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Friday, November 19, 2010

Google This, Sweetheart

I got an email the other day purporting  from a young model, just starting out, that I featured on this blog.  Imagine my surprise!  Here's what it said:

Dear Blog Owner!

I found your Blog via google my own name. First thank you for your support. But you are not allowed to post these pictures on your blog. 
You don't have the picture rights. This is illegal! Please delete all Pictures from me, all Names and Information. 
If you do not delete immediately i or my agency will employ a lawyer.  Just delete the pictures and everything is fine! 
Thank you

As you might imagine I was a bit taken aback by this missive.  First of all, I am sure that this model, whose name is Leon Legeland, is not the owner of any of these photos, and secondly, I cannot imagine one good reason why an aspiring model would not be happy  to get any kind of exposure they can get.  Also, I understand that not everything online is public domain, and copyright holders have every right to keep their work off of any website they choose, but I found the demand that all names and information be removed rather disturbing.  Curious. 
Well, I did what any sane person would do, ignored the email and put it out of my mind.
A few days later I got another email, this time from a person named  Christina Abartzi from an outfit called Cream Model Management in glamorous Frankfurt.  Here's what the lovely Christina had to say:

hello vera,

we found our model leon legeland on your website which we are managing.
first of all he's not gay and what you do is illegal!!!
you're not allowed to post our picutres on your site,
as you don't have the picture copyrights.
if you don't delete his pictures and information within the next week
i will be forced to sue you and get my layer on this.


christina abartzi

cream model management
abartzi & bergatt gbr
baumweg 10a
60316 frankfurt
tel: + 49 69 430 519 12
fax: + 49 69 430 519 15

The words I want you to take particular note of are these: "first of all, he's not gay."  Somebody has tipped their hand.

"First of all, he's not gay."

It would be safe to say that I drew a few conclusions from this letter.  Also: I. Was. Pissed. Off. Here is my hastily composed reply:

Dear Ms. Abartzi,

Thank you for contacting me about this matter. I must confess that I am a bit confused, as I have never heard of your agency, nor did I get any photos from your site. I am also a bit confused about your assertion that Mr. Legeland is not gay, as I have not implied that he is, nor would any reasonable person assume that he is simply from reading. No matter, if you are the copyright holder on these photos, I will be happy to remove them. Before I do, however, please consider this.  I receive thousands of page views on my blog every day and include among my readers many people in the fashion industry. I have removed photos only once and that is when the actual photographer asked me to . This is the first time that I have been requested to remove photos because the subject is homophobic. If you are the copyright holder you have the perfect right to ask me to remove the photos, but not to remove any information. If you think you have any right to restrict information, your understanding of the law must be very poor.  I have committed no libel, no slander, in fact the most I wrote about Mr. Legeland is that he's interesting.  When I remove the pictures I will make sure that all of my readers and the readers of my friends' blogs know the reason why you want them removed from my blog, and not from any of the other sites on which they appear, is that you, your agency, and your client have some kind of problem with gay people. Is that the message you would like to send?  It's up to you.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts in this matter.

I received a reply, which I won't reproduce here to the effect that Christina Abratzi herself is the photographer of (apparently) every photo of Leon Legeland that has ever appeared online,  that of course there is no homophobia involved ("in this business you should know that") and that my response was blackmail.  (It isn't blackmail. It's a vicious threat.) I then removed Mr. Legeland's  photos from my site, because I don't like to showcase people who I believe to be small-minded bigots.

So, dear readers, there you have it.  What do you think?  Did I overreact?  Was I in the wrong?  Do you agree with Legeland and Abratzi.  I'd love to hear your opinions.  And be sure and let Ms. Abratzi  and Mr. Legeland know how you feel too. I'm sure your letters of support would mean a lot to them.


  1. I agree with you completely. First of all, exposure on your site would be a plus for anyone's career. Second of all, there is nothing about your blog that should lead anyone to assume that ANY of the pictures you post are of people who are gay, only that they are ATTRACTIVE. If they are afraid of gay people LOOKING at the pictures, then they are not only homophobic, there are ignorant. I'd say let's forget this guy and his agency. I don't remember his picture on your site, which means that he didn't impress me, so no loss there. Based on his attitude and the attitude of his agency, his career will be really short anyway, so it will be as if he never existed at all.

  2. My second comment...I did a Google search for Leon Legeland and found several photos of him (to my taste, he's not worth a second look)...but the articles say that he is represented by an agency called WIENER in AUSTRIA, yet those complaining and claiming to represent him are in Frankfort, Germany? So I wonder what gives, here?

