Queen Guitarist Lashes Out at Photographer for Reporting Image He Posted Without Credit

Queen Guitarist Lashes Out at Photographer for Reporting Image He Posted Without Credit

In a rather strange set of events, Queen Guitarist Brian May lashed out at a photographer after she filed a takedown request when the musician posted one of her photos of him on his Instagram without credit. 

The issue began when the guitarist posted a picture of himself taken by Barbara Kremer without crediting her. She filed a takedown request with Instagram, which resulted in the post being removed and May’s account being disabled for about an hour while he resolved the issue. May then posted a screenshot of the takedown notice with the following caption:

Personally, I always find it a bit strange when someone like a musician shows either a misunderstanding of copyright or lashes out at someone for protecting it, as music is of course no stranger to this exact issue. I also find May’s response rather childish: purposely mentioning Kremer by name (presumably to drag her through the mud in front of his followers) and saying she’s exploiting him by using his image is both immature and shows a lack of understanding of copyright, something someone in his position should understand well. As for saying she should have messaged him because he normally posts credits, it seems silly to assume that she would know that or that she could even get through to one of the most famous guitarists of all time on social media. Luckily, many are defending her in the comments of the post. 

Lead image by Mark Kieve, used under Creative Commons. 

[via PetaPixel]

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86 Comments

Neville Ross's picture

May should know better than to behave like this; he should also know that it's HER JOB to take photos like the one she took.

Alex Cooke's picture

Agreed. The whole "I usually give credit" defense is very strange too. I don't get to steal a bottle of wine from the store and run out the door yelling, "it's ok; I usually pay!"

Anonymous's picture

Well...shop owners will usually confront you, in a non-volatile situation, rather than call the police first. What he did was childish but she should have at least made an attempt to contact him first. What could have ended in a friendly relationship for her, and possibly better opportunities to photograph him, ain't happenin' now.

Alex Cooke's picture

Well, in fairness, the way IG messages work, it's very possible there's a message request from her that got lost in the thousands I'm sure he receives. Even if not, yes, it might have possibly ended more amicably, but she wasn't obligated to handle it that way. The shop owner would certainly be within their rights to call the police.

Anonymous's picture

Nobody is obligated to do anything and the pursuit of rights often gets in the way of friendship. I would rather die poor with lots of friends than wealthy, alone.

BTW, I just couldn't watch that movie. Bela Lugosi dying in the first few minutes, without so much as one line, should have tipped me off. I'll watch The Princess Bride again. :-)

Edit: I don't know anything about social media so I guess your first statement must be true. I hope she tried.

Alex Cooke's picture

"I would rather die poor with lots of friends than wealthy, alone."

Couldn't agree more with that sentiment. And no worries, there's certainly nothing wrong with watch "The Princess Bride" an extra time. :)

Anonymous's picture

Neither she, nor he, did the right thing. As this is a photography site, our emphasis is on her. Were it a music or rock fan site, I would have focused more on his behavior.
Doing the right or wrong thing wasn't a variable.
I fear you and I have some serious differences of opinion regarding what is right and wrong along with the majority of areas where we agree. Oops. Sorry. We never agree. ;-)

Anonymous's picture

?? I have no interest in preventing anyone from feeling offended. That goal is simply unattainable. My goal is to love others and promote that behavior in others.
No more. No less.

Anonymous's picture

If that's a side effect, that's fine. It's not my intent. I don't go out of my way to hurt people's feelings for facts that I don't care about but, I've hurt lots of people's feelings for things I do.

I don't care about business or lawyers. :-/

Anonymous's picture

I’d rather die wealthy with a ton of friends :)

"I would rather die poor with lots of friends than wealthy, alone."
I used to think that way, but there comes a point when people take advantage of you so much that you break. I became tired of being a doormat and I started standing up for myself. Those who use you aren't real friends.

Anonymous's picture

I'm a Christian. I know what I'm supposed to do.

I wasn't telling you what to do. I was sharing my experience.

Anonymous's picture

Me too.

Anonymous's picture

She had a lot to gain by contacting him first and nothing to gain by her course of action.

By non-volatile, I mean when the thief is a child, elderly person, etc. I'm sure we'll disagree on this as well but that's what makes our relationship interesting. :-)

Anonymous's picture

We're all speculating and have no idea what either principal was thinking.

For everything else, I believe in love and always try to act accordingly. You, of course, are free to act on whatever motivates you.

Anonymous's picture

Reason and what is reasonable is not the same as fact. Sometimes they intersect but it's merely coincidence.

Anonymous's picture

I agree with everything you've said with the exception that I've been putting thoughts in her mind. I disagree with both their actions but have no idea what they were thinking.

