Dublin Architects O’Donnell + Tuomey at centre of copyright abuse claim

Monday, Mar 7th, 2011 in Photography News by Alan Murphy | 8 Comments

Dublin Architects O’Donnell + Tuomey have found themselves at the centre of a copyright controversy as a result of claims made by Canadian street photographer  John Goldsmith.

When asked to comment to photographers.ie the architects firm, who have won many RIAI awards for their work, stated they had only become aware of the case this morning and could not comment until after  The Photographers Gallery, London issued their press release.

UPDATE – Wed 15.29

Still no word from O’Donnell +Tuomey but there appears to be a dialogue starting between the photographer and the Photographers’ Gallery.


  1. Posted March 7, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for inquiring with the architects and publishing the story. While I would like to respond, I instead will extend a courtesy to The Photographers’ Gallery and wait for the press release.


  2. Posted March 7, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    “…had only become aware of the case this morning”

    Can’t wait to hear what John has to say about this, after the effort he’s put in.

  3. Posted March 8, 2011 at 5:30 am | Permalink

    There is still no word on this supposes press release– not from the architects or TPG. If the latter posts a response, I would guess it would be at the link below. Yet, there is no real sign of it anywhere, not on their website or in my inbox.


  4. Posted March 8, 2011 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    @AndrewWiese. Yes. I have an opinion about that, and more importantly, a letter from the architects dated January 18, 2011. But I’ll refrain from publishing it until I understand how the law applies. It could just be a case of the right-hand architect not talking to left-handed one.

  5. Robert Thompson
    Posted March 8, 2011 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    Good luck with the situation, but I’ll admit I think you are grasping at straws. I hope it works out though. I’m curious how you believe they got a copy of the image? Flickr? Tumblr? I’ll be honest, I’m surprised you directly upload your photos to Tumblr. I have had to devote hours in a month dealing with stolen images on that site. It’s not the place for content creators in my mind, it’s like saying “please steal my images and let me make it as easy as possible for you.”

    • Posted March 8, 2011 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      @Robert. I don’t believe I’m grasping at anything except maybe to bring awareness to the issue of photographers’ rights. Once I decided not to sue the architects (due to the burdensome upfront cost), I chose to simply tell my story. Now I’ve done that. It was my primary goal. If I get something else, as I should, then great.

      Furthermore, my lawyer and I were ignored for months by the architects, I had no real expectation of getting them to listen. Even now, they admit to only learning of this situation yesterday. That’s odd since I have a letter dated January 18, 2011.

      For your question about where the image came from: I have no definitive answer. It’s likely that it came from Flickr or Tumblr as it has made the rounds on both. They could have also taken it from my website or some other art blog, but I can’t say for sure.

      I am a firm believer that posting my images to social media sites has its advantages, though I understand the hesitation. Burying ones photos in a portfolio book or on their harddrive does nothing to promote their work in this day and age. There is simply too much competition. Of all the social media sites, Facebook might be the worst but they all have their risks. That said, I’ve been through this sort of copyright fiasco before and the Fortune 100 company that used my image illegally, while denying responsibility, did settle with me quickly. The payout was as good as any I would expect from a good commissioned job. For that case, my photo was poached via Flickr.

      Finally, people will say post only small images or use a watermark, but I find those things distracting. While this particular case is troubling, all in all, I’d rather take a small risk and share by work. In addition to finding financial value in this, I’ve met a great community of street photographers, made new and close friends and so much more.

      Thank you for your well wishes.

  6. Kate Horgan
    Posted March 16, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    John – without going into any details of the case – I’m interested to know how you became aware a picture of yours had been taken and used. Is there any realistic way to track these things?

    • Posted March 17, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      Hi Kate.

      In the original article (linked to from this post ) John writes:

      “What my friend saw was a photograph I made more than two years prior and half a world away. My friend shot me a quick note in his surprise. It read:

      John, have you agreed for The Photographers’ Gallery to use this picture of yours?”

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