  3. Thank you for your support. I'm not sure how anyobody who doesn't want certain people to look at their pictures would want to be a model- maybe that's just me. As for the question of his representation, according to his profile on he is signed to the agency in Vienna, one in Naples, and Cream in Frankfurt

  4. I think you were more than generous to remove them. I don't see where you were wrong.

    If the so called photographer were in fact the owner, why not just say it up front, with the agency logo?
    At any rate, he is one of a million young models who will be aging and off the shelf soon enough. To hell with them and their bigoted, small, and ignorant minds.

  5. Vera,

    Photos unless otherwise stated on their ORIGINAL site on the internet are considered public domain. Otherwise, every person with their picture on the internet is guaranteen financial rights for the use of their image. As they are in germany, they have no legal recourse for what is posted on american sites, especially a PERSONAL blog. Your site has always been very forthcoming about the people you talk about. I have yet to read once where you've opined that someone is gay. But as it's a personal blog, you're guaranteed the right of freedom of speech.

  6. I completely support your action ! some people are and will ever be narrowminded and as you can guess Mr Legeland and his boss are just at the beginning to find out how NOT to start a career as a model.

  7. It makes me quite unhappy to read, that the agency is from germany. Really. Because I am german and I love your work!
    So please cheer up, Vera, not all the Germans are so... strange.
    It was good to remove the pictures. And you didn't overreact with your reply. Really not! :)
    Just never mention that guy or any other model of that agency in your posts from now on. They don't deserve to be shown in your blog!

    Well, Vera, you are doing a great job with your blog and all your fans know that. So please enjoy your weekend, because I am looking forward to your Sunday round-up!

  8. Well first of all I love your post heading ' google this sweetheart ' and I love your reply . I do think their attitude is rather queer to say the least . I think most models and agenceys would enjoy the free publicity to be honest that blogs provide .

    my best wishes as always - jay .

  9. I post my model pictures with the foreknowledge that they will be scattered around the net. Any photographer that thinks anything released to the world will not be copied is a old fool. I paste my logo on them and that is that. I consider it free advertising. I have the originals and sell them in books and prints. As long as nobody alters the pictures I post, or claims to be the photographer, I'm fine with it. I also never post all my images. Only a select few. Why buy the cow (book) when you can get the milk (print)for free?

    Most likely Legeland is homophobic and fears being associated to anyone gay (even in blog form)in fear his carrier will suffer. I have straight models that seek me out because I am gay. We are the only ones that know how to photograph men. He will learn that the industry is very gay owned and operated. I have the greatest respect and treat all models professionally. The only time I faulted is when the shirt comes off and I say, "I love my job".

  10. Your response was impeccable. These people are assholes, and that poor boy is very ill-advised to alienate a vast section of his audience.

  11. I find it odd that any model would want their image taken off. Without thinking, the said model and agent are clearly offended in some way with the name of this blog as though it's only purpose is to speculate on individual models sexuality, when really it's not.
    Where would Ash, Cole, Luke and Francisco be without the support of the blogs and now the Tumblrs. I think they'd frankly be anonymous like male models were 15 yrs ago when cyberworld was only around the corner.
    I was only asked once to remove a models picture by Camden Images. So I avoid looking at any or all of their output now.

  12. Funny enough I received a very similar (and umpolite) request from Leon Weinrich today asking me to remove at least one particular picture, which I did. I can understand the confusion that when you google your name and the first 10 entries with top quality pics are from a gay blog. Well, I guess their agencies are doing their job not good enough if they did they would be in the first place.

  13. Some people are ignunt about the fashion industry and clearly he's one of them, or maybe it's just his agency. As a photographer and surfer I'm more than aware of all the things that happen with images in the wild, and I agree completely with neil's position. I use digital watermark on my so there will never be an issue when it comes to ownership.

  14. Sorry to comment so late. Suffice it to say, I support, salute and stand, as ever, in awe of the presence that is Vera.

  15. i also totally agree with you and think the request to remove the photos does not even sound very well thought through. i don't assume that any of the guys here are or are not gay, any more than i would assume that they are vegetarian or methodist or nascar drivers!! i only see the beauty of the form, period.... the only thing i would have done differently is call his bluff. whenever i hear someone say something about their "lawyer" i tell them go ahead, sue me, i dare you, and nothing ever happens. i hate threats and ignore them and 99% of the time they are hollow.

    if i was this poor model (whose career will be short i predict) i would be thrilled to have my pics here!!