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Archive 2011 · Peter Wolf / PhotoCrazy patent
  
 
James Broome
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Peter Wolf / PhotoCrazy patent


Does everyone remember Peter Wolf and his company's patent on providing event images online for sale and having them be searchable by bib number, finishing time, etc.? If not, here is a link to one of the many topics being discussed on the FM forums: linkage.

Upon doing some research into the current nature of his patent, his claims, and any legal proceedings working against him and PhotoCrazy, I stumbled across what he's currently using as his 'tactic'. It's shameful, ugly, and essentially becomes extortion. I can't say I'm too impressed, but I can't say I'm surprised either.

He now shows up to large triathlon, running, or cycling events and sets up his team of photographers, booths, and auto-tripped cameras set to get 'automatic' images of every participant. He does this without permission from any of the race organizers and obviously without any considerations for any agreements existing between organizers and race photographers.

While there, he advertises his services to racers via his booth and promotes what he is doing to everyone and anyone that will listen. Following the race, he emails the race organizers and offers his images and works to secure a deal with them for full promotion on the race site and via email to all participants. When he is turned down, he'll threaten the organizers with legal trouble if they try to offer their own images for sale.

From Levi Leipheimer's blog on his King Ridge Gran Fondo bike race (link):

PhotoCrazy was not invited to photograph Levi’s GranFondo. They asked, but we did not extend them an invitation. They did not attend orientations. They did not avail themselves of our protocols, which were in place to protect rider safety, respect neighboring landowners, and ensure compliance with our event permits. The station they set up on Sullivan Road caused serious backlash with property owners who were never made aware of the presence of their equipment.

PhotoCrazy’s setup also was out of compliance with the encroachment permit we’re required to get from the County of Sonoma, placing a blemish on an otherwise spotless
...Show more

PhotoCrazy even put emails between them and that race's organizer on their site.

From Peter Wolf:

Maybe you saw our photography equipment on Sullivan Road by the cemetery. We took nearly 50,000 pictures of bikers heading out (3 dedicated automatic cameras) and another 3 automatic cameras of bikers coming back.

Absolutely stunning pictures. We caught just about EVERY rider on the way back because they were more spread out. We took pictures until about 6pm (we missed the last five).

The pictures should be up on our website by Monday or Tuesday. Can you please put a link to our website from your photo page? www.photocrazy.com


Race organizer's reply:

Peter,
Thank you for reaching out to us regarding your photography at our event. Unfortunately, as PhotoCrazy.com was not an official photographer of our event, we will not be posting any links to your site nor will be messaging your service to our participants. We have our own hired photographers, our own protocols, and our own systems to deliver this product to our riders and we will not engage with an unauthorized service operating outside of our knowledge and direction.

It is our understanding that you will be making this photos available to the public on your site as early as this Monday
...Show more

Eventually, Peter Wolf sends the following email:

Not quite sure how you plan on posting the pictures on your gallery for people to find their particular picture. Please keep in mind that allowing viewers to search pictures by their bib number or time they passed a photographer is a patented process and you should be licensed before you offer that. All major event photography companies are licensed with PhotoCrazy for that purpose.

Anyone else find this appalling? This is not the way professional people do business. The more I learn of Peter Wolf, the more I wish someone with the money would stand up to him and his patent claims.



Nov 30, 2011 at 09:17 PM
SAllem
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Peter Wolf / PhotoCrazy patent


A couple of thoughts.

I would say he has 'a' patented process to capture athletes by bib or time they pass a photographer, but not 'the' patented process. Meaning as long as someone else comes up with a different method to capture athletes, then there would be no infringement.

Second thought is that instead of tracking by 'bib number' they could be tracked by another number provided by the sponsor.

If the guy is an annoyance, it would only take a sponsor and a photographer or group of photographers to come up with a differnent method, patent that method for protection purposes and then allow the patent to exist in the public domain.

It just takes somebody to do it.

But the guy is a Capitalist, he has a patent, and wants to defend his patent. Maybe he's going about it the wrong way, but none-the-less it is in essence what America is about. He sounds like he licenses the patent, so there is that option as well.

All that said, I can understand your frustration.



Nov 30, 2011 at 11:31 PM
James Broome
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Peter Wolf / PhotoCrazy patent


SAllem wrote:
All that said, I can understand your frustration.


Eh, it's not a personal frustration as he and his patent have no impact on my work or livelihood. But yeah, a bit of a frustration as I can't bring myself to believe that there is no prior art to invalidate his patent. If there is, and someone has the means to contest it, they will.

But you are right. He was awarded the patent. He has every right to defend it. I was more concerned with his methods.



