Yesterday, we reported on an understandable if embarrassing mistake by Canon Italy and Canon Spain. The two branches of Canon had shared a composite photo that contained stolen elements from a photo by travel photographer Elia Locardi all over their social media accounts; to make things worse, those elements were shot with a Fujifilm camera.

The reasonable response would have been to admit the mistake, apologize, and move on. This morning, however, Canon responded through social media and managed to somehow make things worse.

In its response, the company confirmed our assertion that it had pulled the photograph from the royalty free photo sharing website Unsplash, but claimed that it was not the same photo, pointing to "seasonal variation" between the two shots and completely ignoring the fact that parts of the photograph are exact clones.

Here is the response in full, posted as a comment on the Canon Italia Facebook share:

This answer, for obvious reasons, has photographers shaking their heads. There is no denying that the photograph uses stolen elements from Locardi's—the same exact sky and water patterns don't just repeat themselves willy nilly, making sure that the same bird is flying through the shot at the exact same time for good measure.

But the fact that Canon shared a composite with part of his work isn't what bothers Locardi. Speaking with him yesterday and this morning, it was obvious that this was just an odd and funny moment for him. What does bother him about Canon's response is something else entirely, as he explained on Facebook this morning:

Guy takes part of my Fujifilm photo, uploads it to a copyright free website. Then Canon shares it all over their social media. And now, Canon’s official response is that it’s not my photo? And the differences are just a “seasonal variation.”

LOL, really? As if this story couldn’t become more awkward.

But seriously, the greater part of this story and by far the largest issue here, is the fact that Canon is using a free image resource like Unsplash to fuel their social media rather than tapping into their large community of photographers. That's incredibly insulting to both their own consumers and to the photography community itself.

Speaking with me directly this morning, Elia repeated the last part of his Facebook post before he continued on to say that this kind of thing, "encompasses almost everything that's wrong with our industry today." To really drive home the point, he also posted the comment as a response to Canon Italia's comment on Facebook.

Here's one last look at these two photos, just for good measure:

The original by Elia Locardi
A composite from Unsplash that obviously takes the sky and parts of the foreground directly from Elia's image.

We have not received a response to yesterday's request for comment from Canon, but we will update this post if and when we hear back.