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Photographer Threatened With Legal Action After Asserting His Copyright 667

Posted by Soulskill
from the picture-of-surprise dept.
New submitter JamieKitson writes "Photographer Jay Lee got more than he bargained for after sending some DMCA takedown notifications out to hosts of sites using one of his pictures. One Candice Shwagger accused him of everything from conspiracy over local sheriff elections to child abuse. Since Candice is now threatening legal action, Jay has said he'll take down the post, so here's a snap shot. After reading the story, I checked for use of my own pictures and found one of them being used on a review site without even a credit."
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Photographer Threatened With Legal Action After Asserting His Copyright

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  • How (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tsa (15680) on Friday May 25, 2012 @01:49PM (#40110797) Homepage

    How do I find out who uses my pictures on the internet?

    • Re:How (Score:5, Informative)

      by Ken_g6 (775014) on Friday May 25, 2012 @01:52PM (#40110835) Homepage

      Well, TinEye [tineye.com] can find pictures on the internet that match ones you upload.

      • Re:How (Score:5, Informative)

        by John Bokma (834313) on Friday May 25, 2012 @02:04PM (#40111023) Homepage
        Enter the URL of your picture in Google's image search and it will also find similar/same.
      • Re:How (Score:5, Informative)

        by cpu6502 (1960974) on Friday May 25, 2012 @02:35PM (#40111439)

        Here's the woman's website, with all the nasty hateful material she posted about the photographer (who retracted the DMCA).

        Let's slashdot her:
        http://chicksandpolitics.com/ [chicksandpolitics.com]

        • Re:How (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 25, 2012 @03:09PM (#40111985)

          Local Guthrie supporters know of her and the site, and are not happy about it. I just sent her this anonymously myself:

          As a local Guthrie supporter, I'd appreciate it if you'd refrain from posting wild conspiracy theories on your blog, as your blog can be found when looking for information on Louis Guthrie. I understand you feel hurt, but you do not come off as the victim in your posts, you come off as an unreasonable copyright offender desperately trying to use your own bad situation to paint our opposition in a bad light. As much as I dislike Garcia, I do not believe in spreading lies across the internet about anyone. You are a fool for doing so. Beyond that, your story has been covered on a very popular news site (http://www.slashdot.org/) and has effectively provided more negative publicity (worldwide) than your little blog could possibly make up for. I'll stop short of attacking you for the initial infringement, although I do believe content thieves (such as yourself) are a drain on society and need to be dealt with. I'm sending this email anonymously so as to not be subjected to your attacks, I am no more of a baby-hating conspirator than Jay Lee.

          And I do firmly believe that she's doing more damage than she understands by attacking a man who is not only innocent, but a victim of her actions.

          Captcha: Leftist

          • Re:How (Score:5, Interesting)

            by cpu6502 (1960974) on Friday May 25, 2012 @04:55PM (#40113633)

            Excellent.
            Downbelow someone posted:
            >>>Treasure hunt! Try to find another photo she has that is infringing and get the owner of the copyright to submit another DMCA takedown!

            I like it. :-)
            They already caught her using the Photographer's photo illegally on facebook. It appears, even after being notified the photo was copyrighted and not for free use, she kept using it anyway on her facebook page (right up to a few hours ago).

        • by cdrudge (68377)

          (Un)Fortunately my company's content filter's have flagged that site under the category of "sex".

    • Re:How (Score:4, Funny)

      by Bodhammer (559311) on Friday May 25, 2012 @01:52PM (#40110847)
      Try googling Google Image Search...
    • Re:How (Score:5, Informative)

      by ubergeek65536 (862868) on Friday May 25, 2012 @02:11PM (#40111099)

      You can drag and drop an image from your desktop onto the Google image search. I was amazed at how fast and accurate it is. It looks like it doesn't even need to be an exact match.

      I searched for a photo of a piece of graffiti from a wall outside of San Francisco and Google found a few other people that had taken a photo of the same wall.

      • Re:How (Score:5, Interesting)

        by smellsofbikes (890263) on Friday May 25, 2012 @05:25PM (#40114049) Journal

        You can drag and drop an image from your desktop onto the Google image search. I was amazed at how fast and accurate it is. It looks like it doesn't even need to be an exact match.

        I searched for a photo of a piece of graffiti from a wall outside of San Francisco and Google found a few other people that had taken a photo of the same wall.

