Edit 22nd April
Just thought I’d let everyone know that the money from Red Jumpsuit just landed in my account and this has all been resolved. Thanks again everyone for your support.
Edit 21st April
Red Jumpsuit have publicly apologised to me on twitter and have agreed to pay my invoice. I’d like to say thank you to the thousands of people around the world for supporting me in this matter, I think this is a big win for not only me, but all photographers around the world.
Previous blog post starts here:
I was recently scrolling through my Facebook feed and came across a familiar image, one of mine from a show in November 2013.
This happens every now and then, and usually it’s accompanied with something along the lines of “Thanks Rohan Anderson for the photo!”, and generally I’m ok with it, I’d prefer permission to be asked, but the fact that they’ve looked for the photographer to credit makes it a little more ok for me.
This image, posted by the band Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, was taken at UTS Glasshouse in Sydney on the 14th of November 2013, and was not credited, all that accompanied the image was “Shredder”.
This hit a nerve for me, they’ve used an image of mine without permission and without credit, on top of this, the image was cropped, had a filter added (presumably from Instagram) and the quality was severely reduced. Here’s the original (notice the watermark that has been cropped out).
I did a bit of digging and found an email for Red Jumpsuits management and sent them the following email:
I’m just contacting you today about a violation of copyright to do with one of my images, this is my original: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rohan3au/10939150575/
The official Red Jumpsuit Apparatus Facebook posted one of my images without permission or credit and was cropped and edited. This is the photo in question: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=690622494309165&set=pb.107159332655487.-2207520000.1396505956.&type=3&theater
I’m a practicing photographer and I don’t shoot to just have acts steal the images for use wherever they please, I shot this show for a Sydney media publication. If you would like to use the image, you will need to discuss a payment with me beforehand.
Please remove the image immediately or you are welcome to keep it up if a payment is discussed.
If you do not comply. I will be seeking legal advice.
On top of this email, a few friends and myself commented on the image stating the copyright of the image didn’t belong to them. After the email and multiple comments (which were quickly deleted), my name was added to the image after 5 hours.
I had multiple issues with this:
- I had requested the image be removed, not credit added
- The image was not the original and was posted in less than reasonable quality
- The credit was not a link to the original or anything of the sort
- My name was added 5 hours after the original post, hours past the time where the image the most impact to its audience.
I decided to send another email requesting the image be removed, the following email was sent:
I’ve noticed you added my name to the photo. That’s not the issue.
My issue is that my image has been posted without my consent, cropped and edited in low quality. I demand that it be taken down as this is a breach of copyright.
I have spoken to my lawyer and I am well within my legal rights, and I will not hesitate to take legal action.
After not hearing back from either of my emails, I wanted to ensure they did receive them, so I sent a quick message to their facebook page and the response was the most unexpected and unprofessional response I’ve ever received, especially from a band as large as them:
Shortly after, I received a very unexpected response from their management email:
“You have no legal claim as the photo is credited and is not posted for a monetary gain and features our likeness and image not yours. Also you have just got your self banned from any festival or show we ever play again in that region for life! Congrats!
Sent from my iPhone”
Many things shocked me about this response, usually I receive an email saying something along the lines of “Sorry! We weren’t sure of the original owner, we’ve taken it down for you.”. The fact that they decided to “ban” me from any future shows simply for standing up for my intellectual property absolutely stuns me.
I was also very surprised at their lack of understanding of intellectual property laws, there are multiple things wrong with their response:
- Just because a photo is credited, doesn’t mean you’re allowed to use it. Do you think magazines are allowed to steal photos and credit the images without any legal implications?
- The image was posted for monetary gain, what do you think a facebook page for a band is for? Advertisement and press.
- Just because an image features someones likeness, doesn’t mean they’re allowed to use it as advertisement. Permission needs to be given.
I sent the following response back:
Thanks for getting back to me.
Just because the photo is credited to me, it doesn’t mean that you have the rights to use it. If any website or publication posts the photo, they require permission from the copyright owner, in this case, it’s me.
In regards to monetary gain, the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus Facebook page is there purely for the purpose of marketing and advertisement for the band, therefore any image posted can be considered advertising; if Coca Cola posts an image of their bottle on Facebook, that’s advertising, why isn’t an image of a band member just advertising for the band?
