Archivi categoria: Law

Burglars Steal Hundreds of Cameras and Lenses from Midwest Photo

The priceyness and portability of photo gear makes camera rental and retail outlets a popular target of burglars, and last week yet another big name in the industry was looted. The camera store Midwest Photo in Columbus, Ohio, was broken into on March 15th, and a huge number of items were stolen.

The burglars got into the new facility in the late night hours by sawing the roof and ceiling open, sliding down a pole, and then entering the stock/storage area. The entry was so stealthy that the perpetrators were able to stay long enough to steal hundreds of cameras, lenses, and photo accessories by Sony, Canon, Nikon, Tamron, Olympus, Panasonic, Hasselblad and Sigma.

Midwest Photo declined to share the dollar value of the stolen items.

Midwest Photo in Columbus, Ohio.

“This break in appears to have been pre meditated and carried out by experienced individuals,” Midwest Photo tells PetaPixel. “Police and local detectives are involved as this break in is potentially a part of a larger crime wave going throughout the Midwest at this time.”

Here are a couple of surveillance camera frames showing one of the burglars creeping around in the stock room:

Midwest Photo is in the process of gathering the serial numbers of missing items and using scraping software to scour the Web in hopes that items show up for sale somewhere online.


P.S. Two services/tools you can use to track serial numbers are Lenstag and the Stolen Camera Finder.

Police Lie to Attorney During Traffic Stop, Claim It’s Illegal to Record Them

Full-time attorney and occasional Uber driver Jesse Bright had an interesting run-in with North Carolina police last month. During a strange traffic stop, Bright was told by two officers that there was a “new law” that made it illegal to record police; however, as an attorney, he felt confident calling the cops’ bluff and continued recording.

The video, published by The Washington Post, shows Wilmington police Sergeant Kenneth Becker telling Bright repeatedly to stop recording, calling him a “jerk,” and threatening him with arrest when he refused to comply: “You’d better hope we don’t find something in your car.”

Twice—once by Sgt. Becker and once by a New Hanover County sheriff’s deputy—he’s told of a “new law” that would allow the officers to arrest Bright and take him to jail. But when Bright counters that he’s an “attorney” and presses to find out what this brand new law is, the exchange devolves into the name calling and threats quoted above. You can see the full exchange in the video below:

Bright says he shared his video and story somewhat reluctantly with the media only after the police department failed to return any of his phone calls or apologize after the fact. He told the Post that he hopes the story will serve as a warning to citizens that “police are willing to lie in order to coerce people into doing what they want them to do.”

The Wilmington Police Department did speak out after the video garnered national attention. In a statement released on March 8th, Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said the department has launched an internal investigation into the events of that day’s traffic stop, and clarified that it is not only legal, but encouraged for people to record officers on duty.

“Taking photographs and videos of people that are in plain sight including the police is your legal right,” said the Chief. “As a matter of fact we invite citizens to do so when they believe it is necessary. We believe that public videos help to protect the police as well as our citizens and provide critical information during police and citizen interaction.”

Bright’s story and video is going viral just days after photographer Mannie Garcia won $45,000 in a police lawsuit over two officers who took a slightly more… aggressive approach when he was photographing them in the line of duty.

Artist Plagiarized French Photographer for Naked Sculpture, Court Rules

A French court has ruled that American appropriation artist Jeff Koons infringed the copyright of French photographer Jean-François Bauret in creating one of his celebrated sculptures, Naked (1988).

The statue is a 40” porcelain statue of a naked boy offering a bouquet of flowers to a naked girl while standing on a pink heart decorated with flowers and is part of his Banality series.

The Guardian reports that Jeff Koons LLC and the Pompidou Centre in Paris were ordered to pay the late photographer’s family €40,000 ($43,000), half of which will go towards covering their legal fees. The company will also have to shell out a further €4,000 ($4,300) for having used a picture of the sculpture on its website.

The judges concluded that the sculpture had been plagiarized from Bauret’s 1975 postcard picture titled Enfants and ruled that even if there were minor differences from Bauret’s photograph, these “do not prevent one from recognizing and identifying the models and the pose” from the original black-and-white photograph. The boy and girl have the same hairstyles and their bodies are similarly positioned, but Koons did add flowers to the sculpture and also produced it in color.

Radio France Internationale reports that the sculpture was excluded from the museum’s Koons retrospective as it was damaged in transit, but they did use photographs in the catalogue.

“I met a curator of contemporary photography at the French National Library to talk about donating some photos and she showed me all the shots my husband had done that they had already… luckily, this one Enfants was in the 1971 collection, so there was a trace of it,” Bauret’s widow Claude Bauret-Allard told France’s Télérama. And that is how she discovered the similarities between Naked and her husband’s photograph.

PDN Pulse notes that Koons has been involved in other disputes over copyright infringement as well, including one against photographer Art Rogers. He admitted to having copied the String of Puppies image intentionally, but attempted to claim fair use by parody.

Art Rogers’ photo (left) and Koons’ sculpture (right).

