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FORUMS Post Processing, Marketing & Presenting Photos The Business of Photography 
Thread started 22 Feb 2015 (Sunday) 05:20
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Client harmed? To what degree?

 
texkam
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Feb 22, 2015 05:20 |  #1

Was hired to shoot and post running event race photos to client's Facebook site. Several albums were created, approx 100 pics per album. Also added graphics and/or photos to 4 "event notices" that were created by both me and client. The site's cover pic and profile pic were mine as well. Photos were met with rave reviews garnering much positive buzz for the client's business.

After weeks of non payment drama including "check is in the mail" followed by client ignoring subsequent calls, texts, and emails, I removed all my images from the site. Nothing posted to the page by others (followers) was touched. My stance was no payment and you cut off all communication, then I'm removing what was not paid for. Doing this caused the "likes" and "comments" of that content to disappear. Information in the event notices was lost as well, however the lost event notices were for events that had already taken place.

Client is claiming irreparable harm to his business to the tune of $15,000 - 20,000.

During my tenure the number of "likes" to the site has more than doubled. Stats for traffic, posts, reach, etc. have all spiked as well. Brand awareness and positive perception is much higher now than when I started. Obviously no longer having my work featured could have an impact going forward, but how much merit does this threatened lawsuit have?

I am agreeable to upon getting paid, to repost my content. New comments, likes, and shares would have to start from scratch, of course.
I am also agreeable to receiving a lesser amount (for the positive impact already provided) and just parting ways, keeping my content.

What say you?




  
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crbinson
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Feb 22, 2015 05:33 |  #2

Did you have a written agreement?


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Wolfie01SS
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Feb 22, 2015 07:12 |  #3

I'm not a lawyer, just my 0.02.

I think "irreparable harm" is funny. It looks like they googled the term. I would't reply to anything from them except the way you put it. If they pay, repost the content.




  
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sspellman
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Post edited over 6 years ago by sspellman.
     
Feb 22, 2015 11:12 |  #4

What I say, is that our opinion doesn't matter here at all. Only a lawyer can really protect or guide you here.

In the future, you should know that you can change a FB Photo albums privacy to "just you" in 2 clicks without deleting anything.


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groundloop
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Feb 22, 2015 13:50 |  #5

sspellman wrote in post #17443913 (external link)
What I say, is that our opinion doesn't matter here at all. Only a lawyer can really protect or guide you here.

.....


Yes, and that's going to be based on whatever is in your contract. Without a contract I'd bet it's going to get very messy.




  
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Phil ­ V
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Feb 22, 2015 15:35 |  #6

groundloop wrote in post #17444152 (external link)
Yes, and that's going to be based on whatever is in your contract. Without a contract I'd bet it's going to get very messy.

Just the opposite really, without a contract, the owner of the work holds the cards. It'll get messy, but the OP has breached no contract if none exists.


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Left ­ Handed ­ Brisket
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Feb 22, 2015 15:45 |  #7

texkam wrote in post #17443521 (external link)
After weeks of non payment drama

this is open to a lot of speculation, but "weeks" late on payment is not unheard of, at all.

Does it suck? absolutely

Is it worth ruining a relationship and possibly hurting your reputation? absolutely not.


Hate to say it, but 90 days is when things should start to get ugly. The first thing you should have done is pursue legal methods like small claims court. Sure, follow up every week or two but removing all content is a pretty drastic step. Like others, I'd like to hear what the agreement was before making any substantial comments on the situation.


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Dan ­ Marchant
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Feb 22, 2015 23:37 |  #8

Phil V wrote in post #17444320 (external link)
Just the opposite really, without a contract, the owner of the work holds the cards. It'll get messy, but the OP has breached no contract if none exists.

But a contract does exist (it is just not in writing) and the OP has breached it by removing the images. If no contract existed then the OP would have no basis upon which to claim payment.

A contract was formed when the two parties agreed that the OP would do work in return for payment. As part of that contract there was an (at least implied) license for the company to use the images. This implied license would be supported by the fact that the OP willingly uploaded the images to the company's FB page.

When the company failed to pay they were in breach of the contract (but it still exists) and as such the OP has the right to seek legal redress by suing them for payment. However both parties still retain all their rights under the agreement and that includes the company's right to use the images under the license granted. Removing the images prevents them from doing that and as such is a breach of contract, for which they could sue the OP. The only way to get around that would be for the OP to have a clause in their written contract stating that the OP grants client a license to use the images but that the license commences upon the client making full payment under the contract.


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Motor ­ On
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Feb 23, 2015 00:21 |  #9

Has the client filed suit? Sent a letter through their lawyer? Or just making in threats in email/social media/over the phone to go after you for that amount of money? Contract in place? Date payment was due? Date photos came down? I've seen running groups that literally don't have the money and running groups so big that the standard pace of doing business means it takes a month or two to process these things, and I've heard stories of six months being common place when venturing to other corporate clients. A bit short on details and probably you're going to be better off documenting everything and talking to a lawyer than an internet forum anyways. And as you can see people can get real creative (and fantasy wealthy) when talking about potential future money made.

