NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The DKNY fashion label is making a charitable donation, after the photographer behind the popular “Humans of New York” project discovered that the label had used his photos without permission in a Bangkok store.
The label also said the use of the photos was all a mistake on the store’s part.
DKNY said on Facebook Monday that it had issued a $25,000 donation to the YMCA in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, in the name of “Humans of New York” creator Brandon Stanton.
Stanton said on the “Humans of New York” website that it all started several months ago, when a DKNY representative asked to buy 300 of his photos to hang in the label’s store windows worldwide.
The label offered Stanton $15,000, but Stanton was advised that $50 per photo was not enough compensation from the highly profitable company. He wrote that he asked for more money, and when the company declined, he refused to grant permission to use the photos.
But a fan in Bangkok discovered this past weekend that a DNKY store there was using his photos behind two mannequins in a window.
“The window is full of my photos,” he wrote. “These photos were used without my knowledge, and without compensation.”
Stanton did not raise the idea of a lawsuit or personal compensation, but he did ask that DKNY donate $100,000 to the YMCA.
By Monday, DKNY had agreed to the $25,000 donation, and said in a Facebook post that the use of Stanton’s photos was all a mistake on the Bangkok store’s part.
For its spring 2013 window displays, DKNY had decided to use New York photographs, and had licensed and paid for photos from other photography service providers after Stanton declined to participate.
But the Bangkok store “inadvertently” published an internal mockup that showed several of Stanton’s images, DKNY said. The mockup was never supposed to appear in store windows, but intended “to merely show the direction of the spring visual program,” DKNY wrote.
“We apologize for this error and are working to ensure that only the approved artwork is used,” DKNY wrote.
After the explanation and the $25,000 donation, Stanton decided to drop the issue, saying, “we are going to take them at their word that it was a mistake, and be happy that this one had a happy ending.”
While some fans of “Humans of New York” criticized Stanton for letting DKNY “off the hook,” he said he would rather turn the situation into a positive and send children to summer camp at the YMCA using the donation.
“I feel like the luckiest guy in the world right now. I do what I love every day. No amount of money would be worth taking my mind off that. Not for a month. Not for a week. Not for a day,” he wrote.
Stanton also encouraged his fans to raise the remaining $75,000 so that the YMCA could receive the full $100,000 donation he had initially requested.
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