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Old 24th of May 2012 (Thu)   #1
SnapLocally.com
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Default I'm being stolen from; being accused of "extortion"

The short version:

An image of mine is being used -for commercial purposes- without permission. I ask for payment; I'm being accused of extortion.



The back story:

I took an image at a boxing weigh-in a few years ago; woah and behold it's now being used on a series of promotional posters.



The long version (an edited version of my correspondence with the promoter) :



Greetings,

I'm <me> the owner/operator of SnapLocally.com, a MN-based "Combat Sports Photography" website. It has come to my attention that <fight promotion> is using and has been using an image of mine for promotional purposes, that being of <a fighter>.

While I'm glad that the said image is to your companies liking, I am the photographer/copyright holder of this image, and no one has contacted me for commercial usage within your company of my work.

I'm hoping to solve this issue amicably, hence my contact to you here. I'm willing to offer you the same deal I offered <another promotion> when we were in a similar situation- $XXX for the use of my image, and the licensing for this image for this event is officially yours.

Respectfully,

SnapLocally



Quote:
you better call <the boxer's manager>

With all due respect <boxer's manager> doesn't own my work- I do. My camera, my photo, my copyright. Nobody but me has the original copy of this image. It doesn't matter if <manager> gave someone in your arts and crafts department permission to use the work of a 3rd party- you didn't get MY permission. Now as it stands you don't have my permission, and will not, until I'm paid for my work. My asking price is more than a fair one.


Quote:
Also according to Mr <boxer> he didn't give you permission to photograph his likeness so once again call <manager> and stop harassing us

He stood in front of me and posed for it. That is implied permission, and I have photographic evidence, among several other photos he posed for.

Let's not convolute the issue. You're using an image of mine for COMMERCIAL USAGE WITHOUT MY PERMISSION.

Please pay your bill, and have a nice day.



Quote:
Don't contact me again take it up with <manager>

<promotion> Boxing is using MY work without permission, not <the manager>. I don't care what <manager> told you, you didn't get MY permission to use MY work for commercial purposes.

I will be contacting you again- with an invoice for services rendered. Please pay it.



Quote:
What is your phone number

Sorry, but everything I do is going to be in writing. It leaves little room for words being subject to interpretation.

The invoice has been sent.



Quote:
I've spoken to my lawyer and he strongly suggest that you cease with your threats and harassment and take your issue up with the proper parties which you have been informed of who they are DO NOT CONTACT US AGAIN

Govern yourself accordingly

See, this is why we're not talking on the phone. The written word is perfectly clear, and you're still confusing the issue.

My correspondence with you is neither threat nor harassment- I'm informing you that

1. Someone in your company took it upon themselves to use an image of mine for commercial usage without consent.

2. That I offer commercial usage of my work (licensing) when I am financially compensated for work rendered.

3. That since this oversight was made- that my image was and is being used for commercial usage- that I expect to be compensated for said commercial usage.

4. That I've encountered this situation before, that I realize mistakes can be made, and how it came to an amicable resolution.

Again, I'm respectfully requesting that you pay the reasonable price I've set for the unauthorized usage of my intellectual property.


Quote:
Extortion is a crime do not contact us any further

Plus if that is indeed you photo it absolutely horrible

I nor my company would never choose a photo like that

Go extort <the boxer's manager>

"Extortion" is heavyweight legalese, and in this instance and of my opinion, misappropriated.

So you think the image is "absolutely horrible". Yes, I agree. That's what happens when someone takes a low resolution image off the internet- without permission- manipulates, and incorporates it into promotional posters, which was never it's designed purpose.

Since we're discussing legal terms, you may care to familiarize yourself with the words "copyright", "copyright infringement", "intellectual property", and "unauthorized use" to name a few.

Now if I were less than a gentleman I would accuse you of blatant theft, which I have not. I've given you the benefit of the doubt that this could indeed be an honest mistake, offered an amicable and respectful solution, and in return have my integrity insulted, my photography insulted, and quite frankly, my intelligence insulted.

I apologize for repeating myself, but please bear with me- <manager> isn't the copyright holder of my intellectual property, and as such doesn't have any legal, moral, technical, or any other right to grant 3rd party permission for promotional usage of my work.

Now please, as a gentleman I'm asking you to pay me for my work that you're using. Just because the internet is wide open and an easy place to acquire images, it doesn't make it the lawless Wild West where anything goes.


______

I am open to thoughts on the matter, and how you'd handle the situation.

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Old 24th of May 2012 (Thu)   #2
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Default Re: I'm being stolen from; being accused of "extortion"

1. Contact Lawyer.
2. Have Lawyer send Invoice to the company using your photo.
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Old 24th of May 2012 (Thu)   #3
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Default Re: I'm being stolen from; being accused of "extortion"

They're not going to pay you. See a lawyer or drop it.
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Old 24th of May 2012 (Thu)   #4
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Default Re: I'm being stolen from; being accused of "extortion"

Its time for you to get a lawyer involved. Are these images registered?
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Old 24th of May 2012 (Thu)   #5
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Default Re: I'm being stolen from; being accused of "extortion"

Quote:
Originally Posted by gonzogolf View Post
Its time for you to get a lawyer involved. Are these images registered?
No, but I can easily prove the image is mine- I have the only full resolution copy, and the only copy with the EXIF info intact.
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Old 24th of May 2012 (Thu)   #6
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Default Re: I'm being stolen from; being accused of "extortion"

