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Author Topic: Create. Stolen.  (Read 3909 times)
MarkTipple
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« on: May 11, 2010, 08:36:06 AM »
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Hey guys.
I'm interested in your thoughts on this.

I've been working with The Underwater Project crew for the last 6 months around Sydney and South Australia shooting underwater lifestyle images, basically the motivation was to document life below the surface as we're (in Australia anyway) bound by the water and wave soaked lifestyle, but we're so inept to survive in the environment. From the first few tests we knew we had an interesting concept, and focused on a similar theme.



Just got word that a magazine we pitched the Underwater Project to (and was turned down) back in January is bringing out an all underwater issue next month; which looks to be the exact same concept, with no reference to us.

Without slander or legal action we're aiming to get the series viral through a Vimeo video and steal the thunder before their issue comes out, if their readers have already seen the same themed photos through our series, as they look through the magazine the impact will be so much less.

We've asked if people could help support creative rights and re-post the video to their network, Facebook or Myspace profile, blogs, any outlet they have with links back to the fan-page for the back-story, we're aiming for 100,000 views by the end of the week, after that who knows how many hits we'll get, anything to steal the limelight away from the magazine.

This affects us all, photographers and creatives alike, when we pitch an idea in full faith that if the concept isn't picked up, then it won't go ahead and we still retain "ownership" of the idea; at least in a perfect world...I'll stop myself there, realism just set in.

The fact that they turned us down and then (I assume) jumped on the phone to their staff photographers and told them to shoot the same style series really isn't cool.

Any input or thoughts would be greatly appreciated, I'm sure this isn't an isolated event. Forgive me if you've read this on other forums, the power of a desktop activist switching networks with the click of a button.

Thanks in advance,

Mark Tipple.
Uwp Crew.

http://www.vimeo.com/11575356
http://www.facebook.com/theunderwaterproject
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Colorwave
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« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2010, 12:30:33 PM »
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Not cool of them to steal the concept, but also not illegal.  Nice shot posted, BTW.  Your approach sounds like the best solution.  Do what you can to steal their thunder, but try to take the high road and don't let your mentioning the other guys come across as whining.
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mahleu
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« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2010, 01:21:01 PM »
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Are there no other local or international magazines which would run your shots first?
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« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2010, 01:32:12 PM »
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Quote from: MarkTipple
This affects us all, photographers and creatives alike, when we pitch an idea in full faith that if the concept isn't picked up, then it won't go ahead and we still retain "ownership" of the idea; at least in a perfect world...I'll stop myself there, realism just set in.

You can't copyright ideas.
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kaelaria
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« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2010, 02:01:44 PM »
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I agree with the above - sucks, but we take the risk when we share ideas.  I just had the same thing happen.  I pitched an idea, worked with a client for a month developing an ad concept and even specifics - too much looking back, without a contract.  It didn't happen, then I saw my exact ad idea on cigar aficionado just last month even with one of my taglines.  I no longer develop ideas outside a contract.
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RSL
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« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2010, 02:30:48 PM »
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Mark, That's a bummer, but as several have pointed out it happens all the time. I agree with Ron: Try to bet the bastards at their own game, but don't let yourself look like a whiner.
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Colorwave
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« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2010, 02:43:49 PM »
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I just took a look at the slideshow Mark sent the link to on Vimeo and encourage others to take a look, too.  Some really nice stuff there.  I like how the shots that don't show bubbles could almost be showing people flying through clouds instead of swimming under waves.
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tom b
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« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2010, 06:19:43 PM »
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Sorry but the project has been done brilliantly by Trent Park and Narelle Autio. The Seventh Wave exhibition at Stills Gallery was one of the best exhibitions I have seen. I even bought the book. Trent Park is one of Australia's best photographers and is our only member of Magnum. Good luck on your adventure. Images from the exhibition can be seen here:

http://www.stillsgallery.com.au/artists/pa...es_07&nav=7

Cheers,
« Last Edit: May 11, 2010, 09:45:10 PM by tom b » Logged

ckimmerle
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« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2010, 08:33:21 PM »
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Quote from: tom  b
Sorry but the project has been done by brilliantly by Trent Park and Narelle Autio.

THANK YOU! I've seen that work but could not remember the photographer's names, thus was unable to find it to include in this thread.

As for the issue at hand, some of you are incorrect about "ideas" not being protected. In 1990, General Dynamics Corp used a appropriated photograph of a wheelchair on a porch (meant to represent President FDR) for an ad comp. It then hired another photographer to shoot the same concept for the real advertisement. The resulting photograph was nothing like the original, yet the courts sided with the original photographer that GDC committed willful infringement.

