The Golden Rule
Ah, yes ... the Golden Rule. He who has the gold, rules. It goes the other
I once naively sent an article with some photographs of Big Bend National
Park to The National Geographic Magazine. They returned them with a nice
rejection notice. About a month later, a friend who was a Park Ranger
there, showed me some copies of my transparencies that he had gotten from
the National Geographic's photographer who was sent there to do "my" story
on the park. My friend was ordered by the Chief Ranger to escort this
pirate around the park to the places where I had shot my photographs so he
could re-shoot them himself. The article appeared in the magazine a few
months later, with very inferior pictures sans all the atomospheric effects
I had worked three years to get ... waiting for the right weather and the
right light and so on. But they did contain the tacky obligatory red
checkered shirts that the Geographic liked so much.
My friend asked me not to contest it because he had been ordered not to
tell me, and would get in trouble with the National Park Service and could
even lose his job over it. You see, the National Geographic Society is a
lot more important and has a lot more power than one little freelance
photographer who doesn't even have a real job, for God's sake. My
inadequate revenge has been to not read the National Geographic or watch
their television shows.
That was a long time ago, my park ranger friend has retired now, might even
be dead, and I finally get to tell the story. His name was Rod Broyles.
His wife's name was Phyllis. Hi, Rod and Phyllis. Are you all out there
somewhere? Remember that house built out of rocks and ocotillo that you
lived in? Remember when I got the village of Boquillas officially moved
from Texas to Mexico where it really was in the first place? (The maps had
it on the wrong side of the river.) Remember Devereaux Butcher and his
station wagon with the little convertable bed, kitchen and office built in?
That was before the auto manufacturers had thought of a camper van. I
suppose he invented it. His National Parks and Conservation Society
finally became big time, but we knew him when it was a typewriter in the
back seat of his car. He died a few years ago, you know. But we had some
good times on the Rio Grande, didn't we?
Anyway, the point is, if you are a lot bigger than the copyright owner ...
hey, go right ahead and steal. Pirates have to eat, too. And Caveat
Or something like that.