Update: Clothing Company Shuts Down Due to Hate Messages After Conflict With Photographer

Update: Clothing Company Shuts Down Due to Hate Messages After Conflict With Photographer

What started as a simple copyright dispute between MetalBlast writer, photographer and full-time attorney J Salmeron has quickly escalated to Thunderball Clothing owner Marta Gabriel announcing the company will be shutting down due to the immense amount of hate comments received.

In case you missed our write-up, Photographer Gets Banned From Shooting Artist’s Show After Requesting Payment for Usage License, let’s summarize what went down: Dutch concert photographer J Salmeron attended a festival in June 2018 where he photographed the metal band, Arch Enemy. Soon after the festival, he posted a photo of lead singer Alissa White-Gluz to his social accounts, where she saw it and reshared it to her feed. Salmeron was not only elated that she liked the photo enough to share, but that she didn’t edit the original photo, kept his watermark, and properly credited him. Kudos to Alissa White-Gluz for following proper sharing etiquette. 

It wasn’t until Thunderball Clothing owner, Marta Gabriel, shared the same image using the same regramming app White-Gluz used, to share it onto her company profile. This is where it got hairy. Since it was marketing a product of hers, Salmeron quickly reached out to Thunderball Clothing with a takedown notice and gave her the option of either paying him €500 for usage or donating €100 to a charity of his choice. After sharing his story and their response to the public, it amassed media attention and the photography and music communities went nuts.

Since issuing a public apology via social media on the 28th, leading the public to believe she was unclear on how copyright works and has educated herself on what she did wrong, she’s personally contacted J Salmeron, apologized, and even donated €100 to the Dutch Cancer Society. However, although she has settled any issues with Salmeron, she continues to receive an insane amount of threatening, misogynistic, and racist messages. 

It’s unfortunate to see a business closing because of the naivety of copyright and reckless bullying. In my opinion, the only party that made the situation infinitely worse was Arch Enemy and their management team. Had they not so unprofessionally responded to J Salmeron’s request, none of this would have blown as much out of proportion as it has. Unsurprisingly, since Thunderball has made their statement, Arch Enemy and lead singer, Alissa White-Gluz, who was going to bat in defense of Marta and Thunderball, have been completely silent and have disabled comments on a recent Instagram post regarding the issue. 

What are your thoughts on Thunderball shuttering their business? Who do you think is really to blame? Sound off below.

Lead image by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash used under Creative Commons

Laura Ersoy's picture

Laura Ersoy is a portrait and music photographer based in the New York/New Jersey area. She currently works as a Digital Designer, while also serving as Editor-in-Chief for the independent music & culture publication, EUPHORIA. Magazine.

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It’s hard to muster any compassion for Marta, since she took so long to comply to J Salmeron’s request. Let’s hope the backlash has been equally firm for Alissa and her management.

Marta had an opportunity to learn about Intellectual Property law, donate a small amount to satisfy the photographer but chose to create drama along with Alissa and her management, who chose to strong-arm the photographer. I doubt that Marta has stopped making her clothing but will reappear under another name. It looks like she finally made the charitable donation but it also appears to be nearly six months after being contacted. We should be supporting all photographers Intellectual Properties because sooner or later it could be yours being violated.

Looks like maybe they’ve been called out by more photographers for abusing copyright. Or, a lot photographers pulled any licensed photos in protest.

We're talking about compassion for someone facing rape and death threats.

Try again.

This is not the way for justice being served. People can be total dicks, and that is why we have a justice system. A linch mob is not the answer to anything.

"Lynch" mob is a little extreme...

Maybe if the professional photography industry had taken a very militant approach to defending copyright issues over the past 20 years, we wouldn't be in the clusterf*ck we are now.

What might seem over kill to you and others is a a necessary reaction in order to bring the scales back to balance. Large/Small/Rich/Poor have to realize that the work of others should not only be respected but compensated. We all have bills to pay.

