The well known chess writer snapped.
by Tarjei J. Svensen
(EDITORIAL:) Many people know me as quite active on social media, especially on Twitter. As a chess enthusiast it’s a nice arena to communicate with others and stay updated on the latest news in the chess world. Especially during major chess events such as Sinquefield Cup, the activty is high.
I also use the site to share chess links and stories I write on my own site. Sometimes I also share photos from the tournaments I organize or take part in. Or from my own living room.
But if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s people stealing photos without permission. It’s not only against the law in every country, it’s also immoral and wrong. Unfortunately, it happens all the time.
Personally I am not so much against people using my photos, as long as it’s clearly stated who is the photographer. It’s simply not enough to hide the name of the photographer in the bottom of the text as ChessBase insist on doing. But if you use someone else’s work for free, you should do your utmost to give proper credit to the photographer.
On Twitter, on the other hand, it’s rather common that people steal each others photos. But the least you can do is to say who or where you got the photo from.
That’s exactly what the British-Australian chess writer Gary Lane did not do. The 51 year old International Master has written 27 chess books and he used to be one of my around 4800 followers on Twitter. He’s among those who regularly kept posting photos that does not belong to him.
During Sinquefield Cup, he posted this one.
If you think there’s something familiar with the photo, you’re completely right. Obviously he found the photo and took it from my site. Without any credit.
It’s not really a big deal for me, but I thought it was necessary to remind him that you shouldn’t use photos taken by others.
My tweet led to a long thread, where other people also gave their opinion. Some gave their support for Lane and thought thought it’s no big deal, while others gave their clear support for me.
Renowned chess journalist Peter Doggers of chess.com, and the world’s leading chess photographer David Llada, himself a victim of image theft, pointed out the same: You just don’t steal other’s photos, especially not without credit.
Lane’s excuse was that he keeps receiving photos from tournament organizers and thought this one was something he had received from Sinquefield Cup. The Australian also thought that since the photo wasn’t watermarked or had any copyright on it, it could be used freely.
Eventually the chess writer lost his temper.
The fact that my photo has been used without permission, is not the only reason I reacted. In addition to being a relatively known chess writer and a professional chess player, Lane is also a member of FIDE’s Commission of Chess Journalists (CCJ). The commission was created after the Chess Olympiad in 2012 in order to, among other things, to protect the rights of chess journalists, who tend to be a victim of plagiarism and image theft.
It’s likely not a coincidence that Lane’s father-in-law, Brian Jones, the President of the Oceania Chess Confederation and a loyal supporter of FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.
I find it quite absurd that the members in a commission like the CCJ is more or less handpicked by the leadership of FIDE. And it’s led by the second most controversial person in the whole FIDE, the greek Georgios Makropoulos. He’s the second in command after the president Ilyumzhinov and the executive in the World Chess Federation.
Makropoulos himself once said that the reason for the new commission was that «many journalists are not really journalists», which I believe is merely an excuse used when FIDE gets negative press coverage. American chess journalist Daaim Shabazz has more on that on his popular The Chess Drum site.
Among other members, is Goran Urosevic, the man behind Chessdom, FIDE’s propaganda site and responsible for the news on fide.com. Another member is the Canadian Grandmaster Kevin Spraggett, who runs a semi-pornographic (!) chess blog.
Well, well. At least now he won’t have me bothering him anymore.