Not Cool

The other day I posted a picture of Clete’s Cougars which I grabbed off my TV while watching the Fox Sports Detroit broadcast. The picture proved to be fairly popular and it got linked up a couple of places. Wednesday afternoon I was listening to 97.1 The Ticket (unfortunately the only sports talk around in the afternoon) when host Mike Valenti directed people to for a picture of Clete’s Cougars. I was curious so I ventured over to see what picture they had, and I was a little surprised to see the picture I had posted. It was there with no mention or link back to my site.

I was a little irritated so I sent an “Instant Feedback” asking for a link. No link was added. So I sent an email to the Sports Inferno email address, which also didn’t receive a response. Finally I sent the following email to program director Tom Bigby:

I run the website Detroit Tigers Weblog ( While watching the Tiger game Tuesday night the camera panned over to some ladies who were cheering for Clete Thomas. I thought it would be interesting so I grabbed a shot of it off my TV and posted it to my blog( that  night.

While listening to Valenti and Foster yesterday they made mention that if people wanted to see Clete’s Cougars they could go to I was wondering if the picture on your site was better than mine and so I went over to see the picture that I snagged on your site…and there was no attribution. It was just posted as if it was found by 97.1 all on their own.

I would like to request that  link back to my site be included with the picture. I don’t think that is too much to ask. I sent an instant feedback to this effect yesterday, as well as an email to the sportsinferno email address.

My main beef is that it is just poor taste to take things without attribution. This is compounded by the fact that it wasn’t that long ago that Mike Valenti was talking about how irresponsible blogs are and that there are no repercussions for the blogs that misbehave. I do run a responsible site and I’d like some courtesy returned.

The show and station thought enough of the photo to use it to drive traffic to the station site, so mentioning the place they found the picture only seems fair.
Thanks for your consideration in this matter.
Bill Ferris

Still, no response. I didn’t ask them to take it down. I stayed calm. But what has me really cheesed is hypocrisy of it. It was just a couple weeks ago that Mike Valenti complained about blogs being able to do whatever they want with no checks and balances in place. Where are the checks and balances for this instance of traditional media that they can take things and post them as their own without attribution? You can’t have it both ways Valenti. You aren’t above sourcing your stuff just because it came from a blog.

I hate bringing attention to that show because it is quite frankly awful. A schtick where you say things with the sole purpose of infuriating your listeners and where loudness is equated to correctness just isn’t my cup of tea. But I also want to stand up for myself.

Thanks to Ian who spoke up for me, and who has had a few of these types of issues himself as of late.


  1. Kevin in Dallas (used to be Austin)

    May 22, 2009 at 10:20 am

    billfer – if you’ll post Tom’s email, I’m sure several of us would be glad to urge him along.

    • Chris in Dallas

      May 22, 2009 at 10:29 am

      I concur. Sounds like a typical sports talk shock jock type…

  2. Ryan P.

    May 22, 2009 at 10:30 am

    Pretty lame. Blogs deserve the same respect that the ‘official’ media gets.

    Here’s Bigby’s email, Kevin:
    And the Webmaster, Glen Lagrou (who I plan on emailing):

    • Jeff

      May 22, 2009 at 10:42 am

      Way to go Bilfer.

      @ Ryan P.: I disagree to some extent. A lot of blogs don’t deserve the same respect that the “official” media receives.

      • Ryan P.

        May 22, 2009 at 10:45 am

        True, my wording was a little bit misleading since I only frequent responsible blogs. Go ahead and edit that word in there in your mind.

        • Noah

          May 22, 2009 at 9:54 pm

          The “official” media doesn’t deserve a whole lot of respect either.

  3. tbliggins

    May 22, 2009 at 10:59 am

    As if I needed another reason to hate Valenti…

    • Mith

      May 22, 2009 at 11:25 am

      Agreed. What a class-A jerk. I can barely stomach listening to the show most days. The others I just have to turn it off.

