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'The Color Run' Violates Agreement With College Photographer, Then Sues Him 218

An anonymous reader writes "Photographer Maxwell Jackson went to an event called The Color Run and took some pictures. He was approached by the organization to share some of his photos on Facebook, and he agreed. Later, he found they were being used without attribution in promotional materials such as flyers and signs. When he contacted The Color Run over the misuse of his photos, they sued him. As a professional freelance photographer for a local college and a hobbyist code junky, I'm intrigued by this story and how it should be a warning for members of either trade. There is a good lesson to be learned here about taking for granted the legal implications of the manner in which you exchange your own intellectual property with anyone."
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'The Color Run' Violates Agreement With College Photographer, Then Sues Him

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  • Re:Trademark powers? (Score:5, Informative)

    by SJHillman ( 1966756 ) on Friday February 14, 2014 @05:08PM (#46250095)

    The NFL is also huge on this to the point where most radio stations, sports bars and the likes can't even use "Superbowl" (or sometimes even "The Big Game") when advertising Superbowl-related events.

  • Re:Trademark powers? (Score:4, Informative)

    by SimonTheSoundMan ( 1012395 ) on Friday February 14, 2014 @05:29PM (#46250299) Homepage

    Same with London Olympics. A new law was made for this purpose, the 'London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006'.

  • Re:Wow.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by evendiagram ( 2789803 ) on Friday February 14, 2014 @05:35PM (#46250355)
    Jackson wrote that instead, he was "requesting compensation as follows: $100,000.00 US deposited into my business bank account, additionally to be named the Official Photography Sponsor of The Color Run (Internationally) for the remainder of its existence, my Logo to be added in sponsors section next to Chevy on the bottom of your web pages. My name to read at the bottom of any photo's used in legible print from the next print run forward as, Photogrph by Max Jackson." He warned "if no efforts are made within 15 days, to contact me I will be forced to take further action." Source [browardpalmbeach.com]

    The kid should be compensated but this is borderline extortion.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 14, 2014 @05:37PM (#46250367)

    First, stop upvoting your own comments.

    Secondly, we both know that the vast majority of product placement is paid. Don't be purposely obtuse.

    Lastly, Apple does pay for product placement, but not in broadcast programming. They only pay for it in movies. How do I know? I'm a production accountant in the movie industry, and I see them writing checks for this all the time.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 14, 2014 @05:47PM (#46250471)

    Color Run founder and owner -

    support photographer here


  • Re:BS all around (Score:4, Informative)

    by jratcliffe ( 208809 ) on Friday February 14, 2014 @06:21PM (#46250747)

    If you take a picture of ME and then want compensation when I share it with someone, you can go screw yourself.

    Photographs of a public event are absolutely copyrightable. If you doubt this, try using photos from a newspaper without permission. Fundamentally, the photographer holds the copyright on the picture.

  • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Friday February 14, 2014 @07:26PM (#46251315)
    Don't be an idiot. This isn't about Facebook using his photos, it's about a third party using them. Nothing about allowing Facebook to exhibit your photos grants a license to some OTHER party for commercial use.
  • Re:Wow.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Friday February 14, 2014 @07:37PM (#46251401)
    While The Color Run's response is a bit extreme, they are correct that what Jackson is asking for is completely unreasonable. Typical compensation for a full-page photo [photographersindex.com] published with a distribution of between 10,000 to 100,000 is on the order of $500-$1000. For a photo used in advertisements at retail stores, it's about $1000-$2000. Usually, if the parties involved can't come to an agreement, these type of unattributed photographer incidents wind up in small claims court because the amounts involved are so small, not federal court.

    I think what we have a kid here who hears stories about how much 30 year veteran pro photographers with well-established reputations make, and thinks it's normal to snap a few photos and be set for the year. The only way he could realistically collect $100,000 is if (1) he registered the copyrights on his photos with the U.S. Library of Congress, and (2) he managed to prove in court that The Color Run knowingly, deliberately, and willfully violated his copyright. I highly doubt he's going to be able to prove (2), and if he didn't do (1) he's only entitled to damages suffered (in this case, probably zero unless he has a letter from another advertiser saying they wanted to pay him $x to use his photos but decided not to after seeing that The Color Run was already using them.

    To any budding photographers: Copyright infringement on the Internet is rampant. If you find your photos being used without your permission, you are not the first person this has happened to. If you don't want to pay for a lawyer, ask what to do in online photo forums. Lots of photographers who've had the same thing happen will be more than happy to give you advice on how to proceed, and provide guidelines on reasonable pricing like the link I gave above.
  • Re:Of course (Score:5, Informative)

    by Redmancometh ( 2676319 ) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @01:18AM (#46253075)

    As much as it sounds like these guys are being pricks on the surface here is a response from the owner that raises some pretty serious questions:

    "Hi, this is Travis Snyder.

    I wanted to respond personally to this matter. As the founder of The Color Run, I've had the opportunity to work with many successful creative partnerships of all sizes, including amazing photographers. I respect their ability to capture the essence of our event and fully believe that they deserve attribution for their work to showcase their talents. This issue with Max is a single anomaly and quite frankly makes me sad. Max first came to shoot The Color Run because we granted his school class non-commercial access to come shoot the race in Miami where the photos in question were taken. After this, Max actually ended up working our events over the next year as a non-photographer and traveling and setting up with our traveling teams.

    About a year later, Max first initiated questions about the use of some of the Miami photos. We sat down and genuinely tried to reach an amicable solution, including offering financial compensation and exposure through our networks. Our offers were declined, and met with the following demands:(language taken from legal filings)

    -"$100,000.00 US deposited into my business bank account" (This amount went on to be raised by Max to $300,000).

    -"To be named the Official Photography Sponsor of The Color Run (Globally) for the remainder of its existence."

    -"Max Jackson Logo to be added in sponsors section on the bottom of all web pages"

    -"My name to read at the bottom of any TCR photo's used in legible print from the next print run forward as, Photograph by Max Jackson"

    -"if no efforts are made within 15 days, to contact me I will be forced to take further action"

    Understandably, these demands were quite difficult. They went far outside professional compensation and credit for photography work. We discussed other options, and ultimately when Max said he was planning to sue rather than continue a dialogue, there was little option left but to defend our rights through the legal system. I have been and will continue to be at the table to visit about how to resolve this outstanding issue.

    As hard as it is to see tweets calling you a "#scumbag", I love the Internet and its ability to give everyone a voice. I also appreciate the opportunity to share more information and insight into a complex situation. My personal hope and intention has always been to get this resolved directly, amicably, and fairly."

"Call immediately. Time is running out. We both need to do something monstrous before we die." -- Message from Ralph Steadman to Hunter Thompson