The court awarded Rogers a large monetary settlement in that case.

Photojournalist Mannie Garcia Awarded $45,000 in Police Lawsuit

Photojournalist Mannie Garcia, known best for his famous portrait of former President Obama, has finally succeeded in winning a $45,000 settlement for his unlawful arrest by Montgomery County police in Maryland in 2011.

It all started when Garcia was photographing police officers responding to a call on a public street in Wheaton, MD. According to Garcia, Officers Christopher Malouf and Kevin Baxter arrested him, but not before putting him in a chokehold and throwing him to the ground multiple times. Garcia was charged with disorderly conduct, and even though he was later acquitted, he lost his White House credentials in the interim.

In 2012, the law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine, LLC, with support from the National Press Photographers Association, stepped in to represent Garcia in filing a federal lawsuit for violation of his civil rights.

The suit claimed that Montgomery police were in the habit of illegally arresting people who recorded their activity; this, say Garcia’s lawyers, was the case when the police threw Garcia (and his First and Fourth Amendment rights) to the ground and charged him with disorderly conduct. The facts of the case—in addition to a Statement of Interest submitted by The United States Department of Justice asking that courts be cautious of police using discretionary charges in cases like these—led to the $45,000 financial settlement reached this week.

Bob Corn-Revere, one of the attorneys representing Garcia, said he was pleased to see that the First Amendment rights of not just credentialed photojournalists but also citizens are being upheld. NPPA general counsel Mickey H. Osterreicher, who worked with Garcia and his lawyers on this case, was also happy with the judgement, praising Garcia and his legal team for relentlessly pursuing this case.

Finally, for his part, Garcia says he is “relieved.”

“I’m extremely relieved that it’s come to fruition after five and a half years,” he said. “I think this law suit has given attention to the fact that police departments need to pay attention in regards to individuals’ rights. It’s going to have an effect for everyone, not just me.”

Although the costs and legal fees accrued over the past several years have not been decided, they are expected to “easily exceed” $100,000.

(via NPPA)


Image credits: Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office cruiser by Ben Schumin.

The US Copyright Office Wants to Hear Your Thoughts on ‘Moral Rights’

The US Copyright Office is currently doing a study on the “Moral Rights of Attribution and Integrity.” Want to play a part in the development of US copyright law moving forward? You can weigh in and share your views on the matter.

“The term ‘moral rights’ is taken from the French phrase droit moral and generally refers to certain noneconomic rights that are considered personal to an author,” the copyright office writes. “Chief among these rights are the right of an author to be credited as the author of his or her work (the right of attribution) and the right to prevent prejudicial distortions of the work (the right of integrity). These rights have a long history in international copyright law.”

The government wants to know how current US copyright law is working with regards to these moral rights, and it’s trying to figure out whether additional productions is needed.

Here’s the notice of inquiry with more information and questions you can respond to:

Example questions, found at the bottom of the notice, include:

“Should additional moral rights protection be considered? If so, what specific changes should be considered by Congress?”

“Would stronger protections for either the right of attribution or the right of integrity implicate the First Amendment? If so, how should they be reconciled?”

“How does, or could, technology be used to address, facilitate, or resolve challenges and problems faced by authors who want to protect the attribution and integrity of their works?”

If you’d like to share your thoughts with the copyright office, you’ll need to do so before March 30th, 2017. You can submit your comments through this page.

(via US Copyright Office via PDNPulse)

The Photographer Behind This Photo is Being Taken to Court by Child Services

An intimate photograph of a father cradling his sick child in the shower has become the subject of a legal battle with the Arizona Department of Child Safety. If the DCS succeeds, photographer Heather Whitten, the child’s mother, will be convicted of “neglect” for posting the photo.

The photograph, which was taken in November of 2014, first made headlines in May of 2016 after Facebook repeatedly removed the viral image. The photo shows Whitten’s husband Thomas cradling their then-one-year-old son Fox in a cold shower. Fox had salmonella poisoning, and was suffering from both a high fever and diarrhea.

In May, our story was about how Facebook had censored the controversial image, but someone who saw the photo actually filed a complaint with the local authorities. The police said straight away that they would not bring any charges against the Whittens; however, Heather claims an investigator from the DCS took a very strong and negative interest in their case despite not having any real substantial claims against them.

“The only claim she was able to suggest be substantiated against me [and me alone] was that I neglected to supervise our children by allowing their images to be online and so put them at an unreasonable risk of harm,” says Whitten. “This goes against Arizona’s very definition of neglect and encroaches on my right as an artist to share my work with the public.”

If the claim is substantiated, Whitten will be added to Arizona’s Central Registry for 25 years, marking the end of her ability to adopt, foster, or even work with children as a photographer.

There is currently a Change.org petition with over 16,000 signatures in support of Whitten, and her day in court is coming up. The next step in the legal process—namely: whether or not the case will be thrown out—will be determined at an administrative hearing on February 3rd.

To support Heather or find out more about her story, click here.


Image credits: Photograph by Heather Whitten and used with permission.