My first business legal threat

Joined
Jan 13, 2009
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1,298
Location
Pennsylvania
I have opened my photography business August of 2014. Ive done everything by the books. Pay the taxes, have a nice organization system, nicely written contracts for each genre i could ever decide to shoot, ect. Ive done my best to make this a legit job and i charge accordingly.

A little background of the event that caused this. I was tagged into one of those yard sale statuses by a customer which normally never brings customers as they expect 20 dollar sessions. But this one said they needed a event photographer and they would be paying so hey why not find out. I messaged the mother introducing myself, getting to know her. Then started asking about the event. It was for her child and it was a charity event that his gym trainer set up. The kid is disabled in a few ways that I wont get into. But he didn't want to stick with gym so his gym trainer helped keep his focus by asking what he wanted for Christmas. He wanted a corvette steering wheel and to sit inside one. Fast forward the trainer (which is a amazing person) set up a small event in the city. This small event grew huge, police came and fire fighters, fire fighter trucks lighting up the area. A corvette rep came and brought in a car that was escorted by police. People brought in there own vettes and other race cars. It was amazing, emotional and beautiful.

Once the event was booked, she had offered me the money for the event and knowing of the purpose, i just didn't want to charge for it. I know I could of and she didn't have much money as she's a single mom taking care of her beautiful kids. She knows my prices and I could of turned it down. But I remember a time when i needed help and we lost our house and everything and nice people came out of know where to help us. I want to give back when I can.

Fast forward a few weeks to now. The photos got out there, the news wanted them (until they realized there want the massive crowd they expected). My blog reached thousands, it got out quick.

I got a email from the kids father yesterday. Ill edit the writing to cut out names and numbers:

"Hello,

I am requesting that the photos of minor (Child) be removed without hesitation or delay from your website, Facebook or any affiliate advertising means due to a non agreement or release from myself before or during the event and therefore restricts legal right to use my son in photographs used for public advertisement. I am advising you to remove the photos which contain solely or jointly (child). If this request is not meet within 48 hours, legal action may follow. I hope you understand my concern and thank you for your wiliness to cooperate. For any questions please contact myself at (number) or my attorney (attorney, number)."

"I am advising you that the mother of (child) did not notify myself, per a custody agreement filed in (county): 50% legal custody parent, of the event and therefore violates this court order."

I don't like contacting my clients for anything negative at all. But I had to contact the mother that hired me. She as well got the same message as did the gym teacher. She apologized profusely, and stated she spoke with her attorney and said his threat was illegal and has no ground to step on and to ignore him. But for my own purpose I was going to call his attorney. Call there office and send the email over and secretary basically agreed with me. Said it would be passed onto the attorney whom would call me back. Still waiting though. The mom was worried I wouldn't work with her again which is FAR from the truth. Ill gladly work with her again and will have paid portrait sessions for there family photos from now on. :)

But what burns me up is a lot of people came to this event, in the rain. Fire fighters, police, neighbors to celebrate a kids dream. And the photos to document it were a problem for him.

Contracts are all written and ready to go if this turns into a real issue. What I'm wondering is how nuts this guy is, and his email. His custody shouldn't have crap to do with my contracts for family photos.
 
Joined
Jun 3, 2009
Messages
6,227
Location
Chicago "burbs"
Laws are so different from state to state but it sounds like the dad wasn't asked for his approval (in writing) to have his child photographed. The question I have is if the mom has legal custody then shouldn't she be able to approve the taking of such photographs? If the father won't give his approval, then a judge may have to be consulted. Given the circumstances as you describe them, I can't see any judge not approving of such photo documentation. Good luck.
 
Joined
Jan 13, 2009
Messages
1,298
Location
Pennsylvania
Laws are so different from state to state but it sounds like the dad wasn't asked for his approval (in writing) to have his child photographed. The question I have is if the mom has legal custody then shouldn't she be able to approve the taking of such photographs? If the father won't give his approval, then a judge may have to be consulted. Given the circumstances as you describe them, I can't see any judge not approving of such photo documentation. Good luck.

A moderator combined the 50 percent custody part for me (was separate post a minute ago). But She talked to her attorney which says Im well within my rights, but im calling his for my records and what not. I just find it disgusting on his end, but hey that's my opinion.
 
