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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…)

February 15th, 2012

PDN Video Pick: Roger Ballen’s Music Video for Die Antwoord

Roger Ballen, known for his dark, unsettling photography, has brought his esthetic to the “I Fink U Freeky” video he recently directed for the South African hip-hop band Die Antwoord. The result, which has been widely circulated via social media, is a creepy but visually compelling freak show. Ballen recently explained to Phaidon that he shot photographs for the band about three years ago. They asked him to shoot a music video, which he was happy to do. “We started with my photographs for ideas and then mimicked them in the sets. Most of the sets started with almost like a ‘Roger Ballen still life’ and then we might have added in a mouth or foot or hand and then we went into them cinematically,” he told Phaidon.

February 13th, 2012

Photog Says Radio Station Stripped His Credits, Infringed His C-rights

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.

Removal of Printed Photo Credit Qualifies as DMCA Violation, Court Says
TV Networks Play Fast and Loose with Photographers’ Copyrights

January 30th, 2012

Photographer Andrew MacNaughtan Dies, Age 47

Toronto-based photographer Andrew MacNaughtan died on January 24, 2012 while on assignment. MacNaughtan, who was best known for photographing Canadian celebrities and musicians, reportedly had a heart attack while photographing the classic rock band Rush. The band released the following statement on its Web site and Facebook page:

“We’re deeply shocked and heartbroken to learn of the sudden passing of our close friend and long-time photographer, Andrew MacNaughtan. He was a sweet person and a very talented artist. Words cannot describe how much he will be missed.”

MacNaughtan is survived by his partner, Alex Kane Privitera; parents, Neil and Barbara MacNaughtan; sister Sarah and her husband Nino Curcione; brother Alex and his wife Dorothy MacNaughtan; and uncle and aunt, Phillip and Samantha Curcione.

January 24th, 2012

PDN Video Pick: Moby Writes a Song

This video by NPR was honored in the video category of the 2011 PDN Photo Annual. NPR Music’s Project Song challenges musicians to write and record a song in
just two days, then records the results. David Gilkey, John Poole, Bob Boilen and Neil Tevault produced the video.

Moby and collaborator Kelli Scarr finished writing their song so quickly, they wound up recording three different versions of “Gone to Sleep.”
The 2012 PDN Photo Annual is now accepting entries in 12 categories, including video, web sites, photo books, advertising, photojournalism and more.  To learn about prizes, the panel of judges, rules, deadlines (avoid the late fee and enter soon!) or to upload your entries, visit

January 24th, 2012

Comparing Notes, Photographers Turn on Retna

An apparent administrative slip-up has stirred an uprising at music and celebrity photo agency Retna, with photographers complaining that the agency is failing to report sales, pay royalties, or respond to calls and e-mails from frustrated contributors. Retna’s CEO acknowledges the problems, but blames them on his predecessors, and has told contributors he is correcting them.

Photographers started comparing notes last week after an agency employee sent notification about the agency’s change of address in New York City. Instead of copying photographers in the blind carbon copy (BCC) field of the e-mail, the agency employee distributed the names and e-mail addresses of dozens of photographers so all could see who had received the e-mail.

Read the full story on

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…)

December 27th, 2011

Is Rihanna Risking Another Copyright Fight?

Two months after she settled a copyright suit brought by photographer David LaChapelle, pop singer Rihanna once again has the blogosphere in an uproar. Recently, a LiveJournal blog posted screenshots from her new video, “You Da One,” alongside images by photographer Sølve Sundsbø. The scenes from the video show Rihanna in a bowl-cut wig wearing what appears to be a nude bodysuit with the shadows of various shapes projected on to her body. The shots are remarkably similar to editorial work Sundsbø has done, which Fashionista reported appeared in a 2008 issue of Numero magazine. Neither Rihanna nor Sundsbø, who is represented by Art+Commerce, have released statements regarding these latest accusations.

Earlier this year, Rihanna was sued by LaChapelle for copyright infringement, who claimed scenes from her video “S&M” borrowed heavily from various sadomasochistic images he’s made. The two reached an out-of-court settlement agreement, the terms of which were not disclosed.

