Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Radio Station Steals Photographer's Image and Refuses To Pay

HOT 89.9 is a radio station in Canada. They ran a special promotion involving a wedding. For promotional material, they took to Google images to find an image. They spotted one from photographer Barbara Ann and snagged one from her website instead of just buying one from a stock agency. The photographer caught wind of it and asked the station to pay up. They were more than willing to pay $40 to $100 for use of the image, but the photographer scoffed at the idea of such a minuscule amount. After all, they stole it and never asked her permission.

I agree with her.

She instead asked for $2000 in compensation.

The radio station claimed it was only seen by 10 people max and accused her of extortion. Barbar Ann took to Facebook to let everyone know. So did the radio station, and they included the entire email chain of their conversation with Barbara Ann. That may have backfired on them as they have since removed it. But before they could, PetaPixel snagged that conversation.

And now I am sharing it with you. List your opinion on the matter in the comments below. I am curious as to what you think.

Radio Station

"Thanks for your email. We take the copyright laws in this country very seriously.
Can you provide me with a copy of the image in question and I will have it removed immediately.
Also, if you can provide me with the names of the individuals in our marketing department that you contacted previously. You should have received a response much sooner than this and I apologize for that delay."

Barbara Ann
"The problem is that it was in PRINT
IT was on marketing material given to potential clients to try and get them to advertise in the contest.
Emails were sent to Ian Balfour and mark russet"

Radio Station
"Now I understand. Thank you for clarifying. The image will be changed today.
The only good news is that the material you reference has not been mass-produced and is not for public consumption. The material is printed one at a time and has been seen by fewer than 10 clients in private meetings.
The image will be removed today.
Thanks again for bringing this to our attention."

Barbara Ann
"1 client is 1 too many you do understand that?
I want an explanation as to why it was used"

Radio Station
"Yes, one is too many.
The image was captured innocently during a Google image search of “Strathmere Weddings.” Since Strathmere is a sponsor of the event and there were no copyright warnings attached to the image, it was erroneously placed among the other selected photos.
Again, I apologize for any frustration or inconvenience this may have caused you."

Barbara Ann
Copyright is the right of a creator of a work to prevent others from using his or her work without permission. A creator of a work has the exclusive right to say yes or no to various uses of a work such as reproducing it (e.g., photocopying and scanning it into a computer), adapting and translating it, transmitting it and performing it in public.

Permission must be obtained prior to using a substantial part of a copyright work, whether or not any income is derived from its use.
If I googled Coca Cola’s logo and took it and used it in my promotions, it would still break copyright laws.

My copyright is written in metadata. If you hover over the image (which they would have had to do), they would have seen my name. I do not need to write the words copyright all over the image. Copyright is assume/inferred.

The law clearly states they had to ask permission. They did not.

I am quite sure that just as you cannot claim you did not know the speed limit (ignorance is not a reason), one cannot “innocently” steal an image.

This has moved beyond frustration. The image was used without my permission and having it “fluffed off and only 10 people saw it and it was innocent” does not make my mood about this any better. I am not going back and forth with excuses. I am quite sure compensation can be determined between myself and the radio station."

Radio Station
"Agreed. What would you feel is fair, given the limited (and now discontinued) use of your image?"

Barbara Ann
"limited and discontinued use is a moot point. It was limited and discontinued because of my actions, not the radio station’s.

Bottom line, given the fact that a radio station is in the business of playing music that is legally obtained, they are fully aware of our canadian copyright laws. If they are not familiar, it is the duty of the employer to show due diligence in educating their employees on such matters. Either they were not educated on copyright or they were and chose to ignore it. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse and does not hold up in our courts either.

No matter if the picture was seen by one or many, the fact does not change that the law was broken. My image was illegally obtained and used without permission, clearly breaking Canadian copyright laws.

My fees to photograph weddings range from $3995 – $7795 so it is very reasonable to expect a flat rate of $2000 given the manner in which the image was stolen and the blatant attempt to undermine the seriousness of it in some comments made to me in emails today.

The use of my image was unwarranted when clearly the marketing department could have gone to the previous photographer on the contest, Christine Tripp, for a promotional image. However, they did not. They decided to use my intellectual property without permission and/or compensation.

Please respond to my email within 24 hrs so I know where you stand on the compensation line. This line is non negotiable.

Govern yourself accordingly."

Radio Station
"Since you suggest that your $2,000 fee is non-negotiable, I will not engage you at this time.
Btw – we typically pay between $40 and $100 for the public use of most images. I am not sure that our brief and limited use of your image would constitute a public use, but in good faith, we were prepared to pay. It appears that we are too far apart to resolve this issue between the two of us.
I wish you all the best in your future endeavors."

Barbara Ann
"You both realize no one approached me to use the image right? $40 might have been reasonable for a first year hack photographer BEFORE it was stolen. So before I take matters to the next level, I will ask once more to be compensated in the amount I asked."

Radio Station
"You were kind enough to provide us with a few definitions. Here’s one I just looked up:
The practice of obtaining something, esp. money, through force or threats.
blackmail – exaction

You are obviously a very talented photographer. I would stick with that.
Extortion is not your thing."

Barbara Ann
"I am not extorting anything. I did not break the law. Your employees did. Please do not make this a blame the victim. I was merely giving you a chance to solve this before I had to escalate it."


Loki O'MisChief said...

Yes, I agree. I think she should be taking them to court. They obviously aren't taking the matter seriously and are obvious crooks. I imagine and hope the court would easily decide in her favor.

Murray said...

I agree, Barbara should take it all the way. If the shoe was on the other foot I'm sure the radio station would not hesitate to take action. Miserable bunch of ratbags.

Rick DeNatale said...

Barbara has a case, particularly since this happened in Canada, and I see from her Web site that she's based in Ottawa.

According to a recent episode of the TWIP podcast, Canada has copyright laws and rules which make it easier to prove ownership of an image. In the US as I understand it, unless you've registered with the copyright office, which is cheap here for unpublished works since you can bulk register them electronically for $35 for as many as you want, most lawyers won't take your case as a plaintiff.

In Canada, registration is more expensive, but also not required, at least that's what I heard.

Michael Rudnicke said...

My view is the same as comments given by Mr Robert Nix. Our local paper prints photos of deceased loved ones in obituary's do they get permission from the owner of the copyright? If they had used one of mine without permission would I demand 2 grand? Sure a different situation but the use without permission is the same. Putting any image on the internet is risky and one without a clear copyright on the face of it foolish. In this case they would have stolen an image from someone else leaving her out of it. Will her wedding clients seek like compensation for use or in turn sue the photographer for their own piece of the lawsuit ? Lets say the image had come from the wedding client's Facebook page instead of being taken from her website. I'm not in this business to sue anyone and I'm sure I would not use a photographer that did so . Not worth the hassle.

Michael Short said...

Barbara could also possibly add a defamation charge to the case because they posted it publicly with accusations of extortion

Post a Comment

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Blogger Templates