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Corey calls for a boycott of Kenda Tyres
28.11.10 by Buffalo Bill

I guess I should call them Kenda Tires, as this is a story that originates from the US. Corey, a veteran courier*, has sent out the following request:

(The offending image also appears on their website, and I have posted it here. No doubt this is a violation of copyright.)

I tried a few months ago to resolve this with diplomatic emails, but my words were ignored as unimportant. Now, I must ask for your opinions and support on this matter.

Marco C, a pretty good guy who messengered in NYC and now back in Philly, had his likeness used by Kenda Tires. When confronted about the photo they used for their ads, they replied that they purchased them from a third party photography company. I told them that a large international company should not be in the business of exploiting bicycle messengers, specifically Marco. (Many of you may remember him from the polo courts and volunteering many hours at the CMWC Guatemala.) I also asked that they either give him some compensation in the form of money or tires. I gave them an email address and phone number so they could contact Marco and quietly close the matter. The Kenda representative scoffed at the idea and has since ignored my suggestion.

A recent ad in a bicycle magazine refreshed my memory about this problem. They still are willfully disregarding the polite request, intending to make lots of money by promoting “commuter tires” with Marco’s image as half of the full page ad.

If you have the time, please send an email to KendaUSA.com letting them know your opinion on the matter. I will not be using Kenda tires and suggest you inform them that you are of the same mind. Let them understand that we, being of a community that uses thousands of tires daily, will not tolerate overt rudeness to its target market.

Below is the polite email that Corey sent.

Hello Kenda USA,

In the March 2010 issue of Urban Velo on page 11 there is an advertisement for your tires. In it there is a photo of a ‘commuter’ cyclist whose face was blurred. Several friends and I immediately recognized the rider as our fellow messenger Marco Creacy. Mr. Creacy did not know his likeness would be used in the ad nor was he compensated for such usage. Being a bicycle messenger who is a very solid rider and all around nice guy, Marco is an ideal model for someone who rides many miles in all conditions.

My question is how a large international company like yours can help Marco with tires and possible sponsorship for competitions like this year’s Cycle Messenger World Championships in Guatemala or the North American Cycle Courier Championships in Atlanta, Georgia? I ask on behalf of Marco because he is bewildered by the whole situation. He is a swell fellow and would appreciate a thanks “for being on the bike” or something like that.

Please call Marco and find a way to give him a token of your appreciation. I am quite sure that he would talk endlessly about your company, giving the highest praises among bicycle messengers worldwide who use a lot of tires in all conditions.

This is an entirely reasonable request that Kenda, having paid for the photo, are well within their legal rights to ignore, which is exactly what they have done. However, I think that Kenda ought to reconsider, given that at most they are being asked for a few pairs of tyres & tubes, and at least, a polite consideration of the request. If you agree, email Kenda: bicycle@kendausa.com.

*Corey is a self-described ‘courier’ as opposed to a ‘messenger’

Corey's epilogue to photogate
Photographer's response to photogate
Corey's response to Kenda's response
Kenda Tyres / Tires response to photogate
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  1. Yea – this is kinda tough isn’t it. I can definitely understand Corey’s position, but I’m afraid that legally Kenda is pretty much covered (assuming I am correct and the image was taken on a public street.)


    JustAnotherCyclist    29 November 2010, 00:05    #
  2. Get a clue;
    1. If you didn’t get it the first time, Kenda did not take the picture! They paid for it from a third party, so they are not the ones to be blamed for any “exploitation”. If you really care, why not do your homework and find out who is really taking pictures of your friends. My guess is it is someone the “victim” knows.
    2. Exploiting a messenger? He is not part of a tribe in Africa that is having his homeland wiped out by bulldozers. He might be a cool guy but if he does not care enough to go after his exploiters himself my guess it that it really has not changed his life very much.
    3. On a personal note, “get a job sir”. You are giving messengers a bad name by looking for handouts instead of working hard.
    Thank you, that is all.


    — Pancho    29 November 2010, 14:53    #
  3. here’s a suggestion: have marco contact kenda. they aren’t going to do anything for him without hearing directly from him.


    — Paul    1 December 2010, 16:47    #
  4. There are a few misunderstandings here – let me help. What you are talking about ain’t copyright – it’s called model release (MR). Good (long) info is here: www.danheller.com/mo…

    The bottom line is that people have rights for how their “likeness” is used by others to promote ideas, products, services, or things. The way to give consent with using one’s likeness is to sign a MR.

    1) MRs are only necessary for commercial application (i.e. advertising) and not for editorial (news, illustration).

