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

Log in or register to post comments


Previous comments
g coll's picture

Very true but people are vicious everywhere, in all fields and on all forms of social media. Most people have experienced this in one way or another and unfortunately this is the world we live in now. I doubt she was born in a tent.

Deleted Account's picture

Actually, I was born in a tent... The only online experience I have is on photography blogs.

g coll's picture

I agree photographers are pretty bitey in general.

Nothing wrong with tenting.. and with house prices these days, well..

Kurt Schuster's picture

Anything that stifles either creativity or commerce, whether by appropriation of an artist's ideas or work product, or depriving a brand of their access to a marketplace using the thinnest of justifications, is soul-crushing and ultimately destructive to both sides of the argument.

Sadly, no one walks away from this situation unscathed or blameless. With that said, however, I do hope that Thunderball Clothing, and its owner Marta Gabriel, can regroup or rebrand and come back from this debacle. They do not deserve a death sentence over their delay to recognize copyright infringement and the Internet's poorly informed keyboard-rage over the incident.

Is anyone else left with the thought that all of this could have been easily resolved if the three or four parties involved would have met privately over a cup of coffee to talk it out? Could it still? The logistics required is one thing; Checking bruised egos at the door quite another.

Deleted Account's picture

Mediation was my immediate thought when this popped up.

Kurt Schuster's picture

Yes, mediation would have worked here as well if these parties didn't resolve the issues among themselves first.

Your idea does raise an interesting point though. With all of the web sites reporting on this matter, I wonder if any have the power, influence, or will to bring the principals together to reach some sort of peace between them and their warring factions. The Internet was quick enough to help cause this problem and blow it all out of proportion. Maybe it has the power to help resolve it as well.

Robert Escue's picture

Considering that Metal Blast is using the story to draw people to their site I would say no. See the discussion between Benoit and myself farther down in this thread.

Kurt Schuster's picture

Ah, anarchy, and with it the perception that unless you are dealing with someone from a position of power and strength it's a sign of weakness and worthy of only scorn and disdain. Unless I am wrong, what else explains niche audiences and their fickle selections of web sites and the bands they support?

Humans are supposedly hard-wired with the desire to be liked. How did that ever mutate into the need to be feared as being an even bigger bully than the next guy? Until, or unless, someone decides this is 'not cool' and chooses to stand between the 'us-versus-them' mobs, then none of us or the things we have worked for are safe.

Rob Davis's picture

Everybody needs to calm the f*** down in 2019.

Henry Louey's picture

How many of you have already forgotten about #rohanisatool ?

davidlovephotog's picture

I had a costume company do the same thing. They posted pics of cosplayers in their costumes I had taken. Alarms rang that someone could be using my images to make profit. Then I decided not burning a bridge would be smarter. It came down to how the images were used, as a blog thing rather than in the catalog section. They credited me so anyone looking at their costumes would see my images and perhaps think "Buy the costume, get this guy to take my pictures." Where I draw the line is any use in ads, products or promotions to make a profit.

Yes there are rules but maybe instead of going after the clothing company the way he did he could've turned it into a business opportunity and stated that if they liked that picture, they should consider hiring him for band photos or clothing shots. Who knows, that could've turned into other bands wanting to hire him as well. Rather than going to concerts, taking pics for free and then waiting to shoot that licensing message out to people they didn't want to use it. The publicity on him could've turned out better than other bands fearing he could come after them next.

In the end he's probably burned a lot of bridges in a field of photography he enjoys working in. Sometimes you have a choice between a little gold dust or tracking the gold nuggets to the gold mine.

David Penner's picture

Company is closed. New company has been opened

Deleted Account's picture

I think you're asking the wrong question. Asking whose fault it is won't change anything. And the true point of failure was the initial infringement; however, there was a subsequent failure of communication between the parties.

I think the question should be 'how do the photographic/creative communities educate about copyright?' It feels like the sort of thing that needs a global peak body that handles copyright awareness and enforcement.

Billy Walker's picture

Years ago when you wrote the newspaper, a letter to the Editor, you hoped and hoped it would be printed. The newspaper made sure the letter was of reasonable intelligence and at least aligned with the conversation at hand.

