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

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Previous comments
Patrick Rosenbalm's picture

"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.

Tyler Jacobs's picture

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!

How many times your watermarked pics posted everywhere on Instagram brought you new business from business owners who reposted it?

Tyler Jacobs's picture

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.

Lane Shurtleff's picture

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.

Tyler Jacobs's picture

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.

Jon Winkleman's picture

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.

Mike Kelley's picture

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...

Benoit Pigeon's picture

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!!!

John Sheehan's picture

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.

David T's picture

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

user-156929's picture

"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.

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.

user-156929's picture

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

I agree photographers are pretty bitey in general.

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

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.

user-216690's picture

Mediation was my immediate thought when this popped up.

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.

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.

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 ?

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