  4. Ryan P.

    May 22, 2009 at 11:03 am

    I don’t listen to Valenti and Foster often, but Valenti was incredibly annoying on his show after the game yesterday. Like wow.

  5. westcoasttiger

    May 22, 2009 at 11:08 am


    I agree with you. If my daughters were to use the photo in a school project and not provide its source, they would be be cited for a violation of the schools Honor Code. If only adults and orginizations were held to the same standard.

    On the upside, they are reading the DTW.

  6. Ryan

    May 22, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Just keep in mind: It’s only a matter of time until people cut out the middleman and just come here for knowledge instead of listening to that garbage.

  7. Kyle J

    May 22, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    The arrogant sports talk guys are digging their own graves.

  8. Kevin in Dallas (used to be Austin)

    May 22, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    I only tune in to listen to the pre-game and wrap-up. If we could figure out how to run our own net radio station and do a 15 min pre-game and 30 min post-game with rotating hosts and calls I’m certain we could easily fill the airtime. I like to talk about it for a bit when we win, and grovel with other like minded souls when we lose.

  9. Mark in Chicago

    May 22, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    What a shame, billfer, and for what it’s worth, you handled it exactly the right way (which is to say, like an adult). At the risk of diving into a soliloquy about the demise of the MSM, I think this incident crystallizes two things on the part of major media:

    1) a lot of them are extremely lazy

    2) many have a dismissive attitude towards things that are not “traditional” media

    As their industry changes (not dies, just changes), they are understandably defensive and protective of their territory. And sometimes that means they act like juveniles in the process. You do a commendable job running a responsible blog, billfer, and hopefully they at least acknowledge that they made a mistake. Unfortunately, I am skeptical that will happen.

  10. David

    May 22, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    The title sums my thoughts on this one quite nicely. Then again I’m not too shocked by their behavior and lack of a response.

    Once in long while I agree with Mikey V…. usually I think he is dead wrong. When I listened to Pat Caputo I thought he was much MUCH better and funnier to boot.

    Still, you’ve got to be doing something right if they are using your content (even a pic). They probably aren’t linking people here because they don’t want competition.

  11. Chauncey

    May 22, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Its unfortunate what has happened to that show because when it first started getting popular a few years ago, it really wasn’t a bad show at all- Valenti’s rant on the 06 MSU-ND football game is an alltime classic. Now the show just flat sucks. Valenti seems to hate all things Michigan aside from MSU, and Terry Foster seems intent on doing a Drew Sharp impression about all things Detroit Sports.

  12. Eric Cioe

    May 22, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    What a bunch of bull. I’ll be sure to write a letter next time Valenti starts moaning about bloggers.

  13. Nick S

    May 22, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    It’s a shame and wrong that the V&F show didn’t give this site some credit.

    On a side note for the most part I enjoy their show. But when they switched over to FM I think the show has gone downhill quite a bit.

  14. ace davis

    May 22, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    Maybe they didn’t want to appear at variance with his low esteem of bloggers. Maybe they’re milking even this photo credit flap for any possible publicity. Who knows?

    Billfer’s response was very balanced and cordial, based on taste and courtesy rather than rights and obligations. That’s good cause in some sense this is about a copy of a digital photo of a TV picture that is already itself copyrighted.

    You can keep you head up for taking the high-class route in airing the grievance.

  15. Chris in Dallas

    May 22, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    I just (for the first time) clicked the link to see if maybe they gave billfer credit. No dice. However, I was, um, pleased to see Amazin Amie…

  16. jestem

    May 22, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Amazin Amie is probably just a stolen picture as well.

  17. Nick S

    May 22, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    I will say that at least they host the picture, I know that others have had people link pics directly from others servers. Which uses up the sites bandwidth and they get shut down for a day or so.

  18. Nate

    May 22, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    I suspect that 97.1’s guys weren’t the original thieves. A quick google search turns up a thread at Spartan Tailgate that lifted the picture earlier in the morning. I’m fairly certain Valenti’s a regular reader of that forum.

