First published photograph


in Daily updates, Oxford, Photography

Costumed people dancing, Queer Bop, Wadham College, Oxford

On page 3 of the 23 November 2006 issue of The Oxford Student, there is an article by Kate McMullen on the Wadham Queer Bop. Specifically, it describes a homophobic attack being investigated by the police. Accompanying it is a photo that I took at last year’s bop and posted on my blog. The same image is on Facebook. It doesn’t suit the headline very well, and it wasn’t taken at this year’s bop, but it seems like such issues are not of major concern to the editorial staff at The Oxford Student.

It would have been nice for them to have asked me, prior to using it, or at least given me some accreditation. I have sent a short and friendly letter to the editor:


I was surprised to see – on the third page of your November 23rd issue – a photo that I took at last year’s Queer Bop and subsequently posted to my website ( Next time, please let me know that you are planning to print one of my photos, and I will send you a higher resolution copy.


Milan Ilnyckyj
Wadham College, Oxford

That said, it is good to know that I have taken at least one photo that is worth blowing up and putting in a newspaper. The official student newspaper of Oxford might also be considered a cut above your standard such offering.

[Update: 9:30pm] As Sarah quite correctly pointed out, my focus on the photo issue completely missed the broader concerns raised by the story itself. A homophobic assault taking place within an Oxford college should definitely result in a comprehensive investigation and the punishment of those implicated to the fullest extent of the law.

[Update: 27 November 2006] I sent a message to the Oxford Student asking them to do three things in order to amicably resolve the above situation: print the letter to the editor above, credit me for the photo in the web version of the story, and formally state that they will not use materials from my websites without prior permission in the future. I have received the following response and, pending the printing of the letter above, will consider the matter formally and amicably settled:

Dear Milan,

Thanks for your message. Apologies for the unattributed use of your Queer Bop photo. I’ve forwarded your message on to the relevant news editors (Kate McMullen had nothing to do with the photo). btw, it’s a fantastic photo and really makes the page look great. The issue it appeared in was the last one of term, so your letter cant be printed in the paper until next term.

Statement: We will not use photography or other content from webpages that you operate in the future, without prior written permission.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Cookson
[Editor in Chief]

As I said in the past, I am quite happy to have my photos used in newspapers and other publications, provided that a request is received in advance and proper attribution is given.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Anon November 25, 2006 at 6:49 pm

Can’t they get in trouble for this? They didn’t have permission from you, or from any of the people in the photo.

Given that they sell advertising, I expect they need a model release to print photos.

I guess they also didn’t see the: “Content copyright Milan Ilnyckyj (2003-2006). May be used non-commercially with attribution.” at the bottom of every page of your blog…

Milan November 25, 2006 at 7:45 pm

Naturally, my attorney will be informed. As people will recall from my previous legal triumph (Ilnyckyj v. Translink), he is certainly the best senior council in Vancouver willing to work at short notice, without retainer, and with pizza as payment.

Ben November 25, 2006 at 7:47 pm

In my experience, OxStu often get photos via Google…

Milan November 25, 2006 at 8:37 pm

I sent an email to the author asking them to print the above letter to the editor, credit me properly for the photo in the web version of the story, and promise not to use photography or other content from sites that I run in the future.

Sarah November 25, 2006 at 9:11 pm

Annoying as the breach of both copyright and etiquette is, I’m more concerned that there was a homophobic attack at the Queer Bop. What happened? Was everybody broadly all right?
Having studied gaybashings in Vancouver, the subject concerns and frightens me. There was a memorial last week for a Aaron Webster, who was murdered in Stanley Park 5 years ago – a case that was notoriously mishandled by the police and prosecution. Such attacks are a great deal more common than people tend to realise.

Milan November 25, 2006 at 9:16 pm


A student was apparently punched in the face several times, after his actions were mistakingly interpreted by his assailant as a sexual advance. With luck, the assailant will soon be identified, duly tried, and imprisoned.

Given that the person who launched the attack was a man walking around shirtless at the Queer Bop, it is safe to say that he is guilty of gross stupidity, as well as cluelessness, bigotry, brutality, and assault.

The private security guards at the bop certainly seem to have been inept in their treatment of the incident. I will link the text of the article once it is published to the OxStu webpage.

Jessica November 26, 2006 at 3:55 am

It is posts like this that have convinced me that Oxford’s stellar reputation is largely overstated. Also, If the official student newspaper of Oxford routinely practices plagiarism, I don’t know that it qualifies as “a cut above”.

Milan November 26, 2006 at 3:56 am


I meant for that comment to be entirely sarcastic and mocking.

Milan November 26, 2006 at 7:20 pm
Sean November 26, 2006 at 10:10 pm

I am surprised that they have not been sued already!

Milan February 7, 2007 at 6:26 pm

Philip Greenspun has a pretty good copyright notice.

. November 4, 2007 at 3:47 pm
Milan March 4, 2009 at 9:18 am

The Oxford Student will be using one or more of my Queer Bop photos in an upcoming issue. Thankfully, they asked permission this time. If any Oxford spots the articles in question, I would appreciate seeing a scan.

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