Either copyright means something or it doesn't and I'm not in the least bit sad they are closing down. By the way...that doesn't mean she get's away without PAYING!

I'm sorry, no. I 100% disagree. It is a lynch mob, and the mentality of fans on either side make it worse. If you think making threats,insults and all around being a prick towards her are warranted you are part of the problem. Her shutting down because she feels her life is in danger is NOT justice. This is a matter between her, the management and the band, everyone else is just a witness and should play no part in it.

Upholding copyright is the biggest thing we need, but the backlash in the way this person is getting, it is NOT warranted. That's not justice, but social justice warriors demanding her ruin when she's trying to make amends. It's not professional, and much like Irene Rudnyk's absurd as shit post about copying, fans do bad things to people whom 'hurt' their idols.

Also, she DID pay, and the photographer DID accept her apology.

Agreed. You don't balance out the "net" equation by going overboard with individuals and discarding them as collateral damage in the fight to achieve justice. That's just another form of injustice masquerading as the real thing.

Disagree 100% with you both but I appreciate your opinions. Thank you.

Four groups of people: Band and it’s management, Phographer, Clothing Designer and Internet posters. All dehumanized each other throughout this situation because our systems of justice or forums of discourse promote conflict. I am not above this; I have had my moments too. Let’s hope we can be better friends and business partners in 2019.

"or forums of discourse promote conflict" Very good point. Conflict equals clicks, readers, viewers and listeners depending on the medium. Sadly that's what sells.

Driving a business to close seems extreme. They certainly deserve some flak, but they're people who need to pay bills, too. I highly doubt that the photographer would have wanted this outcome.

Thunderball got backlash for a very short period of time. This incident hadn't even played out for a couple of months. They did not HAVE to close. They were not DRIVEN to close. The backlash may have been nasty but 99.999% of those people were never and would never be Thunderball customers. The owner had a temper tantrum and closed. It was far too soon to see if the backlash would have affected sales over the next year. OR maybe their lawyer warned them of what an actual copyright lawsuit would cost so she preemptively closed the business to reorganize under a different name so she would not be exposed to damages...again, her problem for trying to hurt someone else's business

And what do you call death threats?

So apparently the business was just one woman making shirts and it seems like she decided to close because she couldn't handle the vitriol and threats. I can see how a person might not want to deal with that...

Shut down her business over this? There must be a more tangible reason for it other than Social Media. Any successful business owner has to learn to deal with adversity.

Okay, she apologized. Now she knows that you can't just steal something and expect it to go unnoticed. Why not simply donate to charity or pay the guy a license fee and move on with life. The rabble will move on to another cause, in the meantime, the cost of ponying up for the mistake shouldn't be enough to kill the business.

Social Media is a Meca for over-reactors. All one really needs to do is turn off the frick'n computer and it goes away.

Guess you only read the headline and formed an opinion? "Marta Gabriel- Since issuing a public apology via social media on the 28th, leading the public to believe she was unclear on how copyright works and has educated herself on what she did wrong, she’s personally contacted J Salmeron, apologized, and even donated €100 to the Dutch Cancer Society." This is EXACTLY the outcome Mr Salmeron wanted. He NEVER asked for money directly, only to donate to his charity. I agree her actions of shutting down her business over this flack is a bit extreme but unfortunately the major culprit in this whole mess is Gossow, the bands manager. She escalated this into a direct attack to destroy the photographers career by spreading LIES to various promoters and managers of other bands to keep this man from working. Since he's a lawyer, I hope he can persue this further to make an example of how not to behave.

Guess you didn't read what I wrote and formed an opinion.

The question was... "What are your thoughts on Thunderball shuttering their business? Who do you think is really to blame?

I gave my thoughts. Assigning blame is irrelevant. What happened happened. I question the veracity that this caused her to shut down her business. There must be something "more tangible" which we are not privy too.

That's my opinion.

I guess you didn't read what you wrote, and responded. You wrote,

«Why not simply donate to charity or pay the guy a license fee and move on with life. …in the meantime, the cost of ponying up for the mistake shouldn't be enough to kill the business.»

