DKNY apologises to NY blogger Brandon Stanton

How a New York photo project became a web sensation

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Fashion giant DKNY has apologised to a US street photographer after hundreds of his photos were used in a Bangkok shop window display without permission.

Brandon Stanton, who runs the popular blog Humans of New York, turned down an earlier DKNY bid to license his photos for $15,000 (£10,000).

After a fan informed Stanton about the Bangkok display, DKNY said the store had "inadvertently" used the pictures.

The fashion firm apologised and agreed to pay $25,000 to a Brooklyn charity.

Brandon Stanton's Humans of New York, which began as a Tumblr-based photoblog, has become wildly popular.

Almost 600,000 people now follow his daily portraits of street life in New York City via Facebook.

His work was clearly noticed at the headquarters of DKNY, the youth-oriented line run by designer Donna Karan.

Writing on Facebook after he was informed that the DKNY store in Bangkok had used 300 of his photos, Stanton said he had refused an offer from the label to use his work in a promotional campaign, Reflections of New York.

Screengrab of Humans of New York Facebook posting Stanton's network of social media fans ensured he found out about the Bangkok window display

"They offered me $15,000. A friend in the industry told me that $50 per photo was not nearly enough to receive from a company with hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue. So I asked for more money. They said 'no'."

Disappointed that his work had been used without permission, Stanton asked his legions of followers to pressure the fashion giant into donating $100,000 to the YMCA in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

"These photos were used without my knowledge, and without compensation," Stanton wrote.

"That donation would sure help a lot of deserving kids go to summer camp. I'll let you guys know if it happens."

In a statement posted on its own Facebook page, DKNY said it had always been "inspired by and incorporated authentic New York into its imagery".

"We have immense respect for Brandon Stanton aka Humans of New York and approached him to work with us on this visual program. He declined to participate in the project.

"However, it appears that inadvertently the store in Bangkok used an internal mock up containing some of Mr Stanton's images... We apologize for this error and are working to ensure that only the approved artwork is used."

"DKNY has always supported the arts and we deeply regret this mistake."

The firm's contrition was not universally accepted online, with commenters on both Facebook pages expressing disbelief that the poster was printed and shipped to Bangkok by mistake.

The photographer himself refused to get drawn into a wider debate about copyright infringement online, instead challenging his social media followers to help raise an extra $75,000 for the YMCA.

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