I am no expert on copyright and incorrectly assumed that images posted in the forum were public domain, or that they belonged to SANParks, which we had referenced as owning the copyright on our pages,
We were using these images to sell and promote SANParks products. We are not the only party which benefit from selling these products as SANParks also benefits from the business. We devote much of the company resources to advertising and marketing these domains and send by far the majority of our guests to SANParks. Almost any supplier of accommodation will happily hand over content/images to assist in the marketing of their products. The usual way of doing things does not, however, apply here and I fully appreciate that - I know this now and have found out the hard way. Those images were not used maliciously - we have a strong focus on marketing SANParks products and would never do anything to intentionally jeopardize our relationship or reputation in any way.
* Photographs we have used with permission from photographers
No, we did not inform our sources about the commercial implications, quite honestly I am still unsure as to exactly how this works. Have all tour operators incurred these costs? What are the costs exactly? It's hard to make decisions without this information. If we were charged per picture, for example, we may need to reduce the number of pics per camp. I did drop Nedret an email about using the pictures that we had taken to get some clarification at the time but she never responded - I know she is very busy. But, back to the point - there are only a few people whose pictures we are using that we do not know personally. The majority come from a staff member who has extensively traveled through the park. Obviously if anybody became liable, we would assume responsibility.
* Knowledge of the forum
I was aware that staff had sourced images from the forum but was not aware of the copyright implications as mentioned above. We had problems using SANParks content in the past but resolved this by placing "Images & Text (c) SANParks.org" on all SANPark pages. I thought we were still covered by this text. After this blowout occurred, it became apparent that there seemed to be issues using other peoples copyrighted images of SANParks, in that we infringed on their personal copyright. But then it seems they can't claim copyright because the pictures are ultimately the property of SANParks, unless commerically licensed. But then nobody actually has a case of commercial licensing and exactly what it entails - I don't know of any other tour operators who have gone through that process. This is not an intuitive process, I find this genuinely confusing. As a web developer / businessman I am an expert in developing and marketing websites but by no means an expert in copyright.
Lastly, I have to say I find it odd that you now, only now, rediscovered the forum….after you built your entire marketing “campaign” with images obtained from this very forum.
I was well aware of the forum, what I said was that I had no knowledge of this thread. This thread came to my attention after Muntasir was sent a link earlier yesterday. Had I known about it, I would have replied months ago when this was taking place. The forum images did not make up our entire site either, but truthfully I am unsure of exactly how many were used. Either way, we acted quickly and removed every single last image off every SANPark product on our sites and started from scratch that Monday morning. I tried to respond to the problem as quickly as possible and devoted my full time to fixing everything.
Bottom line....Images were lifted like plagiarized verbatim text and presented as their own. They were placed on a web-presence for profit( with a very misleading URL) without any credit given to their source nor any payment made to any of the photographers let alone the organization the domain name should technically rightfully belong to.
We don't claim to be an official website on any of our site pages, and our primary intention was to use the images to sell and promote SANParks products - again, both parties benefit from the business, so payments are effectively made to SANParks. Again, I did not realise one should reference the photographers who took the SANParks forum pics for the reasons mentioned above.
Have to say im with Jumbo on this one. If all those images were taken off this very forum that has only now been re-discovered??! No man.Something still doesnt add up. Its irrelevant how much time one spends in the park with ones mom or how appreciative one is of the parks or their content.
I agree that in this debate it is completely irrelevant, but I'm also human and was definding claims made in other posts throughout this thread. As I mentioned earlier, I was aware of the forum but was not aware of this particular thread. Again, in the realm of online accommodation, it is rare for a supplier to not want you to use their images to sell their products and the usual way of doing things did not apply.
And bottom line….I believe that you, as an agent of SANParks, have a duty to keep yourself up to date with the policies of this organization and adhere to them.
Absolutely, I agree with you 100%. That's one of the reasons I am here and exactly why we are meeting with SANParks early December.
The bottom line from our side is this - I know now that what we did was wrong. I am not trying to justify our actions, but rather to explain them. I'm trying to explain our position and answer as many questions as candidly as possible. I'm also trying to gain insight into the situation and understand how everything works. We have a meeting scheduled with SANParks early December in which we will do that in more detail and discuss the operation of krugerpark.com, but I do feel the urge to address the posts in thread. I mean it when I say it is our sole intention to operate in an ethical and legal manner.
On a side note, we are based in Cape Town and are more than happy to discuss any of this in person. Myself and my business partner will be in Johannesburg early December for our meeting with SANParks and could also meet then?