She did what you suggested she do, and it was not enough to stop the harassment.

You also said,

«All one really needs to do is turn off the frick'n computer and it goes away.»

That does not work when one does business on the Internet, and depends on the Internet to get business. Turning off the computer simply stops one from seeing the vitriol, and fulfilling orders, but does nothing from stopping potential customers from seeing the vitriol.

But that is essentially what she did. She turned off the computer, ergo, business closed.

BFD, Do you argue with everyone? Closing her business over a single scrape on the internet is stupid. She's not a very good business person.

My computer sits silent most of the time. My phone rings, my email dings. Nobody runs a business from a Social Media site alone. If they do, well, too bad for them. Never put all your eggs in one basket so to speak.

That was the point I was making. Your point is to argue.

Not everyone runs a business like you. I do not know any dentist who does business on the Internet with next-day delivery, and I do not know anyone with a niche product, produced in small quantities who does not do business solely on the Internet.

When one's clients are all over the world, and one's budget is small, one cannot operate a business from a brick and mortar with no Internet. That is where orders come in, that is where orders go out, that is how potential clients find her, that is how potential clients decide if she is any good.

If you read FStoppers, then you already know the many stories of wedding photographers getting ruined, because their reputation went to pot on the Internet, because of the lies and vitriol of mean clients. Turning off the computer does not make the lies/vitriol go away, and therefore, the potential clients still avoid her as a vendor, ergo, no business.

My point is very clear, but, since you seem to be about nothing but putting her down, and me, along with her, My arguments with you end here.

It's "know", not "no"

Stupid is as stupid does.

Right! You win! I was clearly in the wrong, since my auto-correct made an error.

I will never question you again. (Mostly because of your abusive, non-helpful responses).

Good-day, Sir.

I've voiced an opinion to a question, which you don't agree with. I've abused nobody, You like to argue, that's all. Spell checkers don't change know to no. Maybe a remedial class in grammar would be helpful. Maybe an entry level class in business management would improve your understanding of basic business principles. I don't care. I'll continue voicing opinions as I see fit. If you don't like them, don't respond.

That's twice you've left me forever. Wanna shoot for a third time?

«I've voiced an opinion to a question….»
No one questioned your opinion, nor the right to have one. What is in question is your comprehension of the article, which made you opine that the individual should have done precisely what the individual had done, suggesting that you did not understand what had been done.

further in question was a factual statement you made on the closing of businesses. That was not an attack on an opinion, but a statement of fact, counteracting the premise on which your factual statement was based. Again, not a question of your opinion, but a counterpoint to your factual conclusion statement.

No one questioned your opinion.

«I've abused nobody,»
Ⓐ «Any successful business owner has to learn to….» Implicitly judgemental.
Ⓑ «Now she knows that you can't just steal….» Suggested criminal intent.
Ⓒ «…is turn off the frick'n computer….» Language.
Ⓓ «BFD….» Language.
Ⓔ «Do you argue with everyone?» Ad Hominem, instead of addressing the issue. …And, no, not everyone. Not even everyone on public forums on the Internet where they state their opinions and make factual statements for all to see, and on which to comment. But, hey….
Ⓕ «Closing her business… is stupid.» Explicitly judgemental.
Ⓖ «She's not a very good business person.» Explicitly judgemental.
Ⓗ «Your point is to argue.» Ad Hominem. …And if you think that that was my point, you actually proved my point. That was not my point.
Ⓘ «It's "know", not "no"» Strawman arguement. …Also, you omitted a period.
Ⓙ «Stupid is as stupid does.» Implicitly judgemental. …And it is not good form to point out grammar errors, then make one of your own, …and to make matters worst, make an implicit judgemental statement about people who make grammatical errors on Internet forums.
Ⓚ «You like to argue, that's all.» Ad Hominem, …right after you claim to not abuse people. Hmm. You should look up ‘abuse’.
Ⓛ «Maybe a remedial class in grammar would be helpful. Maybe an entry level class in business management….» Implicitly judgemental.

