discussion: using protest pictures

colist at comm-org.wisc.edu colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Fri Sep 15 11:15:15 CDT 2006

[ed:  please feel welcomed to engage the discussion Herb invites.]

From: "Herbert Rubin" <hrubin at niu.edu>

Thought I'd share this interesting experience.  I've just finished a full
draft of a 4th edition of a text on community organizing and 
development.  I
really disliked the cover on the last edition and was seeking a different
cover (publisher controls covers, not authors, but authors can persuade)..

A few months ago I participated in a demonstration orchestrated by NCRC to
protest Wal-Mart's getting permission to own a bank.  The demonstration was
public, held in Lafayette Park across from the White House,  covered in the
media and quite orderly.   NCRC  (along with the press, and I suspect
others) took multiple photos.  NCRC used several of them in widely
circulated  newsletter and mass media coverage was obtained, so I suspect
pictures were widely distributed.  I asked NCRC for permission to use this
photo -- a multi-racial, multi-gendered group of individuals holding a sign
protesting Wal-Mart's starting a bank -- as a cover of my book and they
graciously consented.  (And, if you use a magnifying glass you can even 
me out :)

Now the rub.  Publisher loved the picture but won't use it, unless
permission is obtained from every individual in the picture (we had 
as part of a national in fact international conference and few faces are
easily recognized in the demonstrating crowd) and to boot, they won't run
with it without permission from Wal-Mart (sic) for fear of a law suit.
In my text, I talk about "systemic bias" and goodness gracious is this not
an illustration of such a problem.  The publisher is very supportive of the
text but still feels curtailed.

I feel better sharing this.  Gee I just added my signature and the Fanon
quote seems to speak to the matter, too.


herb rubin

Herbert J. Rubin                                815-756-6862
Sociology-Emeritus                           hrubin at niu.edu
Northern Illinois University                131 E. Alden Place
                                                          DeKalb, Il 60115

"A community will evolve only when the people control
their means of communication."   Fanon

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