John Barry: On HuffPo, AOL and a Bad Case of Bulging Corduroys

Written by John Barry

In which John Barry takes us through the adventure that followed finding a pic of his bulging corderoys in The HuffPo. And FauxPo. More here … — Ariana Huffington was a liberal, then a conservative, then a liberal again, changing her stripes more often than Michael Savage.

According to someone who has known Savage for years, he was a liberal but switched to being a Trog because it was more profitable.

Savage changed his name from Michael Weiner. Huffington changed hers from Ariánna Stasinopoúlou after she married Michael Huffington in 1986. Michael Huffington is a member of the club of clowns who tried to buy national office in California, dumping piles of dough into their doomed bids.

He lost in an attempt to take Dianne Feinstein’s senate seat.

Other members of that club: Al Checci; and Meg Whitman, who tried to buy the governorship of California; and Carly Fiorina, who blew a bundle attempting to unseat Senator Barbara Boxer.

At any rate, in 1998 Michael Huffington announced that he was bisexual. He and Ariana had divorced the previous year. And Ariana launched the eponymous Huffington Post (HuffPo) in 2005. One of the founders was the screaming reactionary Andrew Breitbart, who has since passed.

Wikipedia describes The HuffPo thus:

… a liberal/left commentary outlet and alternative to news aggregators such as the Drudge Report.”

Really? Recently The HuffPo used a photo of me without my permission, reconfirming in the process that one has no privacy.

To put the pic in context, I must backtrack.

From 1977 to 1980, I worked for Wayne Green, co-founder of BYTE magazine. After losing BYTE to his ex-wife, Wayne started Kilobaud (AKA Kilobaud Microcomputing and Microcomputing) to compete with it.

I was Kilobaud’s second managing editor and served in that capacity for three years.

To say our budget was small would be an understatement. As a result, staff members, including yours truly, often served as unpaid-though-willing models for cover and article art. On one such occasion, I sat in front of a TRS-80, tearing up my 1979 tax form, because I would be using the computer to do my taxes, the subject of the article for which I posed.

I was wearing 70s regalia, including baggy corduroy pants, which bulged at the crotch.

We all chuckled surreptitiously at the photo as the issue went to press.

This happened nearly 40 years ago, pre-digital cameras, pre-Web.

In 1983 IDG purchased Green’s publishing business, including, presumably, rights to all of his magazines’ contents.

Fast forward to late 2013: Huffpo runs an article called “Eighteen Vintage Tech Ads Prove How Far We’ve Come.”

I learn about it from a friend via email. My friend says as a joke that the article is entitled, “Forget Taxes. I have Porn to Watch.” He includes that old photo I mentioned featuring me and my bulging corduroys. By the time I see the email message, the site has already been refreshed, and the link to the article has vanished, but my friend had managed to snag the pic.

I discover later that my friend had erroneously inferred that the photo illustrated an article about taxes, whereas it was, in fact, part of a photo montage of old computer ads, some of which were not ads at all.

His “title” is actually just a photo caption. This is why I wasn’t able to find it searching the HuffPo site by employing the typical article title search criteria.

I am amused yet not amused. I am amused because the photo is as funny now as it was way back when. I am not amused because of what its unauthorized use represents — a big evil media company with no regard for the “little guy.”

As such, I have no recourse. But, amazingly,the HuffPo site has a contact email for the legal department — probably because The HuffPo is getting sued with relative regularity.

So I send an email merely requesting an answer to: Where did you find this photo?

Predictably, I get no response.

So I fire off an email to Fox News, asking if they’re interested in how this liberal bastion treats those it purports to represent. After keying in the message, I wash my hands.

No response.

So finally, and with great difficulty, I get through to someone at IDG and explain the situation, with an emphasis on the possibility that the Huffers are infringing on IDG copyrights. Unlike the HuffPo and Fox inquiries, this one produces a response:

I’ve passed this along to IDG Legal to see if they care to pursue it. I believe the best we can hope for is a letter to AOL asking that they give attribution in the future.”

We’ll see.

AOL? Yes, AOL. I learn that AOL bought HuffPo in 2011. Really big evil media company, right?

It takes a lot of digging to find the FauxPo, but I renew the search and finally locate it.

I can’t find an email address for the author, Drew Guarini, so I tweet at him.

He responds, informing me that he grabbed the photo from a site purporting to show old computer ads. In fact, several of the site’s pix came from Kilobaud articles.

I forward this new info to IDG and send the following comment to

I’m the guy in the ‘TRS-80 Taxes’ pic in Old Ads. You used the image without my permission … you’ve infringed on IDG’s copyright … the pic is NOT from an ad … it’s cover art for a feature story in Kilobaud magazine.”

Apparently the phrase “you’ve infringed on IDG’s copyright” catches someone’s attention at oldcomputers.

Less than an hour after I send the message, the picture is gone from the site, which turns out to be a hobby offshoot of a place that buys and sells old computers.

And so my IDG contact responds:

Good news is the source is now down. With that being the case, I don’t see IDG Legal pursuing.”

My expressing displeasure to HuffPo is just an annoying cost of doing business, as would be a lawsuit, could I afford to go that route.

Anyway, since so many others are using my image so freely, I decide to get in on the act myself. Here’s the picture. Enjoy. For, I’m John Barry.

John Barry is a senior contributor here at The founder of trACTION painting, John has coined such terms as: baint and skaint, referring to painting with a bicycle’s tires or painting with a rollerskate’s wheels, respectively. Read all of John’s stories on by clicking this link: here.