official apology from Flickr founder

May 17th, 2007 by Rebekka in Uncategorized

See here

im posting this because i feel its important to make clear what my general feelings are toward flickr, in light of recent incidents.

I, personally , am not going to leave flickr. My account runs out in 5 days and im going to renew. The flickr community is a very special thing, and im not going to let a bad move on the part of the people who run flickr , cause me to abandon it. Flickr has had a very positive impact on my life and my carreer as a photographer, and im quite attatched to it.
I don’t feel flickr should be held accountable for the fact that someone downloaded my photos from there for commercial use. I have been aware since day one that this is a risk of displaying your work online, and although i believed i had covered my ass by uploading my photos at 72dpi, 1200×800 pixels, this clearly IS large enough to use for making large prints. Presumably with the help of software that can convert small jpg’s into large tiff files.
Something i was not aware of before.
In light of what has happened, i have decided to limit the dimensions of my uploads to a maximum of 800 pixels across, instead of 1200.

however, just because i was aware of the RISK, does not mean i was ready to accept the fact that someone had indeed been selling prints of my work for thousands of dollars. That is a whole different matter entirely.
Just walking around in an urban area at night may put you in risk of being mugged or raped. People are aware of this risk. That doesn’t mean its their fault if they are indeed mugged or raped, and if the person who commits such a crime is known and openly admits to having done it, would anyone in their right mind tell the victim “see, they’re sorry, just move on and forget about it”

Obviously, copyright infringement is NOT in the same category as causing someone serious bodily harm, but as a comparison i think it gets my point across fairly well.
If people are allowed to just get away with this sortof thing time and time again (and it happens ALL the time, without the artists knowledge) its only going to become a larger problem, and little by little artists will have a hell of a time living off their work, because people will feel its ok to just rip them off.

So , in short, when i posted my account of what the company Only-dreemin had gotten away with, my intent was NOT to place any blame with flickr itself. My point was simply to warn others, and quite simply to VENT. I was extremely upset. I regret that people became overzealous in their eagerness to support me, i never wanted anyone to send threats of bodily harm to only-dreemin. When i said “angry letters”, i meant just that. I felt they deserved them. So im not going to apologize for that part.

It seems clear from Stewarts apology, that this whole fiasco has had quite an impact, which hopefully will spark changes that will benefit all flickr users in the future.

Similarly, the broad discussions on various forums, sparked by my original post, will hopefully help to make people more aware of artists rights, when posting their material on the net.
the widespread assumption that once its on the web, its public property, needs to be disspelled.
I own the copyright to all material i post on flickr.
This means that it can not be used legally for any purpose without my consent.
its really THAT simple.

Thank you to everyone that’s shown me support in the last 3 days.
i greatly appreciate it.

Read 124 comments

124 comments for this post

Im glad that you got your apology from Flickr, ive been following the whole fiasco since I read about it on Hawk’s blog. I hope you get justice one way or another for the stealing of the photos.

bowa wrote on May 17th, 2007

Your inital post caused a storm on the internet that no-one could predict, and i really hope people will remember how it all started. yahoo took their responsability, i hope the dreemin guys will follow now.

Great post, Rebekka, I’m glad you’re not leaving Flickr and would love if you’d add me to your friends list!

Wow! It is really impressive that a single person can still “move mountains”. For sure it is really depressing to see, that some black sheeps are stealing your photos for their own revenue. But seeing that this outrage causes a real rebellion against this black sheeps all over the internet is really impressive. I am glad that, in the end, you’ll still keep your photos at flickr and that flickr saw their mistake in deleting the post. Let’s hope that Dreem-In will see their mistake as well and apologize as well and pay back what they earned ot ouf your photos. Looking forward seeing some new photos in your flickr-stream.


Very pleased to see you got an apology from Flickr, I wonder if there’s anything they can do to help you with recouping some of the profits Only Dreemin made.

I really hope this has a positive outcome for you.

Best of luck,


Good thing Flickr changed their mind and apologied. Then there’s just the other problem with Only-dreemin. I really hope they gonna apology too, and pay a fair compensation for the stealing of your work. Good luck with that battle…

I followed the censorship-affair quite outraged so nice to read this!
I think making the large size photos “contact only” is the right workaround…but could you please add me to your contacts? I have a “fav-pics”-screensaver and I need them large size…
I swear not to print and sell them like a only arseholes would do :-)

Stevie-B wrote on May 17th, 2007

Delighted you received the apology from Flickr for deleting your image, now I wish you the best of luck in forcing the proprietors of Only-Dreemin to pay you your due and hopefully compensate you for your inconvenience!

Oh yes. It would be so nice to be on Rebekka’s contact list now. Any change Rebekka? Of course I promise not to steal anything…

It would be nice now if they put back online the deleted photo post, or is it lost forever?

Moving in the right direction, this is… Glad you’re not leaving flickr.

I was contemplating what to do myself regarding flickr. I started to look through the start of my stream, and made a bunch of crappy shots private or friends only. The thing I guess I realized as I did this, how much of a positive force flickr has been for me. I’ve had a couple of “issues” wit flickr, but the good has out-weighed the bad.

It’s encouraging that you’re not flipping out over this, etc, and you’re staying on flickr.

Best wishes.

BTW, suggestion to flickr: buy rebekka a renewal for her account, maybe a year, maybe 10. Wouldn’t cost you anything, and would build a lot of good will in my opinion.

That’s wonderful. I’m glad things have taken a turn for the better for you. Do continue to keep us posted on your legal dispute with only-dreemin.

I’m OK with your decision to restrict “view large” to your contacts (like you asked for my opinion ;) ) – but how on earth will you pick up on the thousands of people who are now exposed to your work? I, like Stig, would love to be on your contact list so that I can use some of your inspiring shots (as desktop images), but I can imagine that you’re flooded with contacts to reciprocate. What’s the plan?

Again, best of luck getting the money that’s rightfully yours from only-dreemin – let us know if you start up a legal defense fund or something like that.


Glad they changed their tune…it still doesnt fix what they did to erase our comment storm – and I hope they learned their lessons about how to ‘properly’ handle something in the future.

Deleting and censoring our voices and images is not a good idea.



Great to hear your not ending your account, i realy enjoy the fact that you share your mesmerizing art.

good luck.

