Tuesday, January 24, 2012

No More Roxolana for Me (yet again!)

***UPDATE: The owner of Roxolana emailed to apologize and said that my photo was set to be used on Yelp by mistake, and that he had uploaded it before the first incident. ***

Some of you may be familiar with the incident where Ukrainian restaurant, Roxolana, in Pasadena used my photo without permission or credit for their Groupon deal a while back. I asked Groupon to take the photo down, and emailed the owner which resulted in a ridiculous email exchange (documented below).

Well, I thought that was that. But NO! This morning a fellow blogger told me that she saw my photo used by Roxolana yet again, this time for their Yelp deal! Here's a screen capture of the deal page:

This was my photo on flickr, uploaded in July 2011
Chicken Kiev cross section

The photo on Yelp was apparently uploaded by an "Alex R." who has no review and 3 uploaded photos, all of which are of Roxolana. I mean, seriously, once was annoying enough, but to do it AGAIN??

--older post--
This used to be a post about tasting Ukrainian food at Roxolana Restaurant in Pasadena. Well, not anymore.

I woke up to one of my photos of their food being used without my permission, and without credit, for their Groupon deal. The thing is, I'm really usually pretty nice. If they had asked me for permission, and say they can't afford to pay me and promise to credit me for it, I probably would've let them use it for free. But I don't appreciate a rude awakening.

So I sent the restaurant an email, saying I noticed they used my photo without permission and to please take them down or discuss a compensation plan. I admit, I was expecting an apology. Maybe they didn't notice the copyright terms on my Flickr account. Apparently I was way wrong. Here is their reply:

"I could say same to you [sic]. You took pictures of our products without notifying us and posted on your web site for public viewing. Do you want to discuss a compensation plan?
I'm glad you keep tracking us though."

Wow. OK .. now they think I should pay them for taking photo and giving them free publicity (however little) via my blog? Did they complain when I was taking the photos? Or when I first blogged about it? No, they were happy enough to link to it in the Groupon deal. Did they complain when Pasadena Weekly wrote about them? Or Tasting Table? I think not.
Imagine if paparazzis have to start paying movie stars for taking their photos, or if LA times have to start paying restaurants to take photos of their food. Who does nature photographers have to pay?
Well, I'm certainly not about to pay them. And that's why the old post is GONE.
They just lost me as a customer, and for better or worse, lost my review.

Oh, and bloggers and Yelpers, be warned. If you don't want your photos to become their properties or have to pay them, don't take photos of their food and don't write about them.

2:11 PM UPDATE: Noticed Groupon finally replaced my photo with another one!

MORE UPDATE: So they emailed me again after seeing my new post, and I think I should reply in case anyone else in the future thinks they can grab my photos and post them without my knowledge.

"you didn't have any restriction notices on the review page. How do I know it is restricted to use your pictures? How do I know you have your rules posted on Flickr???"

Not true. On the right side there is an "All rights reserved" that shows up on every page.
And, really, I think it's common ethics and common courtesy to ask.

Also, they said:
"It's weird why before today our review had only 2 comments and nobody else was interested in us, but now there is a bunch after a "scandal"."

Well, not really my problem here, but just saying that post has gotten over 250 page views, not counting the day it was on the main page which probably adds another 100, before the "scandal". Comments doesn't necessarily correlate with exposure. Oh and it's not weird at all. It was never a well known restaurant so not many people look for it and people love scandals and gossip.



Wow! Okay, now I have to go there - the food looks like home food.

Just not so comfy in the summer.

Classic eastern european tastes are sweet/sour, and the use of cabbage (and beets!) often helps you get that.

They do not, as a side, have something I wish you and Wandering Chopsticks could try - sauteed cabbage and noodles. (egg noodles) To make it a whole meal, you add farmers cheese or cottage cheese and fresh pepper or caraway.

And the pink puree? Oh no. No. There is a broth based borscht for winter, and for summer it is beet based. Then you mush in (not completely!) a big spoonful of sour cream and then crumble in some matzo. You still have beety brightness, with chunks of richness, and crunches of matzo. Perfect. To blend it to pinkness is to take out all the contrast and fun.

Thanks for a great and helpful review!


Hi oddlyme,

Thanks for all the tips! Too bad they don't have the cabbage and noodle dish, I would've liked to try that too. And you know, it'll get cool again soon enough in LA, and you can visit this place :)


DUDE! THAT IS SOOOOOOO LAME! What kind of rude response is that???!

I personally HATE people like that. I hate restaurants who are like oh no picture! If you put up a sign ahead of time, sure... but other than that.. take that stick out of your butt! You should be LUCKY enough to be photographed by us! >_<#

They should have at least apologized or thank you for taking a great picture and ask to use it. Plain rudeness! I would contact Groupon and let them know that they are using a stolen photo without permission. They are actually pretty good about these situations, so you should try.

I advise that you watermark your photos from now on. If you haven't noticed, that's what I do O=) I have found my photos everywhere without credit so now it is all about watermarking O=)

Nick at TreasureLA

That is officially the weirdest thing I've heard this week. I'd offer further commentary, but my head is still spinning...

Caroline on Crack

They obviously don't get it. I've had one publication do that with a couple of my photos and when I brought it to their attention that they forgot to credit me, not only did they add my credit to the photos but they actually hired me to take pictures of their events. Was it the owner who wrote that rude response to you?


Yikes, that's awful!

As you can tell by my earlier post, I was going to go there. Heck, I was even going to get todays Groupon. Now? Nada.

What an oddly foolish move on their part.

Gina Ruiz

How rude! I'll NEVER go there.

Wandering Chopsticks

It's too bad that restaurants and small business owners sometimes don't realize how important customer service is, especially in the age of the internet. Did we enjoy our meal? It was fine and something to experience. And you blogged it with nice photos so others who didn't know the restaurant existed could try it out.

Ideally, they would have used their own photos. But if they couldn't afford it, they could have asked your permission first. But they didn't, and instead of responding with effusive apologies and then asking if it's OK to use your photo with a link to your blog, they react in anger and castigation.

So now, they've definitely lost two customers, you and me. And when I get around to posting my review, I link back to this and mention how terribly they acted. It's not like we're the type of bloggers who enjoy picking on restaurants either, but their reaction was just too unfortunate for me to ever want to dine there again.


That restaurant response is outrageous. We have to pay to take photos of their food? I'm pretty sure there's no way they can enforce that.

It's just a shame when restauranteurs don't understand business or law. It's not just common courtesy to ask, it's willful copyright infringement. At worst, that can result in criminal liability. It's understandable that restauranteurs don't know copyright law, but at the very least, common sense should kick in and they shouldn't alienate their customers, especially customers who are bringing business.


You just saved me a trip there, thanks! Unbelievably rude and arrogant on their behalf.


Wow this is just shocking. The fact they're using Groupon may also be signaling their demise. I've been reading a lot about how it can tend to put a place out of business. Maybe that's what's needed. No one with this attitude should be serving the public.

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