One photographer has been left disgruntled watching "Stranger Things" after recognizing what he believes to be one of his own storm photos – taken and used without permission – for the show’s concept art.
Despite noticing similarities between his photo and the dark storm cloud that appears within the show itself, photographer Sean R. Heavey says he brushed it off – until a friend was watching the behind-the-scenes episode, “Beyond Stranger Things,” which shows a still of the show’s concept art.
The still displayed during the episode seemed to resemble Heavey’s storm picture a little too closely for his liking. Entitled "The Mothership," Heavey’s site details that the image was taken of a supercell thunderstorm sweeping across Montana’s prairie at sunset. The final result is a panoramic comprised of four separate images.
Speaking to PetaPixel, he said:
Netflix did not get permission from me. I don’t have the image with any stock agencies so unless they got it from somewhere else, which is an issue if so, then they are using it without permission.
Heavey has since reached out to Netflix – and was apparently told that because “[the] law does not protect objects as they appear in nature,” his image cannot be copyrighted. Heavey quotes Netflix as stating that “the only similarity that exists is the use of a similar cloud formation… [and so that means] an artist can’t claim a monopoly over real-world public domain objects such as a cloud formation.” He adds, “The problem with that argument is that it’s not a similar cloud they use — it’s my cloud photo.” He is currently working with his legal team to formulate a plan, and in the meantime has taken to Facebook to express his displeasure.
This is not the first time Netflix has been confronted for copyright theft. Photographer Gough Lui last year launched (and won) a legal case after discovering a photo he took of a VHS case has been used as the box art for the Stranger Things disc set.
See Sean's work at his website.
Lead image credit: Sean R Heavey. Used with permission.