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Photography Question 
Allen Lani
 

Protecting myself, my images


First- I photographed prepared dishes for a restaurant for an ad. (I worked for a local magazine and was paid a small sum to take one photo for the magazine ad) The restaurant liked my images so much they wanted to use them for their menus and website. I let him select the photos from a prof disc I gave to him. He said,he would take care of me big time? Then a little while later he wanted e to reshoot a dish with an alternative sauce for food packaging with their new deal with Costco. Said restaurant owner turned down my proposal to use my images at a cost (very min. compared to going rate) Said he was going in a different direction and didnt require my images for a cost. A few months later, I now see that Costco sells his food packaged with my image on the box... without any contract/permission from me, the photographer. To top it off, the restaurant owner actually went behind my back after refusing my contract proposal and used the proofs I stupidly gave him to view and make choices!
The owner has since contacted me to photograph additional dishes. I put another contract together stating that photos remain ownership of photographer. He turned my contract down again and said he wanted the contract to state that he owned all rights of my images. I said that he could buyout the rights of exclusive ownership for $1,000. He said no, too much, he will find another photographer for less.

I want to know what steps I can take to get paid for what is rightfully mine and stolen from me without my permission. He did not pay one penny for any of my work and is using all the images that I took EHe uses them for everything- huge ads in magazines, flyers, menus, posters, website and now ....packaging.
Do I get an attorney, contact Costco??

Any advice. (besides, did I learn my lesson-yes, and I believe I may be bitter from being burned)

Lani Allen
www.laniallenphotography.com
(You will see the image I am discussing under Commercial-Food -the crab wontons with the orchid)


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12/15/2008 8:23:39 PM

 
Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005
  My vote?

ATTORNEY


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12/16/2008 6:53:34 AM

 
Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005
  I said that he could buyout the rights of exclusive ownership for $1,000. He said no, too much, he will find another photographer for less.

and is using all the images that I took EHe uses them for everything- huge ads in magazines, flyers, menus, posters, website and now ....packaging.

________________________

Let's see..Hmmm?

He is doing all this high priced advertising but won't pay you $1,000?

May I offer a suggesstion Allen?

If you want your work & web site noticed, get an agent.


Pete


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12/16/2008 7:00:17 AM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
Contact Carlton
Carlton's Gallery
carltonwardphoto.com
  Hi Allen,
I agree with Pete and would contact an attorney who specializes in copyright law. I would think he is very vunerable since he doesn't have any written permission to use your images and he did so behind your back.
Mark (our resident legal advisor) will hopefully chime in with his thoughts.
You may plaster a 2008 Allen in big letters across the middle of the proof images to deter this from happening in the future.
I will negotiate and compromise on my price sometimes but to have a contract refused and the images used anyway would really tick me off and I would have no qualms taking legal action against him.
my .02 - Carlton


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12/16/2008 8:26:17 AM

 
Allen Lani   Ok, I am glad to hear that I am correct in my thinking. It's time to get an attorney and an agent.

Thanks all!

Lani
laniallenphotography.com


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12/16/2008 9:13:22 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Here's what I mentioned in the earlier thread you posted to: 12/15 8 P.M.

Hey Allen !! Live and learn, I guess. You need to find a lawyer who specializes in intellectual property law. Explain the facts to them, clearly and concisely. Then have them find out how much that company is worth, make sure your work is registered (timely) with the copyright office using form VA at www.copyright.gov, send them a cease and desist letter and claim for damages and start figuring out what it may be worth for you to settle before trial. At this point, I don't recommend you do this on your own.
Good luck.
Mark


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12/16/2008 10:12:37 AM

 
Lani Allen
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/14/2004
  Thanks Mark!

Lani


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12/16/2008 12:05:05 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  I'm confused. Who's Lani and which one of you is Allen???

Some additional thoughts in response to your question. To prevent this in the future, you need to use written contracts, signed by both you and your client or their authorized representative/agent. It needs to be specific and clear spell out any usage and fees in advance to delivering the work. For first time clients, I highly recommend getting your dough at the time you deliver the work. If they balk, tell them the work will be available for them to pick up when they want to drop their check off.

The strongest leverage you may have here is notifying Costco that the packaging is subject to a cease and desist letter and infringement action in the U.S. District Court. Your lawyer will handle all that. My guess is when Costco gets wind of it, they'll get ahold of your client and tell him to settle or yank the products from the shelves.

To find a good copyright/intellectual property lawyer, if you don't know one yet, you can either ask around or call the Lawyer Referral Service at your local county bar association. They should be in the phone book. You want someone who's office is close to the U.S. Courthouse to save you paying for travel time. Or call the LRS in the county where the Courthouse is located.

Don't discuss the facts of your situation beyond what you've noted here. And certainly don't argue the merits of your case in public. That could be construed as a waiver of the attorney/client communication privilege if the other side gets wind of it.

As I mentioned: Prevention is the best cure for this stuff. Get the business practices for Photographers handbooks from ASMP.org.

And you're welcome. Let us know how it turns out. BTW, when you get three pro photographers in agreement, as you did here, I think that constitutes a minion (or perhaps a miracle). LOL !!!
Mark


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12/16/2008 1:18:45 PM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
Contact Carlton
Carlton's Gallery
carltonwardphoto.com
  Thanks Mark - Hi Lani,
I have a friend in the Bay area who is a copyright lawyer in the music business. I shot him an e-mail and asked if he has any suggestions.
I will e-mail you from your BP account or your website when I hear back from him but Mark's suggestion for using a local Laywer referral service may be what you will need to do anyway.


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12/16/2008 3:41:18 PM

 
Lani Allen
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/14/2004
  Excellent! that would be a big help. I will await the referral.

Lani


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12/16/2008 8:32:46 PM

 
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