Unto other things….
« I've voiced an opinion…, which you don't agree with.»
The problem was not the opinion. The problem was your understanding of the premise on which you made your opinion. Fell free to voice your opinions as often as you see fit. I have no qualms with that. Just don't voice opinions, even based on accurately interpreted premises, and expect the whole world to agree with you. That is the thing about opinions. BTW, I do agree with the opinion you stated, in that she ought to have done precisely what you said she ought to have done, and apparently, she also agrees with that opinion, since that is precisely what she had done.

As I said, no one argued against your opinion.

«Spell checkers don't….»
Who said anything about spell-checkers? …And, no; ‘auto-correct’ is not the same thing as ‘spell-check’, nor ‘auto-spell-check’. Auto-correct is far more than just that.

«…change know to no.»
Who even said it started with, “know”?Maybe it started with a mis-spelling of ‘know.’ Maybe, it started with, “noʊ,” which has nothing to do with spelling! But, you are correct. A spell-checker would not alter a correctly spelt word. No one arguing that.

«Wanna shoot for a third time?»
I do not have a list of people I choose not to respond to, forever. However, I can follow any given thread. In this thread, my second post ended with, “My arguments with you end here.»

My third post was not an argument at all, (yet you chose to question your win), and ended with, “I will never question you again.”

This fourth post seems to be a contradiction of the first two, since, Ⓐ it brings an argument or two, concerning, ① your belief that I was arguing against your opinions, & ② your failure to understand what constitutes abuse, and Ⓑ it does indeed raise two questions, concerning auto-correct.

…but, no. I'm good. Thanks for asking. …And please try to be nice in the future.

Give it a rest and get a life. Third time you've left me forever. My opinion won't change. You can yammer on until your fingers go numb won't change a thing.


So much hate in the world. People need to unwind a tad.

Upon reading both articles, to me, it was the band's management that reacted extremely poorly to the whole situation. The photographer was extremely polite (as many are not) and accommodating to resolve the situation, he didn't ask for $500, he didn't ask for $100, he didn't even ask for money for himself but for a cancer charity. An "oops, sorry" by the clothing company and perhaps the band probably would have gone a long way instead of immediately going on the defensive and "banning" the photographer and treating them as some troll.
As far as the clothing company shuttering their business over it, that is truly unfortunate and I'm sure not something the photographer would have ever wanted.

"it was the band's management that reacted extremely poorly to the whole situation." I totally agree. I been a semipro musician for years and to me the last think you want is bad publicity. Photographers are very important to a band for obvious reasons.

PLEASE take my unedited watermarked pics of you & POST them EVERYWHERE.

That would be the most freemium marketing and advertising for my business I could ever dream of..... expect a thank you note tied to a bottle of champagne!

Hi Alexander =)

Allow me to start my reply with a white flag - I'm not shaming, blaming nor apologizing for anyone in the story. All friendly conversation. I only say this because Jan Grau voted me down for some reason. I'm not like that. I'd like to explain my perspective - which otherwise would have been too lengthy.

I took the time to read the entire article, and the preceding story that included the band's formal response to this mess.

Do you feel the way this situation was handled by the photographer would lead to more sales?

What opportunities are left on the table to network with this band, their designer, crew, circle of friends and venue?

The grief and frustration has already been established by all parties involved. It simply didn't go well.

Hindsight 20/20, different approaches could have lead to more favorable outcomes for everyone involved.

