(I apologize if this article is a little wordy. We’ll be back to normal on Monday.)
A few weeks ago I posted an article about some photobooks being Kickstarted by a college professor named “Amy Laptad”.
What was the problem with the photobooks? Plagiarism. The photos in the books were not original, but belonged to a number of different professional and semi-pro photographers on the web.
Part of this website’s goal, besides just being entertaining, is to point out Kickstarter frauds and scams to make people aware of the risks of Kickstarter-style funding models. Therefore I feel very justified in having brought this plagiarism to my reader’s attention.
Why am I revisiting this? Because Dr. Laptad has emailed me threatening legal action and challenging me to prove my claims.
So here we go!
The Disney Dream
Amy Laptad claims to have taken this photograph, but it really belongs to Christian Lambert Photography.
How do I know this?
- Christian Lambert Photography proudly displays it on their home page.
- The oldest and highest resolution version of this photograph on the net was published by Christian Lambert.
- Mr. Lambert has a second photograph of the same boat, taken the next day.
- It was taken with a Nikon D700, a camera Mr. Lambert uses for many of his photographs.
- It matches Mr Lambert’s style and subject matter. Mr Lambert has taken many photographs of Disney attractions, with no people in the foreground, processed with an HDR effect.
I feel confident in trusting Christian Lambert’s claim to be the original creator of this image.
The dead child’s teddy bear
How do I know this?
- The oldest and highest resolution version of this photograph on the net was published by Chelsea Tucker.
- It was taken by a Nikon D90, a camera Ms. Tucker uses for many of her photographs.
- Ms Tucker has another photograph of the same bear. This less popular photograph appears nowhere but on Ms Tucker’s Flickr page.
- Ms Tucker has a whole series of close-up photographs taken at that same cemetery in San Antonio.
I feel confident in trusting Chelsea Tucker’s claim to be the original creator of this image.
Kudzu Ferris Wheel
…and low and behold, it does show up on her Pinterest page almost a year ago. Let’s see what she has to say about it!
Repinned?!? Did she forget that she was secretly the real photographer that took this picture back in 2009?
Of course not. The answer is obvious. She didn’t decide that this picture was “hers” until she decided to make a book.
The real photographer is Kyle Telechan.
How do I know this?
- The oldest, largest, and least-cropped version of this photograph was published by Kyle Telechan.
- Mr. Telechan has clearly made a hobby of photographing abandoned structures.
(Unexplained anomaly: This photograph was taken with a different camera than his others.)
I feel confident in trusting Kyle Telechan’s claim to be the original creator of this image.
Where does this leave us?
It’s absolutely preposterous to suggest that all these talented photographers have conspired to to steal photographs from Amy Laptad. Especially as her own “Hobby Photographs” are not that great, and were taken with a completely different brand of camera. (A Sony DSC-HX300)
Clearly what we have here is a woman who plagiarized a bunch of photos, and then when she was caught she tried to silence the opposition with vague legal threats. (She told me she was going to “Take legal action“, “Have [my] entire site closed“, and “alert local authorities“! Whoever they are.)
You know what’s really sad here? This woman is an educator! She works for a university! (That university has asked me not to mention their name. Can you blame them?)
Any students out there who got marked off for plagiarism or cheating by Prof. Laptad have every right to be furious.
I recommend printing out this page and waving it in her face any time she brings up the subject of academic ethics.