        It doesn't even have to be particularly close. There's a picture of me riding my bike up a cliff, that has been on my webpage since like 1996. The other day, a friend at work uploaded an avatar image for our bike racing team that was my old picture, which I thought was amazing. I asked him how he'd found it and he had no idea it was me: he'd found it on some Cuban website of amazing bike pictures. It's cropped, resized, and left-to-right reversed, but Google Images recognizes them as the same picture. They're doing some pretty sophisticated image processing stuff. Some friends have been playing with this on G+, seeing how long porn pictures last before getting caught/filtered/blocked, and seeing how long it takes for processed pictures to get caught/blocked. It's sometimes possible to get a picture that's cropped back to just the face of the person blocked if it's a large part of the original picture.

    • Re:How (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Tastecicles (1153671) on Friday May 25, 2012 @02:53PM (#40111763)

      one word: Digimarc.

      Or some other form of steg/watermarking.

      Most people who steal images do not even bother to look for watermarks. Ask then answer: how many images are floating the internet? Billions. They start off complacent that their nefarious deeds go unnoticed.

      Funny story (yeah, I bet you hear this all the time): I had a photo of me relaxing on my lowrider a few years ago, uploaded it to a social networking site that shall remain nameless, then a year later I found it on a custom bike blog. After contacting the webmaster, she actually wrote back apologising, I just replied "Hey, don't worry, I thought I'd lost the pic after F***B*** had shitcanned my account, I'm glad somebody found use for it."

      It's still up [wordpress.com]. Yep, that's me, the ugly one.

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Friday May 25, 2012 @01:53PM (#40110871)

    "Go ahead and sue me." The infringing person would likely never follow through, or if he did, lose the case and a lot of money. ----- Just like that Oregon Newspaper editor who tried to steal an article from an online reporter. He too threatened to sue but backed down (and paid $500 to the reporter), because he knew he was guilty-guilty-guilty. Downloading something for personal enjoyment is one thing; earning wealth off the back of a worker's labor w/o paying them is entirely different (and evil).

    • by ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) on Friday May 25, 2012 @02:05PM (#40111033)

      Well, from what I gather of the ordeal, Jay Lee didn't want to cost Shwagger a lot of money, he just wanted to assert his copyright. He quickly realized that she does seem to do non-profit work for disabled children and he told GoDaddy to reinstate her sites while he worked it out with her.

      In other words, he went through the established legal means, was informed of a situation where someone felt unduly harmed, and did his level best to resolve the situation quickly and fairly. All in all, I like this guy -- asserting his rights without being a douche about it.

      • by Hatta (162192) on Friday May 25, 2012 @02:14PM (#40111141) Journal

        He quickly realized that she does seem to do non-profit work for disabled children

        That's no excuse. The correct response is "Oh, I'm sorry I didn't realize this was an issue. I do non-profit work for disabled children, is there any way we can work out an accomodation?"

        The fact that Shwagger went straight to threats of lawsuits indicates that despite the fact that she works with disabled children, she's still a terrible person.

        • by ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) on Friday May 25, 2012 @02:22PM (#40111251)

          I agree. I don't think /she/ was being reasonable; I was just saying that what Jay Lee did here was the "good-guy Greg" alternative to saying "Go ahead and sue me."

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by cpu6502 (1960974)

          People are human. If I discovered all 14 of my sites were taken down, while I'm trying to raise money for Special needs, I'd probably respond in a similar angry fashion. I remember how angry I became when Youtube yanked my video offline..... and besides she apologized to the photographer for her outburst. She also commented:

          "The fair use doctrine permits nonprofits more leeway than for profit businesses." - That's not true but it's understandable if she believes it is and thought no harm was done.

          • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Friday May 25, 2012 @02:40PM (#40111513)

            And once again, I have to change my previous comment. Here's what this woman emailed privately and posted publicly about the photographer:

            Private - "Now that the issue is resolved and you have your precious image back, do not ever bother me again. You cost me thousands in billable time and I could sue you. You are fortunate it came back up because as usual, an emergency call came in from a very disabled client needing help and it is substantial as to time/effort/predicted fees. Had you not done the right thing, you would have hurt a lot of people, but most pathethically, a MR girl with the mind of a 4 year old who needs my help. Do not harass or stalk me on Twitter or FB or otherwise. I am done and you better be. Donâ(TM)t make me vomit, your lawyer."

