a professional Las Vegas photographer. I shoot families,
models, do catalog work, events and
weddings. Like many of you, I’m just trying to
make ends meet by doing an honest days work. Above all
else, I want create the best photographs I know how.
Notice how I referred
to “I know how?” In
my life, I’ve never taken credit for some else’s
artist labor. I would never steal someone’s art
and then try and pass it off as my own. It just wouldn’t
occur to me, EVER!
But sometimes I feel
like I’m riding around Las
Vegas on my “Legal High Horse” all by myself.
I guess they don’t call this place Sin City just
because of the gambling and strippers!
Let me explain why
I’m so mad.
I received a call a few days ago from a new video production
company and they wanted to form a partnership with me.
They had seen my work and liked it and they wanted to
provide the video for my future weddings.
Brides ask me all time
if I could recommend a good video shooter who doesn’t cost a fortune. I usually can’t
recommend anybody because in Vegas, good, reasonably
priced video is like a good, cheap buffet, they’re
out there, but you might die trying stomach the bad ones.
There is a widely know, unspoken rule of about Las Vegas
weddings: There is only one thing more common here than
bad photographers, and that’s bad video guys.
Most of the good, reasonably
priced ($600 to $800 would be a great start) video
shooters I’ve worked with
previously are so busy that they are never available
for any open dates or they have raised their prices significantly.
On the other end of the scale there are a lot of very
busy video shooters who work cheap here and they should
do us all a favor and go pump gas instead. Almost all
of these “Budge Video Production Companies” produce
garbage. (Budget here is sub-$250, Lots of them around.
A few of the off-Strip chapels will do a video for $50
and it includes music! There doesn’t seem to be
any middle ground here, always an extreme in the price
I held out high hopes
for this new company, but you never know until you
look at the work. The owner made
an appointment and we were supposed to meet on a Friday
at 11 am. At ten minutes before the meeting, he calls
and says he is going to be a few minutes late. I know
Las Vegas has a terrible freeway system, so I understand
when someone is little late. But this guy shows up 45
minutes late and I was not happy! And he is covered in
tattoos and dressed like he’s going to a rave!
Not exactly a very professional image… even by
the very liberal, stylish standards of dress and appearance
I could feel it in
my gut; things are not looking good for this company.
No warm fuzzy’s, just a bad feeling
all the way around. But the big surprise was the promotional
material. It was great! Very nicely packaged video, a
good one-sheet company profile and some beautifully done,
over-sized comp-cards on high-gloss heavy paper. The
overall look of the card was very nice with a smooth,
professional flow to it. I was impressed at first glance.
Then I noticed the
photos. They were fantastic! Each and every one of
them was perfect in composition, style
and form. And each and everyone one of them was obviously
grabbed right off the Internet. They were all movie stills
from the classics like Gone with the Wind, Withering
Heights, The Wizard of Oz and a few more I can’t
remember. Who could believe he produced these images!
How many people were fooled or duped by this guy and
his production company? I knew where he had gotten these
images, so I baited him with a loaded question.
I commented causally, “Wow, this great work. Who
ever made this card has a real talent for design and
layout. But didn’t you have to pay a fortune to
licenses these images?”
His answer, “No we didn’t.
We got them off the Net.”
He flat out admitted
he didn’t own or pay for
these images!! No stuttering or stammering, just an admission
of guilt with no apology.
Just like a criminal:
if he was bright, he wouldn’t
be a criminal!
I explained in short, simple sentences to him that has
current working photographer who copyrights everything
I produce, I was offended he would so obviously violate
a copyright and then attempt to pass them off as his
I told him there is
no way I’d ever work with
him or recommend his company to anyone and that I could
never condone such a blatant copyright infringement.
I asked him to leave, and with out protest or pause,
he did so quickly.
But our saga does not
end there. No, no, no, he must not be allowed to continue
his thievery and his attempt
to make a living off the backs of another artists. Remember,
the Internet can be used for good also, so in less than
a minute I had obtained the email address at the MGM
Studios for licensing movie images. I fired off a nice
little note detailing who the company was, the owners
name and his home phone number. And since the MGM studios
have a huge casino here, I’m sure they will be
very interested in enforcing the law and protecting their
So the moral of my
story is simple…don’t
steal from the Net or someone will report you!!
I know copyright infringement
is going to get a lot worse before it gets any better.
The music industry is
devoting million of dollars to help fight it, and given
enough time and money, they will find away, I’d
bet on it. But photographers need to deal with it too.
I’d like every honest person to take some kind
of action when they suspect an infringement. Confront
the person involved and explain the law to them. Honest
folks who make mistakes will correct the problem and
move on, others are just crooks. If you get nowhere asking
them to stop violating a copyright, contact the violated
company. You don’t have to take it! You can do
By helping protect the right of others, you will be
helping yourself in the long run.
anyone wants to read the US copyright law, here is
the link. It’s a great
piece of legislation that helps protect photographers,
writers and artists from the illegal acts of thieves
everywhere. Each of us should know it by heart.