You posted one of my photos on your webpage. It's been taken down since I posted it on the original Wetpixel FB post of Julian. I don't mean to belabor this issue. And I'm not angry, I just hope you understand why there was a number of people who got upset about this. (And based on your statement, I think you understand some points, but I also think you miss out on some... so as one of your customers, allow me the opportunity to speak up a bit for my fellow customers...)
I can understand the technology behind it, that it was an app/plug-in that just pulled photos from Instagram based on hashtags (#nauticam and #cameramodel), which you guys then used to filter and show on the relevant page. You guys gave proper attribution, so I don't think there was any intention to infringe on copyrights. As an amateur photographer, you're right in saying that "this provides a great avenue for exposure outside instagram, which in theory everyone benefits from". It is definitely something I would have been happy about -- it's validation that it was a good photo.
The unhappiness with the situation though, came from a few things --
1. It wouldn't have taken much effort to message the owners of the photo to either ask for permission or even let them know about it. You already chose photos, what's a little effort in asking? When someone shares or re-posts one of our social media posts, we get alerted to it. There was no such alert for when it was re-posted on your website, so we couldn't possibly speak up if we thought it was inappropriate. You made the decision on appropriateness for us. It is false for you to say "The instagram poster has complete control over the image," when we had no clue that you used it.
2. When our image was used, you guys put it directly on the page where the housing we use is advertised. That's clear commercial use. It isn't just a general / generic promotion, it was to help you guys sell more. Essentially, in marketing lingo, it was a testimonial for your product (an unpaid one). You could say, "Well, how is that different from leaving a review on a hotel site?" or "You already posted it on Instagram anyway using our brand hashtag" But it is different, because you do recognize that it does have some commercial value as "it takes down some of the intimidation factor associated with complicated gear, and makes what we do approachable and attainable." It's different because it's our work (which you agree to) and the proximity to the "Add To Cart" button, how the image and the caption are separated by the price and the "Add to Cart" button... It was clearly laid out to help Nauticam sell more. You have brand ambassadors, and I'm sure you compensate them (in some way, shape or form) for the commercial purposes they serve. I'm not saying that our photos are up there with your ambassador's photos, but you thank them in some way shape or form for their commercial contributions to your brand. Why is it any different for us normal customers?
3. Yes, we used the #nauticam. We may have had different reasons for using that hashtag, but your tone seems to indicate that it is a one way street... "because they want an association with your brand,"... Yes, we wanted to associate our photos with the gear that we purchased, but let's not make it seem one-sided here... that it is only to our (your customers') benefit that we use the hashtag. In this day and age, it is part of your brand equity, part of your social media footprint, and part of some marketing campaign that it is used. (Well clearly, you saw the value in it -- since you used it to get photos for your website... and you also want that association with your brand.)
4. We are your customers. I believe we all bought our housings, ports, etc from you. I like the housing I have, and the images I get out of it. I paid money for it. I'm not sure exactly what transpired between you and Julian, but as far as I'm concerned:
a. Your apology is half-hearted, full of rationalizations and defense mechanisms like "What better association is there than having that image fed into the brand web page?" or "If they no longer wish to have that association, they can remove it, or refrain from using it"
b. Since it's been brought up - have you actually remedied it and apologized directly to those who spoke out today? Have you already tried reaching out to each instagram account affected? It's hard to believe that you really understand or that you're really sincere, if apologies are issued just here in this forum. So far, you've only mentioned Julian.
As a company that is built on photographers and by photographers, it's surprising you guys took this so lightly. Or that you guys are so dismissive of the validity of our concerns. This isn't going to make me stop using the housing, ports and all the other Nauticam gear I have -- I paid good money for it. I enjoy using my kit. But it doesn't make me love you guys either.