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Right is right when it comes to copyrighted items

By Dick Olenych, The Virginian-Pilot - 2/22/2009

NO, I’M NOT running for office. I just want you to vote for me, OK?

I have been married to my first bride for more than 23 years. Her name is Nadine.

I love her … but right is right, especially when it comes to copyrighted material. There are just some things that a husband cannot do.

Is anyone on my side yet? Well … OK … please let me do a little explaining.

Several years ago, when my eldest child was a senior at Kempsville High School, we bought a package deal of his senior portraits. You know, you get the portrait, several 5-by-8’s and a bunch of wallet-size pictures. They looked great, we love them … or rather we loved them until another deal came along.

This year my oldest daughter is now a senior and they have a different “package deal.” We decided to buy a bigger portrait of her than we bought of our son.

And this is the heart of the problem.

My loving, churchgoing wife asked me … the owner of a printing company, to reproduce one of my son’s pictures to match the size of his sister’s picture. She wanted me to make it all good in the family.

My staff could do this with their eyes closed.

But when she handed me my son’s picture, it had stamped on the back the word “copyrighted.” You know, that phrase that should stop all of us from reproducing anything.

So I mentioned to my very caring, funny and beautiful wife that I couldn’t do it. I gently explained my reason and …

For the next several days I walked around with a crick in my neck from sleeping on the sofa.

After I raised the white flag, she explained that the photography company, the rightful owners of said photo, only saved the negatives for three years and they were gone. There just weren’t any other options.

I still did not acquiesce. And I was soon looking for a chiropractor.

Was it a moral issue because I’m a writer? No. Or could it be that I was worried about the royalties for the photographer? No. With the destruction of the negatives that didn’t make sense to me.

Maybe I was afraid of the “copyright police” raiding our house late one night, smashing our front door and humiliating me in front of my neighbors? Perhaps, but no, that wasn’t it, either.

Plain and simple, I am not above my company’s standards. And reproducing any copyrighted material is prohibited – for me, my staff or our families. We just do not do it.

I own a small business that I feel sets the standard for our industry. That means doing things right when temptations are set in front of you – not just doing them when it’s convenient or to your advantage. And that means no one – not me or my boss, my wife – should be able to circumvent the company’s policies and procedures to achieve personal gains.

My honest, compassionate and – again – very beautif ul wife worked diligently to acquire the proper disclosures. The approvals seemed to pass the test with my staff and they did a great job on my son’s photo.

So now there should be harmony in the Olenych clan.

Well, not really. Some people whom I will not name may still think of me as a jerk.

So that’s why I’m asking for you to cast a ballot. Was I right?

Please vote now, because this dog house is mighty tight.

Dick Olenych is president of Spectrum Printing and author of the business book “Joe Sails.” Reach Dick Olenych at info@dickolenych.com.

4716 Virginia Beach Blvd, Virginia Beach, VA 23462 | (757) 473-9977  |  Email: info@dickolenych.com