My Quest To Be Allowed To Use a Charlie Hebdo Cartoon

Charlie Hebdo

Charlie Hebdo Political Cartoon

How do you get permission to use a Charlie Hebdo political cartoon that you saw days earlier on Facebook? It takes a little ingenuity, knowing key people and a lot of Social Media Support to track down a cartoonist 6,000 miles away and to accomplish the impossible in less than 1 hour.

I have always had the uncanny ability to resolve challenging situations with clever solutions yet this is one for the record books!

Political Cartoonist Around the World in Solidarity with Charlie Hebdo

In light of the horrific situation in Paris and the senseless killing of 12 people at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical weekly newspaper, a long time client wrote a brilliant blog article and the opening paragraph compared the slaughter of a dozen at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo with the 9/11 suicide bombings. As soon as I saw the subject of the blog I knew the perfect image. I had seen it on Facebook and now the mission before me was to find the image and get the cartoonist’s OK to use his image.


  • Find the Cartoon that I’d seen days ago on Facebook
  • Locate the Political Cartoonist and
  • Get Written Permission to Use His Cartoon!

This could prove to be a bit difficult since, as I discovered, the cartoonist was Dutch and he lives in the Netherlands 6,000 miles from my office in California!

Step 1:

Track Down The Cartoon and the Original Artist – Ruben L. Oppenheimer  @RLOppenheimer 

I found the image on Twitter and all of the Tweets were DUTCH. To be honest I just barely speak English! This may be difficult.

Step 2:

Ask for Help!

I reached out to my friend and colleague Edith Zwagerman who heads EEZ & Co an online branding, marketing and online positioning agency in the Netherlands. Edith and I met September 2012 while we were training with Mari Smith at her Social Media Intensive event in San Diego. Edith is in the back row, 3rd from the left.

Mari Smith Social Media Intensive San Diego, CA 2012

Mari Smith Social Media Intensive – San Diego, CA 2012

I posted a question on Edith’s personal Facebook profile asking her what the laws were in the Netherlands for using an image or artwork from a Dutch artist. I also shared the tweet, on the same post, with the image that I was interested in. When I reached out to Edith I didn’t know the time difference. She may have left her office to start her weekend.

Within a few minutes, Edith responded letting me know that a friend of her’s has a cousin who is connected to Ruben Oppenheimer the artist. This is where a small world becomes smaller!

Within an hour of my initial Facebook post I had a text from the artist, it’s in Dutch, giving us permission to use his brilliant cartoon. The text was brief and to the point. He was a little rushed because he was in between interviews and minutes away from an on air interview with the BBC! Here’s an audio link to the interview he recorded after sending the text:

BBC – Dutch Cartoonist Ruben Oppenheimer Explains His Reaction to the Charlie Hebdo Massacre

Key Take Aways:

The Power of Ingenuity – experience and never giving up are the two key components to my successful outcome.

The Power of Friends – reach out to friends and colleagues and ask for help. You will discover that they are happy to help.

The Power of the Pen – In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre the world is coming together in support of the cartoonists and publishers of CharlieHedbo and their right publish. World leaders joined together to march in Paris with over 1 million people at a unity rally. The hashtag #JeSuisCharlie had been tweeted 5,044,740 times by 5:00 pm Friday. Tragedy brings people together. It’s important to not lose sight of the vital importance of tolerance!


Please take a moment to also read the blog that prompted it all:

My Quest To Be Allowed To Use a Charlie Hebdo Cartoon was last modified: April 21st, 2015 by Heidi Garland

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  • Robin March 9, 2016   Reply →

    Hi Heidi,
    Fantastic post! What a journey you had getting permission to use the photo! It always helps to have fabulous friends!

  • Donna Gilliland December 24, 2016   Reply →

    Heidi, great post of helpful information. Thank you. ~ Donna

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