Dec 01, 2011 at 12:23 AM
ian408
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Peter Wolf / PhotoCrazy patent


Pretty amazing that he would consider showing up uninvited. But the thing is, until someone ends up in court and can defend themselves against him, he's going to keep doing what he's doing. If, all of a sudden, it becomes too expensive to try and extort money from event promoters and other photographers, then he'll go away.

Hopefully, someone has the financial backing to fight his claim.



Dec 01, 2011 at 12:28 AM
Jason OConnell
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Peter Wolf / PhotoCrazy patent


I know nothing about shooting events such as these, but I find the images on photocrazy to be very impersonal and unappealing.


Dec 01, 2011 at 12:35 AM
John Korduner
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Peter Wolf / PhotoCrazy patent


This should not be taken as legal advice, but,

Two common defenses to this would be the patented invention lacks similarity to the alleged infringement from the alternative presentation methods, or the patent is invalid "on the basis of lack of novelty or nonobviousness—that is, show prior art that anticipates or renders the patent’s claims obvious or prove that sales or disclosure of the patented invention occurred more than one year prior to filing the patent application."

Conversely, the bib appears to be an integral piece of the process....I bet the sponsor affixes trademarked logos to the bibs next time, thereby devaluing the photo sales without proper licensing. I'd be fascinated by the response from the Komen Foundation if this tactic was used at any "Race for the Cure" event.



Dec 01, 2011 at 01:23 AM
Tom D
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Peter Wolf / PhotoCrazy patent


I recall that when I opened an account with Printroom, it gave you the option of paying an extra licensing fee to cover the possibility that you could be infringing on Wolf's patent. I haven't used the account in awhile, but I'm guessing the fee is still there. It wasn't mandatory, but the implication was that if you chose not to pay the fee, you were subject to the possible opening up of a can of legal whoopass on yourself by Wolf for patent infringement.

If I remember correctly, when I had done some digging about the whole deal back then, I found that his patent wasn't for any particular technical method of searching for a race participant's images by timing or bib number, but rather just the general idea that images of participants in any given event could be made searchable by those criteria, or something really vague like that. To be honest, I was more flabbergasted that our own U.S. Patent Office could actually award a patent on such a broad concept. Like, okay, I'll award you a patent on your idea that you could take an internal hard drive and plug it in on the outside of a computer, so that every company who makes an external hard drive has to pay you a licensing fee for the concept.

Flat amazing. Just found it, for anyone interested-- still sounds f'n broad and general as hell, especially after years of event photogs providing such a service:
http://www.photocrazy.com/Patents/Patent6985875.pdf



Dec 01, 2011 at 01:43 AM
Mark Peters
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Peter Wolf / PhotoCrazy patent


James - I see the smugmug icon in your signature. My understanding is that Smugmug has a settlement with photocrazy by which photographers are fine as long as the galleries are less than 500 images.

From their site:
"Important Notice for Pros: Uploading more than 500 photographs of participants in a single sporting event may require a License from PhotoCrazy, Inc. "

His tactics don't surprise me based on what I've read historically.




Dec 01, 2011 at 02:16 AM
SAllem
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Peter Wolf / PhotoCrazy patent


Tom D wrote:
To be honest, I was more flabbergasted that our own U.S. Patent Office could actually award a patent on such a broad concept.


+1
This is what I was thinking as well.

BTW..in his abstract and filing he uses the term 'event', so it is not limited to races.

Another way around it I see, is if you post images from an event, but don't offer a way for the buyer to 'look up' their photo, then you're not infringing. If you give out the URL and the buyers scroll through the listing until they find themselves, his patent doesn't cover that.




Dec 01, 2011 at 04:41 AM
James Broome
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Peter Wolf / PhotoCrazy patent


Mark Peters wrote:
James - I see the smugmug icon in your signature. My understanding is that Smugmug has a settlement with photocrazy by which photographers are fine as long as the galleries are less than 500 images.

From their site:
"Important Notice for Pros: Uploading more than 500 photographs of participants in a single sporting event may require a License from PhotoCrazy, Inc. "

His tactics don't surprise me based on what I've read historically.



Yep. SmugMug settled with him, as far as I know. They never publicly addressed the situation, but it is clear they have some sort of settlement with him and PhotoCrazy regarding the patent.



Dec 01, 2011 at 12:39 PM
 

Search in Used Dept. 



hk_mtbr
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Peter Wolf / PhotoCrazy patent


I guess I will have to inform him that I just patented the process of taking a photo by pressing downward on a button.
I also copyrighted the words photo and crazy...