My old link to the court ruling (saved for years) no longer works, but a synopsis is included here: Lawsuit

I'll admit this case is different than the OP, but it illustrates that even copying an "idea" can have consequences.
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MarkTipple
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« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2010, 01:30:20 AM »
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Yeah Trent's is a sick series, I remember seeing that a few years back. But different to the project we pitched to the mag.

Having said that, we're not sure what the issue will contain, from the 2 line blurb in the 'next issue' section it sounds the same, hence the internet slaughter. And apologies if it sounds like we're whining, that's the last thing we're trying to do.

I totally understand that it must happen all the time, (kaelaria - that totally sucks, sorry brah) and I guess it's a shame that this would cause some people to safe guard their ideas and not chase them for fear of them being 'stolen'. At the moment it's interesting to hear different opinions, while seeing if we can send the video viral and take some of the impact away from the mag, whatever that translates into.
If it turns out that the issue contains nothing of the idea pitched, then we're just shouting into the wind.

Honestly I haven't even looked into the legal side, we wouldn't have a leg to stand on as there's none of our work that we could show to say that they've stolen our pitch, As Feppe replied "You can't copyright ideas."

Once again, it's interesting to hear opinions and see how this viral thing turns out. Sorry if it's a waste of time.

Mark.
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feppe
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« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2010, 06:00:42 AM »
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Quote from: ckimmerle
As for the issue at hand, some of you are incorrect about "ideas" not being protected.

If you're referring to my post, I did not say such thing. There are other forms of protection than copyright. I did not refer to other law as I have no clue how such things are treated in Australia, but copyright protection is somewhat universal. Your reference is for US case law which has absolutely nothing to do with Australia.

Ideas can indeed be protected. For another US example, unsolicited screenplays sent to movie studio are routinely returned to the sender unopened. There have been numerous court cases where a movie is claimed to have been a result of copying of ideas. Usually they are settled out of court.
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ckimmerle
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« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2010, 08:33:57 AM »
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Quote from: feppe
If you're referring to my post, I did not say such thing.

Actually, you sorta did. You responded to a post about idea "ownership" by saying "You can't copyright ideas". As nobody had stated that copyright was even an issue, I could only assume that you were using that term as a generic alternative to "protection"

As for my lawsuit example, I'm not sure why your getting your panties in a bunch as I specifically said it is not directly pertinent to the OP, but rather an interesting and related incident about the protection of concepts. As copyright law does not protect against "ideas", I found this case interesting as it did protect the original photographer against the company stealing his.....idea, concept, visualization....whatever.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2010, 09:15:16 AM by ckimmerle » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2010, 09:05:30 AM »
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Quote from: ckimmerle
Actually, you sorta did. You responded to a post about idea "ownership" by saying "You can't copyright ideas". Depending on the specificity of the ideas, I think you're wrong. The more specific and detailed an idea, the more likely it is to be copyrightable.

As for my lawsuit example, I'm not sure why your getting your panties in a bunch as I specifically said it is not directly pertinent to the OP, but rather an interesting and related incident about the protection of ideas.

I repeat: You can't copyright ideas (second point) - I'm quite sure this is universal (IANAL).

I believe you're conflating copyright statutes with common law: just because someone might be sued because they have used someone else's idea doesn't make it a copyright issue, but usually a breach of contract.

Perhaps nitpicking, but pertinent. If ideas were copyrightable litigation would be a much more straightforward action, but I'll leave the reason why copyrighting ideas is a bad idea in itself as an exercise for the reader.

No reason to get so defensive; I provided my own indirect anecdote as well.
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RSL
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« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2010, 10:37:30 AM »
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Quote from: ckimmerle
As for the issue at hand, some of you are incorrect about "ideas" not being protected. In 1990, General Dynamics Corp used a appropriated photograph of a wheelchair on a porch (meant to represent President FDR) for an ad comp. It then hired another photographer to shoot the same concept for the real advertisement. The resulting photograph was nothing like the original, yet the courts sided with the original photographer that GDC committed willful infringement.

Chuck,

Here's the synopsis of the case from your reference:

"In 1987, Wyse Advertising copied a photo by Mel Curtis that appeared in Communications Arts, used it to make a comp, then hired a second photographer to shoot a national ad for General Dynamics following Curtis's photo as a model. Curtis sued. A US District Court judge ruled that the use of Curtis's photo was willful infringement and ordered General Dynamics to pay Curtis $60,108 in damages and about $80,000 in legal fees." (My added emphasis)

Note that the problem was that General Dynamics "used Curtis's photo as a model," not that they stole his "idea." You can't copyright an idea, but you certainly can copyright a specific visualization. It was the use of the visualization that was a copyright violation in this case -- not the use of the idea.
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Rob C
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« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2010, 12:33:20 PM »
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There was another similar case: the shot of Picasso, I think it was, sitting at a table with two finger-like bread-rolls taking the place of the hands. Somebody shot the same idea and got sued... I wonder what happens in the case where the person makes a picture like another's but doesn't know he has so done.

