A photographer has accused picture wire Alamy of “censoring the news” after it removed his images of a former Oxford University student taking part in a traditional “Oxford trashing” at her request.
Greg Blatchford took pictures of the then student – whom Press Gazette is choosing not to name – and her friends in 2014 as they celebrated the end of their exams. He said he sent about 20 images to Alamy as news content shortly afterwards.
Blatchford said no money had changed hands for the photos, which he said the woman had invited him to take. Some of the images, taken on public streets, show her swigging from a bottle of champagne, while in others she is covered in silly string (pictured).
Despite having said she “loved” the images in emails to Blatchford in 2014, seen by Press Gazette, and seeming to share them on Facebook, the woman, who is now a marketing director in New York, contacted him this summer asking for them to be removed from sale.
Blatchford, who has freelanced for the Oxford Mail, said he had asked for payment of £10,000 as a “joke” in reply to the request. The woman then approached Alamy directly, who has since removed the images.
Said Blatchford: “[Alamy] are treating them as stock, but they were supplied as news. They are censoring the news, regardless of how many sales have been done [of the images].
“A legitimate news reportage outlet is acceding to the demands of someone, under threat of whatever.
“I’m incensed that someone can influence news journalism and censor the past where clearly if photographs are taken in public, with the full consent of participants they can turn around and say ‘sorry, that’s not news’ later.”
He added: “This sets a precedent for anybody to walk up to a news organisation and say I don’t like [the pictures of me]. Journalists will then start feeling the threat of lawyers.”
A Google search of the woman’s name still brings up the images.
The former student told Press Gazette: “There was no consent given to publish or sell my photos anywhere.
“I am not a model nor have given permission to any photographers to take photos of me to publicly display or to sell. This was a complete breach of privacy.”
In a statement, Alamy’s director of community, Alan Capel, said the images were submitted as news four years ago and after 48 hours had been moved to its stock collection.
“Therefore we are surprised that this is deemed to be ‘censoring the news’,” he said.
“As per our contract with our contributors, we can remove any images from our collection if we see a valid reason to do so. We supply news pictures every day to the world’s media.
“We add over 40m images to our collection each year and only ever chose to delete a tiny percentage of these for a variety of reasons.”
Picture: Greg Blatchford