Country station won't pay for Jason Aldean shots photographer says it stole

Categories: Media, Tech

jasan aldean head shot cropped.jpg
Big photos below.
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.

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?'"

jason aldean wolf screen capture.jpg
A screen capture of Smith's images on the Wolf Facebook page.
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.

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.

Page down to read the rest of the story and see more images.

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Scott D. Smith
Scott D. Smith

 I have been quiet the last week about 92.5 The Wolf and their theft of 21 of my images and I wanted to let everyone know why. I was sent a "cease and desist" letter from the attorney for 92.5 The Wolf. They are angry because I let their advertisers know what they were up to and it pissed them off. From now on I am not allowed to contact their advertisers, or in any way let them know what the radio station has done to me by stealing my images or they will sue me. Looks like a nerve was struck! In that same letter, they wrote "Feel free to contact me to discuss reasonable compensation to you for the brief time "YOUR" photographs were posted on The Wolf's website". So, they are finally admitting the images they used illegally are mine and they are offering to compensate me for their use. I spoke with their attorney and told him what I thought was "Fair Compensation". He said he would get back to me with their response so I gave him a week out of respect. I have not heard back from him as of yet so I am now going to resume my campaign against 92.5 The Wolf. I will not be contacting their advertisers, because I respect the law unlike 92.5 The Wolf, but I have no intention of "ceasing or desisting" in my fight to let everyone know what they have done. I want to thank all of you that helped push this as far as it has gone. It could not have been done without your support. I also want to ask you to keep going, keep doing what you have been doing to let everyone know about this so maybe it can be resolved and other creative artists will know that you can protect your work from being used without your permission and you can take a stand against corporations that feel they can do what they want and get away with it. I'll keep you posted on what happens next!http://blogs.westword.com/late...

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Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Thanks for the update, Scott. We're going to make it an upcoming Comment of the Day. Congrats, and let us know about any new developments.

Jack Henry
Jack Henry

This is typical corporate America if you ask me...this kind of thing happens to writers as well.  Every day the intellectual copyrights of artists are trampled.  Stand up, keep fighting.  Remember Freedom of Speech is an excellent tool of revenge...

Dan
Dan

Yes, it may take a long time but if his images are registered with the US Copyright office he can not only recoup his licensing fees, but punitive damages and attorney's fees.  Seems like a slam dunk to me and he needs a better attorney, one that specializes in Intellectual Property.

Milo Farineau
Milo Farineau

60 minutes did this to Rock and Roll photographer Chester Simpson and used a photo he took of Bon Jovi and used it on air for a few seconds. He was given no credit or royalties. He called and made a reasonable offer to make it right, they balked.  He had a copyright ATTY. call the station and it ended up costing them 4 times what he asked for. Stick to your guns.

J. Dennis Thomas
J. Dennis Thomas

I've found my shots stolen directly from my agencies website. I'm not sure why people think it's OK to steal photos. Even when we get PAID for our photos it's usually at a loss. When you factor in the time it takes to apply for credentials, post-processing, equipment cost, shooting, etc... we barely make money. Just because people think our job is "fun" doesn't mean we like to work for free or give our photos away for "exposure". I can't pay my bills with a "photo credit card".

Jmmcam03
Jmmcam03

Well, looks like we should listen to KYGO, and not the wolf

danger
danger

Welcome to the new internet with screenshots provided by AOL.

Lo
Lo

Welcome to the new internet. Where everything's free!

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