Sonia Zjawinski, a NYT blogger, has stirred up quite a controversy among photographers by endorsing on the NYT's "Gadgetwise" blog a practice that many consider theft.
In a post called "Flickr As An Interior Decorating Tool," Zjawinski has disclosed her habit of taking photos off Flickr pages and using them to decorate her home:
I sift through Flickr on a regular basis for images to use as visuals for my blog posts....I’ve gotten in the habit of printing faves out and framing them. If a user offers the original resolution for download, don’t let that go to waste. Download, print, frame!
Zjawinski does go on to acknowledge that there may be those who consider her approach to home design unorthodox, or even perhaps a violation of copyright law:
And if you’re wondering about copyright issues (after all, these aren’t my photos), the photos are being used by me for my own, private, noncommercial use. I’m not selling these things and not charging admission to my apartment, so I think I’m in the clear.
Obviously, photographers and others may feel quite differently about this, but it’s a thorny issue: If printing out an image on Flickr isn’t ok, what about Wi-Fi picture frames that stream images from Flickr and display them in your living room? What about Tivoing an episode of Lost and watching it later with friends?
The writer promises a followup post in which she'll interview lawyers about the implications of her approach, but it may be too late to calm the angry voices that have already surfaced on the web. Within hours of the appearance of Zjawinski's post at 6:31 p.m. last night, dozens of Twitterers expressed outrage at her apparent endorsement of artistic theft.
"Is this lady for real?" posted one angry photographer. "She has no concept of copyright/ownership. Thanks NYT."
According to a Linkedin profile, Zjawinski is a 2000 graduate of the University of California at Berkeley. She was previously home market editor for Budget Living Magazine -- that may explain something -- and has writting for Wired Magazine and New York. She has been writing regular posts for the Gadgetwise blog since March of this year.
As an aside: the photograph of Zjawinski, at left, appeared without credit on the www.unplggd.com website, to which Zjawinski contributes. We presume she'll have no objection to our use of it. In the interest of full disclosure, The NYTPicker admits to the occasional use of photos and illustrations taken from websites without express permission, the practice Zjawinski endorses. We do our best to limit the use of such images, and as often as possible, post pictures provided by the NYT or other outlets for publicity purposes.
Maybe someone should ask Michele McNally -- the NYT's assistant managing editor in charge of photography -- what she thinks of Zjawinski's decorating techniques. She's this week's guest in the "Talk To The Newsroom" feature at nytimes.com. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd ask, but they don't like us much.