I’m glad to hear that your ire was not with flickr. I agree that they made a bad decision to delete the photo along with all the posts, but they realized that error and in general it’s a GREAT community and place to display your work.

I also would like to be one of your contacts. You’ve been one of mine for quite a while.

Brilliant, well-said. I’m glad you see the difference between ‘Flickr’ and the ‘Flickr’ community (whilst also being patient and gracious with the Flickr staff’s treatment of your pic).

Brad wrote on May 17th, 2007


Very eloquently written blog and full of insight and mindful thinking. I would like to take the liberties to pay for your next full year after stating that you are living off of student loans. My heart goes out to you.

I would also like to take the time to thank you for not leaving the Flickr community although they, themselves are guilty of censorship. There are a lot of good people who inhabit this planet and I think the outpouring of support proves that.

I was the one who wrote on your original photostream about this whole ordeal that yes, a criminal can take your low res – 72 dpi (i have no idea why people think her work is Hi-res) and convert that into a TIFF file that can get to almost the same resolution and quality as your original RAW file.

I’ve seen this happen in front of my face and I was really amazed that not only how easy the conversion is, but how the qaulity of a print can be matched to something of a 3.5 MB to 6.5 MB file.

I wish I could have warned you about this high technology before and for that I live with the regret of not telling you this.

Brad: Many people think the photos are hi-res only because the dimensions are high. Also, cameras’ technical specifications often refer to those dimensions as “resolution”.

Pierre wrote on May 17th, 2007

I’m very pleased to see you got an apology from Flickr.
I wish you the best in your “fight” against the proprietors of Only-Dreemin.
Keep on taking photos. Your pictures are like a window that keep me in contact with your beautiful country.
I hope to be there again this summer.

Trent wrote on May 17th, 2007

Not to say I told you so, but I told you so….Good to see that they’ve realized they screwed up. Royally.

KCDale wrote on May 17th, 2007

I have been a silent fan of your work for a long time Rebekka. For some reason I can’t explain I have always enjoyed viewing landscape work. And your landscape work is some of the best. Do you have a paypal account set up to receive donations for your legal fight? I would love to donate a few dollars towards your legal fund.

it’s good to know you got an apology. I hope this doesn’t deter people from enjoying pictures like yours in high-res. were the photos in question under a creative commons license when you found out that it was being used without your permission?

“I also would like to be one of your contacts. You’ve been one of mine for quite a while.”

Ditto here… I guess it’ll be tough for you to make everyone a contact… but then I’ll miss your photos on my desktop.

ralph wrote on May 17th, 2007

This brings to light an issue that needs to be dealt with. Sorry you are dealing with all this Rebekka. Glad you’re staying too….

Phew. I got scared when i heard some voices that you were leaving flickr. carry on with your beautiful pictures rebekka…

Davide / Heliøs

ChisOos wrote on May 17th, 2007

This is a very important subject and shouldn’t be taken lightly. As I understand it you are able to sue the company for copyright infringement. They made a profit from your work and you deserve a cut of the pie.
I would make a point of it to sue them. An appology isn’t really enough and you have good grounds to stand on. Especially because this is your bread and butter.
Anyways good luck…

@Chan: i need to edit my text above, ill do it right after i post this comment.
I’ve decided to reduce the size of my posts to flickr. After a great deal of thought about this, i’ve decided its in my best interests to do so. I did mean what i wrote, about not minding that people use my photos only on their desktops, but i can’t trust that this will be the case with everyone.
So from now on i’ll be uploading a maximum size of 800 pix across, instead of 1200.
its unavoidable, thanks to the dishonest people out there that ruin everything for the good folks.

[...] ha annunciato in questo post che, nonostante la vicenda le abbia causato non pochi problemi, soprattutto emotivi (del tutto [...]

When a good thing happens there is always some negative side effect linked with it; and when something bad happens there is always something positive in it. May be not much, but enough to make it not completely black…

It’s amazing to see how many people support Rebekka. If you type “Rebekka Guðleifsdóttira” in google you will see many many links related to this copyright infringement an censorship story.

Thanks to that story and people reaction I’ve now learned about great photographer Rebekka Guðleifsdóttira and am able to enjoy her photographs :)

I went to the Only-Dreemin website…they seemed to be empty. I used a friends comp, just in case mine was being wierd (work comp ya know)….they is still empty.

Are they really empty, or is it because of my location that I am not seeing it? I get their opening page, and their contacts page, and the rest is empty.

I think they might have shut down?

Either way, the rucus you have brought on is TRULY amazing to me.

I found you through Thomas Hawk’s Flickr page. I think that this battle is one for all of us, and I think you may be winning it.

It’s time that the big companys learn that the internet is a tool that ALL of us can use.

I think that we should ALL email Only-Dreemin, and ORDER them to appologize, and make it right.

@MikLav: too bad my last name was misspelled in the blog that made it onto Digg..

there’s no “a” at the end of my last name..
its just “Guðleifsdóttir”

its spelled correctly, in large letters, at the top of this page, and still i see people getting it wrong all over the place..
its a difficult enough last name to begin with, without adding to it :p

@Coyote Bebop: the reason you cant see anything on their page is because since i made this public, they’ve taken most of their page down.

the reason they did this is probably due, largely, to the fact that hundreds of people already sent them mails, on monday, in response to my original post that was then deleted by flickr.

Please, do not send any more mails to only-dreemin. there’s really no point.


You had a crappy thing happen to you. But I would remind you of the following items:

• Your photos are still great. Which, of course, is why anyone would want to steal them in the first place.

• However this whole thing resolves itself monetarily (if at all) let it go emotionally and get back to making great photos. That’ll do much for your sense of well-being.

• If it is possible for you to be better known on the web, this theft (and resulting events) has done exactly that. There would be no better time than now to create a new self-assigned project and leverage the exposure. (I’d like to see you doing the whole tourism package for Iceland, but that’s just me.)

• Finally, you still have a small package on the way as I am finally back from London and getting back to my long “to-do” list.

My dad used to tell me that 10% of life is what happens to you and 90% was how you react. Given that, there is still much within your control. Damn near all of it, actually.


greg wrote on May 17th, 2007

I agree with David, through whose website I learned of your Flickr success: it’s probably better to let this ordeal go and focus your energies back on making great pictures. If you do choose to stay with Flickr, you might consider resizing your images even smaller than 800 pixels. On the other hand, you have the talent and recognition to leave Flickr behind and pursue other online photography options with better protection against downloads than Flickr.