Rob C
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ckimmerle
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« Reply #15 on: May 12, 2010, 01:29:21 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
Note that the problem was that General Dynamics "used Curtis's photo as a model," not that they stole his "idea." You can't copyright an idea, but you certainly can copyright a specific visualization. It was the use of the visualization that was a copyright violation in this case -- not the use of the idea.

Russ, I wish the photos were still posted, but I can no longer find them. The two were completely different. The only similarity was that they both featured a wheelchair on a porch-like setting. If I remember correctly, one was more of a silhouette, the other featured more standard lighting. In addition, each had a different angle, juxtaposition, tonality, and composition. They were significantly different. It's evident from looking at the photos that this was not an issue of copying the original photo, but rather copying the idea of the original photo's concept.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2010, 01:30:04 PM by ckimmerle » Logged

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« Reply #16 on: May 12, 2010, 03:41:58 PM »
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Chuck, I don't doubt what you're saying, but I go back to the finding itself which included the phrase: "following Curtis's photo as a model." Somehow the court became convinced that the copy was enough in line with Curtis's actual visualization to consist of a copyright violation. But you can't copyright the "idea" of shooting a picture of a wheelchair on a porch. The "concept" isn't copyrightable. The actual visualization is. I'll admit it's a fine point, but that's why we have courts -- to sort out the fine points. I'd dearly love to read the trial transcript to see what the actual evidence and arguments were. I'll bet some tall tales were told. If you doubt what I'm saying, do some reading in copyright law. I'm glad I'm not an attorney trying to pursue a case like this. My second son is an attorney and his specialty is intellectual property. Some of that stuff gets really dicey.
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MarkTipple
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« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2010, 02:22:15 AM »
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Read this last night. Pretty much how I feel, although we didn't actually embark on the shoot only to have it replicated/copied so the anger/annoyance is thinking how many creative ideas are suppressed for fear of copying. I directed a film in Mexico last year that the producer was so adamant about who sees and suggests changes while I was in the final draft of the script, in hindsight I guess it helps having the concept 'ownership' signed off on before the pitch.



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Imitation is the Sincerest form of Battery |   May 05th

I am not the first photographer to go visit the Mentawai, Iím sure countless have been before me. The most notable being anthropologist Charles Lindsay, whoís book Mentawai Shaman: Keeper of the Rainforest inspired me to visit the Mentawai. Usually when someone rips off my work blatantly, I donít say much. I donít want to put them up on my blog, on a pedestal for everyone to look at, I usually just let it go and forget about it. I also realize there are a lot of photographers, and no one can claim something is one hundred percent their own idea. However, something came to my attention recently that was just too close stylistically to what I do to ignore. With the amount of people writing me about this, itís at the point where I have to mention it here.

Part of me just wants to let it go, and the other part of me wants to show people what a blatant rip-off that photographer Diego Vergeís new series of the

Iím trying to look at the bright side- it was really nice seeing some familiar faces again, like Bajak Lala huffing a ciggy and Tolkot looking quite seriousÖ and actually thereís some nice work here. (Okay, at least the lighting and post-processing is not as fine-tuned and the compositions arenít as nice as mine) ; Ė ) So I sent Diego an e-mail. He seems like a nice guy. Diego admitted that he had seen my earlier work, but denies seeing my Mentawai series before he left for Indonesia. Hmm, thatís oddÖ Did he not troll my blog to find my contacts? I love giving my guide Ricky referrals because heís a good pal of mine, and Iíve sent him a lot of work he deserves. But I wonder if the photographer brought diagrams to Siberut of my stuff as well?

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Rob C
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« Reply #18 on: May 13, 2010, 03:24:51 AM »
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Not taking sides as neither shooter is known to me, but I can hardly see much rip off in the 'natives' work; after all, what the hell else can you shoot other than what was shot? Not exactly like you could frame them against some yellow cabs, skyscrapers or something nice and jarringly different like that.

Perhaps we confuse subject with ownership.

Rob C
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« Reply #19 on: May 13, 2010, 03:45:47 AM »
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How does the poster know that the company wasn't already working on the theme already? If they were does that mean they have to abandon it because someone submitted a similar one? There can only be so few themes in existence that similarities happen. How many cowbody and Indian films have you watched that have the same scenery, locations and scripts. Does anyone remember the famous Christine Keeler pose?

http://www.vam.ac.uk/collections/photograp...ng/modern_icon/

Doe this mean that nobody is ever allowed to photograph this pose again with a different person?
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