Saturday, 3 December 2011

The Confused Grasshopper Goes Viral

For all of the undoubted benefits that the internet provides it does also have a less positive side. In fact there are times when it seems to develop a life of its own. Back in October I posted here to say that my 'Confused Grasshopper' image (below) had been featured in The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph and The Times. This was due to Solent News and Photo Agency who thought the image to be interesting and hence purchased it from FLPA stock agency and approached the national press with it. I'm still very grateful to Solent as it's always nice to see your images in the national press.


However, only fairly recently have I realised that my image has almost gone viral on the internet, largely as a result of also appearing in the online versions of The Daily Telegraph and The Daily Mail. Most worrying of all, in the vast majority of cases I am not credited as the photographer. By way of example, if you type the words 'confused' and 'grasshopper' into Google you will get 20+ pages of results (yes that is 20+ pages of results!) almost all relating to my image and almost all make no mention of my name.

As another example, the screenshot below (click to enlarge) is from the the following URL:

and allows users to add 'humorous' captions to the image. (The caption in the middle of the above screenshot was kindly submitted by Simon Litten after he learned of this issue!)

The problem is that I had no way of preventing this from happening and wouldn't have any way of preventing it from happening again if another of my images was publicised by the press. Because the image was bought by Solent from FLPA it was obviously a stock image and therefore did not contain a watermark across the image or my name in the bottom corner. Even if it had the latter it would not have helped since all 3 papers cropped the original image!

Maybe I should be flattered that my image has captured people's imagination in this way, and part of me is, but I nevertheless find the complete loss of control of one of my images slightly troubling. I'm sure most photographers would feel the same.


  1. I saw this image in exhibition on Friday, at the fusion gallery as part of the garden photographer of the year show. It made me laugh out loud. I was just looking you up to see more work and found exactly what you have described. Pages of, what are in my opinion, pointless captioned versions of your brilliant photograph. Surely this image doesn't require a caption? I'm deeply sympathetic to your plight since, as a graphic designer, I've run into this disregard for ownership of artwork before. And like you say, it's all the more upsetting when you can't do anything about it. It can feel like your work and effort is undermined.

    Either way I was disappointed to see that it's been used like this, although there is something to be said for the free publicity.

  2. Many thanks Andy, I'm glad you like the (original!) photograph. They do say there's no such thing as bad publicity although since I'm not being credited in the majority of cases I'm not sure that counts as publicity! It does seem to be a common problem...

  3. Very true! And in hindsight when I had design work 'stolen' as it were, it didn't really help one bit. While I was at university I tried very hard to point out to the course leaders that intellectual property and copyright should have been a big chunk of the programme of study as I wonder whether a bit of education into the ethics of the whole thing might make a difference. Although I'm sure a fair few people simply don't care, perhaps some don't know any better. I know I learnt a lot often writing a dissertation on the importance of intellectual property education at university. It's funny because I actually was looking to find out if the image was available to buy as I quite fancied it as a print and I didn't want to just lift it from the Internet! It just made me smile and I also think it's interesting how we impart our human qualities on animals. I read recently that the government are looking to simplify the laws on design rights, which sounds good as the law is pretty complex at times!

    Well I've rambled enough. If I get the chance I'll probably buy the print too.

    Good luck in the future with your work and well done on getting your work recognised in a controlled environment!!!


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