Good luck

I wrote a loong second comment on the previous post yesterday. Had sudden irk to copy the text to text editor just in case but decided to press the submit button instead. The fortunes must have had something else in mind for me because the comment system ‘lost’ my comment and although bothered by that I couldn’t spare time to write it again as I was getting late for work.

Today I’m kind of glad as this morning I saw I had received an answer to my complaint with Flickr on this matter. I glanced through it quickly but decided against clicking on the link to the ‘public apology’ in the Forums and jumped in bed (a long graveyard shift).

I didn’t find time to look better into the matter until just now and I was in shock. Although a small victory I hardly find this enough on Flickr’s part.

First lets get some things straight. I accept that everyone makes mistakes and mistakes should be forgiven but also used as a learning experience. I totally believe that the people @Flickr feel they did wrong to you but I don’t believe they’ve really done all they can do to make it all good again.

Now. I can have no idea what it was that Steven wrote in his direct apology to you, that really doesn’t matter and as a matter of fact is no business of mine. But. To call a comment on the third page of a thread on an internet forum, a public apology is an insult to everyone that have taken a stand with you. It really isn’t public if you have to troll for it. Maybe, just maybe it could be called public if it was posted as a special thread in the Forum, but just maybe then. I agree with whoever said it (can’t find it now) either here or in comments to the previous post that ‘Flickr should send an email to all their users to apologize to you publicly’ and also to the community to which they still owe an apology.

Another thing to consider is this. Yahoo/Flickr is a multinational corporation that without a doubt has a huge legal department. I really think that you as a content generator and a paying customer of Yahoo/Flickr should benefit from their legal team and they should handle the matter of taking on the gallery in London in the courts. I think it would ultimately benefit Yahoo/Flickr to protect their users from copyright infringement by taking cases like yours to court on your behalf. Not only would it save their face in this whole thing but it might actually deter future copyright infringers in trying to cash in on images hosted at Flickr. This should not have to cost a whole lot of money for them because it wouldn’t take more than a couple of cases like these to get the message through, a handful at most. The community as well as the corporation would reap the benefits in a stronger and more secure


ps. I also agree with Simon King who suggests in a comment to the previous post that you really should try to cash in on this thing and sell some paintings. Preferably via Ebay and PayPal. Also you really should think about taking the advice of the many that have suggested a donations via PayPal to help with legal proceedings in the UK, I hear they are REALLY expensive over there. Who knows there might be a rich entrepreneur that would like to help you out somewhere out there, maybe he’s wearing blue suits with a yellow tie ;)

Prints, you should sell some prints not paintings (unless they’re any good) :D


Only just came across this and I just have to say this kind of thing is all that is wrong with the internet. I hope some one helps you out on this as it’s about time these idiots were made accountable. I notice there main site is only half working though there e-bay shop is still up and running.

I’m assuming that is how they are selling a lot of other peoples work. Contact e-bay as they have very specific rules covering this kind of activity and at least there shop should be taken down.

Good Luck to you and your art work is first class…

alamaison wrote on May 18th, 2007

I noticed that you mention you can’t afford a UK lawyer. In the UK we have an arrangement available called ‘No Win, No Fee’.

Basically, if you lose the case you don’t have to pay your solicitor. You do, however, still have to pay theirs.

If you win they will charge you an extra ‘success fee’ but often this is payed by the losing party.

I’m not sure how good these arrangements are or whether a copyright case is likely to be taken by such a lawyer but I just thought I’d let you know of this possibility.

Good luck.

Dear Rebekka
I have just come across this furore on your photostream and elsewhere. I thought Stewart’s apology was sincere and gracious, and I find your response in this post to be adult, mature and well-considered. You are a fine person, and will no doubt be famous in fields other than photography and the Internet in time to come. Leadership is in your future; in the meanwhile, keep doing what you do so well, and fight for your rights.

Hey Rebekka,

Thanks for adding me to your contacts list so promptly! All the best!

Mista Niss wrote on May 18th, 2007

Without a doubt, you are entitled to the money earned by the company who sold your pix, PLUS, damages. How much extra, I don’t know, but 50,000 USD wouldn’t be unreasonable to start with. I look forward to seeing more of your pix of Iceland!

Raoul wrote on May 18th, 2007

I think that flickr wrong to delete your photos and comment.
Flickr, if they beleive really in freedom, copyright and in the world they have created, could support you to consult a lawyer!!!

[...] Flickr biedt zijn excuses aan. En Rebekka blijft. Posted in dutch-posts, fotografie, internet, site, Flickr | | Top Of Page [...]

Richard wrote on May 18th, 2007


I am Dutch too, like Koen van Gilst… I did some searching and surfing on the internet to here about your story: it’s really outrageous…
Those bastards. Their website is offline right now, coinsidence?
You should start your own photo selling company: sell your photo’s yourself (if you want to…). It’s really not funny (and thats an understatement) what happened to you, but look at it from the bright side:

It’s lots and lots and lots of PR your getting now… use that and get world and world famous… You have it in you… I am a lay in photography but you can pursue a professional career, believe me (I read that you’re still an amateur, because you’re being a single mom in Iceland…)

Wishing you lots of succes in your further career!

I will be following that career!


@ Richard: thanks for you words of encouragement..
i feel a strong need to point out however that my being a single parent has nothing to do with wether or not i consider myself an amateur or professional photographer…
I don’t in fact consider mysefl an amateur any more, as i’ve recieved several commisions in the last year and a half, one of them a very large assignment for toyota in iceland.
I have always had every intention to sell my work, its only been a matter of finding the time to set it up. I am still in school ( i’ll graduate with a BA in visual arts spring 2008, from the icelandic academy of the arts), and setting up an online store isnt that simple.
(not if you’re a non-business-minded girl in iceland, in any case)

however, if people approach me about buying prints, i can organize that. Its just a question of contacting me and requesting one. (until i get a proper online thing going that is)

Richard wrote on May 18th, 2007

Dear Rebekka

I feel the strong need :-) to point out that I didn’t meant to connect those two things (not being a professional yet and being a single parent) but when I’m re-reading my blog now I understand you (and others) could make that mind-connection. Please don’t…

You’re probably right, setting up and online store isn’t that simple, but now, with your story going around the global village you’ll probably find someone to help you with that. But I would understand if you aren’t that trusty to people (who want to do your future enterprise) anymore, after what happened to you.