All here will be provided with licenses



Dec 02, 2011 at 04:58 PM
Caleb Williams
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Peter Wolf / PhotoCrazy patent


Sweet. I just submitted a patent the process of taking a photo pressing backward on a button. I have you now Hasselblad.


Dec 02, 2011 at 08:36 PM
Rags Hef
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Peter Wolf / PhotoCrazy patent


Caleb Williams wrote:
Sweet. I just submitted a patent the process of taking a photo pressing backward on a button. I have you now Hasselblad.


Sounds like the NFL attempt to copy write the phrase "wha dat" in the new Orleans area. The phrase has been a local one for at least 100 yrs. Mark that up to enterprising attorneys.

These bike races are run on public roads, yet the promoter chooses to regulate activities on the public roads for a commercial purpose (we sell our own pictures). Something wrong there.

I had a similar experience (promoter zeal). I was shooting a dirt race on BLM land, which is public. I was a mile into the desert (hiked in) and a dude comes up to me on an ATV and told me because I didn't have a media permit I had to leave. I asked, " leave the park?", he said yes. I said F*** No. He got off the ATV and threatened to kick the sh*t out of me. I responded , "do what you gotta' do, I'll sue you & the promoter" He left on his ATV.

If a promoter runs an event in a stadium, he has more rights than one who is operating on public land.

I think Wells has a big pair to ask the promoter to put his shots on their site

Rags



Dec 02, 2011 at 09:04 PM
Mark Peters
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Peter Wolf / PhotoCrazy patent


http://www.photocrazy.com/Levi/LeviKRGF111011.pdf

The race organizer is not laying down on this



Dec 02, 2011 at 09:52 PM
Caleb Williams
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Peter Wolf / PhotoCrazy patent


Mark Peters wrote:
http://www.photocrazy.com/Levi/LeviKRGF111011.pdf

The race organizer is not laying down on this

Thank you for find this. It just made my day.



Dec 02, 2011 at 10:15 PM
James Broome
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Peter Wolf / PhotoCrazy patent


Mark Peters wrote:
http://www.photocrazy.com/Levi/LeviKRGF111011.pdf

The race organizer is not laying down on this


Awesome.



Dec 02, 2011 at 10:30 PM
James Broome
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Peter Wolf / PhotoCrazy patent


Rags Hef wrote:
These bike races are run on public roads, yet the promoter chooses to regulate activities on the public roads for a commercial purpose (we sell our own pictures). Something wrong there.


If you read the links I posted as well as the one posted afterwards, you'll find that Peter Wolf was set up on private property.



Dec 02, 2011 at 10:31 PM
pappawheely
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Peter Wolf / PhotoCrazy patent


Rags Hef wrote:
Sounds like the NFL attempt to copy write the phrase "wha dat" in the new Orleans area. The phrase has been a local one for at least 100 yrs. Mark that up to enterprising attorneys.

These bike races are run on public roads, yet the promoter chooses to regulate activities on the public roads for a commercial purpose (we sell our own pictures). Something wrong there.

I had a similar experience (promoter zeal). I was shooting a dirt race on BLM land, which is public. I was a mile into the desert (hiked in) and a dude comes up to me
...Show more

Rags, When promoters get a permit to hold an event, even on public property, participants are required to obey conditions of the permit. Those conditions are determined by the insurance companies, blm and the promoters themselves. What you did negatively effects any promotors chances of getting a permit because the report of the incident probably referred to you as "a photographer". Anyone with a camera is referred to as "a photographer". This is the biggest problem the professional media in the desert has had to deal with for years. Just because the event is held on public property does not mean that there are no restrictions in place.




Dec 02, 2011 at 10:48 PM
Rags Hef
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Peter Wolf / PhotoCrazy patent


But mike, I and the others citizens own the property.

Leasing for a public benefit is one thing. But then the lessee sells a commercial interest to a third party that is excluded from the event... stinks.

I don't work for a media outlet (you know that), but I would be willing to get insurance and sign whatever waivers are required by BLM.

But I'm excluded from doing that, because I don't sell my pictures or don't belong to an "elite club".

I'll try to get a media approval again. If denied I'll go onto the course and take my shots.

If caught and thrown off, I will contact the Sierra Club and see if they can do something

Sorry Mike, negative effects on part time pro photogs don't trump our citizen rights

Rags




Dec 02, 2011 at 11:11 PM
James Broome
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Peter Wolf / PhotoCrazy patent


In this case, Rags, your point is moot since what we're discussing here is, in fact, a private property issue.


Dec 02, 2011 at 11:35 PM
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