    None of this excuses the fact that they failed to do their diligence and to ascertain the picture’s provenance, but that’s my pseudo-forensic reconstruction of events.

  19. Mr. X

    May 22, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    If all is fair then someone should get permission from the FSN people for the video that the picture originated from.

  20. Greg

    May 22, 2009 at 6:07 pm


    I agree with you on the merits, 100%. But have you tried calling the station or the director? The email addresses that are posted might not be checked very often. I would like to know if they’re definitely ignoring you, or if the word just hasn’t gotten back to them.

    Either way, though, you’re 100% in the right.

  21. Kevin in Dallas (used to be Austin)

    May 22, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    This creates a great property question of law…photographs generally belong to the photographer, though MLB broadcasts are the property of MLB/FSN…but what about a photograph of the broadcast? I’m pretty sure that you have a case here billfer.

  22. Mike

    May 22, 2009 at 11:12 pm


    I totally agree with you! I have been listening to Valenti and Foster (Sports Inferno) for five years, and have been reading you for three. What they did was flat-out bush league. I sent Bigby an email, let’s hope they do the right thing.

  23. Mike R

    May 23, 2009 at 1:34 am

    This sucks, Bill. I hate when these things happen to someone who’s nothing but classy and careful to cite everything he doesn’t creatively come up with himself.

  24. Scott

    May 23, 2009 at 8:21 am

    I like Terry Foster, but I can’t stand Valenti most days. The guy knows football, but not much else. The thing is, he’s such a punk you can’t stand listening to him for more than five minutes. Here’s hoping The Ticket is smart enough to hire Stoney and Wojo for the afternoon drive time. Valenti and Foster should be back on mid-days, if anywhere at all.

    As far as the attribution, honestly I have mixed feelings. Not that I don’t believe in attribution, I do. If this were a picture that you snapped at the ballpark, I think you would be right on the money. It would be your original content. I’m just not sure a screen-cap from a FSN broadcast qualifies as original content. If I took a picture of a Free Press photo and then used it, could I fairly call it my original content? In my opinion, the originator of the content – whether it’s broadcast or still photography – deserves the attribution.

    • Brian

      May 23, 2009 at 4:59 pm

      Valenti is awful. He thinks he is right on everything and rarely admits when he is wrong. And, considering it is his job, he better be right on most things he is talking about. His hatred of the Tigers pitching staff is looking comical so far this season.

      • Rick G

        May 24, 2009 at 7:59 am

        How dare you criticize Valenti – he knows what WHIP means! (That qualifies for in-depth analysis, you know.) I love how angry he gets when people suggest that EJax is actually pretty good. Oh yeah, and let’s hurry up and make that trade, Justin Verlander for Scott Baker (I’m pretty sure I remember him saying he’d rather have Baker at the beginning of the season).

  25. billfer

    May 23, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Thanks for the support guys. A couple things that were brought up:

    1. I want to be careful to not bash MSM or talk radio as a whole. By and large I think the Detroit MSM isn’t blog hostile and many are blog friendly. On WDFN Jamie Samuelson (now with WRIF) and Sean Baligian were both VERY supportive of this site and I don’t want any lumping in to occur. I will say though that in my experience the MSM members who feel the need to warn the general public about blogs are generally the ones who violate the same principles they are warning about.

    2. Yes, FS Detroit were the ones airing the video that I took the picture from. That is pretty clear because the logo is shown in the picture. But who else bothered to get the screen capture of it? Nobody including 97.1. I grabbed it and posted it. They took it.

    3. As far as communication methods and whether or not they check the emails I know this isn’t too much of an issue. I used their instant feedback form which gets read as it comes in because they are shared on the show. Somebody saw that one. It turns out the Sports Inferno email address is defunct, but they still post it on their website. They need to fix that. I have no idea about Bigby’s email.

    4. With the possibility that they got the picture from someone else, I certainly understand that which is why I didn’t attack and pointed out the original source of the picture. They are now aware of it and have still chosen to claim it as their own.