I was writing the last pages of my master thesis on the British bombardment on Dresden in 1945 (I am a young history teacher) this afternoon when I read that internet-article about you on a THE Dutch newspage ( ) and discovered you and your work:

Since then, this afternoon, i only have been gazing at your pictures… On Flickr, on your myspace and on your own site… They distract me…
I have a deadline on monday :-) so I have to pull myself away from them tonight. I already mailed two friends (who are eager amateur photographers) about you. There reaction was the same: simple awesome
Those sceneries: I am visiting Iceland this summer, hell yeah… My girlfriend opposed the idea a couple of months ago, but I will be persistent: I have to visit your country… alone if necessary :P

About photography and my master thesis: pre-war Dresden was called ‘Florence on the Elbe’ because of his beauty: it’s bad they bombed it.
When finding out how Dresden looked then I found an picture of THE Dresden Church in 1929, at night, with bad weather ahead, in black-white picture… I find it awesome (there hundreds of pictures more on that site, of old Germany)

Anyhow, my master thesis is waiting…


Sorry for the wrong spelling of your name – I stupidly copy-pasted it from elsewhere not noticing the mistake.

Searching in google for “Rebekka Guðleifsdóttira” returns 23 pages of links, all related to this story, in different languages. Searching for “Rebekka Guðleifsdóttir” returns many more pages with most of the links related to your work rather than this sad incident.

It’s really impressive to see how wide spread has your story got and how many people expressed their support for you.

Looking at your photographs I have no doubt at all that your professional photography career will evolve successfully if you pursue it that way.

Good luck

Brad wrote on May 18th, 2007

Although it’s not a really popular sentiment these days nor on stolen photos, I think patents, trademarks and copyrights are simply fantastic and a primary, necessary driver of the world economy. Without them, the rapid pace of technological innovation around the world would slow to a crawl. And frankly, without them, most open-source projects would rapidly wither away: without an intellectual property behemoth like Microsoft to fight, what would be the point?

Why all the frothy sentiment? Intellectual property provides one of the most dependable means toward wealth and independence in the world today. In the Dark Ages, one could obtain wealth by raising an army and burning someone else’s kingdom to the ground. In the Gilded Age, those on the fast track had a secret weapon of success: they bribed state legislators to obtain canal and railroad contracts.

Unfortunately, those career options just aren’t as viable as they once were. Instead, we have to invent stuff, and thus people should get compensated for the effort.

And it does take effort. Think of Larry Page toiling away on the early PageRank patents. Think of Mark and Colleen Hayward. Imagine all those evenings they had to spend listening to Donovan spout Celtic gibberish or helping get John Bonham out of hotel security custody during those years they amassed their photo and video collection. Surely some reward is in order.

Being a filmmaker and screenwriter, I actually came to this conclusion from the other end. Back in 2005, I set out to write a series of articles on patent trolls, so-called individuals who preyed on hardworking, industrious Americans with a file of flimsy patents.

What I found instead was a gray area. Nearly every so-called troll turned out to have a somewhat persuasive story.

One man, criticized as one of the most litigious people in the U.S., had a great explanation for his behavior. He had only sued people who had signed–and then violated–nondisclosure agreements. Two other guys I met, engineers from the Midwest, spent eight years of their lives attending meetings trying to license their invention to car manufacturers and getting stiffed. (Eventually, they sold their patents for over a million bucks.)

The most humorous encounter was the engineer at IBM Labs. He railed against patents and how people exploited them in court. I asked him if he had any. He did: three of them. Had he donated them to an open-source organization? Why no. They constituted, errr, tangible advances in science.

The difficulty in coming up with federal patent reform and the uncertainty surrounding how some recent Supreme Court decisions will play out show that striking a balance isn’t easy. Copyright is the same way. Everyone likes to think that studio execs are evil incarnate. But when you steal movies, you’re also whittling down the royalty checks for some old man who had to make out with Kirsten Dunst in a bit role on Spider Man 3.

I have encountered many people who had strong, emotional reactions against patents and copyrights. Remarkably, though, few of them had ever been sued in court. And fewer still had ever written a book or cut an album. In short, they hadn’t been hurt by so-called trolls, and they didn’t own much worth pirating.

Brad wrote on May 18th, 2007


I really don’t understand why you’re still in college when you know you know where you are with your aptitude, skills, talents, and creativity as an artist.

What’s there to learn? Except drain time and money from your career.

Some of the most brilliant minds and creative minds in the history of civilization never had to go to college to max out their abilities. e.g.(Steven Spielberg, Orson Welles, Wong Kar Wei, Steve Jobs, Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, John Lennon, Louis Armstrong, Alfred Hitchcock, Frank Capra, Walt Disney, and a man named Amsel Adams who had a pretty good career as a photographer)

From someone who holds to Master’s degrees, I just don’t think it’s a requirement no longer to hold a degree to become a success at what you love to do.

whoever said it was a requirement??

im not in “college” , im studying visual arts at Icelands academy of the arts, simply because i want to, its the most enjoyable school i’ve ever been to, and i’ve endless freedom there to evolve as an artist.

i have no interest in being “only” a photographer. My interests lie in many other directions, and during my studies ive been dabbling in both video and animation, something i have interest in doing more of in the future.

if i didnt have these 3 years (of which i have yet to complete one) to really submerge myself in my art, i would be missing out on an experience you simply cant get if youre only working as a photographer.
to be quite honest:
Im not interested in being a studio photographer
Im not inerested in photojournalism.
Im not interesed in stock photography.

Im interested in evolving as a photographic artist.

it would be far easier to just concentrate now on making pictures that sell, and perhaps selling them thru some stock agency, and taking on jobs that do little to challenge me.
i feel ive already reached the point , technically, of being able to do these things.

that just isnt the path i want to take. i want to be challenged.
I have enormous belief and confidence in myself, and im quite sure that even tho im taking the time now to concentrate on school, and doing little in the meantime to make money, i am NOT missing out on anything. It’ll come later.