            PUBLIC: "Jay Lee Blows It
            I do not believe this many coincidences could come together and be legit. So many things dont add up or sound the alarms, I just canâ(TM)t bring myself to buy the innocent victim role Jay Lee vomits everywhere. Jay Leeâ(TM)s skittish inconsistency, sincere, desperate, apologetic (clearly understanding nothing was knowingly done to him, after he saw all of the wreckage his wrecklessness caused), terror (induced by reading my letter? Realizing he had made a big mistake), inexplicable stalking, bait & switch images on Flickr, removing âoehot potatoâ image and refusing to sell at opportune time, with my letter thrashing him, sent the fear of God through him.

            "I do not believe in coincidence. Even if I did, the number of âoecoincidencesâ that occurred in this shameless, disgusting story, make me quite certain that Adrian Garcia and/or Alan Bernstein and his minions at the Chronicle conspired to have the Help Desk guy / techie, Jay Lee (creepy), falsely accuse me of copyright infringement and use his tech abilities to determine which website was hosting the remaining sites so that Garcia could take them all down."

            B.I.T.C.H.

          • by superdave80 (1226592) on Friday May 25, 2012 @02:58PM (#40111849)

            If I discovered all 14 of my sites were taken down, while I'm trying to raise money for Special needs, I'd probably respond in a similar angry fashion.

            Except this guy didn't ask for ANY sites to be taken down. That was GoDaddy that took them all down. She should be pissed at them for taking such a drastic action.

            I'd never do business with a company that would wipe out all my websites over something as trivial as a DMCA notice over one single picture. They could have just blocked the offending photo and left the websites in place while they worked out a deal on the photo.

          • by uniquename72 (1169497) on Friday May 25, 2012 @03:06PM (#40111967)

            If I discovered all 14 of my sites were taken down, while I'm trying to raise money for Special needs...

            If you can't be bothered to learn what you are and aren't allowed to do with other people's work, your websites deserve to be taken down no matter what they are. I don't get to include someone else's story in my book of short stories just because I'm sending a small percentage of the proceeds to Jerry's Kids.

            Also, most of her sites have nothing to do with kids, special needs or otherwise.

          • by kjs3 (601225)
            If I discovered all 14 of my sites were taken down, while I'm trying to raise money for Special needs, I'd probably respond in a similar angry fashion.

            I'm completely justified in stealing other peoples work, because it's For The Children! Oh...and I used the same stolen image on my business web site. But it's still For The Children, so that's completely cool.

            Really?
        • by Kaenneth (82978)

          Many terrible people run their own small 'Charities' as part of their self-promotion efforts. The sort of people who can't really get along with others, so can't work with larger organizations.

      • by mea_culpa (145339)

        He quickly realized that she does seem to do non-profit work for disabled children and he told GoDaddy to reinstate her sites while he worked it out with her.

        The moment he did this he opened a huge can of worms. Had he not communicated anything beyond "Remove copyrighted works that are on your site without license." A good 99% of the crazy would have stayed contained in her world and not entered his. You give crazy an inch, they take 100 miles.
        The only blame to pass around here is to the person that took a gamble and used a photo without permission.

    • by jeffmeden (135043)

      "Go ahead and sue me." The infringing person would likely never follow through, or if he did, lose the case and a lot of money. ----- Just like that Oregon Newspaper editor who tried to steal an article from an online reporter. He too threatened to sue but backed down (and paid $500 to the reporter), because he knew he was guilty-guilty-guilty. Downloading something for personal enjoyment is one thing; earning wealth off the back of a worker's labor w/o paying them is entirely different (and evil).

      Jay Lee sure as shit should have done exactly that. Look at the offender, an "elite attorney marketing boutique;" in other words, a cadre of arrogant assholes out to pretty up another cadre of arrogant assholes. This is nothing more than a little fun by this woman and her attorney friends, who think that taking 5 minutes to string together some legal babble that it took them 3 years of intensive studying to memorize. If he stood up for himself he would have pummeled her in court, but all too often bluffs

  • by zmughal (1343549) on Friday May 25, 2012 @02:00PM (#40110957) Homepage
    Jay Lee also hosts a technology radio show out of Houston called Technology Bytes [geekradio.com].
  • Ludicrous (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dbarron (286) on Friday May 25, 2012 @02:02PM (#40110985)

    Being a semi-pro photographer myself (and facing the same problem), I find the woman in the original article ludicrous.
    There's a lot of problems with trying to share your photos with the world (under copyright) and people using them w/o permission. I know my own photos are being used (and quite often abused) all over the place.
    The photos aren't very pleasing to look at if they have watermarks all over them obscuring detail:(
    Not that I don't freely allow many non-profits (including zoos) to use my photos all over the world and that I have certainly been paid for legal use of some few.