I will say it's not just your one client when you've already posted the photos. Now that brand that has had a following cultivated, as your side of the story puts it by you, that's an audience that is now holding an interest in the running group, you may alienate some of that audience, or perhaps even a large portion of it, and that whole audience can be viewed as potential clients. You never know what board member or marketing manager got into running 5Ks or marathons or whatever variety of running is involved here, and those are people in a position to make a decision about hiring you for their own projects. Putting out good work could get you on their radar, letting the drama leave them hanging or becoming a public airing of laundry can get you wiped off it or put on an avoid list. It can make an honest effort of just getting paid what is due to you a delicate balance of being stuck between a rock and a hard place.

In the end, much of what makes a photography business work or fail is going to be service; anyone can pick up a camera and be a "professional photographer" it's the making sure you're acting professional that's going to set you apart. While I don't necessarily disagree with pulling work that's not paid for, consider the impact it's having on your audience, and how they will view your actions if it's all just deleted overnight with no explanation. If nobody knows you and you're name isn't attached maybe it's not a big deal, if your name is out there and you're interacting with people, networking and people know you, it could be a factor in your decision process. Perhaps you've already thought about and addressed this and didn't feel it was worth mentioning because you're more concerned about the legal side of things, but if not I thought it was worth mentioning.


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texkam
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Feb 23, 2015 02:01 |  #10

Thanks for the responses. Pretty much agree with most everything stated.

This is a company that puts on races. Not a club.
Yes, there is a written agreement including scope of work.
Yes, I know this forum is not the place to seek legal counsel.
Yes, and with 2 clicks the client could just change the privacy settings back.
Yes, I have worked with "weeks late" clients before, but I didn't go into a lot of past details about this client. His business reputation with others, and even with me in the past influenced how much leeway I was willing give him this time. Because this was ongoing contract work, billed monthly, involving a little more dollars, I set out to make the ground rules clear, knowing it was very important to make sure he was going to pay his very first invoice promptly. When made aware of the "lost" check, he showed no interest in getting me another check promptly, rather he simply didn't respond at all for another 2 weeks, that behavior was consistent with behavior towards me and others in the past. I felt like at that point after one more voice mail, text and email, I was justified to take my stuff. Client does not assume ownership until transaction is complete. Transaction never completed. Still my property.

As far as damages are concerned... If you don't pay your lawn crew you're not going to get your property mowed and watered. Heck they may even come out and repossess newly planted shrubs. Regardless, if existing plants die because of it, that's your problem. You're not going to be able to recover money for damages.

Sadly, the client's true colors seem to be coming through, for now he's claiming my scope of work was substandard, therefore he now doesn't want to pay me the billed amount. Funny, he didn't consider that same work substandard when he wrote that elusive check several weeks ago. Hopefully I can settle. I'm trying to calmly share all my documented evidence with him in hopes that he's seeking counsel with someone who will give him good advice and urge him to settle. I can't lie, a 15-20 thousand threat can still rattle you a bit, but at the end of the day we're talking about some likes and comments on on a Facebook page being unrecoverable. Permanently closing the book on this client..... obviously.




  
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memoriesoftomorrow
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Feb 23, 2015 02:50 as a reply to  @ texkam's post |  #11

What proof exists of those likes and comments?


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Feb 23, 2015 03:15 |  #12

I would bet that more than 100 threats of lawsuit are made for every one trip to a lawyers office to actually try to sue. Then, most of the time, the lawyer will tell their client they have little or no legal ground to stand on, or that they are legally correct and there is still no advantage to a lawsuit. Or they might win, but first they'll have to spend thousands on legal fees.

Your efforts should be focused squarely on finding new business and having firm contracts.

I use Photoshelter to deliver client images, and can protect my images with watermark and download protection if I so choose. It's easy enough to unlock the images after the client makes final payment. There's really no reason to be handling the client's social media, unless they are paying you for that separately.


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Feb 23, 2015 03:17 |  #13

^ Good points.


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texkam
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Feb 23, 2015 04:26 |  #14

What proof exists of those likes and comments?

Well, I guess none now. Facebook may still have the content stored somewhere in case the Gov-ment wants it. : /

This was a marketing gig and included social media.


Yes, the law community generally pushes for settling. I successfully prevailed in small claims in a similar incident several years ago. Judge asked us to consult one last time before we started. Couldn't come to a solution. Also had a client flake after I delivered contracted work because he found a family member willing to do the work. Like that never happens, right? That was a no brainer once I showed him the paper trail. So I kind of know the drill. A fact that I shared with my client. Not perfect at all this stuff, but you learn over the years. I generally see the red flags. Most clients are good. Shame on me for this one. Of course this forum is an invaluable source of business and contract info as well.




  
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nathancarter
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Feb 23, 2015 10:51 |  #15

texkam wrote in post #17445196 (external link)
Thanks for the responses. Pretty much agree with most everything stated.

This is a company that puts on races. Not a club.
Yes, there is a written agreement including scope of work.


My opinion is that your final resolution will depend on what was in the written agreement.
If the written agreement explicitly stated that the client's license wasn't valid until you received payment in full, then I don't think his claim is valid. You were just doing him a favor by making the images available before receiving payment - professional courtesy, one might say?

If your written agreement doesn't specifically state that the client's license doesn't start until payment in full is received, then you likely granted an implied license by delivering/posting the images. His payment (or lack thereof) may be construed as being separate from the (implied) usage license.


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Client harmed? To what degree?
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