Quite the firestorm, and an interesting read… though rather long and involved. I have to admit I didn’t read all of the Flickr thread or the replies here. I found your response rational and well thought out.

I’d heard of theft for profit from others in my critique groups on both PN, and more recently on Flickr. I deleted both of my portfolios and started fresh, limiting the largest dimension of any new posting to 500 pixels, 72 dpi. I’ve even gone as far as holding back on posting some of what I consider my best stuff… and I doubt I even have anything worth stealing.

The theft of your photos was very wrong, and I think it’s great you attempted to do something about the infringement on your copyright. That being said, and as you eluded to in your response here, anything posted on the web runs the risk of being abused. Obviously your photos have commercial value. If I were to post something of value in a “public” place (like Flickr) on the web, say for instance all my credit card information, it would not surprise me if some less than honest person were to attempt to steal from me. It’s illegal, immoral, and just plain wrong, but likely it’s going to happen.

“Stand up for your (copy)rights, don’t give up the fight”… but consider the potential for abuse when deciding what and how to post.

Dear Rebekka,

as a fellow photographer I’d like to add some advice: in addition to maximum size of the posted photos stamp them with a signature and a copyright mark. No company would buy photos marked like that. I know it “scars” the photos but it is a necessity these days.

PS: you have a admirable talent and I hope one way or another you will come out on top out of this situation.

I have admired your work for some time now after a recommendation from a friend.
I’m glad to hear that flickr did apologise for the post deletion.

However, I find it sad that the company selling your work, still hasn’t accepted responsibility for their actions.

Good luck in the future and keep snapping away.

Mark W Kimpel wrote on May 18th, 2007

I wondered what happened to your post on Flickr when I went back and it wasn’t there anymore. I do not approve of censorship ad Flickr should not have taken down the post, BUT, I too am attached to the service, learn a lot about photography from visiting others sites, and am glad that you are staying :) I certainly understand your decision to downsize your uploads, but it is a shame. I will admit to downloading your photos both for study and enjoyment as part of my personal screensaver collection. It is sad that unethical business-people can spoil a good thing for many honest individuals. I hope that company gets what’s coming to it!

Keep posting your beautiful images, you are giving a lot to the world by sharing. Someday, I know it will pay off monetarily for you. Mark

Brad wrote on May 19th, 2007


Okay…that gives me more disclosure on your pursuits and interests. I’m glad you love your time at Icelands Academy of the Arts and from your words it sound as if you’re enjoying it immensely. Kudos.

My Graduate professor told me when I got my MFA back in 2004 that I would never regret taking on a filmmaking career. With your interest in video/animation I can tell you the same thing as I doubt very much you will have any regrets if you pursued Video / Animation. It’s quite simply the most rewarding, challenging, and fulfilling of any artistic endeavor in my humble opinion.

With the work I’ve seen from you through your photography and short animation piece, I think you would be a natural at it. You can already tell stories through your photos that are not only compelling, but uniquely different.

I think the writing of creative stories would be something we could look forward to in your career. That’s one of the most important elements in filmmaking / video / animation.

Brad wrote on May 19th, 2007

I’m a big fan Thomas Hawk (a great man who really, truly cares, but will take time out to support) and I would like to take the liberties in showing you what he wrote on his own web page:

I’m pretty pissed right now. Two days ago I blogged about an incident involving Rebekka Guðleifsdóttira. Rebekka is one of the most popular photographers on Flickr and definitely someone that those of us who have been around for a while would consider “Old Skool” (RIP).

Rebekka is a single mom and art student living in Iceland. She’s an artist and a talented one at that. She does amazing things with her camera. Recently she discovered that a gallery Only-Dreemin had been ripping her off. They’d sold thousands of dollars worth of her images and when she caught them and tried to make them give her the money that they stole from her they refused. So Rebekka did what anyone with a following on the internet might do and she posted about her frustration and plight on her flickrstream. And her story resonated loudly with the flickr community. Her story made the front page of digg and by days end she had 100,000 views on this particular photograph with hundreds of supportive comments.

So what’s got me pissed today? What’s got me pissed today is that according to Rebekka, Flickr has removed her image from their site. That’s right. Not only did they remove and kill her image and her *non-violent* words of protest, but they censored each and every one of us who commented on her photograph, who offered support to Rebekka, who shared in her frustration by wiping every single one of our comments off the face of the internet forever.

According to Rebekka, Flickr’s explanation?

“Flickr is not a venue for to you harass, abuse, impersonate, or intimidate others. If we receive a valid complaint about your conduct, we will send you a warning or
terminate your account.”


So a flickr photographer gets ripped off. Dares to complain about it. Has an outpouring of support on the internet over it and Yahoo decides censorship is the way to handle this? This is the worst I’ve seen from Yahoo yet.

You know when Yahoo decided to without my permission delete a photograph I’d posted of Michael Crook and along with it a long dialog of community conversation I was pissed. But I’m even more pissed now.

Yahoo should not get away with this. This type of censorship is not right. They should apologize to Rebekka and reinstate this photo that they deleted and all it’s comments. These comments that Flickr don’t belong to them. They belong to all of us. All of us, the community that makes Flickr even possible. Remember the community Yahoo? Remember the community that Flickr used to stand behind.

I remember back when I posted a much earlier photo on Flickr when I’d almost been ripped off by PriceRitePhoto. I used this photo to put pressure on PriceRitePhoto which eventually put them and their sleazy business practices out of business. You know what? Back when this happened I actually got a personal email supportive of my plight from someone on Flickr staff. That was then though. This is now.

Rebekka, I’m sorry that Yahoo has decided to censor you. Consider this post and the posting I’ll make at Flickr a protest in support of you and your right to share your frustrations in your photostream and in your art.

This really sucks, and know that even without Flickr, the attention to this matter will not die down. I’m not sure how this company got to Flickr and Yahoo, but this will not make their problem of cheating you go away. Because when people censor it only makes the censored story ring louder in the end.

Rebekka, you had my support when you originally posted about your plight and you have it now.

And to Yahoo and Flickr? Shame on you.-

Thomas Hawk, from Thomas Hawk’s Digital Connection.

Please google Thomas Hawk or go to: -and you can read the rest of the story.

Thomas has covered this story since it broke out and he has some very interesting insight into all of this.

