Sunday, March 3, 2013

Wedding photographer claims her work was stolen for a "quickie marriage" radio contest

Ottawa wedding photographer Barbi Guild Cameron took to Facebook recently, claiming that local radio station HOT 89.9 took one of her photos, without permission or payment, for use in a partnership marketing kit:
The new Hot 89.9 out of Ottawa Canada runs a contest every spring where by couples get married in the span of 24 hours. I think it is a horrible, horrible contest and devalues marriage. It is certainly a contest I do NOT want my name or branding associated with. Imagine my shock when I see my image on their media/marketing kit info that entices potential advertisers to the contest to pay big bucks to be a part of it.
The image is from the blog of Barbara Ann Studios, where it appeared in a 2009 post about the wedding location of Strathmere.

Ms. Cameron continues:
I contacted the the radio station and they did not immediately get back to me. So then I contacted their owner, NewsCap Radio (who own ALOT radio stations across the country). They contacted me immediately expressing that they take copyright issue VERY SERIOUSLY. Well, everything was very serious until I mentioned that they were to compensate me for the illegal use of my image (AND ALTERED USE I MIGHT ADD). That is when the email tone turned negative. 
The Vice President of NewsCap Radio offered me $40. When I turned him down, he emailed me the following: 
"Barb you were kind enough to provide us with a few definitions. Here is one I just looked up:extortionNOUN The practice of obtaining something, esp. money through force or threatsSYNONYMS Blackmail-exaction
You are obviously a very talented photographer, I would stick with that. Extortion is not your thing.CheersSB" 
If they would have approached me to use the image, we would have had a chance to discuss the commercial use of it (IF I allowed the use of the image in the first place). However, once the image is used, I am at the disadvantage because the image is already out there. 
I no longer want money from them. I instead want this story to be shared and shared and shared and shared. Maybe, just maybe, some marketing person at a company will read it and it will educate them to not STEAL INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY just because Google barfed it up on their screen. 
 I can only imagine the horror that someone who counts on wedding business felt when her work — and her clients — were used to promote a contest that in her opinion "devalues marriage".

If all the above is true, it's quite conceivable that some graphic designer at HOT 89.9 figured nobody would ever know if they "borrowed" an image for a piece that was never supposed to be seen in public. But it's the alleged reaction from the Newcap VP that is really troubling.

Let's see how this plays out.

Thanks to Marc A for the tip.


  1. Ms Cameron has a right to be upset and to pursue civil damages, but it is wrong and deceptive of her to call this "stealing" — it's the same thing (on a smaller scale) as when reactionary conservatives call protests or vandalism "terrorism" to try to invoke an irrational and visceral reaction.

    If the radio station had really stolen something from Ms. Cameron, like her computer or bicycle, it would be a criminal matter — the police could arrest someone from the radio station, and a criminal court might send the person to prison. Instead, the radio station apparently used her intellectual property without permission, so it's a civil matter, in which she herself would have to bring a claim, and where a civil court might order the radio station to take down the picture and to pay her money.

  2. ^^^ Are you kidding me? It is stealing. Just like downloading movies.

  3. Hello, I was following the FB thread you posted below from the start. This thread has been seriously edited down to show only one side of the story and to delete other posters' differing point of view. This is her right, as it's her FB page. However, I felt the way she handled things and communicated with other posters was very negative and aggressive.

    Hot 89.9 was at fault, but Ms Cameron's approach and professionalism are questioned in my mind. I don't know much about Ms Cameron, only a potential bride client commenting on Ms Cameron's rudeness with her inquiry. However, I do know I would not recommend her to clients who ask for a wedding photographer referral. If you bring on this kind of drama and viciousness to a situation(she's since removed these comments) - it says something about the person.

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