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by OntPhoto on Mon Oct 22, 2012 11:23 pm
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Gee, I was surprised to read this on Scott Linstead's blog. What a bad situation to be in. Scroll down to second blog entry.

http://scottyphotography.blogspot.ca/
 

by SantaFeJoe on Tue Oct 23, 2012 12:01 am
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Sad story, but the consolation is that they won't control any of his present or future images! If he is like most photographers (and I'm sure he is) his work will only get better and he can now control its' use more closely. Sad to see how the big fish is so hungry, to the exclusion of the ones that feed them. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!

SFJ
Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.  -Pablo Picasso
 

by Neilyb on Tue Oct 23, 2012 3:34 am
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So basically they paid him for 5 years but control all those images he took for forever?
 

by Colin Inman on Tue Oct 23, 2012 6:09 am
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I guess it was all in the contract fine print, else it couldn't happen ?
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by Greg Basco on Tue Oct 23, 2012 7:42 am
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Incredible but on the other hand there must have been an exclusivity clause in there somewhere along with a life span. It would be interesting to know what the contract language was just so others can be on the lookout.

I'm currently working for a publisher on a coffee table book, and even though they're cool, I had to send in three substitute drafts modifying image rights clauses to ensure that I held irrevocable rights to images I take for this project. The publisher was fine with the modifications. I think they just didn't understand the rights a photographer expects for a project of this sort. In Scott's case, it appears of course that the agency must have been intending to pull one over on him.

Cheers,
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by Neil Fitzgerald on Tue Oct 23, 2012 1:43 pm
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It's a stunning image, and a terrible situation. Tin eye search the image and you find lots of places it is used, and an agency marketing it...
 

by Andrew Kandel on Tue Oct 23, 2012 2:16 pm
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I came across one of their contests and it read like a con job. Pay us $xx.xx and we will consider marketing your work.
 

by OntPhoto on Tue Oct 23, 2012 6:28 pm
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Colin Inman wrote:
I guess it was all in the contract fine print, else it couldn't happen ?

Wish I knew what was in the contract that would allow a company to sell your images for publication and not pay you?

Andrew Kandel wrote:
I came across one of their contests and it read like a con job. Pay us $xx.xx and we will consider marketing your work.

Who would they be?
 

by amp5213 on Tue Oct 23, 2012 6:36 pm
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As a lawyer, I can tell you that what Scott said in his post makes no legal sense at all. If the agency is not paying, they have breached the agreement. Once the contract is breached its over and they can't enforce it against him in court.
 

by LeOrmand on Tue Oct 23, 2012 7:57 pm
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Honestly, the post doesn't make sense and he offers virtually no details for the reader to understand how he was taken for a ride. I understand he may feel threatened by the firm and not want to "out" them, but you cannot make any reasonable conclusion about the situation based on the information provided.
@JRookphotos on Instagram 
 

by Scott Linstead on Tue Oct 23, 2012 10:08 pm
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Well, the story is much more complicated than I cared to mention in my blog. My Dutch legal council reviewed my contract and said that there's a clause in there whereby the photographer effectively signs over the copyrights to their images for 3rd party representation. In other words, sure the contract is breached but you need the agency to cooperate to get back to unrepresented status. You can claim the contract is over all you want and this is exactly what many of the other photographers have done. But the agency ignores these requests for contract termination. The images are still sold. My lawyer wanted 1000euros to send the first letter (which has already proven to be ignored by the agency based on other photographers' testimony). Meanwhile, a lucrative arrangement with a major US agency keeps funds made from the Dutch photographers' images (mine included) flowing happily along to the Netherlands, effectively protecting the agency from bankruptcy. Legal theory or otherwise, I can say for a fact that no agency is interested in representing those images for fear of getting sued by the cash-strapped, corrupt agency. But my blog is not a public service or an expose on the legal details of the situation. I am sure it would make plenty of sense to whatever lawyer is logging the billable hours.
 

by OntPhoto on Tue Oct 23, 2012 10:23 pm
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Scott, if you have a word of advice for other photographers to avoid a similar situation...I know, get a lawyer to read the contract....what would it be? Were there previous complaints about this agency or is this something that is happening because they're in financial trouble?

Is there a way to plead your case with the USA agency so they will not use your images...they may not know the actual situation.....I know, the dutch one may threaten to sue you....but ask them to keep it quiet? If they're ethical, they may just consider it....but if it's just business to them...then who knows....worth a try anyway, especially if the US agency is a big name.

PS. Wondering also if there are any Dutch government agencies that can do something about it? I know, this is out of left field but I don't know how things work over there. And yes, it may come down to a contract is a contract but it'll be a really unfair contract. Depending on how it's worded, it may even be deceptive.
 

by Scott Linstead on Tue Oct 23, 2012 11:03 pm
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I would say that the agencies that can make what sales are still left to be had are next to impossible to get into. I also say that regardless of the contract, if you sign with an agency and they can't pay but they don't want to let you out of the contract so as not erode their earning potential, you had better have a lot of capital to get yourself out of it. The us agency is well aware of what's going on. I can't really elaborate. I'm not afraid of legal action at this point but I am trying to keep my word and not become part of the unethical mess that is the stock photography industry.
 

by DOglesby on Thu Oct 25, 2012 12:29 am
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Companies like that should be burned to the ground. Absolutely appalling.
Cheers,
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by Royce Howland on Thu Oct 25, 2012 8:41 am
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Scott & I have talked about this a bit, and it is truly a complex and ugly situation. Unfortunately it doesn't look like there's a simple way out of it; the agency in question is banking on the estimation that the people it's screwing over will shy away from stepping up to the costs and risks of going after them.