Brad wrote on May 19th, 2007

I’m sorry, but I really don’t think their apology is acceptable…it’s kinda pathetic if you ask me. Obviously they didn’t know of your world wide popularity and for them to have “blood on their hands” and to have this reach the upper levels of executive management to issue this apology doesn’t cut if for me.

My feeling toward the Flickr management team and those that say they are sorry about applying-and deleting- this mess in the first place is the same feeling I would have if you were drunk behind the wheel of a car and killed my child and then came to me later and said, “i’m sorry.” I would accept your apology, but i would also say, “you sir, should never be allowed to drive a car again. Period”. Just saying YOU’RE SORRY doesn’t negate the careless actions of what you did.

YOU DON’T want someone like this running your company and in this case it’s Yahoo / Flickr.

Ríkharður wrote on May 19th, 2007

Reading the BBC article at it looks like Flickr wants to be a kind of “Disney World” for artists. Without anger, crimes, threats or other negative aspects of human nature.

However, I don’t think they thought the idea to the end. If someone steels your purse at Disney World, would Disney accuse you of anger towards the thief and expell you from the park ?

Brad wrote on May 19th, 2007

That’s a really good analogy there Rikharour. I absolutely love analagies because they can put in perspective a truth that might have been missing before hand.

You should really come up with one of those PayPal ‘donate’ buttons, since the BBC have just written an article linking to you online and if everyone who reads that story donates $1 that’s a lot (A LOT) of money to help with the court action against Only Dreemin’.

That’s just my thought, anyway.

no, i don’t feel comfortable starting a dontation for myself. simple as that.

@Rebekka, re:”i don’t feel comfortable starting a dontation for myself.”
During this small storm I have begun to suspect as much.

@Everybody who care’s.
I really think we should try to set up a fund to help Rebekka out. The only thing is what would be the best way to come about that. I envisioned that a PayPal account tied to her credit card would be the best and most secure way to do that but obviously a ‘somebody’ on the internet is not able to set a such an account up. So any thoughts or should the idea be abandoned all together ? Rebekka, care to chime in on this one ?

Good job! And it helped me find your pictures (, like you would care ;-) ). So thanks, to you of course.

@Kristján: i don’t feel comfortable about anyone else starting a donation for me, either :p

really nice gesture, but i just can’t accept it.
Call it pride or whatever.

@Rebekka & Everyone
Well that settles it. There’s no beating Icelandic pride.

Brad wrote on May 19th, 2007

Wow, those people in Iceland are really proud people :O

sarah wrote on May 20th, 2007

i just ran accross your story today. im very sorry for what happened to you it has happened to alot of people i know. another way you could help protect your self is by putting a water mark across your images like for example: it does take away from the picture a small bit but it will reduce your risk

Despite this injustice, I hoping that the story and the waves of support from the Flickr community will lead to more benefits because of the extra exposure to your work – which is outstanding by the way.

There will always be theives and opportunists looking to make a fast buck. But nothing they do can match the wonderful talent of an artist such as yourself. Keep up the great work!

You are a class act Rebekka. I’m not sure you ever set out to be a spokesperson for social networking but the way you present your art and your arguments is a credit to all who believe social networking tools are important to communication and culture. The fact that your credibility comes from popular acclamation and not a credential makes you a leader whether you choose that path or it happened by accident.

Keep on with your art and pursuits! Best wishes.

Ke Chong wrote on May 20th, 2007

To Rebekka and anyone else who share their photos (especially those that can be sold commercially),

1. Watermark your photos, as pointed out earlier. It could just be your initials ? or a symbol? or short version of your name? e.g. Rebekka G. (put a watermark on a defining part of the picture, where it cannot be blurred out easily)

2. your pictures online really don’t have to be bigger than 600 pixels across, I believe 600 will be enough to appreciate the photo.

3. Vote with your wallets, if a company is not doing enough on certain issues, and you keep going back to them they won’t improve because there is no consequence of what they did and they will keep repeating it. (generally speaking)

Derek wrote on May 21st, 2007

I admire you very much for what you say you do and don’t want to pursue. You have the talent and confidence to have choices (I’m envious) and artistic fulfilment is an obvious priority. But you also need to earn a living – although you’re not interested in shooting stock photography the work you already have could earn a great deal with an agency such as Corbis or Getty. And business wise it couldn’t be easier – just send in the pictures and wait for the cheques.

I’ve only recently seen your work and have found it very beautiful. I’ve not been inspired this much for a long time.

Good luck.

hawken wrote on May 21st, 2007

Only Dreeming is still selling pics. In e-bay UK.

Jacques wrote on May 21st, 2007

The company Only Dreaming are selling images on eBay UK. Have a look to see if any of your images are amongst them:

Well I am seriously considering leaving Flickr. In this day and age this type of censorship is absolutely unforgivable. OK, if there are threats to others, that is going too far but your original post should be reinstated. That is the least I would expect.

I suspect that there are some really conservative, right wing influences at work in the Flickr machine. An incident that I had with them in the past has reinforced this view.

Anyway, well done on your photography and your ability to express yourself verbally as well.

PS: Have Flickr offered to put your post back??

[...] I myself fully support Rebecca, but the threads started to resemble mass blog-hysteria. Objectivity went out the door. Here is more about it from Rebecca’s blog:Rebeccas Blog [...]

Brendan wrote on May 21st, 2007

RE: only dreemin
Looking through their eBay feedback it seems a lot of people have complained about poor image quality. So obviously they have a habit of printing from low res images. Surely this mysterious company wouldn’t have sold them low-res images without even trying to enlarge them somehow.

The fact they are selling on eBay probably explains why they managed to get away with using low-res jpgs. Yeah the final product may look crap, but the buyer on eBay doesn’t know that and ends up with a dud product with no comeback (it also seems OD have crap customer support)

I don’t believe a word they’ve said in their defence.
Good luck with everything Rebekka.

Brendan wrote on May 21st, 2007

haha, just noticed this on their eBay ‘Abour me’ page:

I have a photograph I would like made into a canvas, is this possible?

Photo on Canvas is a speciality of ours; we were one of the first to offer this service on eBay, and have a wealth of experience in this area.

Whilst the original size and resolution of your original image is important, we have developed methods to get the very best out of most photos and use powerful fractal-algorithmic software; all enabling us to achieve a great result out of even small or low-quality photos. We also specialise in extreme restoration and removing problem objects from photos.