Quote:
Originally Posted by SnapLocally.com View Post
No, but I can easily prove the image is mine- I have the only full resolution copy, and the only copy with the EXIF info intact.
The problem is this, without registration you can only get the value of the use of the image. I'm sure your invoice reflects that amount, but if the image were registered with the copyright office you would have the additional leverage of seeking statutory (essentially punitive ) damages above the actual value of the photo's use. That limit means its hard to get an attorney to actually pursue a case, because if you win, it still might not cover the fees involved.
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Old 24th of May 2012 (Thu)   #7
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Default Re: I'm being stolen from; being accused of "extortion"

Quote:
Originally Posted by gonzogolf View Post
The problem is this, without registration you can only get the value of the use of the image. I'm sure your invoice reflects that amount, but if the image were registered with the copyright office you would have the additional leverage of seeking statutory (essentially punitive ) damages above the actual value of the photo's use. That limit means its hard to get an attorney to actually pursue a case, because if you win, it still might not cover the fees involved.
If a photograph has been used extensively and commercially, he actually has a bit more leverage than that. He can get a judgment, for instance, to force the producer to recall all material using that photograph. The cost of doing that undoubtely outweighs paying him a fair price for the images.

Sending such threats is what lawyers are for.

Last edited by RDKirk : 24th of May 2012 (Thu) at 13:54.
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Old 24th of May 2012 (Thu)   #8
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Default Re: I'm being stolen from; being accused of "extortion"

and people say I am paranoid by watermarking everything that goes online


this is why.
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Old 24th of May 2012 (Thu)   #9
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Default Re: I'm being stolen from; being accused of "extortion"

Finding a lawyer is of course a viable option, but I'm not sure how that works since said promotion is in another state. I'd also consider small claims court...
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Old 24th of May 2012 (Thu)   #10
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Default Re: I'm being stolen from; being accused of "extortion"

Register the image with the copyright office, posthaste. That will make it easier to be awarded a larger amount when it gets to a judge.

You have more patience than I do. I think I would have been done dealing directly with them after about three e-mails.
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Old 24th of May 2012 (Thu)   #11
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Default Re: I'm being stolen from; being accused of "extortion"

Quote:
Originally Posted by nathancarter View Post
Register the image with the copyright office, posthaste. That will make it easier to be awarded a larger amount when it gets to a judge.

You have more patience than I do. I think I would have been done dealing directly with them after about three e-mails.
This is important. The OP can do this online within a few minutes. As I mentioned earlier, the OP may still have leverage even for an infringement occuring before registration if the images are still in use.

Lawyer up.

Last edited by RDKirk : 24th of May 2012 (Thu) at 13:55.
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Old 24th of May 2012 (Thu)   #12
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Default Re: I'm being stolen from; being accused of "extortion"

Who did you shoot these images for originally? Do you have permission / model release / contract to use the image commercially yourself?

this could open up a bigger box than you want...
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Old 24th of May 2012 (Thu)   #13
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Default Re: I'm being stolen from; being accused of "extortion"

Quote:
Originally Posted by JacobPhoto View Post
Who did you shoot these images for originally? Do you have permission / model release / contract to use the image commercially yourself?

this could open up a bigger box than you want...
Funny enough, I was supposed to get paid for covering the event, but that didn't happen- I had a verbal agreement to shoot it for pay, but nothing in writing. When I asked the promoter about money, he was broke. Seeing how big the building was and how empty the seats were, I know he lost money.

I guess to answer your question, no I don't have a model release, but then again I had no intention on using it for commercial purposes.
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Old 24th of May 2012 (Thu)   #14
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Default Re: I'm being stolen from; being accused of "extortion"

Quote:
Originally Posted by SnapLocally.com View Post
Funny enough, I was supposed to get paid for covering the event, but that didn't happen- I had a verbal agreement to shoot it for pay, but nothing in writing. When I asked the promoter about money, he was broke. Seeing how big the building was and how empty the seats were, I know he lost money.

I guess to answer your question, no I don't have a model release, but then again I had no intention on using it for commercial purposes.
So this was a private event (tickets were sold) that you were given a media pass for? what does the agreement that you signed with the promoter say about using the images commercially?

I shoot a lot of motorsports events, and many of the sanctioning bodies have a clause which says you are forbidden to use the image commercially without expressed written consent prior to use. Sometimes there's a licensing fee involved, sometimes there isn't. When you pick up your media pass, there's usually a disclaimer you have to sign that has all the usage information outlined. If another company is using your image commercially and you didn't have permission from the sanctioning body which gave you the media pass and allowed you to shoot the image in the first place, you may be in a bigger pickle.
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Old 24th of May 2012 (Thu)   #15
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Default Re: I'm being stolen from; being accused of "extortion"

Quote:
Originally Posted by JacobPhoto View Post
Who did you shoot these images for originally? Do you have permission / model release / contract to use the image commercially yourself?

this could open up a bigger box than you want...
This is not an issue for this case. For copyright purposes--to pursue payment or a cease-and-desist for this particular use--none of those issues matters.

The requirement for a model release is upon the user, not the photographer. If anything, the lack of a model release exposes the publisher to additional legal vulnerability.

Last edited by RDKirk : 24th of May 2012 (Thu) at 13:56.
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