Related articles:

Rihanna Settles Lawsuit with David LaChapelle

David LaChapelle Sues Rihanna for Infringement

October 20th, 2011

Obituary: Rock and Roll Photographer Barry Feinstein, 80

© Columbia/photo by Barry Feinstein

Barry Feinstein, who covered Bob Dylan’s 1966 tour after the musician went electric, and also photographed the covers of iconic albums by Dylan, Janis Joplin, George Harrison and Eric Clapton, died today at his home in Woodstock, New York, the AP reports. He was 80.

His agent, Dave Brolan, told the AP that Feinstein had been hospitalized for an infection.

In his career in the entertainment business, Feinstein worked as an assistant at Columbia Pictures, and eventually photographed stars like Steve McQueen and Judy Garland. He got to know Dylan’s manager Albert Grossman, and photographed the cover of Dylan’s 1964 album “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” In 1966, Feinstein photographed Dylan on tour after the musician began playing electric guitar, to the chagrin of many loyal fans of his folk music. On that tour, Feinstein took the well known photo of Dylan in the back of a limo while fans peer through the window at him.

© Capitol/ photo by Barry Feinstein

Feinstein also photographed the album covers for Janis Joplin’s “Pearl” and George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass.” Feinstein rock and roll images were used in director Martin Scorcese’s  No Direction Home, about Dylan, and the recent HBO documentary about George Harrison.

He is survived by his wife, Judith Jamieson, and his two children.

Rolling Stone magazine is running a nice slide show of some of Feinstein’s most famous and intimate photos on its web site,

September 22nd, 2011

Beatles Photographer Robert Whitaker Dies

©Robert Whitaker--the original "Yesterday And Today" cover

Photographer Robert Whitaker, best known for the hundreds of behind-the-scenes images and album cover shots he made of The Beatles from 1964 to 1966 when the band was rising to international fame, died September 20 in the UK. The cause of death was cancer, according to a UK Press Association report.

Whitaker was part of the Australian art scene in the early 1960s when he accompanied a journalist friend to interview Brian Epstein, the manager of The Beatles. At the time, the band was touring Australia and Asia. Epstein was impressed by Whitaker’s work, and invited him to accompany the band as a tour photographer.

Whitaker accepted, moved back to London where he had begun his career in the late 1950s (he was born in the UK in 1939), and went to work photographing various bands for Epstein’s management company, NEMS Enterprises.

Whitaker accompanied The Beatles on their second tour of the US in 1965, photographing them at their famous Shea Stadium concert, among other venues.  From 1964 to 1966, he had almost complete access to the band while it was on tour and in the studio.

©Robert Whitaker--the hasty replacement image for the same album.

He is credited with several Beatles album covers, including the original–and highly controversial–“butcher” cover for the album Yesterday And Today. It showed the four Beatles dressed in lab coats and wearing false teeth while holding dismembered dolls and pieces of raw meat. The cover was quickly withdrawn amid public outrage and some speculation that it was intended as acerbic social commentary.

Capitol Records, the band’s record company, told the Associate Press that it was the band’s idea of “pop art satire.” John Lennon told an interviewer in 1980 that the band posed for the picture out of boredom at having to pose for yet another picture.

The image was replaced on the album cover with a photograph that Whitaker shot hastily in Epstein’s office of the band gathered around a trunk. Whitaker later described the replacement image as “far more stupid than anything else I could think of,” according to various accounts of the image. Copies of the album with the original “butcher” photo now fetch thousands of dollars on the Beatles memorabilia market.

Whitaker left NEMS when The Beatles took a break from touring in 1966. He stayed in London to photograph other musicians, including Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger, and also covered news events–Including the Vietnam War–for Time and Life magazines.

Whitaker’s books include Eight Days A Week: Inside the Beatles Final World Tour (2008), Unseen Beatles (1998) and In the Company of Dali (2007), which is a collection of images he shot of the Spanish surrealist in the late 1960s and early 1970s.