Not Cool, Nike. Not Cool.

UPDATE: This morning I received a call from the brand communications manager for Nike South Africa. He apologized profusely for the misuse of my photo and agreed to compensate me for the photo’s usage. Of course this doesn’t undo the damage completely, but I’m pleased that Nike owned up to the mistake and offered to resolve the situation in a reasonable way. Nike, you have regained a little bit of your coolness now, at least in my eyes.

♦       ♦       ♦       ♦       ♦       ♦

I’ve never posted an angry rant on my blog before. But there’s a first time for everything.

Earlier today I saw a Facebook posting about a new Nike-sponsored 10k race coming up in Joburg. I clicked on the link immediately. I loved participating in Run Jozi and was excited to sign up for the next race.

The link took me to the Nike Running ZA Facebook page, which has thousands of followers. Just a little way down the page was a photo of Alexandra Township. The photo was one of those “featured” Facebook Timeline posts, so it stretched all the way across the page. I looked carefully at the photo. It seemed familiar.

Alexandra Township, with Sandton City in the background.

I realized the photo looked exactly like a photo I took in Alex last year. I opened my blog and pulled up a post I wrote last October — Alex: Joburg’s Other Township.  And there it was. Same photo.

I looked at the Nike page again. There was no credit beneath the photo. It took a while for the news to sink in that this photo was indeed mine, but Nike had used it as if it were theirs. On top of that, plastered above the photo was this inspirational message:

History is made by those who prepare for it today. Go further. Go beyond. Go as far as you can. The limit is only in your mind. When you reach it, break it!

The time has come for #everydayathletes to pave their own way to #greatness!

Come on, Nike. If you’re going to plagiarize my work, at least accompany it with something better than this drivel. And stop overusing the exclamation point.

I immediately commented on the post and shared it on Facebook and Twitter, expressing my disappointment and dismay. Many others did the same. Then I went out and wasn’t online for a few hours. While I was out, Nike removed the post but did not respond in any other way.

I didn’t think to take a screen shot of the post before it disappeared. Luckily someone else did.

Image courtesy of Willem Viljoen.

I’m not naive. I realize that online intellectual property laws are murky, and that online photos get stolen all the time. I realize that in a way, by putting my work out on the internet through my blog, I am perpetuating this problem. I make a conscious decision to do that because I feel the benefits outweigh the risks.

However. My blog has a copyright page. That copyright page is clearly labeled, and it clearly states: “Please contact 2Summers before using any photographs in this blog.”

I often receive messages from people who want to use photos from my blog for various purposes. Sometimes I say yes, other times I say no. I probably would have said no to Nike, unless, of course, they offered to compensate me. Seeing as Nike is one of the most recognizable brands on earth, one would think they could afford to pay for the photos they use.

But it makes no difference what I would have told Nike if they’d asked to use the photo. Because they didn’t.

I’d like to surmise that the Nike underling who stole my photo didn’t know any better. But, come on. This is NIKE. They should know better, and they do. They just don’t care.

I know that my blog means little in face of “JUST DO IT”. I can scream and yell and Facebook-share all I want, but Nike will continue to screw people like me whenever it suits them to do so. Nonetheless, this blog post had to be written. Creative content is not free to be plagiarized just because it’s posted online.

Screw you, Nike! (See, exclamation points are effective when used sparingly.) And I’m not running in your stupid race next month. Unless, of course, you offer me a lifetime supply of free shoes. Just sayin’.

Readers, please share this post with your friends. Thank you.

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  • Reply mzansigirl September 4, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    Really not cool of them. I do hope they contact you at least to apologise! Its sucks that big brands think they can do that, they really should know better!

  • Reply mzansigirl September 4, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    Oops, just realised i used 2 exclamation marks 🙂

    • Reply 2summers September 4, 2012 at 9:41 pm

      Haha. I forgive you. Even I overuse the exclamation mark sometimes, especially in casual places like blog comments. But not in my professional writing.

  • Reply thirdeyemom September 4, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    I agree 100% that this is just plain wrong! To not even offer their apology is unacceptable. The least they could do is offer you free shoes! (I love that line). On a similar note, I have wondered myself if photography theft is easier if you don’t have a watermark on your photo. I assume whoever downloads it could easily photoshop it out. I used to work in intellectual property law before the Internet craze. I wonder when the laws will catch up with the times. Wish they would apologize to you! Most people know you can’t simply steal photos!

    • Reply 2summers September 4, 2012 at 9:48 pm

      Thanks Nicole. Yeah, I’ve been thinking it might be time to start watermarking, even though I hate it. Boo.

      • Reply thirdeyemom September 7, 2012 at 12:05 am

        I hate it too as I really like the look of a photo pure without any watermarks. Did you ever get an apology? I hope so! But knowing big corporations, perhaps you didn’t.

        • Reply 2summers September 7, 2012 at 7:13 am

          I actually did. The Nike brand manager for South Africa called me and apologized profusely. And hopefully they are going to pay me for the pic. I will post an update when it’s all resolved.

          • thirdeyemom September 9, 2012 at 7:30 pm

            Oh, that is good to hear Heather! Thank goodness!

  • Reply Charles Visser (Chuckv) September 4, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    You know what to do… Just Do It! Invoice them!

