Country station won't pay for Jason Aldean shots photographer says it stole
Protecting copyrights in today's wild Internet era is getting tougher and tougher. But for photographer Scott D. Smith, it's a matter of survival -- which is why he's fought for months to get country radio station 92.5 The Wolf to pay for allegedly stealing more than twenty photos from a Jason Aldean concert and using them for a week.
Big photos below.
Unfortunately for him, the CEO of the station's parent company says it's not going to happen.
Smith is a nationally known photog who's shot for Rolling Stone, Guitar Player and many other prominent publications. He's also familiar to regular attendees of country concerts and events in the Denver area by virtue of an arrangement with 98.5 KYGO, the longtime ratings leader among country outlets in the area.
"I've been shooting for them for six years," he says. "They get to put up a few of the images on their website and Facebook page, and I get the copyright, and all the images are mine."
That was the case for photos Smith took at Aldean's October 21 gig at the Pepsi Center, which also featured Chris Young and Thompson Square. But a day or so after the shots appeared on the KYGO's sites, he received a call from a KYGO staffer who'd seen the same images on the Wolf's main website and Facebook page. Given that Smith hadn't posted the images with his agency yet, he could only come to one conclusion. "They'd stolen them," he says.
Shortly thereafter, Smith phoned the Wolf and asked to speak with the station's manager, Brenda Egger. At this writing, she has not responded to an interview request from Westword, and Smith says she didn't get back to him, either. However, he kept trying, and after about a week, he finally reached her.
"She claimed she knew nothing about it," he recalls. "She said she was really sorry, and they shouldn't have done that. Then she put me on hold, and when she came back, she said that yes, they were up there, and she'd have them taken down. And then she asked, 'What can we do to make it better?'"
Egger's suggestion was an offer of advertising time, Smith maintains. That wouldn't work, though, since he had a longstanding deal with KYGO. "It would have been a conflict of interest," he says. Besides, he makes his living from his photographer, typically selling images for between $200 and $1,000 apiece.
A screen capture of Smith's images on the Wolf Facebook page.
After hearing that price range, Smith says Egger told him she would have to get in touch with the corporate office -- Wilks Broadcasting Group, a Georgia-based firm that owns Denver's The Mix and KOOL-105 in addition to the Wolf. But in the coming days and weeks, he heard from neither Egger nor a Wilks representative. So he started leaving messages at Wilks' offices -- "and they were completely ignored," he says.
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