A Colorado photographer says a Denver radio station took 21 of his images from the Web site of a competing radio station, stripped the images of his credits and copyright notices, and published them on its own site and Facebook page without permission. The photographer now accuses the station of refusing to pay a retroactive usage fee.
Photographer Scott D. Smith of Denver says radio station 92.5 The Wolf stole his images of country star Jason Aldean from the Web site of 98.5 KYGO. Smith shot the images at a concert last October, and licensed them to KYGO, which has been a client of Smith’s for the past six years. All of the images he licenses to KYGO, including the Aldean images, display his credit and copyright whenever viewers scroll over them or click on them, the photographer says.
The Wolf displayed the images for about a week, and also made them available on its Facebook page “for the whole world to download,” Smith tells PDN.
When Smith finally got the station manager at The Wolf on the phone to hear his complaint, he says, she apologized, told him the image would be taken down, and offered Smith free advertising as compensation. Smith declined. “I’m very loyal to KYGO, plus that (advertising) doesn’t compensate me for what [The Wolf] did,” he says.
Over the past four months, Smith has tried unsuccessfully on numerous occasions to get the station or its corporate owners–Wilks Broadcasting Group of Duluth, Georgia–to pay a fee for the unauthorized use of his images.
But managers and owners won’t return his calls, Smith says.
Recently, he got through to a Wilks employee who informed him that the company has determined that it has no responsibility to compensate him. “She said, ‘Do whatever you have to do,'” the photographer recounts.
Smith hasn’t filed a lawsuit for copyright infringement–at least not yet. “I talked to some lawyers who told me it’s going to cost a fortune, take forever, and they’ll just try to wait me out,” the photographer explains. So he’s trying to generate negative publicity for the station in an attempt to shame The Wolf into paying him.
“I think people are tired of corporations screwing people over, and saying ‘We don’t have responsibility’ when they’ve done something wrong,” says Smith.
Jeff Wilks, CEO of Wilks Broadcasting, did not respond to several requests from PDN for comment. But he recently told a Denver alternative newspaper, “There was no copyright on the photos. We found the photos, then we were notified about the photos, and the photos were taken down immediately.” He indicated to the newspaper that Wilks Broadcasting doesn’t intend to pay Smith a fee.
Asked what he considers a fair fee, Smith says, “In the beginning, I was willing to really work with them on a price. Since they are lying and making this as hard as possible, I feel I would start at around $500 an image. I do feel that is fair since the images were used as advertising for the station.”
Smith’s allegations, if true, echo a case last year in which a federal appeals court upheld a photographer’s claims against a New Jersey radio station for copyright infringement, as well as for violation of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA.) The DMCA violation resulted from the radio station stripping a photographer’s credit and copyright from an image that it copied and then displayed on its web site without the photographer’s permission.
A photo posted by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on May 7, 2016 at 5:45pm PDT Digiday’s Shareen Pathak has published a revealing–though anonymous–interview with a social media executive about the business of finding and cultivating social media influencers to promote brands. (A subject we’ve tackled quite a bit — here and here.) Reading it, you’ll learn... More ›
Photographer Lynn Goldsmith’s studio says the Smithsonian Institution violated copyright of her 1993 portrait of Prince last week by distributing the image to the media without permission. The musician died April 21, and the following day, the Smithsonian displayed a print of Goldsmith’s photograph at the National Portrait Gallery’s In Memoriam space. The museum notified... More ›
A negative we found of Leonardo DiCaprio. Shirtless!! And smoking! We Make Limited Edition Prints From Found Flea Market Negatives. #leonardodicaprio #oscars A photo posted by Negative Collection (@negativecollection) on Mar 3, 2016 at 9:51am PST Lost negatives from a photo shoot with a young Leonardo DiCaprio were recently returned to photographer-turned-filmmaker Alexi Tan thanks... More ›