    • Reply Paul Blackburn September 5, 2012 at 1:39 am

      Agree 100% with Charles. And make the invoice out for at least 10 pairs of shoes. You have all the proof you need that they used your image.

      • Reply 2summers September 5, 2012 at 9:00 am

        Ten pairs of shoes would be awesome.

      • Reply Debbie Johnson September 5, 2012 at 1:21 pm

        If you get 10 pairs of shoes, then you’re effectively advertising for them with your own two feet. I say take money, and then spend the money on a different brand of shoe.

        • Reply 2summers September 5, 2012 at 1:41 pm

          That’s good advice, Debbie.

    • Reply 2summers September 5, 2012 at 9:01 am

      Yes, I am going to just do it today.

  • Reply denise September 5, 2012 at 12:54 am

    Regardless of whether you are watermarking or not, your images are your intellectual property and YOU OWN the copyright. Just because it’s on the internet does not mean it is free for the taking. Send them a bill for the usage.

    • Reply 2summers September 5, 2012 at 9:01 am

      Yep, you’re right. Annoying, annoying, annoying. Thanks for the comment.

  • Reply Debra Kolkka September 5, 2012 at 7:19 am

    Nike would certainly know what they did was wrong. I guess they just thought you would never see it..

    • Reply 2summers September 5, 2012 at 9:00 am

      Yep. Someone didn’t think this through very well.

  • Reply Anneska September 5, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Unbelievable! Maybe this makes such an impact that Nike will have to call apologize and pay-up

    • Reply 2summers September 5, 2012 at 9:17 am

      I do hope so although I’m not raising my expectations too high. Im getting a lot more traffic to my blog today than normal, but still a drop in the bucket by Nike standards. Oh well, we’ll see. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Reply Jacques Brand September 5, 2012 at 10:18 am

    There was a similar post on an architectural photography blog. The author just sent the company involved an invoice. Seems to have worked.

    • Reply 2summers September 5, 2012 at 10:33 am

      Yes, I’m hoping to be able to report back on a solution today…

  • Reply Tay September 5, 2012 at 10:24 am

    I think you make a good point about your IP and plagiarism. But to go and boycott a race, that you say you loved, I think is without merit. I’d assume, as you surmised, that their Facebook Page is outsourced to an agency that controls everything, and the person/agency involved should be responsible an apology. I dont think Nike themselves even knew that this mistake was made.
    Nice Blog though..

    • Reply 2summers September 5, 2012 at 10:33 am

      Thanks Tay. Someone from the Nike digital brand company just called me, actually. Hopefully we can work something out and I won’t have to boycott the race.

      • Reply Tay September 5, 2012 at 10:37 am

        Great 🙂

      • Reply Portia Sithole September 5, 2012 at 11:12 am

        Wonderful!. Nike is more professional than what happened. There certainly had to b an explanation.

  • Reply Portia Sithole September 5, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Oh my goodness! I love Nike very much, both as a brand and a corporate citizen in South Africa and globally. So i hope you can be engaged with the relevant Nike person to reach an amicable solution.

    • Reply 2summers September 5, 2012 at 11:14 am

      Thanks Portia. Hopefully I’ll have something positive to report back soon.

  • Reply Mike September 5, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Hope you have raised your concern about Nike’s labour practices in China while you’re talking to them …

  • Reply Sylvester September 5, 2012 at 11:40 am

    Just a creative way to invoice them: Do it the Digital way. Bill them per impression made or per click 🙂

  • Reply Rebekah September 5, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Wow… I think I’d pursue it further. Don’t stop with the post of the Facebook wall. You have the screen shot as evidene and your own blog posts predating this. Take it up with their Customer Relations people in SA and even the global headquarters. There is nothing like a well written appropriately threatening letter to get these big corporate to fall in line. And tell them you won’t stop until this matter is resolved to your satisfaction, or you will be forced to seek legal counsel. Goodluck! (Hope I used that exclamation point appropriately).

    • Reply 2summers September 5, 2012 at 11:57 am

      Thanks Rebekah, Sylvester, and everyone else who has commented. I just had a chat with someone at Nike and it look like we’re going to get this resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. Update coming soon, hopefully.

  • Reply Toby September 5, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Hope you have raised your concern about Nike’s labour practices in China & Vietnam while you’re talking to them … I copied Mike’s comment and added Vietnam. Thx Mike :o)

  • Reply Hakima September 5, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    They need to compensate you, you should find out what legal action you can take.Not cool of Nike at all.

    • Reply 2summers September 5, 2012 at 10:19 pm

      Fortunately it looks like I am going to be compensated. Just waiting until the money is in the bank to say for sure.

  • Reply Tenney September 5, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    Makes you wonder how many other photos have been stolen from your blog.

    • Reply 2summers September 5, 2012 at 10:18 pm

      I know. I don’t really want to think about it.

  • Reply eremophila September 14, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    I’m really glad you blogged this. It’s important to protest about unfair dealings. As a friend said to me just recently – “A thousand pricks can bring down an elephant.” Or a grumpy giant as the case may be 🙂

    • Reply 2summers September 14, 2012 at 9:39 pm

      Thanks. Nike did finally call me and apologize and they are supposed to be paying me for the photo. I’m still waiting for the money though 🙂

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