Tibor Arva wrote on May 21st, 2007

Just to say hi…
I like your work and support your actions.
Hope you will get right satisfaction.

rebekka wrote on May 21st, 2007

Thanks Brendan. I don’t believe a word they say in their defence either.

“enabling us to achieve a great result out of even small or low-quality photos”
(for instance , photos ripped off peoples flickr page..? )


“removing problem objects from photos”..
hmm..what problem objects might they be? watermarks, perhaps? Just a wild, wild guess.. throwing it out there..

Brendan wrote on May 22nd, 2007

Exactly! It’s sickening!

Btw, have you read this page recently?

“Raoul W.” has posted posted links to some stock photos which OD have been printing/selling.
I wonder if they have purchased the proper license for reproduction? Highly unlikely.

Hei Rebekka.

Thank you for highlighting this particular topic. I wish you all the best and do keep well. I have had some of me photos knicked on Flickr and put on their own commercial sites but have been unable to do anything much about it…
Rii xx


I represent the Icelandic Tourist Board in New York. What’s the best way to reach you regarding a possible meeting and interview in Reykj. sometime from May 26-29?



Stephanie wrote on May 22nd, 2007

Hi Rebekka

I’ve only recently come across your work, and I’m amazed by it. Your ability to capture and represent the living spirit of almost anything at which you point your camera takes my breath away. You are a wonderful artist.

About the imagery theft thing. It is extremely likely to recur, even though it is illegal. There will always be some unethical people who won’t respect your IP rights unless you force the issue, either by reducing image resolution or posing other obstacles for them. I understand that you want to focus on developing as an artist, but one day you may look back with regret at being far less commercially self-interested than the vast majority of artists would be in your situation. I’m sure your real friends at Flickr would support you in any decision you took.

Either way, I’m sure you will have a remarkable career, and I wish you the best of luck.

Best regards, Stephanie

Kristín wrote on May 23rd, 2007

Sá á að sumir bloggarar eru komnir með eigin auglýsingar á bloggsíðurnar sínar til að afla sér tekna. Þú ættir að geta gert góðan samning við fyrirtæki í ferðaþjónustu, icelandexpress, eða eithvað þesshátar, þar sem þú ert með svo margar heimsóknir frá erlendum aðilum.
Vildi bara segja þetta, en þú ert kannski búin að láta þetta hvarfla að þér sjálf.
Kristín Hildur.

Kristín wrote on May 23rd, 2007

Gleymdi að segja að það er til eithvað fyrirtæki sem heitir MediaCom og framkvæmdastjóri þess fyrirtækis sá um að redda auglýsingunum fyrir fólkið. Þannig að ef þú nennir ekki að standa sjálf í að finna auglysendur (sem ég skil mjög vel) gætir þú ef til vill haft samband við Þórmund Bergsson, sem er framkvæmdastjóri MediaCom.

Andrew wrote on May 23rd, 2007

Rebekka, I want t alert you to the fact that your post “now HERE’s a worthy cause” has some kind of problem. I can read it in my Google home page, but when I click the link to it in this blog I get “404 Not Found”. In fact I can’t find that post in your blog anyplace! I am posting here since it derived from comments made here about donations. Good luck and happy birthday!

i know you from your one of my contacts. so i was kinde a surprised to see you on the webpage from the most read news mag in germany.

her is the articel,1518,484148,00.html

I just found out about your incredible art and, sadly, I had knowledge of it as a result of the attempted fraud on your art. Maybe there is a silver lining in every cloud, and something positive came out of this outrageous breach of the law: I got to know your art.

I couldn’t agree with you more, just because you are aware of a risk, doesn’t mean you agree with unlawful actions. I hope your experience sets a standard wolrdwide; art on the internet is not copyright free, or outside the law.

I support you all the way, both as an aspiring artist and as a lawyer. Regards from México!


ANDY wrote on May 24th, 2007

Dalinean in flickr.
umm… I reckon that one of the crimes that the e-bay ripoffs have done is o sell your images for far less than hey are worth.
Have you had an exhibition?
The sense of personal drama you get over in your pictures is priceless. I for one am glad in a way because without the furore i might never have seen them.
You are inspiring me to perhaps enrol in my ‘local’ college and do some kind of creative arts degree. I am a skilled photographer and can draw and paint.
I admire the courage shown in making these personal images public. For they seem so intimate.
As a photographer, bob carlos-clarke comes to mind as the nearest to yours i have seen.
and good luck
don’t sell yourself short. (thats my biggest mistake)

Hi Rebbi,
i’m so sorry about that action, but i’m happy because your decision of keeping your account on Flickr.

Changing the size of your photos is an intelligent idea, i also recommend you to use a watermark.


Maybe you should sell official canvert art with some special sticker to show its official, and you could cover the legal fees that way?

Siftee wrote on June 4th, 2007

One question… have you ever downloaded a song through p2p?

Roger wrote on June 9th, 2007

Siftee: that’s a bad analogy…I highly doubt the majority of people steal music, only to attempt to make profit off of it as their own.

You’re being absurd, and don’t fully understand the situation here.

Rebekka, I can imagine how you feel and am happy flickr realized its mistake. you had every right–and then some–to vent your frustration at being ripped off. the flickr community is behind you all the way. peace and happy shooting.

They have hit again!

flahoockr schiesst sich schon wieder ins Knie…

Da ist man mal ne Woche nicht da und schon rappelt es ganz ordentlich in der Internetz-Box. Habe gestern Abend im bayrischen Exil erstmals von der richtig blöden bzw. richtig blöd gelaufenen Aktion gelesen – von haupthase und hcl kamen die entspreche…

Canvascopying wrote on June 20th, 2007

only dreemin is rebranding himself as canvasrepublic

A strange apology. “We do regret deleting the page. But we do not restore it.”

Nor do I hear anything about plans to add – and look for – watermarks. That should be an obvious synergy effect between Flickr and Yahoo. What’s in it for Yahoo: If two images have the same watermark, ,they are presumably the same image, and can be clustered in search results.

rebekka wrote on June 21st, 2007

i have to say it.. flickr has lost about 90% of its charm for me, in light of my own experience and now the german censorship issue..

Even if Flickr means to much for you as a community, I mean, great people you know there… if you decide to leave… people will follow you.

