PPA, What Happened?
This is the question we've been asked for the past week.
You may have already heard that last week we released a new quiz and landing page under PPA's See The Difference campaign. With this launch, the goal was to generate consumer interest in Pet Photography and drive traffic to the See The Difference website where PPA advocates for consumers to hire professional photographers. The program was intended to help pet photographers - we had no idea there were problems embedded in the offering.
Two days after the launch, we were notified that some of the images in the campaign were used without permission. We were shocked, caught completely off guard and immediately took steps to take down the entire Pet Photography section of the site.
Within hours, we started an investigation to understand how such a breach could have happened. Our processes in this particular project were clear:
1. Seek out pet photographers who would have entered noteworthy work into the International Photographic Competition
2. Determine if these and other photographers had more work of this kind online that they would like to contribute to this important project, and
3. Weave the approved images into the new pet-related pages and quiz.
We now know that part of step two was dropped and that some of the images involved were used without permission. We should have caught the authorization omission but, in our haste, we didn't. It was our mistake, plain and simple, and we immediately contacted everyone involved and owned up to it. We wanted to be completely upfront about what had happened. We have since evaluated all of our processes and have instituted a series of stringent checks to ensure something like this can't repeat itself.
It should never have happened and we are incredibly embarrassed. We immediately removed all material in question and we started numerous exchanges with the affected parties. We are still in conversations about how to "make-good" on this mistake. We are grateful for the many good members who have been so understanding and supportive, despite being surprised to see their work online without permission. They understand what we are trying to accomplish for our members, and have been happy - even excited - to partner with us in this important cause. These good-faith members are the very best assets of our association and this industry. No question about it, our members are a class-act. We will re-work some of our pet photography campaign, and with the help of great PPA members like you, this project will go on as planned.
In a quest to be transparent, we shared two updates on Facebook last week, even though we did not yet have all the information about exactly what happened. In fact, we were still gathering new information as late as last evening, which is the reason we are just now comfortable issuing this statement. As is often the case on social media, some people understood our intent with the Facebook updates, others misinterpreted it. We never intended to disappoint anyone. We realize the enormity of the situation given our role in the industry.
This should not have happened. In situations like these it is better to just admit that we messed up, correct what went wrong and move forward. PPA is the only organization in the world that campaigns on a daily basis to educate and protect photographers' rights. It is the only one that puts its money where its mouth is by having a full-time presence on Capitol Hill.
PPA's team believes in this cause. Our goal is to provide more and more member benefits each year - more than all other photographic associations combined. Equipment insurance, the Indemnification Trust, the Benchmark Survey, PPAedu & PhotoVision, the See The Difference Campaign, Professional Photographer magazine, certification, International Photographic Competition, Call a Doctor Plus, and yes, an unmatched effort on Capitol Hill - these are the reasons you are a member. And we promise that greater things are yet to come.
Thank you for your understanding. And thank you for being part of the greatest association in the world.
Chief Executive Officer
On behalf of your entire PPA team