    5. As for who owns the rights to the photo, I’m not a lawyer and I’ll default to Kevin on this one. I took a picture of my TV which was broadcasting the Tigers game. MLB clearly owns the right to the broadcast, but I’m pretty sure I own the right to the picture.

  26. Patrick

    May 23, 2009 at 10:07 am

    As a listener of the V&F show as well as a reader of your blog, I felt it my responsibility to lob a note to Bigby noting my disappointment at their cavalier attitude about attribution.

    It’s an simple but inexcusable mistake on their part. Fortunately, it’s easily remedied.

    I will be very disappoiinted if they don’t respond and credit you as the source.

    I’ll let you know if I receive a response from Bigby.

    Keep up the good work.

    Go Tigers!


  27. Scott

    May 23, 2009 at 10:09 am

    It’s an interesting issue… one that all bloggers should be concerned about. My question is, even if you do attribute where you got a photo from, are you protected legally? Could a publication sue you successfully if you did not obtain express written consent to use their material?

  28. Piratey

    May 23, 2009 at 11:32 am

    The only good show on 97.1’s lineup is the mid-day guys, Karsch and Anderson.

  29. Bobby

    May 24, 2009 at 12:52 am

    As a pro photographer, I know all too well about people stealing work and reposting it. Unfortunately, part of my job is to literally chase down incidences of people posting my work all over the web. It sucks. People range from ignorant to mischievous to schmucks to downright thieves.

    However, let me say this: Billfer, I don’t believe you own that screenshot. That, by all intents and purposes, is the intellectual property of both FSD and MLB. Any usage of that is a violation thereof, regardless of how small the sampling. It would be like, for instance, another artist sampling the last chord of ‘Day In The Life’ by the Beatles — recognizable, in either a 1 second or 20 second version. The Beatles would have every right to claim violation of intellectual property if that were to be published in anyway for profit. The snapshot from your TV is just one photograph from the video taken by FSD…

    Now, I’m not arguing **for** Valenti — he’s a schmuck for taking it, period. But, if he argues that the snapshot does not belong to you, he has a valid point (and in which case, you’re both wrong to post it).

    I would be annoyed at them for being schmucky about it, but IMHO, you’re both wrong here.

    • billfer

      May 24, 2009 at 9:17 am

      Bobby –

      Thanks for weighing in. I’ll admit that I don’t know the rightness of what i did in the first place from a legal perspective. I wouldn’t have had the ability to get the screencap without the FS Detroit broadcast to be sure. If they raised issue with it I would certainly take it down without complaint and with apology. Perhaps I should have asked permission for using it in the first place. There are also “fair use” rules which I’m not at all well versed in.

      I don’t use a lot of photos on this site in general and I stick to ones that I have taken or I have received permission from the photographer (and I provide credit).

      As for Valenti and WXYT, they haven’t made any argument. They’ve just ignored the matter altogether.

      My beef is less about ownership and more about attribution. My shot clearly came from the FS Detroit broadcast and I don’t hide that fact at all. I’d probably argue that my snapshot is a derivative work of the broadcast (which I was never granted rights to admittedly making me in the wrong also). They just flat out took the photo.

  30. monk

    July 5, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    Lemme get this straight – you ripped off a shot that was part of a copyrighted broadcast and you were mad someone ripped it off from you?

  31. Robbob96

    July 21, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    Valenti looks at all Detroit sports in the negative. He probably looks at life negative. He leads Terry Foster to a negative light as well. He should go back to New York where he’ll fit right in. I even hear other shows, mostly Pat Caputo, Pat defends different players and what not, and he even asked before where all this hostility is coming for players like Zumaya. I’m thinking it’s coming right from your radio station from Valenti “who knows all and would never admit to being wrong”

  32. Robbob96

    July 21, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Can we form a “I hate Mike Valenti” website? I want him gone from the airways, he only brings negativity. Can we come together to get rid of him?