I receive a flickr mail today from a friend in germany, he’s leaving flickr because the censorhip.

I ignore totally the real status of that issue… but I’m really impress that they are about 12000 members “almost leaving”.

I’v never been censured… but I’m worried about the copyright violation of your pictures, not only because I’m a fan of your work… because this could happen to any artist.

Leaving or not leaving, that is the question…

I found information about what happened to you on Polish website and I decided to find you. I saw your photos on Flickr – absolutely stunning! I admire your strong will to remain at Flickr – censorship and abusing author rights pisses me off almost instantly. I came here to offer my full support and admiration to your work.

Cu Chulainn wrote on September 11th, 2007

Not really surprised Rebekka what happened really. (But saddened to hear all the same)
I work in the web industry and was well aware of pixel enhancing software years ago and I had to warn my clients to keep their images small.
But hey all – watch out. Since Yahoo is shutting down its reg. photo albums I am totally convinced that if you do not have a Pro account “soon” you will be getting hit with all kinds of drop down ads attached to page views. Yahoo need to recover ground on Google lost in the past year.


Great photos. Good luck for the future.

Hi Rebekka. I haven’t read all of this, and it might all have blown over now, but I saw mention of the Small Claims Court in one of the posts above.

You can make a claim in the Small Claims Court entirely online at . I’ve used it myself a couple of times and it’s relatively painless.

Happy to give you more details if you like.

flickr is one of the most superficial places on earth. “great picture again” “fantastic” terrific work again from you”.


it has nothing to do with you ;) good luck.

Ringoes_man wrote on October 22nd, 2007

Do the American thing…. Sue the bastards!

Princeton, NJ USA

[...] ha annunciato in questo post che, nonostante la vicenda le abbia causato non pochi problemi, soprattutto emotivi (del tutto [...]

Maybe this is not that words, but this isaknowlegment, that your work is beautiful and very nice. So they decide to steal them…

black matt wrote on February 22nd, 2008

seems yahoo deleted the cache you posted a link to elsewhere (

so they are still apparently determined to suppress this.

hope you saved a copy.

i have to admit that this is the first time that i read about what happend to you, and yet i still have to read a lot more about this incident.
after reading the official appology letter, this short fragment made me kinda angry:

“We spend huge amounts of time an energy to prevent unauthorized use of Flickr members’ photos”

well well, i think those are just preety words, not actualy meant… let me explain: i am sure you are aware of the fact that flickr will be celebrating soon 4 years, and you probably saw the group dedicated to this event, where people can add photos to the pool, photos that will be used in a display at the flickr offices during the anniversary party. well, one of the original group rules gave “perpetual, non-exclusive, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free license rights” to all the members of the group. after i pointed out that this rule might not be so good under several aspects, heather (you remeber heather!?) told me: “If you’re not comfortable with the group rules, then you don’t have to participate.” WOW!

finnaly they changed the rules, so there’s no problem now (eventhough it took 2 days to change the word “perpetual” to “limited”)
BUT what i meant to say writing all this, is that i really don’t think that they “spend huge amounts of time an energy to prevent unauthorized use of Flickr members’ photos”….. and this makes me sad, really sad.

Obviously, flickr doesn’t “spend huge amounts of time an energy to prevent unauthorized use of Flickr members’ photos”. There isn’t even a link on photo pages where you can flag copyright infringement. (Look at just about any pornmonger’s stream and you’ll even see the logos of sites the pictures have been ripped from, but how do you go about getting them removed, or why even bother?)
Flickr is a photo SHARING site. Flickr makes it really easy to download images. Why don’t people understand that? Pro users pay for the hosting of images under the terms and conditions that Flickr specifies. Flickr is not repsonsible for what people do with the pixels that appear on the screen.
Using Alien Skin’s “Blow Up” or the Genuine Fractals plug-in, anyone can take a 500pixel image and increase it to a size acceptable for printing. Obviously the con-merchants that try selling stuff like that on ebay are ripping people off (both the artists and their gullible customers), but the problems should be addressed to ebay, not Flickr/Yahoo. But how much money do those rip-off merchants make? If it’s not worth hiring a lawyer to get them shut down, it’s not worth everyone’s time and effort to write complaining letters and start up campaigns and blogs all over the internet about it.
This whole palaver may have spread Rebekka’s fame (and good for her!) but if anyone thinks this event changed anything in the wider scheme of things is utterly mistaken.

Finally, playing Devil’s advocate, as usual:
Rebekka wrote:
“I own the copyright to all material i post on flickr.
This means that it can not be used legally for any purpose without my consent.
its really THAT simple.”

WRONG. I can print out your images, paste them all over my house or wipe my arse with them if I so desire. You’d need one hell of a lawyer to win a case in which someone was using your images for their own personal use.
Copyright is a stupid law designed to keep the “owners” in power over everyone else, and the sooner it is abolished (which isn’t ever going to happen, sadly) the better for humankind it will be. If you want the world to be a better place, you should create art for the benefit of all, not for your own selfish (monetary) reasons.

I just have one question, is Flickr supposed to apologize to everyone who has to deal with this?

I have to think that there are plenty of people running spiders against Flickr just hoping to find a shot or two that might make some money for them.

Especially if they can access the shot-statistics.

“This whole palaver may have spread Rebekka’s fame (and good for her!) but if anyone thinks this event changed anything in the wider scheme of things is utterly mistaken.”

…sure it has or you wouldn’t be writing this.

What is today may be what it is today, doesn’t mean that it will be that way tomorrow or next week.


“Another thing to consider is this. Yahoo/Flickr is a multinational corporation that without a doubt has a huge legal department. I really think that you as a content generator and a paying customer of Yahoo/Flickr should benefit from their legal team and they should handle the matter of taking on the gallery in London in the courts. I think it would ultimately benefit Yahoo/Flickr to protect their users from copyright infringement by taking cases like yours to court on your behalf. Not only would it save their face in this whole thing but it might actually deter future copyright infringers in trying to cash in on images hosted at Flickr. This should not have to cost a whole lot of money for them because it wouldn’t take more than a couple of cases like these to get the message through, a handful at most”

Yeah because that’s why spam is no longer a problem.

No youre right – but I left my final say….the data is available for repost.

and lets see if the crickets ensue..

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