    Grey areas exist (e.g. illustrations in books), but this is not one of them – TICK.

    2) Only necessary to protect “likeness”. I haven’t seen the picture – but it says above that his face is blured. If you can’t see his face clearly, you could dispute that Kenda’s using Marco’s likeness – they may argue that they are using a generic faceless commuter. This is a tricky point in this case – just how recognizable is he??? can you only tell it’s him, cos you know his bike/clothes? Bikes don’t need a model release.

    DISPUTABLE, NEEDS EVIDENCE.

    3) MRs are 100% the publisher’s responsibility. The photographer is only responsible for being honest about the (non)existance of a MR to the client. As per 1) above – the picture can still be sold for many applications even without a model release (e.g. news). It’s not Kenda’s responsibility or fault – it’s that of the agency who did the ads and possibly the publishers of those ads.

    FAIL – Talking to Kenda is pointless in every way other than them being ‘nice’ about somebody else’s fuckup.

    So for example – when me, Farid, Roxy or Selmski rock up to an alleycat and take photos of everyone, which we later upload to www.bicycleimages.co… (or any other stock image library) – we have to say whether we have/haven’t got MRs, making the intended use of the photo editorial and/or commercial. That’s where we lose control. Whoever buys that photo will do whatever they want to do – whether or not they decide to stick to the rules or break them…

    Marco can sue the publisher/agency (not Kenda) – but it’s not an easy process. Plenty of similar cases on the interweb to learn from.


    Roman 'skiver' Skyva    1 December 2010, 17:43    #
  5. P.S. Just to be clear: This situation sucks donkey balls.

    P.S. 2: The lack of control over future application is one reason why I generally don’t upload courier photos (except for ECMC and similar big events) to image libraries and instead show them on Flickr.


    Roman 'skiver' Skyva    1 December 2010, 17:48    #
  6. When you upload pics to Flickr, do you hit the ‘all rights reserved’ button?


    — Bill    2 December 2010, 11:15    #
  7. Loads of random photographers used to take pix of DRs out on the streets: students doing projects;commercial photographers building generic stock; rumour had it that the tax authorities were paying for pix of working riders to catch benefit cheats.
    I was photographed loads of times that i knew about and was never asked to sign an MR ( yes i knew they needed one to use the pix in the public domain, i worked as a photographers asst for a time).
    Even back then, with the need to physically develop and print limiting the number of images produced it was unrealistic to expect photographers to get an MR unless the rider was static and approached. If you were “working” the chance of getting your attention for an MR for an action shot would have been zero. Today with digital media the problem is going to be 10,000X worse. Not just deiberate shots of working riders but also the possibility of unintentional shots then being discovered and used without permission and across so many diverse public arenas.
    the only recourse i can see for this rider is, that now he is(possibly) able to identify himself, to approach Kenda and offer himself as a public face for Kenda to promote their wares. For a fee of course.
    Good luck on that but its a good shot to take, companies need to grasp at whatever endorsements they can to gain credibility and getting the “cool guy from the iconic image”…well…thats worth paying for.
    I’m just jealous that none of the pix of my mug were ever published, that i know of, so i can prove i once had hair and attain a smidge of immortality.
    Cant but help to raise the profile of all DR’s too.


    — karrimor    14 December 2010, 01:07    #
  8. @Bill: I do. But it has no effect on how easy it is to grab an image (you can still drag’n‘drop an image into a new tab and save it). If it’s online – it can be stolen. Watermarking is not the way forward either IMO. Sorry been off with manflu for a week.

    @karimor: That’s exactly why in the advertising world there should be (paid!) models, stylists, hair and makeup people. Advertising has budgets and people who make (often minimum-wage) living doing these (often crappy) jobs. It’s wrong when big companies cut corners by using microstock sites. £10 download (with potential for legal problems) vs. a £5,000 photoshoot (with a paid model – (ex)courier cast for the 1/2day) and proper made-to-order imagery… C’mon – for a big corporation that should be no dilema!!!

    Shutterstock to photography is like: Let’s say someone undercut all decent courier companies by x100 through asking random people at a bus stop (or bored hipsters on bikes ;-)) to take packages the way they are going anyway in exchange for 5p towards their travel card and a pat on the back. Ridiculous? That’s shutterstock. To me, it’s depressing that Kenda are happier to work with Shutterstock (who are killing photography as a profession) than hire a bike photographer to do a professional job.

    End of rant.I’m done.


    Roman 'skiver' Skyva    16 December 2010, 12:35    #
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