I’d like to turn the tables here, if Red Jumpsuit had their music illegally posted online, whether that be on youtube or anything, I’m sure you would be ensuring it is removed as that is music piracy, this is absolutely no different.
At the end of the day, if you enjoyed my image enough to post it, you should request permission, in most cases I would usually say yes, no questions asked or money requested.
I also believe in future, you should attempt to act a little more professionally; sending an emoticon and “lol” in a Facebook message is not an appropriate response to being informed you have broken the law.
I will give you 24 hours to remove the image and apologise via response to this email or you will be hearing from my lawyer. I advise you seek advice from a lawyer before dismissing this as you are in the wrong.
Once again, I received an extremely unprofessional and downright offensive email in response:
“We welcome the “lawyer” and his response. As for the lol it was funny, life is funny. If you want to take it any other way that’s fine with us. As for the “tables turning” remark our music is everywhere illegally and we let it go like all other “professionals” try it out sometime. Most unknown photographers are happy to have world wide known bands use their photos and consider it an honor, you are clearly an example of the opposite.
Don’t send anymore threats or you’ll be hearing from our Lawyer!
Have a nice day
Sent from my iPhone”
The absolutely outrageous notion that I should “consider it an honor” that they posted my image shocked me the most. That is possibly the single most stuck-up response I’ve ever received, get over yourselves. At this stage, it’s becoming more clear that I’m not talking to a band manager, most managers would be more professional and cautious as to what they say. I’ll admit, the last line of the email made me chuckle, I’m sorry Red Jumpsuit, but you can’t sue somebody for threatening to sue you. I am yet to hear from their lawyer, I would welcome that phone call, purely so I can ask the question “Has your client told you what they’ve done? Can you please explain to them why they are so clearly in the wrong”.
I sent the following response:
“I’ve booked a meeting with my lawyer next week. You’ll be hearing from them shortly after.
Don’t consider it a threat, consider it an opportunity to remove the image before things get expensive and complicated for you.
Most people would go straight to a lawyer, I’m sorry you didn’t take the opportunity to remove the image and avoid this situation.
I also sent a quick email to their Australian tour manager to see if they could be of any help, I was met with a much more reasonable and extremely polite and professional response, I don’t feel it’s appropriate the post this response, but it was very apologetic and they contacted Red Jumpsuit for me to have the image removed.
The image was finally removed, after 48 hours live on facebook. If the image was removed as soon as I’d asked, that would be the end of it. The fact that Red Jumpsuit were so abusive, rude and unprofessional meant I was going to seek financial compensation for the image, I then sent the following final email to them:
I notice that the image has been removed from Facebook and Instagram, but the use of the image must still be paid for for the following reasons:
- The image copyright belongs to me and Red Jumpsuit did not have the permission or legal rights to post this image, the use of the image for 24 hours to an audience of approximately 1.4 million people must be paid for.
- The image was edited (filtered and quality reduced), which also breaches copyright use of the image
- The edited image then had my name attached to it 5 hours after posting (after I requested it to be removed), which I believe may have damaged my reputation as a photographer.
I have attached the invoice to this email. The invoice must be paid within 30 days.
Please note that paying for this image does not give you permission to use it again, this cost is purely for the previous use. If you would like to use the image further, we will need to discuss a further payment.
I am well within my rights to seek legal advice in regards to this, but I am giving you the opportunity to pay my invoice and avoid legal action.
If you do not pay the invoice within 30 days, I will continue with legal action against Red Jumpsuit Apparatus Management.
I don’t want to go into the amount that the invoice was for, but I will say that it wasn’t an unreasonable amount and was a similar figure listed on the Getty images pricing structure guide.
I received a final response directly from their management:
“This conversation is officially terminated and you have been flagged as abusive. You will be hearing from our attorney shortly. Any e mails received from here on will be deleted. Do not attempt to respond unless via legal council.
Sent from my iPhone”
I never heard from their lawyer and it seems they have a warped sense of what is abusive.
