Cyclone Road


Monday, January 19, 2009

The Todd Browning Galley in Los Angeles will host an exhibit of Eric's photography from March 12 through April 4. This is the first such exhibit of severe weather photography in a fine art gallery in the L.A. area, according to gallery director William Eiseman. More about this event in the next few days.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Last night I learned that someone had used one of Eric's Mulvane photos as the backdrop for a corporate logo, a storm chasing tour company out of Missouri. I won't name the company or make a big deal out of this since the operator agreed to remove the image right away, and I'm grateful for his cooperation. It wasn't clear if this is a functioning tour company or someone making plans for later, and I doubt that any sort of serious monetary damages are relevant. If it looked like the guy was turning a dime from unauthorized usage, then the agency which issues the commercial licenses for Eric's pictures, Corbis, would probably take an interest.

I always figured it would be a matter of time before some chaser checked to see anyone was "minding the store" when it came to Eric's pictures. The answer is yes, I'm minding the store and so is one of the biggest stock photo agencies on the planet. I think this is pretty clear in the message I've posted on Eric's front page, but perhaps I should post it also on his tornado gallery page, since that's where 80% of his visitors enter the site. Most never see the main page of

I posted the following to Stormtrack in an effort to get the word out:

Thanks, Lanny, for pointing this out. It does indeed appear to be one of Eric's series of Mulvane images, overlaid with a strange graphic, but still the same photo. I have contacted the MySpace account holder through the page, though I was unable to locate a name for the tour operator.

For those who don't know, I've been handling Eric's photo catalog since his death. Most of Eric's images are licensed through Corbis International, the stock photo agency. The royalties for all these images go to Eric's wife and two young sons. The Mulvane tornado continues to be one of the most widely-licensed and reproduced tornado images, as anyone in a bookstore this Christmas could see. As you can imagine, it provides a small but steady stream of income to the family and it is the one image, when stolen by a business or publication, that brings immediate attention from Corbis and their highly experienced lawyers. Corbis aggressively pursues unauthorized usage, not only for the money taken from them, but because Mulvane is a valuable property which they license and release in a strategic way over time to maintain and maximize value.

I don't bother with people who steal small JPGs and post them to their blogs or Flicker accounts. I did at first, but there's no end to it. Corbis could not care less about individual theft. However, a business or for-profit publication is another matter, entirely.

So the point of this post is to make people aware that Eric's photo catalog isn't being neglected, and his intellectual property rights are as important to his friends and family now as they were to him when he was alive. As with anyone's intellectual property, you have to ask permission to use or license it, via Corbis if you're a publication or a business, or with me if it's a non-profit usage or educational materials, which Eric always donated free of charge.

I know the overwhelming majority of Stormtrack members respect the property rights of other chasers the same as they wish for their own to be respected, but there's always a few people in any crowd, knowingly or not, who might seek to take advantage of a situation they misunderstand. They should not misunderstand this one.

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