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Photographer Brandon Stanton of the cheerfully democratic street style blog Humans of New York is taking on giant global brand DKNY for what he claims is unauthorized use of his photos.
"I am a street photographer in New York City. Several months ago, I was approached by a representative of DKNY who asked to purchase 300 of my photos to hang in their store windows 'around the world.' They offered me $15,000. A friend in the industry told me that $50 per photo was not nearly enough to receive from a company with hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue. So I asked for more money. They said 'no.'
Today, a fan sent me a photo from a DKNY store in Bangkok. The window is full of my photos. These photos were used without my knowledge, and without compensation.
Stanton, who was one of the bloggers invited to participate in Tumblr's Fashion Week program this season, has a refreshing take on the typical street style blog formula. Rather than just fashion editors and off-duty models, Stanton photographs everyone and everything he finds "interesting"—so his blog features an endearing mix of chic hipsters, Hasidic children, elderly women, and anyone else you might find on the streets of New York.
More endearing still, he's not asking for money for himself. Instead, he wants compensation to go to the community that inspired him:
"I don't want any money. But please SHARE this post if you think that DKNY should donate $100,000 on my behalf to the YMCA in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. That donation would sure help a lot of deserving kids go to summer camp. I'll let you guys know if it happens," he writes.
At the time of publication, nearly 24,000 people have shared Stanton's post on Facebook and there are more than 8,500 notes on his Tumblr post.
DKNY has published an official corporate response via the DKNY PR Girl Tumblr:
For the Spring 2013 windows program we licensed and paid for phtos from established photography service providers. However, it appears that inadvertently the store in Bangkok used an internal mock up containing some of Mr. Stanton's images that was intended to merely show the direction of the spring visual program. We apologize for this error and are working to ensure that only the approved artwork is used.
DKNY has always supported the arts and we deeply regret this mistake. Accordingly, we are making a charitable donation of $25,000 to the YMCA in Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn in Mr. Stanton's name.
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