    • Being a semi-pro photographer myself (and facing the same problem), I find the woman in the original article ludicrous.
      There's a lot of problems with trying to share your photos with the world (under copyright) and people using them w/o permission. I know my own photos are being used (and quite often abused) all over the place.
      The photos aren't very pleasing to look at if they have watermarks all over them obscuring detail:(
      Not that I don't freely allow many non-profits (including zoos) to use my photos all over the world and that I have certainly been paid for legal use of some few.

      The woman is paranoid, and the photographer was within his rights. Know that I'm not arguing that point. That said, this is a clear example of the problems with the DMCA. Had the photographer contacted the website admin and requested the picture be taken down or permissions be negotiated before submitting a formal takedown, this whole situation may have been avoided (depending on just how crazy the woman is).

      I understand that Go Daddy is the one who goes overboard and just shuts down every single website

      • Re:Ludicrous (Score:5, Insightful)

        by kjs3 (601225) on Friday May 25, 2012 @03:14PM (#40112087)
        That said, this is a clear example of the problems with the DMCA. Had the photographer contacted the website admin and requested the picture be taken down or permissions be negotiated before submitting a formal takedown, this whole situation may have been avoided (depending on just how crazy the woman is).

        The DMCS is bad. Know that I'm not arguing that point. But not just "no" but "fuck no", it *not* the DMCA that's the problem. The whole situation could have been avoided if the website admin HADN'T STOLEN SOMEONE ELSE'S WORK. Seriously...how the fuck can people here not see that literally dozens of people stole this guys work, knowingly, and then want to put the burden on him to track each of them down, ask them nice to put up or take down, hope they do, "negotiate" something unspecified, lather, rinse, repeat, before he's allowed to use the law specifically intended to protect him in this situation.
    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      What if you added whitespace to the top of each photo, emblazed with the logo "Copyright Tom Smith. Use of this image without payment is denied."

      Then if you see your photo online, you know they DELIBERATELY removed the whitespace, thus making them provably guilty of copyright infringement. (They read the notice but deliberately ignored it.)

  • by j-b0y (449975) on Friday May 25, 2012 @02:05PM (#40111031)

    Elrond: We cannot use the DCMA. That we now know too well. It belongs to Sauron and was made by him alone, and is altogether evil.

  • by frazamatazzle (783144) on Friday May 25, 2012 @02:14PM (#40111133)
    Wow. That is what is like when you cross paths with someone that is truly unhinged. If I were Jay, I'd be checking to see if there are any bunnies in boiling pots on my stove.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 25, 2012 @02:18PM (#40111187)

    Candice Shwagger now that her antics have made the front page of /.

    Its well knows that the weenies on /. have issues with cyberbullies, and a very long memory.

    Its a good thing that nobody here would print that page to PDF and keep it archived and continue to remind the world of her shennigannis for a very long time.

    I think Houston's best marketing attorny is going to be having problems since future clients will call her site into question because she's pladgerizing other peoples work. The Texas Bar association should really know about this, perhaps they will take action and actually end her career.

  • The real problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Smivs (1197859) <smivs@smivsonline.co.uk> on Friday May 25, 2012 @02:20PM (#40111213) Homepage Journal
    ..is a crazy system that allows a site to be taken down with no prior warning, negotiation or appeal beforehand, surely.
    • That's GoDaddy. Most of the hosts the photographer contacted didn't take down everything without notice. GoDaddy suspended everything the lady was hosting with them, even sites that weren't infringing.

  • by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Friday May 25, 2012 @02:24PM (#40111277) Homepage Journal

    Candice Schwager's blog post is still up at http://chicksandpolitics.com/ [chicksandpolitics.com] and it is hilarious.

    Iâ(TM)m still shell shocked, because itâ(TM)s pretty clear that Jay Lee was hand picked for crafty weasliness with advanced studies in computer hacking.

    Oh, god, she has YouTube channel, and has a ladyboner for Newt Gingrich: http://www.youtube.com/user/candilaw99 [youtube.com]

    It is my professional opinion as a programmer that this woman is mentally ill and should be disbarred.

