Donncha September 3, 2008

    Ovidiu – crikey, I hadn’t considered that. I could be sued because someone used one of my photos for commercial use without my permission. Crazy! I wonder how likely that is to happen? Is there a precedent?

    Like you I bought my last camera abroad too. I got the Canon 40D from Warehouse Express in the UK who were about half the price of shops here in Cork. I added an extra battery and CF card too just because. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Reply
    Ovidiu September 3, 2008

    Well Donncha. To put it simple, you could both be sued. There was a precedent in UK when Boots sued a guy who used for commercial purpose, a photo of a street where, in a corner, you could see the Boots Shop and their Logo. These are the most dangerous issues, the logos or recognizable structures. I saw your photos with all the cyclists. Sooo many logos there ๐Ÿ™‚
    Did you know that you can use photos of Eiffel Tower taken during the day but you are forbidden to sell images of the Eiffel Tower taken at night? French law…pfff ๐Ÿ™‚
    You mentioned photos of persons. The law is saying that if the photo is taken in a public space ( you have to BE SURE that is a public space) where are more then 5 people then you are entitled to photograph anyone. However, stock photography agencies will require a model release. As I mentioned before, if the photo is sold, as fine art, through a art agency, then the model release is not needed.
    If it happen to take a photo of a house, and there is a person inside that house that can be seen through the window..bingo..that person can sue you and 100% will win. If the person is seen through the bedroom or bathroom window you will also be labeled a pervert ๐Ÿ™‚
    A quick example. Red and White and Cork All Over . We can see there a group of teens of which one is facing the camera, thus his facial physiognomy is easily recognizable ( this is very important). You took the photo from a public property but the group is in a bus which by definition is a private property. Consent had to be obtained from both the kids parents and the bus company.

  19. Reply
    Ovidiu September 3, 2008

    Donncha. I forgot to mention. Nobody in Ireland is requesting approval from owners of landmark buildings, or parents of kids..This will stay like this until someone is going to sue on this base and then hell will open. We wont be able to take anymore photos. ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Reply
    Justin Mason September 3, 2008

    Watch out — lawyers will tell you that you can’t even *breathe* nowadays without being sued — especially if you go to copyright seminars! However, the real world is a bit more relaxed.
    To my eyes, I can’t see any significant placement of landmark buildings in either the “clouds move at night” shot, or “West Cork landscape”.

    I’m not a lawyer of course ๐Ÿ˜‰

  21. Reply
    Ovidiu September 3, 2008

    Justin. I am not a lawyer. I am an architect who loves photography :). Ireland is a bit more relaxed regarding copyright issues. Have a look at photos displayed by pro’s in the states and see if you can see any logos there? Did you ever ask yourself, why do they blur the logos, tshirts..in all the programs on TV?? It is a reality that soon is going to hit Ireland also.

  22. Reply
    Ovidiu September 3, 2008

    Justin. And there is a landmark building :). Shandon Cathedral or whatever is called.

  23. Reply
    Justin Mason September 3, 2008

    I presume that’s the one far off in the distance to the right, with a steeple taking up about 2% of the photo’s area? It’s worth being pragmatic about this — there’s a difference between taking a photo *of* a landmark, and taking a photo which *includes* a landmark, far in the distance, as I understand it.

  24. Reply
    Ovidiu September 3, 2008

    Justin. I totally agree with you. It is in the distance but yet it is recognizable. All I am doing is to tell you about the law. That does not mean I am agreeing with it or trying to promote it. My point is that IF some crazy person would want to sue, they can and they will win. It is the same as the law saying that if a burglar enters your house and in the process of removing your TV down the stairs he falls and brakes his spine…you are liable. Crazy but true ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. Reply
    Donncha September 3, 2008

    There’s also the issue of shooting *from* private property to consider. I was on the top floor of a multi storey carpark taking photographs without permission or license. If I sold the shot you can be sure they’d look for their cut if they knew about it and it was worth the money!

    I’ll just go hang up my camera now. (joking!)

  26. Reply
    Ovidiu September 3, 2008

    Donncha. Careful where you hang it. Private property, bathroom..bedroom :). I think it worth studying the issue. I did this because I had a shot of a child playing rugby that has been requested for publishing by a sport publication in the states. This is how I started studying all the legality of photography.
    If you think the law is against photography, you should see the legislation for architecture. Theoretically I should stop working because you can be sued for anything. Before designing, I have to fill in thousands of reports..bleah. No fun.

  27. Reply
    Tim September 3, 2008

    Have you had any reaction from Camera World on this post? I can’t believe that they would try and bullshit you about the images in the digital frame. Low. Of course all of these small retailers are feeling the pinch, and in the end they will disappear. I have mixed feelings about that, and I bought my Olympus510 from bhphotovideo.com on the net, shipped by UPS. Even with import duty I saved 30%, had I been in the States and not declared my purchase…(as if) I potentially could have saved 50%.
    Keep up the good work Donnacha.

