An open letter to Mr Zakk (Davies) d’Larté

Dear Zakk, 

I really didn’t want to write something so public, but it seems that this may be the only way to get your full attention.

If you haven’t noticed by now (although your un-friending of me on Facebook indicates otherwise) there is a disagreement between us. There may have been confusions along the way as to how we have arrived at this point, so I’m going to go back to the beginning.

On the 3rd October 2013 I Facebook messaged you asking if you would like to participate in a photoshoot for a project I was doing. You agreed and we booked a date.

The 5th October 2013 you were very professional, messaging me to let me know you where on your way. You were polite and worked hard.

We discussed in person that you would be credited in the image that would be published and that you where welcome to post it to Facebook as long as you didn’t edit it, crop out the watermark etc and to credit link all parties involved (as anyone from that project would remember, this was said to each person). You had specifically asked if you where allowed to edit and play with the image. I said no.

Things where going well, the photo was published. The response was positive. From what I could tell, you too liked the image (or maybe you where just being polite).

But then something happened. On the 13th October 2013, you published the image as your profile picture. I was made aware of this from the makeup artist. “Have you seen Zak’s new profile pic it’s ummmm edited” I sighed, thinking once again another model has cropped out the watermark after being asked not to do so. To my surprise this was not the case.

Edited it clearly was, it had a digital makeover! The main change, all of Libby’s makeup edited out. (As well as a few photoshop techniques future me may of considered.)

I proceeded in doing the best I could to rectify the situation, I messaged you.

I found it a little hard to believe someone could not remember having what I felt was a rather important conversation only 7-8 days before. However as you apologised and took down the photograph, I felt that the issue had been resolved.

Fast forward to almost 3 years later. A blast from the past appear on my newsfeed, an all to familiar situation has cropped up. Am I having Déjà Vu? Something different. So like last time I send you a message.

“I wondered if you’d see the image” & “I remember the issues we had last time and so i didn’t want to cause that drama or offend either Libby or yourself again.” Why wouldn’t you have come too me prior to, or shortly after, posting the image to make it clear to me that this was “your original image”, in homage to our shoot in 2013? Why wait until I’d see it and message you (as you would have known I’d message you).

“Hey, this could be easier - are you still living here? When PRIDE is over I could come to your house and show you?” Are you still living here, who phrases a question like that? Surely it would be are you still living in the same place? or something similar. The question implies what you already knew, that I had moved to London. I feel that you only did this action because you knew I was no longer living in New Zealand. The timing seems all to convenient as I had confirmed only days before (you published the image) that I was in England.

Now I gave you the benefit of the doubt, I played dumb and gave you the chance to show me proof of this original file (or to remove the image and possibly apologise). A few day after our conversation I posted a comparison on my social media of all three images: the original, the edit in which I ask you to take down in 2013 and the newest. You didn’t say or do anything when I posted this, other then give it a like. I then waited a week or so after the months worth of PRIDE events and I didn’t receive anything.

So I went ahead and sent you an email with a invoice for the rental use of my image on Facebook and Instagram. I also gave you the option to buy the rights to the image, so you could do as you pleased with it. In under 24 hours you had taken down the image from Facebook. (or at least hidden it from me). 

Why not email me back and say I made a mistake and that the invoice was unjust as the image as stated was indeed an original and send me proof.

I waited a week for a reply, in which I sent another email offering an instalment plan. No reply.

I waited a month, the image published to Instagram was still there, no invoice was paid. I sent a new invoice with amendments, penalty fee and second months rental for Instagram. Fast forward 6 months, Im still sending you a email & invoice once a month and you not only choose to ignore them, but had republished the image on Facebook as your profile picture yet again.

7th/8th August was most unfortunate timing for you to be receiving an invoice. 

You are a fantastic digital artist, you have made the image interesting in a different way, but you seem to miss the fact that just because you are talented does not give you the right to alter another persons work without their permission. 

Your an artist & a public figure. Do you think this is the right message to send to people. That plagiarising other’s work is acceptable. That its ok to not only change their artwork but to not ask for permission, publish it and then not credit the original, to claim it as your own.

You didn’t just take this image from me, you took it from the whole artistic community. A Community that fights hard every day to make their work viable, a community you are meant to be a part of. As someone who presents themselves as a major player in this industry you have a responsibility to uphold the highest standards and a moral obligation to support those standards.

Writing this has brought me no pleasure, you and I where friendly. You abused that and for what? A highly polished no blemish version of yourself, for people to click like on. 

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