Fast forward to the age of the internet and the quantity of stupid, idiotic comments is truly, truly remarkable. In general, almost no one will have any personal information as to what took place except the few people involved. The internet loves to act as jurors not even knowing if the facts have any basis in truth.

The quality of so much of today's responses are horribly poor at best, to say nothing of misguided and frequently downright ignorant. People displaying their worst are on display every day of the week. Why do they act that way? Who knows.

I have no idea if Marta is telling the truth or not therefore a comment coming from out of nowhere is meaningless. That's the plain and simple truth. The fact that she donated the money to the photographer's charity makes me think she's believable. But I could be wrong. I have no personal knowledge of Marta's intent so why respond at all much less make threats and go through with name calling? Let the affected photographer work it out as he/she probably has at least some of the facts where the crowd has nothing other than what they read, which may be right, may be wrong.

The internet is truly the great information highway. The downside is it has also brought forth incredible stupidity. Why on earth this takes place is beyond me but mob mentality combined with bullying is presumably at the forefront. And the mob doesn't look overly bright nor pretty. Sad.

JetCity Ninja's picture

the unrefined animal in me wants to say "good riddance to a hypocrite." however, the educated me wants to say that it's unfortunate that it got to this point. this is mob justice, plain and simple, and more akin to vengeance than actual justice. while those acting on their baser instincts will circlejerk themselves into a frenzy, proud of their "win," it's a net loss to the creative industry as a whole.

two wrongs dont make a right. the photographer was bullied but the mob bullied her beyond submission. not cool.

but three rights will make a left.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Clothing company closes after unexpected €100 hit

Benoit Pigeon's picture

So I wish I had started following numbers from December 25, but I decided to evaluate the return for Metal Blast over 24 hours starting 10am yesterday. At the time they had 6659 people on their Youtube channel and today at 10am the number grew to 7009. The numbers don't show live evolution so the next update could be any time now and could be even bigger. The channel seem to be 7 years old, but it's growth in just 24 hours was over 5%. Even at 1% growth per day, they should have reached the million by now, but they just broke the 7k yesterday. Come to your own conclusions, but remember that's 5% new subscribers and over 300k views for this story alone, 3 times bigger than their best ever. Their previous story 3k.

Robert Escue's picture

Benoit, metal music has a very specific audience and there are plenty of sites for a metalhead to choose from, from mainstream sites like MetalSucks (who I used to shoot for) to obscure ones like CVLT Nation. Each one has their niche in the metal world and fights for a fickle audience.The site is "user supported" whatever that means.

Looking at the Metal Blast site, most of the content is older with only the Album Reviews porting seeing recent activity. If I wouldn't know any better I would say the site is having problems. None of the recent content would make me want to go there. The piece on Five Finger Death Punch alone is enough to make me give it a pass.

I agree with you, the site needed a shot in the arm and with all of this attention they are getting it. There is not enough American or Australian content to pull respective audiences so I guess they are dependent on the European audience alone. Until this, I had never heard of them. My taste for metal news usually takes me to Metal Wani (India), Metal Injection (US) and Invisible Oranges (US).

It would be nice if the people who post these stories would do some of the detective work we are doing. It might make for a more interesting series of articles.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

Metal for me was a bunch of buddies in the late 70's who liked that music. I was more in the punk and weird stuff like Nina Hagen, Lene Lovich etc and then ska too. My friends were really into it, the hard stuff. While you could find albums, metal was really a music that did not get much exposure at the time, so typically one would buy a 33 and the others would copy it. Sounds really, really bad today, but in reality this was a great way for the bands to get more exposure and eventually sell more.
It was incredible to see Napster distribute any music free the way it was and I don't blame anyone for shutting it down, but boy, what a disappointment I had when I heard it was members of a metal band that headed that fight. I was kind of done with metal a long time ago but that really closed that chapter. Even not being my music, I do listen a little to it, I thought it was really cool and inspirational how the earlier bands kept on going with very little support. The Napster thing made me realize they had made it, but I was just expecting musicians from other venues to be the ones to lead that fight.
Metal in India, now that's really cool!
Thanks and Happy New Year Robert!