Brandon Adam's picture

This is not the first time I’ve seen something like this, yet all musicians try to crack down on piracy. I don’t understand how that disconnect can be there, should be easy for the musician to put themselves in the photographer’s shoes.

This is yet another example that photography (and digital medias in general: music, movies, etc ...) are doomed to be treated more and more as commodities even by the artists themselves. That's why it is now impossible to succeed in art if you're not a good in business (including at least a good mix of marketing, accounting, networking, administration) too. You cannot be "just an artist" anymore.

Anonymous's picture

Just another has-been trying to make news and stay relevant. Sad, really.

Norman Perkel's picture

Sorry (flamesuit on if people disagree), but I happen to agree with May on this one... All Kremer had to do was send him a message asking for credit. We also do not know if Kremer was there to document the show professionally or if she simply too the photo as a fan only to post it to her Instagram later and then get upset when she noticed May had shared her property without properly giving her credit???

Personally, I would have direct messaged the artist regarding the failure to give me credit and if he failed to respond after 72 hours or so then I would file a request with Instagram to pull the image... However that is a last resort, and mind you, the 72 hours is being generous in my book. Thoughts???

Jeff Walsh's picture

I agree, the time frame here is weird to me. It's like, and I'm assuming here, she didn't want him using the photo at all. To report the post as quickly as he says it was reported can only mean that there was zero attempt to keep it civil. Not sure where he pulled the photo from, but it doesn't seem to be from a personal account. As I said, the whole situation feels weird

Jeff Walsh's picture

I'm not saying the photographer didn't have the right. My point was the speed at which it was done implies zero effort to resolve other than the removal. I find it strange that the photographer would photograph Brian, then have that photograph removed from his social.

He did make it personal, but there's an unspoken oddity on the photographer's side.

I can't help but laugh while reading. First thing I see is we cry about him publicly shaming one of us while we are publicly shaming him by using his name because he is famous? Seems obvious no fact checking was done before this story was posted so assuming anything other than his rant which may or may not be posted by him seems comical as well. Being both a musician and a photographer makes me think photographers like to omit what doesn't concern them. Shoplifting is not even close to the situation we are assuming this might actually be. I think he is trying to appeal to the "fellow artist" in this situation so that maybe it could have been handled better. I know we can get on our high horse here but it is his likeness and I rarely see anyone give credit to anyone that isn't famous as subjects in photos. We pay no attention when someone does not want to be photographed or even ask in many cases. Yet we expect and demand that we get credit for said person to use it for themselves? Does that actually make sense to anyone?

Alex Cooke's picture

She did nothing wrong and was publicly shamed because someone didn't like that they themselves were caught doing something wrong and instead of simply letting it go, decided to broadcast the name of the person who did nothing to all their followers in an attempt to rouse anger against her. He was publicly shamed because he decided to drag someone's name through the mud for no reason other than having been caught (which would have never been made public had he not posted this). Huge difference.

I'm not sure what fact-checking you think I omitted. I posted the rant from his verified account that was signed with his name and then gave my opinion on it. No PR person wrote that; it's way too meandering and full of grammatical errors to have come from a PR desk and besides, I highly doubt any PR person worth their salt would advise a celebrity to publicly attack a photographer for rightfully asserting their copyright.

I'm a musician too, and if anything, the "fellow artist" idea makes me all the more annoyed. Artists are supposed to understand copyright and respect the work of other artists, neither of which were done here. Lastly, I'm not sure who the collective "we" is here, but that argument has no bearing on May's behavior.

So you are saying you can't take his word for it that he made a mistake and usually does the right thing?

Do you have any idea how many times he alone has been ripped off by fellow artist? Would it not be a little professional to give him some slack? Is it possible you would actually gain popularity by this mistake on his part? Even if he isn't telling the truth.

Alex Cooke's picture

I absolutely take his word that he made a mistake and usually does the right thing. I really wouldn't care about this at all if that was what had happened; I likely wouldn't have even known about it because the proper thing to do would be to shrug it off and say, "yep, I messed up, and she was well within her rights to take it down." No one would have ever known.

What I do have a problem with is throwing a tantrum and trying to leverage your fanbase to turn against a random person because you messed up and don't like that someone called you on it. That's plainly wrong and even dangerous with the reach that celebrities have and the sort of mob mentality the Internet can breed.

Did she shrug it off as you would like him to do?

Alex Cooke's picture

Pretty much, yeah. She took the bare minimum measures to protect her copyright. She didn't publicly shame him. She didn't take legal action. And on top of that, you keep positing that their positions were equal when they weren't. She didn't do anything wrong to begin with while he did.

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