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DKNY Lifts Photos from Humans of New York Website Without Permission

February 25, 2013

By Cynthia Herbert :: 1:18 PM

DKNY steals pictures from Humans of New York project.Update: About ten minutes after we published this article, DKNY issued a Tweet acknowledging the image theft. A copy of their apology is at the bottom of this article, underneath the Facebook screen shots.

Fashion brand DKNY has been accused of lifting photographs off of the “Humans of New York” project website and using them in their store displays without permission or compensation to the photographer, Brandon Stanton.

Stanton runs the website, that he considers to be an exhaustive catalogue of New York City’s inhabitants, and updates it frequently with new images and descriptions of New Yorkers as they go about their lives in the city.

A fan of Stanton’s work alerted him to the theft when they saw his pictures hanging at a DKNY retail outlet in Bangkok, Thailand (see picture above). Stanton added the picture of the store to his Humans of New York website with the following commentary:

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.

Fans of the site immediately took to Twitter and Facebook to cry foul and share their displeasure with DKNY. Many are heading to the brand’s Facebook page to ask the company to make the issue right with Stanton. However, DKNY is allegedly deleting negative Facebook posts quickly, so as not to attract unwanted attention. As with other attempts of this magnitude, they are not able to keep up with the flood of negative traffic hitting their page.

Rather than seek direct compensation for the use of his photos, Stanton is asking that DKNY make a donation of $100,000 to the YMCA in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn, to be used by children for summer camp attendance grants.

Below, screen shots of Facebook messages from DKNY’s Facebook page:

Facebook fans come down on DKNY for stealing images


About ten minutes after this article was published, DKNY’s PR arm offered this response on their official Tumblr account and Twitter: