Man angry magazine uses his photo for story on hipsters, discovers photo isn't him

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — MIT Technology Review pushed a story last week on research purporting to explain "the hipster effect" and how nonconformists often end up looking the same.

Editor-in-Chief Gideon Litchfield said he quickly received a furious email from a man who claimed he was the man in the photo the magazine accompanied the story with. He accused the publication of slander, presumably by implying he was a hipster, and using the photo without his permission.

“Now, as far as I know, calling someone a hipster isn’t slander, no matter how much they may hate it,” Litchfield posted on Twitter. “Still, we would never use a picture without the proper license or model release.”

Litchfield said the image was a stock photo from Getty Images. He checked the photo’s license and found the image did have restrictions, but none he felt his publication violated.

One of the restricted stated:  
If you use content that features models or property in connection with a subject that would be unflattering or unduly controversial to a reasonable person (for example, sexually transmitted diseases), you must indicate: (1) that the content is being used for illustrative purposes only, and (2) any person depicted in the content is a model.

“We weren’t implying that the model had [a sexually transmitted disease], only that he was a hipster,” Litchfield added on Twitter. “We didn't think this met the definition of ‘unflattering or unduly controversial.’”

Recognizing others might disagree, Litchfield contacted Getty Images to be on the safe side and got quite the surprise. Getty Images informed him the man who complained was not the man in the photo. He had misidentified himself.

“All of which just proves the story we ran: Hipsters look so much alike that they can’t even tell themselves apart from each other,” Litchfield quipped.

MIT Technology Review is a magazine wholly owned by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but editorially independent of the university.