Joined
May 27, 2013
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Cornpatch
..... If the father won't give his approval, then a judge may have to be consulted. .....
Consult a judge? Where does one live in order to 'consult' a judge?In the US, the only consultation a judge will give you is called a trial.

I would call this guy's bluff. Respond, and ask who his lawyer is so you can tell your lawyer who he's going up against.
 
Joined
Jan 13, 2009
Messages
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Pennsylvania
I've talked to his lawyer agency. His attorney has yet to call back. But the paralegal kinda "admitted" it was stupid. He gave me his lawyers name and number and his.
 
Joined
Feb 5, 2009
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2,571
Location
VA
Perhaps I missed it, but did your booking contract (with the mother) include photographer's ownership of images for professional use?
 
Joined
May 27, 2013
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Cornpatch
Here's where he fails: The agreement he's referring to is between him and his ex. You are not a party to this agreement. Sure, the chest-thumper can sue, but all he's gonna do is waste everyone's time and money.

No lawyer in the world is gonna take his case.
 
Joined
Jan 13, 2009
Messages
1,298
Location
Pennsylvania
Yes they did Don. My contract lists all the standard types of advertising and what not. But they can opt out of public facebook sneak peaks and privatize their gallery.. she opted to have it all public to share the event of her son to friends, ect.

Its a well written contract that was professionally written, lawyer approved.
 
Joined
Jan 13, 2009
Messages
1,298
Location
Pennsylvania
Here's where he fails: The agreement he's referring to is between him and his ex. You are not a party to this agreement. Sure, the chest-thumper can sue, but all he's gonna do is waste everyone's time and money.

No lawyer in the world is gonna take his case.


My client already talked to her attorney and the attorney said his message and threats were illegal. But I want to hear it from his lawyer. Because if his lawyer causes me a fuss, i'll be dealing wit it differently. But so far his lawyer hasnt returned calls.. Probably is thinking what a waste of time my call and his whining has been..
 
Joined
Dec 30, 2012
Messages
327
Location
MD, USA
Frankly, if you shot the images in a public place and of far more than just the kid, there's really nothing law can do. You're not selling the shots and that's the only real merit I can see for any legal action.

I've heard of certain parents publicly NOT wanting photos of their kids taken during social and indoor events, but that's not exactly public property and I still doubt they could do anything more than be upset about it.
 
Joined
Apr 8, 2015
Messages
8
Not legal advice, but where I come from, if they mention lawyers or a lawyer that isn't your lawyer is in the room, politely decline the communication/meeting and explain that you need your council to be present before continuing. If they threaten with legal action you don't say anything just forward it to your lawyer who asks them for contact information with their lawyer. Sure it will cost you some billable hours with your lawer, but it will probably reduce the stress and angst and scare away chest thumpers.
 
Joined
Jan 26, 2005
Messages
15,253
Location
Marysville, WA
The truly unfortunate part of this is that whether or not Dad has standing, if he decides to move this forward it my cause you to spend money which you cannot recover. Cost of doing business these days, sadly.
 
Joined
Jan 13, 2006
Messages
4,981
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Columbia, Maryland
Real Name
Walter Rowe
If I'm not mistaken, joint custody means either parent can make decisions on behalf of the minors. Decisions don't require both parents' approval. Assuming I'm right, the father has no legal basis for his threat. If the mother's attorney agrees with this (which it appears she does), then you are on safe ground and don't need to hear it from his attorney. If you need confirmation, use an attorney of your own choosing. His attorney represents the father and therefore will automatically be biased towards his client.
 
Joined
Jan 13, 2009
Messages
1,298
Location
Pennsylvania
Hey guys, ya still no update since january 9th (today is april 13th). His attorney never returned my 5 phone calls throughout the week. My clients attorney said he had no grounds so nothing has happened since. Hes never wrote back anything other than the first message. I'm waiting till the mother hires me for her personal family photos which should be coming up at some point (I even send her a gift card with a percentage discount on a whole package).. So far I have not ran into any other problems with any clients/family. All my current work has been smooth sailing (for now). Thanks guys for all the advice :)
 
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