Scott's not alone in this situation; there are shady players out there in the agency game, and they are ripping people off. I know of another smart & experienced photographer with a long track record in the industry who is having to decide whether to step up to what amounts to a fight to the death with an agency right now as well. It's a completely different situation to Scott's, but the similarity is that despite what is obviously gross breach of contract on the part of the agency in question, they still have control of the images and my photographer friend can't get them clear without what will probably be a very expensive and time consuming battle. It's driving him crazy but in this case because he is & has been a 100% working photographer, he has really no choice but to proceed with a full-on legal process so that decades of work don't get flushed down the drain.

In my day job, some years back, I got into a an intellectual property rights vs. payment situation with a client that was unscrupulous to the point of carrying on actual fraud, IMO. My company was small and we came right to the wire on whether to launch a legal case or not. We had one small edge and managed to use it to bargain our way into a small payment. Using that we were able to pay out our team. On the advice of our lawyer we decided to drop it after that because the lawsuit would be expensive & time consuming; even though our lawyer felt we would win (and we believed him because of the over-whelming evidence we could supply), our background security checks convinced us the other party in question would almost certainly find a way to hide his assets and end up not paying a cent of the eventual judgment, including our legal fees. And our lawyer apologetically insisted that he was definitely getting paid no matter what happened. :) Even though we were able to meet our internal obligations, ultimately this situation led to the dissolution of my company because my partner & I couldn't bounce back after taking this hit. Let me tell you, I learned some powerful lessons. :)

Good contracts are very important, they're not just time-consuming red tape to put your rubber stamp on to get on with the "deal". IMO anybody thinking of getting into an agency relationship -- especially one involving exclusivity of market representation -- should review the contract with a fine toothed comb. Better yet, get a lawyer experienced in intellectual property rights to review it. Don't settle for a contract that doesn't give a clean out clause in the event of a breach by the other party; it may even be worth injecting a "shotgun" clause that a certain level of non-payment triggers a default reversion of rights. When there's a serious inequity in the relationship (you can't really impact the other party but they can wipe you out easily), then looking into the clauses of the contract that cover what happens if all the wheels come off is a really good exercise.

But sometimes even doing all of this is not enough. No contract can truly protect against a partner that turns out to lack an ounce of integrity and ethics, and is bent on enriching himself at the expense of everyone else. So these days I do 2 things. First is review contracts word by word and make sure I'm satisfied that the terms fairly protect the interests of both parties. And second, if I get a whiff of suspicion of this kind of character sitting across the table from me, I go with my gut and get out of the relationship as soon as possible... unfortunately sometimes being able to go with the gut develops only after experience earned the hard way.
Royce Howland
 

by Marshall Black on Thu Oct 25, 2012 1:27 pm
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OK. I took a look at the SL book in the NSN Store and would have bought it, if the post wasn't greater than the price of the book.
Would've liked to have helped.
This photographers images have been inspiring for me, to lose them due to what I would (politely) call "dodgy" circumstances is shameful.
Fingers crossed that SL get's his just rewards.
Marshall
 

by robb01 on Thu Oct 25, 2012 1:42 pm
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Hoping he can get a satisfactory outcome, rough situation.
 

by wynpotter on Thu Oct 25, 2012 4:32 pm
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With all the contacts that some of the members here, there should be a lawyer with the creds like "World Wildlife Fund" or other heavy hitters that would love to do a Pro Bono ars chewing on Scotts behalf. There's bound to be an organization like Nat Geo that could be the Elephant in the court
Even something as abstract as a Mechanics lien against the people that buy the use of Scott's work for their publications. The end product is to make the agency loose revenue by adverse publicity. If a heavy weight steps up I bet they will fold like a house of cards because it's about the $$$$$.
Just a small rant,
Wyndham
 

by OntPhoto on Thu Oct 25, 2012 6:10 pm
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wynpotter wrote:
Even something as abstract as a Mechanics lien against the people that buy the use of Scott's work for their publications. The end product is to make the agency loose revenue by adverse publicity. Wyndham

I'm not sure how many nature magazines there are in North America. Not even thinking about Europe and elsewhere. I suppose one could contact these magazines and tell them the story about what's really going on....that the photographer is not being paid. Will they still buy the images from the agency? What if down the road the photog is able to sign with another agaency.....would these same publishers shy away from the particular photographer's work because of the controversy?

Is this particular situation being discussed elsewhere on the web in more detail? A site where all the affected photographers get together to discuss what's happening with the agency?
 

by Blck-shouldered Kite on Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:19 pm
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What is the name of the agency again? Or did you give it?


Last edited by Blck-shouldered Kite on Fri Oct 26, 2012 8:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 

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