  • by mpoulton (689851) on Friday May 25, 2012 @02:26PM (#40111311)
    Why in the world would he capitulate to her insane demands? She violated his copyright, and has not successfully intimidated him into leaving her alone AND taking down his blog post about the incident? Nail her to the courtroom wall.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 25, 2012 @02:33PM (#40111411)

    Her Blogspot site ...

    http://attorney4specialneeds.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

    Has the same logo as ...

    http://activesportfitness.co.uk/ [activesportfitness.co.uk]

    Someone seems to have copied it from the other.

    Thanks to Google Goggles for that quick research!

  • by couchslug (175151) on Friday May 25, 2012 @02:55PM (#40111801)

    ...who is next in line for the same treatment?

    What her conduct says about her in this instance sheds light on everything else she does. If I were her employer, she'd be terminated.

  • Reading just bits and pieces of this lady's blog it is quite apparent that she is full-on batshit, tea-party, paranoid-about-liberal-media crazy. Ignoring the fact that most of her wrath should be directed toward the insane policies of GoDaddy who are the ones who decided to shut down ALL her sites over a single photograph, she needs to have someone with backbone sue her dumb ass for slander and defamation so she can see how the law actually works. She needs a massive mental slap upside the head to rattle her brain back into place. She's pulling conspiracies out of thin air left and right, making all kinds of accusations without a shred of evidence. Oh, her evidence is, "I don't believe in coincidences."

    I love the cognitive dissonance of these people. She quotes a supposed conservative psychologist expounding on some sort of horribly obvious but also incredibly nebulous psychological "problem" with Obama: "His externalizing all blame to conservatives, George W. Bush, or the “racist” bogeyman hints at persecutory delusions." Funny, I thought that's what conservatives were doing all day long, in the other direction. Externalizing all blame for literally EVERYTHING to liberals and Obama. Pot, kettle, carbon motherfuckin' black.

    Wow. Just wow. Reading that blog is scary. She should apply for a job at Fox News. I'm sure she'd fit in perfectly. Now excuse me while I go scrub the crazy out of my brain with some Dragonball.

  • by flimflammer (956759) on Friday May 25, 2012 @03:04PM (#40111943)

    He mentions how she's throwing "Think of the children" down his throat but he seems to have seriously caved to it. Why is he cowering in fear at this woman's insane lawsuit threats?

    I've got the feeling Jay Lee said or did something that he isn't mentioning in the article. It just doesn't make sense since he's the actual victim here, having his copywritten material used without permission, but he was gonna take the blog entry down that talks about this? What leg does this woman even have to stand on to sue him?

    • by idontgno (624372)

      Sometimes, the best thing to do is to kick a charging, barking dog in the teeth. But sometimes, it's not, like if the dog is rabid.

      Schwagger's tone and rhetoric is so amazingly over the top that if she were more than just a metaphoric dog, I would be quite concerned about rabies.

      You can't fault Jay Lee for reflexively flinching. I just hope he hasn't hurt his standing if he does have to pursue some kind of legal teeth-kicking.

  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Friday May 25, 2012 @04:22PM (#40113069) Homepage

    The focus has been on the crazy woman, but GoDaddy has a big part of the blame here:

    And, as it turned out, all of these sites are linked together as far as GoDaddy is concerned which resulted in all 14 of them going down after I filed my complaint.

    A photographer filed a DMCA request asserting that a single image was infringing. GoDaddy took down 14 web sites in response. GoDaddy should be liable for damages for taking down 13 of those sites, and potentially for all 14. Now in this case, little harm was done. But imagine the real-world equivalent: A poster is on a wall and so the entire building is leveled. Does that make sense? If a single phone bill is late, does the entire neighborhood lose their phone service? If an electric bill is late does the entire city block lose power? GoDaddy's response makes no sense, and the DMCA should not protect them from such stupidity.

  • by Nyder (754090) on Friday May 25, 2012 @04:36PM (#40113319) Journal

    He sends DMCA notices, then he gets threated to be sued over crap and he gets scared?

    Why the fuck did he sent the DMCA notices to begin with, if he wasn't prepared to stand his ground? All he's doing is giving this other person ammo and basicly permission to be a cunt with other peoples properties.

    Candice Shwagger is a bully, you stand up to bullies.

    Ya, bitch, sue me, stupid cunt.

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