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how to sue a client for using images without a permission?

thomas jansson , Dec 30, 2010; 11:26 a.m.

hi,
i have shot and indie hip hop artist recently. he signed a model release that said that he only can use the images for online social networks ( i have charged him barely anything for it).
it came out to my attention that he is using the images outside the release - with a commercial purpose.
one of the images is used in his book as a author shot on his book that is sold in Barnes and Nobles.
the other two image are used as a single covers for two tracks ( both sold on itunes) as i know both tracks ft. famous singers/rappers.

i have not received an email note or anything about this. everything has been out there for at least a year.
his is dropping his album in the next couple of weeks and I am assuming that he might be using one of my images inside( or even on a cover), should i wait and see?
i am pretty pissed as you can imagine. this is a lot of money that could be in my pocket.

please help me, how to get money from him? I figure i should have a lawyer contact him.
how much money can i sue him for?
please help.

thank you

Responses


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Tony Bynum , Dec 30, 2010; 11:38 a.m.

send him a bill for the usage . . .

thomas jansson , Dec 30, 2010; 11:41 a.m.

hi Tony,
thanks.
my thing is that i want to teach him a lesson too. He is a total douc.... bag and he does not treat other artist with respect.
how much do you think i can bill him for? and how much can I sue him for?

thanx

David Haas , Dec 30, 2010; 11:55 a.m.

Get all of your documentation together - including releases, contracts, etc...

Review it - You indicate he signed a release stating that he can use images for x, y and z but not a, b and c - typically a release is not something used for that purpose - a release says that the photographer or agency can use a photo in a certain way - What you would be referring to is a contract or licensing agreement.

As for how much - 1st thing to do - assuming you are in the US - register your copyrights - that will increase any monetary damages to you.

Next find a lawyer - most will give you an initial consult - my guess is that most will ask if you tried to contact the client and if you have sent him any bills or invoices. I would recommend that you print copies of any communications you have had with the client.

How much? That's up to you.

Dave

Brian S. , Dec 30, 2010; 12:14 p.m.

the first thing you might want to do is drop the 'tude about your client. calling him/her names will eventually translate into a weaker bargaining position for you. secont thing would be to bill him/her for the usage that you know about and with that deliver a "cease-and-dessist" for further usage until payment per your billing schedule is fulfilled. each time you'll want to work a separate usage agreement.

as far as "compensatory damages"... you might want to give up on those thoughts. it doesn't seem that anything more than your pride and temper has been damaged.

perhaps consider taking him/her to The People's Court or Judge Judy... he/she could use the free exposure.

thomas jansson , Dec 30, 2010; 12:20 p.m.

thanx David,
yes I am in US. my images are all copyright.
i want to know how much i can sue him for? i mean if it is worth it. i charge $3500 for album covers and $1500 for author photos. can i sue him for more then $10k. i know that the latest photo shoot that he payed for ( and obviously he didn't like the images because he used mines) cost him $25K!.
i simply don't understand and want to learn him the lesson.
what an idiot!

sorry.. I know I am mad. that is why I want my lawyer to handle it.

thomas jansson , Dec 30, 2010; 12:22 p.m.

Brian, sorry.. I know I don't have a temper.I just don't understand artist using other artists.

Steve Smith , Dec 30, 2010; 01:08 p.m.

As far as the amount is concerned, just work out what you would have charged if you had known what the use was going to be then perhaps add 50%.

Charles Webster , Dec 30, 2010; 01:26 p.m.

thomas, remember that anything, and everything, you say on PN will be available to your client, and his attorneys. All they have to do is Google your name and there you are, calling the client names, copping an attitude, and making derogatory statements.
Not a great starting point for a suit.

<Chas>

Ellis Vener , Dec 30, 2010; 01:29 p.m.

Please check out http://thecopyrightzone.com/ for real advice.

But in the meantime...

1) Register your copyrights. Do that now. if you don't register your copyright you don't have much legal leverage.
Copyright registration instructions can be found at http://www.editorialphoto.com/copyright/

2) 'i want to know how much i can sue him for? i mean if it is worth it"


You have no idea how much it is worth becasue you don't know every way the photo has been used, what size the first print run on the book was, what kind of publicity campaign was mounted, etc., how many of the singles have been sold, etc. Maybe it is up on a billboard in Los Angeles, Tokyo, New York City, Atlanta, etc. Maybe it has used on TV to hype his appearances.
You, or rather your attorney (there are a couple of people I can recommend who specialize in copyright infringement) , find this out in the discovery phase when you file an infringement suit. Usage determines damages.
Ideally this won't go to trial but you and your attorney and he, his publisher, and his record label and management team's legal teams will settle before trial.

second thing would be to bill him/her for the usage that you know about and with that deliver a "cease-and-dessist" for further usage until payment per your billing schedule is fulfilled. each time you'll want to work a separate usage agreement.
as far as "compensatory damages"... you might want to give up on those thoughts. it doesn't seem that anything more than your pride and temper has been damaged.

Sorry Brian but that is just such bad advice all the way around. Take the personal aspect out of it and you'll see that this is several business entities unfairly enriching themselves at the expense of a much smaller one.
It is a perpetual mystery to me as to why some photographers think they have to automatically roll over and slit there own belly open for the unscrupulous to feast on.


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