You don't get it. The photographer owns the rights to the picture. He has the right to say who can use his images PERIOD. He allowed the singer to repost it with watermark on her IG. He DID NOT give permission for the image to be posted on the clothing manufacturers IG page. Although she didn't intend it to be seen as promoting her products, unfortunately that is exactly what she did. Naivete is no excuse. She's an artist and businesswoman just like the photographer, she need to understand laws. "What opportunities are left on the table to network with this band, their designer, crew, circle of friends and venue?" SO you would allow the band to steal your work and just let it slide to be able to shoot them again? Get real! This is the MAJOR problem with semi-wannabe pro photographers these days( I've been a commercial photographer for 32 years). Laws aree complicate for them to grasp and understand and most have ZERO business skills. everything is so easily copied and stolen on the net that everyone forgets that it takes money, time and skill to produce good work that these companies need. Many photographers DO NOT need "free promotion" they need to be paid.

I do get it Lane, 100% - that's why I stated that I'm not shaming, blaming nor being apologetic for anyone involved. I haven't picked apart or attacked anyone in this forum or in the story, nor have I inferred that what the photographer did was wrong. I've issued takedowns before, I have dealt with employees of clients who have literally stolen my work - in the corporate/commercial world, and in the entertainment industry as well.

So many directionless people are desperately seeking a cause to give their life meaning. More and more it seems these pursuits are an excuse to express an internal building anger due to the frustration of leading an unfulfilled life.

I have limited sympathy. Marta and Alyssa tried to hurt Salmeron's business by banning him from concerts even though he let the band use the properly credited photo on non-commercial social media accounts. Regarding Thunderball, 500 euros or a 100 euro donation to charity is dirt cheap for any company and more of a token gesture pay than market value licensing. Any side company can afford to at least do the charity contribution and take a tax credit on top of it. Both the band and clothing company maliciously tried to hurt the photographer who did not hire an outside copyright lawyer and sue for damages along with compensation for licensing. Personally I think Thunderball is taking their ball and going home in a tantrum. The backlash probably has not hurt sales from established customers and would blow over in another month or two.

you are 100% correct

This whole thing is a testament against intermediates, and shows the power of misunderstandings... The photographer got probably angry from the lack of response from the clothing designer. Sje herself probably panicked and thought he was trying to threaten and scam her. Then the band thought the photographer was scamming her friend and got angry. If at any point those people actually spoke all of this would have stopped...

Bingo! Heavy metal vs lawyer. Perfect recipe for what happened. Opposites did not attract here.

Nick, it took me a few days to figure out the significance of why the photographer send a DM to Thunderball Clothing, I know why. It was his intent to establish that Thunderball Clothing was non-responsive to his DM. Why send it to their business emaill account where it would be responded to almost immediately?

The lawyer my late wife and I retained to help us adopt our daughter did something similar. He placed an ad in the newspaper for 30 days to see if anyone would respond to the ad as the biological father. We all knew that nobody would respond and by posting the ad, the lawyer met the legal burden set by the state.

There is no doubt in my mind this guy set this up make Arch Enemy and Thunderball Clothing look bad while he looks a "nice guy" while using plausible deniability for the fallout by the mob!!!

Placing an ad in a newspaper that no one reads and sending a message to an active Instagram account that person seems to check and post on in a daily basis are two very different things. I'm not on Instagram everyday but I still alerts from DM on there and check it for messages.

No John, they are the same and the intent is the same. This guy is a lawyer full time, he manipulated this to get the result he wanted.

One of my friends checked his site and he had a video of Alestorm that he "borrowed" without payment of permission and the band asked him to take it down and made a joke about getting a hundred dollars from him for use of the video. I guess the law doesn't apply to him, only people he has a problem with.

I hope Century Media and Arch enemy sue this guy into the stone age!!!

Do you have a link to the Alestorm thing? I looked on his site and can't find it. My brother knows the band and he said the band liked Metal Blast but things could have changed since he last spoke with them.

No Jason, it was a screen shot on a friend's Facebook page.

Do you have the screen shot? My brother is going to ask the band.

No I don't, sorry.

John, Instagram DMs go to spam by default. People usually just hit decline all every few days once the spam amasses.

"In my opinion, the only party that made the situation infinitely worse was Arch Enemy and their management team."
Had the store owner spent 10 minutes on Fstoppers, she would have known how vicious (some) photographers can be.

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