  28. Reply
    Ovidiu September 3, 2008

    Talking about Camera Shops. I have been looking to buy a flash for my Nikon and had my eyes set on the new SB-900. The shops in Cork are selling it for รขโ€šยฌ480 but I found a shop in Dublin ( Dooblin like ๐Ÿ™‚ that has the flash in stock for รขโ€šยฌ425. Perfect like :). The name of the shop is Bermingham Cameras.

  29. Reply
    Donncha September 3, 2008

    Tim – no reaction at all, but this post has been found by a number of people searching for camera shops in Cork, and by people looking for O’Leary’s too so I’d be surprised if a customer didn’t bring it up with them.

  30. Reply
    FAZER November 10, 2008


  31. Reply
    Donncha November 11, 2008

    Thanks FAZER – I have to wonder why you came looking for olearys camera world? Do you work there?

    And press your caps lock key, the small led on your keyboard means it’s on.

  32. Reply
    Justin Mason November 12, 2008


    That’s right FAZER — if you publish an image and someone rips you off, it’s your own fault for not being paranoid enough. suuuure. I suppose the same applies if you walk down the street wearing expensive shoes and someone mugs you.

    Sometimes the people who do the ripping-off have to be held responsible for their own actions, instead of blaming the victim.

  33. Reply
    Pat December 31, 2008

    Just wondering is photography a dying profession, in terms of actually making a living from it.Is it a realistic career for anyone nowadays.Can anyone emlighten me on this

  34. Reply
    David August 28, 2009

    Hi there!

    I’ve a special question, even if I should post it here. I am from France, and I’ll fly and visit Cork this week end. I’d like to by a Tokina 11-16 lens. Very hard to find in France. Do you know any shop in Cork where I could by it pls?

    I guess I should’not go at O’Leary’s Camera World ๐Ÿ™‚

    Have good time!

  35. Reply
    David Coveney May 20, 2011

    Never nice having your images nicked, but bear in mind that it’s rarely borne from malice, but through incompetence and laziness.

    We have clients to whom I’ve asked “nice photos you’re putting on your site there… who did them for you?” If they say “Oh, we got them off the internet!” then it’s lecture time. I don’t mind, we charge by the hour. But many just don’t know that those images are not for free use. Simply doesn’t occur to them.

    Once I explain why, they usually get the idea and stop, though I do check every now and then. After all, we maintain their sites, we need to make sure we’re squeaky clean.

    So, it’s a cultural thing. I know a high street chain that was using ‘found’ internet images on their blog but the staff were entirely unaware of the dangers and it was only during the training course I gave them that they learned of the problem *and* how easily they could get caught. The organisation would have disproved hugely of the issue and had it come to the attention of senior staff the individuals would have been in deep trouble. But they learned their error and they put things right.

    If you accept that it’s a cultural problem rather than an organisational one then it does get slightly easier to take. It’s not worth getting angry, so all you can do, really, is try to educate. Your blog post is a good way – there’s a little reputational loss to the shop, and they’ll now know better. They need to make sure that anybody involved in showing images in the shop is aware of copyright.

    Of course, if the shop is badly organised (it’s a small business, so pretty likely to be honest ๐Ÿ™‚ ) then they may not fix things properly. That’s why just a little pain, like you calling them out, is worthwhile ๐Ÿ™‚ I wouldn’t waste your time and energy pursuing it further unless they do it again, however. Life’s too short and in the overall scheme of things it’s a relatively trivial, if upsetting, offence.

  36. Reply
    Bill April 5, 2012

    Rule 1: If you do put something on the net, make sure it’s so small as to be useless to thieves who may try to steal the image for reproduction purposes.
    Rule 2: Watermark your photos before putting them on the net.
    Rule 3: NEVER trust the internet.

    As for O’Leary’s Camera World, all I can say is that I have always found the staff there to be most courteous, helpful and polite. To be honest, there isn’t a bad word I could say about the place.

    I understand your anger (I really do, it’s happened to me) about your images being stolen by the frame makers, but I’m not sure that you can totally blame O’Learys for this one. One way or the other, I would have tracked down the crooks involved and demanded payment of copyright fees.

    • Reply
      Donncha O Caoimh January 28, 2013

      Bill – the photos I uploaded were web sizes, 700px across but good enough for a photo frame unfortunately. I add a watermark now and people have emailed me saying they saw my photo used in a particular site or video.

      Yeah, I found the staff there to be very friendly too which makes this whole incident even worse. I really do not think it was the manufacturer who put my photos on the photo frame. They’re in China probably. What are the chances that they’d pick photos from Cork before selling to a world wide audience?

  37. Reply
    paul January 27, 2013

    sorry to hear about your problem but unfortunately… when you upload any photos copyrighted or not, you wave your legal ownership rights to any photos when you upload them onto flicker, tumbler, facebook instagram etc and they mention that in there terms of use… copyright watermarks may help to an extend to deter people but they are still null and void. better thing to do is to set up your own site or blog like this one and link it to social network sites.

    • Reply
      Donncha O Caoimh January 28, 2013

      Paul – fortunately you’re wrong. When you upload images to those sites you give them a license to use the images in whatever way those companies see fit (I generalise here), you always remain the copyright owner of the work. Look up licensing of photos as that’s a related issue.

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