When You Think Someone May be Lifting Quotes From Your Story

Paul Feinberg, a longtime Washington photojournalist, shot a lot of photo essays for The Washingtonian in which he paired extensive quotes from the subject with his photographs. Here’s an e-mail from him:

Hi Jack,

Question: Someone is extracting quotes from an artist, now deceased, from one of my past published artist interviews. Since the person is only quoting the actual words of the artist, and not my words, does the person need my permission or does he have to attribute the quotes to my interview with the artist?

Thanks, Paul
I sent Paul’s e-mail on to Ken DeCell, a longtime senior editor at The Washingtonian who has handled many of the magazine’s legal issues. Here’s his response:

Jack and Paul,

Legally, Paul certainly owns the rights to the interview, and there’s no question that whoever is lifting the quotes should credit them to Paul’s published work. Whether that person is making “fair use” of the material depends on how much of the interview is being quoted. Paul should get in touch and ask that his published work be credited, but my guess—and it’s only a guess—is that it wouldn’t be worthwhile to try to bring legal action.

Here are links to a couple of websites that might be of interest:



I hope this is helpful.

If you’ve had to deal with the problem of someone lifting your work without credit, send me a note at [email protected] and I’ll add your experience to the end of this post.

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