You gotta love a good copyright blunder and horrid damage control story. Thankfully, there's a new one still in development (totally unintentional photo-pun, I'm sorry). What makes this one even better is not only the completely intentional watermark removal, but the colorful email the photographer received after asking that the photo be taken down.
And the best part? Oh yeah, the photographer is also an attorney. I hope you're strapped in...
So here's the gist of this so far, I'll have some links for you at the bottom if you want to know all the details. The photographer, Kathy Shea Mormino, is also the owner of the site The Chicken Chick which is apparently where the image in question was swiped from. An image by the way, that is also of HER chickens, in HER backyard.
She finds her image on Survival Magazine's Facebook page, and blog and despite her watermark being obviously intentionally removed she opts to contact them directly via their Facebook page. They not only ignored her but also deleted the comment. Not a clever move. Seeing that this has happened, Mormino files a take down notice with Facebook...and this is where the story goes from "well that's normal" to "wtf?"
See the "magazine" responded to the take down by apparently forgetting that this is the internet...and people can screen-cap.
Here is the complete text if you couldn't read it:
"For someone who raises chickens you're a complete and total jerk, you have cost us hundreds of dollars in promotions of our posts, and we will be sueing you to recoup that and legal fees which are estimated to be between 5-10k. What an asshole with nothing better to do than go around the web filing false take down notices. We will also be contacting all of your sponsors."
There have been some official statements made to AdWeek from both parties, which I would encourage you to read. However, I think it's pretty clear that nothing Survival Magazine could say would make them appear innocent. Especially not when Mormino refutes every single point and provides evidence. Since I'm obviously not taking a responsible journalist approach in this article, let's talk about my favorite sentence in that treasure trove of a bad business example above. Yes, I know there are only three sentences...sort of.
"For someone who raises chickens you're a complete and total jerk..."
What? I'm sorry but in this entire story that one line baffles me the most. Not the misspelling of "suing" or the exorbitant legal fees for a case that would most likely end up in small claims anyway. Not even the fact that Mormino didn't cost them "hundreds of dollars," they cost themselves by being generally dumb.
Nope, the assumption that all people raising chickens are incapable of being "jerks." That one got me laughing to the point that I actually think there might be something wrong with me.
To actually be a responsible writer for a second though...it's sad how common this sort of practice is. I would bet that most of our readers have had to ask that a photo be taken down, and I know that our entire staff at Fstoppers has had it happen to each of us as well. Conversations with offending companies about why images you find on Google aren't free are way too common. Obviously this particular case shows just how little respect we are given as photographers by an unfortunate share of the global market. I want to thank you though as a photographic community because every time I read about infringement against a photographer...I also get to read about how they haven't backed down, and how each of you rallies up in support of them. It's awesome that when it really matters, the troll torches get put away and people speak up to defend their peers.