Robert Escue's picture

Metallica is still getting beat up over Napster. I have been listening to metal for more than 40 years and still love it. Thanks Benoit!!! Happy New Year to you as well!!

Robert Escue's picture

I just checked the Metal Blast Facebook page and while the site is now trying to downplay the war they started, the photographer is getting attacked for is poor behavior and conduct, not just over Arch Enemy and Thunderball, but the pirate metal band Alestorm just slammed the site for sharing a video of their performance at a festival without compensation or permission. The video was removed after being online for months.

When I first saw this "story" on PetaPixel, I thought it was a clickbait piece, similar to many they post for clicks. I read the article and thought there are a few pieces missing like how did the photographer get a license to charge licensing fees without the permission of the band(s) in question or the festival who granted him an editorial license to shoot the festival?

I have no issue with a photographer going after money they are owed. The problem here is that I think this guy has a problem with either Arch Enemy, Thunderball Clothing, or both. His website isn't seeing a lot of traffic and his DM to Thunderball Clothing wasn't responded to in a timely fashion. People seem to forget that this guy is a lawyer first and a photographer second. He acted and responded like a lawyer.

People need to look beyond the veneer of a story and look past the headline and the impassioned and the plea of the aggrieved photographer. If you have to write your own story and create a video about your plight in order to sell it to people, you may have a bigger problem. I see this as a production and I think people are starting to wake up to it. This guy has the potential to ruin things for a lot of photographers and I don't see him saying sorry.

Shooting a concert is a privilege that can be extended or taken away at anytime. I watched this happen with a photographer at the Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater in Virginia Beach, VA while I was waiting to shoot Slayer on the first leg of their last tour in June. You had to be approved to shoot any of the five bands playing (Slayer, Anthrax, Behemoth, Testament and Lamb of God). One photographer thought she could push her way into shooting the entire show despite being approved to shoot Lamb of God only. She was thrown out of the venue, her credentials were null and void and more than likely the publication she worked for was contacted about her behavior. A press pass has conditions and if you are not willing to live up to them, expect fallout.

David T's picture

Used to shoot a lot of concerts, but realized that concert photographers live on borrowed time. The world doesn't need as many as there are available. The band photographer with AAA pass will always have the best photos. I can see the future being official media/press kits with handpicked photos only.

Nothing interesting ever happens at concerts that fills an article worth reading. Even in interviews musicians are extremely careful nowadays about what they say.

Robert Escue's picture

David, I seldom get blown away by bands and/or shows anymore, but there are exceptions. With the bands I like to listen to and see live, if I don't cover them, they don't get covered at all.

Lane Shurtleff's picture

@Laura Ersoy, you stated in THIS article that the photographer asked to either be paid 500 Euro OR 100 Eruo be donated to his charity of choice. The photographer said IN LIEU of cash payment to him he would like ONLY a donation. He merely stated his standard rate for commercial usage, not asking for direct compensation.
Too bad the bands manager and/or management handled the situation like they have with so many other photographers they think they can walk all over. By not thoroughly examining the original email the photographer sent (which was treated as spam) and reading correctly how the photographer would like to handle the situation (which was done properly) they got a rude lesson on social media outrage. It's too bad the clothing manufacture handled it wrong in the first place, but she should know these rules as an artist dealing with others possibly stealing her designs and ideas. Gossow, Arch enemy's manager is a complete POS for they way she handled it and of course fabricated her story and pathetic attempt at an (anti)apology. The vitriol spewed by fans as well as supporters on the photographers side is disgusting. All those cowards on social media threatening people with physical hared and even death are just plain filth. It guess that's the world we deal with on a day to basis now.

Maksims Ter-Oganesovs's picture

really sad story..

Michael Ma's picture

Trying to play the victim again. I'm sure she'll just reopen under a different name.

Wayne Carey's picture

This is a great case for "picking your battles". Usually, most copyright issues are handled fairly well but when things escalate, there are no clear winners and usually one huge loser (sometimes the photographer). Its unfortunate that the business got catch up in this mess but you just can't trash mouth someone directly or indirectly and think everything is ok.