I figured this would be the last response I got from them until I spoke to my lawyer, but I got one more surprise late one night. They looked up and found out who I photographed their show for and sent the editor the following email bagging me out (I think need a lesson on the use of quotation marks):
” Howdy, this is The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. We recently granted you (blanked out) show access and gave guest list spots to film/photo and review our Aussie tour with the assumption we would be able to post those pics and/or reviews because that is industry standard. We were later approached by “Rohan” with absurd demands and threats of all nature which is quite strange and annoying. We just wanted to let you know the image he is portraying on your company is a bad one and we hope you will help resolve this matter ASAP seeing how you placed him “Rohan” at our show to begin with. Thanks for your time.
Sent from my iPhone”
And a more detailed email from them after more detail was requested from the media outlet:
“Apparently one of our members posted a pic from the Sidney show that he took for you guys with our permission. That pic was posted on our FB and didn’t have a “thumbnail” so he (Rohan) reached out and demanded we pull it or he would sue us ect. We posted his name with credit within hours to the photo as soon as we knew who he was in good faith then he demanded we pull it anyway saying he is going to sue us again ect ect. We thought that was silly so we pulled it out of good will(again) and he now persists to threaten us with legal action to which he has no right or claim in doing so as well as demanding an outlandish fee for said photo even though it was pulled. If we didn’t grant photo access to begin with no photos would have been taken so this matter is pretty small to us however this guy “Rohan” has really gone out of his way to insult and harass us via e mail. I can not share those e mails because if this goes any further they will be subject to possible litigation. I realize he may not work for you directly and just wanted you to know that when this is all said and done he won’t be shooting many bands in the near future. Word travels fast in the rock business and we have a lot of friends because we try to avoid conflict when possible but “Rohan” is the absolute most disrespectful photographer we have ever had the unpleasure of dealing with. Thanks for the quick response, any help would be appreciated.
Sent from my iPhone”
After being CC’d in the email response back to Red Jumpsuit from the media outlet, I read the correspondence between them and quickly emailed the editor to clear the air, and included all of the emails sent back and forward. The response from the absolutely lovely editor at the media outlet in question responded to me with the following:
Thanks for sending the email correspondence through.
As I suspected, you have been entirely professional against a barrage of unprofessional and juvenile behaviour from the band.
I don’t think you’re ever going to see compensation from the band, so I wouldn’t continue to push it. However, rest assured that the band is now blacklisted from (removed).
It’s a shame that they’ve acted in this manner. (Removed) supports you 100% on this.
I’m quite frankly surprised by the bands flagrant disregard for copyright, suggesting you should be honoured for them to infringe it. Unbelievable.
The fact that Red Jumpsuit has now been blacklisted from the media outlet is comforting, it’s just piece of mind knowing that I’m not alone in this fight and I’m not the only one who believes that their responses and the way they dealt with this situation was downright awful.
This situation isn’t over, a letter of demand has been delivered to them, and after 21 days, legal proceedings will begin.
Many of you might believe I have taken this too far, which may be true, but I’m standing up for all live music photographers in Sydney and across the world. We’re sick of being paid very little, if at all, and then having our images stolen. If you swing us an email asking permission, most of the time we’ll be more than happy to say yes if you just put our name on it. If you react like Red Jumpsuit Apparatus have, expect us to fight back.
I hope you can all learn from this, and if there are any fellow photographers reading this, I hope you have learnt not to deal with Red Jumpsuit in the future.
Comments? I’d love to hear what you guys think, swing me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Edit: 21st April:
I’d just like to thank everyone who has sent me an email supporting me, I really appreciate you taking the time to back me in this. Obviously with all good things, some people just have to chime in with childish behaviour (that’s how this all started after all). I’m not going to give them the satisfaction of posting their email.
Thank you again everyone for your support.
After reading a few comments online, I’d like to clarify that no released was signed prior to shooting the show, meaning all copyright to the images belongs to me.
Along with this, I’d also like to clarify the reasons for me taking this as far as I have. I honestly couldn’t care about the money, it’s the blatant disregard for copyright and the extremely unprofessional and childish behaviour that has got me worked up. At the end of the day, if you don’t fight for your rights, everyone, not just bands, are just going to steal images, post them for 2 days till everyone has seen them, then delete them, without paying for the use of the image.
This sets a bad precedence for the industry, and I’m trying to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
Edit: 21st April:
When Red Jumpsuit got word of this blog post, this was their response, starting a hashtag of “Rohanisatool”. Way to continue your professional responses there guys: