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February 16th, 2012

Photog Sues Quincy Jones for Infringement, Says He Was “Strong-Armed”

Photographer Michael D. Jones alleges that after he refused to sign away his copyrights to this 1995 image for $6,500, Quincy Jones and AKG used it anyway without permission.

Los Angeles photographer Michael D. Jones has filed a lawsuit against Quincy Jones, claiming that the legendary music producer provided one of the photographer’s portraits without permission for use in ads, packaging and other materials to promote a line of audio headphones. The photographer, who does not claim any relation to Quincy Jones, is seeking statutory damages and an injunction for willful copyright infringement.

Operating under the name Mike Jones Photography, the photographer has also named the headphone manufacturer, AKG Harman, the music book publisher Hal Leonard Corporation, and Quincy Jones Productions as defendants.

Mike Jones alleges that he photographed Quincy Jones and other celebrated musicians at several recording sessions in 1995 at Qwest Records in West Hollywood. Besides Quincy Jones, others in attendance included Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Nancy Wilson, Herbie Hancock And Ronald Isley.

Mike Jones says he photographed the sessions at the invitation of Qwest’s president, JoAnn Tominaga, and ended up shooting about 100 rolls of film. He alleges that he was never asked to sign a contract or release stating that his photographs from those sessions were works made for hire. He also says that there were no restrictions on what he could photograph. (more…)

January 31st, 2012

In Bankruptcy, Photo Archive Cuts Deal with Marilyn Monroe Estate

Sinking under legal bills, the Shaw Family Archives [SFA] has tentatively agreed to a 5-year, $3 million licensing deal with its arch-enemy–the estate of Marilyn Monroe–to pull itself out of bankruptcy. The deal would give the Monroe estate control over commercial licensing of hundreds of Monroe images shot by the late photographer Sam Shaw, and finally end protracted litigation between the two companies.

Under the terms of the proposal, the SFA would grant the Estate of Marilyn Monroe LLC “the sole and exclusive right and license” to exploit photographer Sam Shaw’s many images of Marilyn Monroe for commercial uses. The SFA would continue to license the Monroe photographs–including Shaw’s iconic “blowing skirt image of Monroe–for editorial, fine art and exhibition purposes.

Because the SFA filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last summer, the agreement with the Monroe estate is subject to approval by a federal bankruptcy judge. A ruling is expected later this month.

In court papers seeking that approval, the SFA says, “the Agreement is critical to the [SFA's] effective reorganization as it ensures the longevity of the [SFA]  as a business by providing the [SFA] with tangible benefits, including: a minimum income that is more than the [SFA] has made in the last three (3) years…and ending most, if not all, of the litigation” between SFA and Monroe’s estate.

Melissa Stevens, operations manager for SFA, characterizes the deal as “a business arrangement that both parties feel will be mutually beneficial to the continued preservation and promotion of both Marilyn Monroe and Sam Shaw’s legacy.” (more…)

January 25th, 2012

Who’s Shooting What: Nigel Parry, Peter Lindbergh Shoot New Campaigns

PDN advertising photography-Who's Shooting What

©Peter Rad--From an anniversary campaign for the Brooklyn Academy of Music, featured in PDN's Who's Shooting What column.

In the latest installment of PDN’s Who’s Shooting What column, we feature Nigel Parry’s work for the MSNBC “Lean Forward” print campaign,  Peter Lindbergh’s work with actress Gwyneth Paltrow for the Coach spring/summer 2012 campaign, a nude by Emily Shur for an advocacy campaign, plus a lot of other assignment work by photographers from all over the country (not just LA and New York). We also name the ad agencies and creatives behind the assignments for Bally, AOL, VW, Frito-Lay, Cocoa Metro and other clients.

Another special feature of the latest Who’s Shooting What column is our first-ever WSW Quiz, where readers can test their skill at separating advertising fact from fiction.

If you would like to see your advertising work featured in future installments of Who’s Shooting What, follow the submission instructions here for consideration. Please note that WSW is primarily for advertising assignment work. Editorial work is rarely included.

Now, for the fine print: you have to be a PDN subscriber to access the WSW column, which is behind our pay wall. Subscription information is available here.

January 18th, 2012

4 Useful Lessons from La Redoute’s Nude Man Fiasco

Was the photographer blind, inattentive, or just following the, ah, brief?

Somewhere, a photographer has been scolded–or worse–for a catalogue image that embarrassed his or her client.

The image in question, for La Redoute, a French clothing company, shows happy kids frolicking on the beach in bathing suits–with a naked man emerging from the water in the background. The company removed the image from its Web site and apologized publicly after some shocked customers complained.

A BBC report about that apology notes that the error was “compounded by the fact that La Redoute provided a magnifying glass so that people could examine the beachwear close-up.”

This piece of news made the viral rounds a couple of weeks ago, so perhaps you’ve already heard about it. But we wanted to point out the silver lining: There are lessons to be learned from the unfortunate mistakes of others. In this case, they include:

–When location scouting for a kids’ catalogue shoot, avoid nude beaches.
–If someone on set says, “There’s a nude guy in the background, but we can fix that in post,” don’t just say, “Yeah, yeah” and forget about it.
–Have someone review your images for nude guys (and other glitches you’ve tuned out) before you send them to the client.

The magnifying glass raises pesky questions, though. Was the nude man really an error, we wonder? Or was he planted intentionally in a perverse kind of “Find Elmo” game–that came complete with a magnifying glass–in order to generate publicity for the company?

So that brings us to Lesson #4: If a client asks you to plant a nude guy in a catalogue image, go ahead and oblige them. Just ask them to leave your name out of it, so when they send their public apology to the BBC, it doesn’t look like you screwed up.

January 4th, 2012

Jim Marshall’s Estate Sues Fashion Designer for Copyright Infringement

The estate of rock ‘n roll photographer Jim Marshall has sued fashion designer John Varvatos for using photos of celebrity musicians without permission in store displays.

According to the lawsuit, Varvatos infringed Marshall’s copyright by reproducing prints of Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, BB King, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and several other rock stars without permission. Varvatos allegedly displayed those reproductions in his own stores, as well as in Bloomingdale’s stores in California and elsewhere.

Bloomindale’s is also named as a defendant in the case, which was filed in federal court in San Francisco on December 29. (more…)

November 23rd, 2011

“Irresponsible” Miu Miu Ad Shot by Bruce Weber Banned in Britain

Banned Miu Miu Ad

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), a non-governmental group that deals with “complaints about advertising” in the U.K., banned a Miu Miu fashion ad shot by Bruce Weber because they found it to be “irresponsible and in breach of the Code in showing a child in a hazardous or dangerous situation.” The child in question is 14-year-old American actress Hailee Steinfeld, the breakout star of last year’s True Grit.

The ad shows Steinfeld donning 1940s-inspired Miu Miu clothing while sitting on abandoned railroad tracks. The ASA accepted parent company Prada’s explanation that the setting was meant to depict an actress on a movie set, relaxing between takes and rubbing her eye nonchalantly, rather than to suggest the young girl is upset and contemplating suicide. The ASA also acknowledged that the ad was geared toward a mature audience since it was published in Tatler magazine, whose readership is for the most part adult. However, the ASA still found the ad to be troublesome since Steinfeld is shown in a “potentially hazardous situation” and noted the “ad must not appear again in its current form.”

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November 16th, 2011

Benetton Campaign Uses Digital Manipulation to Stir Controversy (Again)

A digital manipulation of Obama kissing Hugo Chavez for Benetton's new "unhate" campaign.

File this under Marketers Who Will Do Anything to Sell Product: Benetton has unveiled a new ad campaign that includes an image of Barack Obama in a lip lock with Chinese leader Hu Jintao, another image of Obama kissing Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, and several other images of different world leaders kissing each other on the lips.

The images are part of the clothing brand’s new “Unhate” campaign, which it unveiled today in Paris and other cities.

Alessandro Benetton, who is the company’s executive deputy chairman, says Benetton means no disrespect to the world leaders, whose passionate kisses are obviously the handiwork of digital retouchers.

“We consider [the leaders] ‘conception figures’ making a statement of brotherhood with a kiss,” he said in an interview, according to the Times of India.

Yeah, yeah. Whatever.

Back in the 90s, Benetton created ad campaigns with controversial images– including a photograph of a nun kissing a priest–to attract attention by whipping up social controversy.

November 11th, 2011

Ad Banned in UK for Showing Super Skinny Model

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in Britain has banned a fashion ad that shows a model who appears to be painfully underweight. Ironically, the model, whose upper arm circumference makes us think about malnutrition, appears in an ad for a clothing company called “Drop Dead.”

The British advertising publication Campaign reports that the ASA said the Drop Dead ads declared the ads “socially irresponsible” for showing a model with prominent ribs, hips and collar bones in a bikini.

The ASA is the same agency that earlier this year ordered L’Oreal to pull print ads featuring images of Christy Turlington and Julia Roberts that were so heavily Photoshopped, they were misleading. (See PDN Pulse story.)

Whether any manipulation – in posing, styling or post production– went into the creation of the Drop Dead model’s twig-like arms, jutting hipbones and globular breasts, we leave to our eagle-eyed readers to decide.

Related story

Photoshopped Ads Banned in Britain!

October 28th, 2011

PPE Panel: Photogs Ignore Online Pub Opportunities at Their Own Peril

During a seminar titled “The New World of Online Magazines and Curator Web Sites” this afternoon at PDN PhotoPlus Expo, photographer Sophia Wallace posed a question to photographers who’ve been hesitant to harness the full power of the internet for fear that their work might be stolen: Should you be more afraid of image theft, or of working in obscurity?

This rather direct question, which had resonated with Wallace after she heard it at another talk recently, gets to the heart of the decision that photographers must make in today’s market. You can embrace online publishing on blogs, online magazines, Tumblr pages and the myriad other platforms on which people are looking at imagery these days, or you can keep your work to yourself.

Suffice it to say that nobody in the audience was interested in the latter option. But in case they were, Wallace and fellow photographer Manjari Sharma shared stories about their own experiences that made a strong case for diving headlong into promoting one’s work online.

By getting their work featured by online platforms, such as those run by moderator Stella Kramer (StellaZine) and panelists Julie Grahame (aCurator) and Michael Itkoff (Daylight), each of the photographers had built momentum for bodies of work that eventually led to concrete achievements like exhibitions, advertising commissions and essential project funding.

After having her work circulate one image at a time across various online publications (and in a couple of print magazines), Wallace received what she termed “the email she’d been waiting for.” It was from a curator asking if she would show her work in a three-person show at Colgate University’s Clifford Gallery with photographers Catherine Opie and Jo Ann Santangelo. During her presentation Wallace also showed how, through Google analytics, she could track who was looking at her site and where they came from. It was amazing, she said, to realize that people all over the world were looking at her photographs.

Sharma showed two projects that she’d promoted online. A series of portraits of people taken in the shower in her Brooklyn apartment was discovered by art directors at the ad agency JWT in Delhi, which lead to a commission to replicate that work for ads for a German maker of shower heads that was expanding their business in India. Sharma’s photographs appeared on billboards in 23 cities, she said.

After she created a well-produced Kickstarter video to raise funds for her project Darshan, several photo blogs and other online publications wrote about the work. She ended up raising $26,000 of funding over the course of three months.

Each of the panelists encouraged the audience members to build networks online through Facebook and Twitter, and to help promote other photographers whose work they appreciate. Wallace made the point that opportunities for group exhibitions often come from other artists, and introductions to clients often come from fellow photographers.

Kramer also made another useful point for photographers who might still be hesitant to publish their work online: “The more you are associated with your work, the harder it is to steal it,” she said.

August 8th, 2011

Photoshopped Ads Banned in Britain!

©Mario Testino--Photoshop shocker: UK authorities consider this image of Julia Roberts misleading.

Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ordered cosmetic maker L’Oréal to pull two heavily retouched ads–one of actress Julia Roberts and the other of model Christy Turlington–on the grounds that the ads are misleading, according to press reports.

Of an ad for L’Oréal’s Lancôme brand featuring Roberts, the ASA said, “we could not conclude that the ad image accurately illustrated what effect the product could achieve, and that the image had not been exaggerated by digital post production techniques.”

L’Oréal defended itself by describing the ad to the ASA as an “aspirational picture of what could be achieved by using the product.”

The ad featuring Turlington promoted a cosmetic foundation from L’Oréal’s Maybelline line. The ASA concluded that the ad “was likely to mislead” because some wrinkles in Turlington’s faced had been removed digitally after the product had been applied.

Both ads were challenged by Member of Parliament Jo Swinson, who has spearheaded a campaign to halt unrealistic advertising images of models for several years.

Truth-in-advertising laws also apply in the US under the Federal Trade Commission Act. Advertising “must be truthful and non-deceptive,” the FTC says, and advertisers “must have evidence to back up their claims.”

That raises a question: Should US regulators be more vigilant about the use of digital manipulation in beauty ads?

According to the FTC web site, the agency focuses its enforcement attention on ads that make claims about health and safety. “Ads that make subjective claims or claims that consumers can judge for themselves receive less attention from the FTC,” the agency explains. So it’s a question of scarce resource allocation. But it’s also a question of politics. So far, nobody in Congress has taken up arms against the depiction of impossibly young, thin and beautiful models in fashion and beauty ads.