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Author Topic: Vincent K. Tylor Public Statement on Desktop Wallpaper/Screensaver websites  (Read 3426 times)

Matthew Chan

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One of the things that Oscar and I have prided ourselves on is trying to get the most accurate information even those that would go against our positions or beliefs.

For the last 2 years, I believed that Vincent K. Tylor made no public statement to refute the alleged "seeding" of his images on desktop wallpaper / screensaver websites and that he has uploaded his images to promotional websites to promote them.

It appears that I am mistaken on one point. It appears that VKT HAS made a public statement of sorts on his website regarding what I call the "VKT desktop wallpaper honeypot".  He has also made several statements expressing his views and opinions. It is worth reading ESPECIALLY if you are a VKT extortion letter victim.

http://www.hawaiianphotos.net/VincentTylorcopyright.htm

Whether he knows it or not or whether it is intentional or not, the VKT desktop wallpaper / screensaver honeypot exists. It is happening now. There are too many people complaining about encountering his Hawaiian imagery, ignorantly downloading the imagery and then later getting popped by one of his outrageous extortion letters.

IF we are to believe VKT, he states he has NEVER authorized any images to be uploaded to any desktop wallpaper or screensaver websites at any time. At this time, I do not have a strong opinion of whether he is telling the truth or not.  Assuming he is partially telling the truth (of which I am willing to concede), a central issue of upset is that he is TAKING ADVANTAGE of the honeypot situation.  On one hand, he is obviously a victim if what he says is true that sleazy offshore companies are co-opting and pirating his images to generate traffic for their own gain.  I have no doubt there are many such companies that lie OUTSIDE the U.S. that do such things.  His claim has a ring of truth to them and I am willing to give VKT some benefit of the doubt on this.

However, the rage he appears to be projecting on others is being wrongfully and recklessly redirected to innocent infringers within the U.S.  The problem with VKT's extortion letters are that the amounts he is trying to extract from innocent infringers is too damned high, outrageous, and cannot be easily justified (except within his own vindictive and entitled mind).  He is trying to "correct" wrongs done by others and outsiders by making innocent infringers pay for outsider infringements and piracies.

He wants to crack the copyright law whip on innocent infringers. Well, that whip can be cracked back.  There are provisions for innocent infringers and they are not these 4 or 5-figure dollar amounts his team espouses.  Most victims who come to ELI for help do not even question whether they should take down the image. They take them down immediately upon notification. Most are willing to make some kind of financial compensation for the infringement. However, the willingness to pay does not mean people have lost their minds either and get financially raped.

I have not been on the VKT case continuously. However, the recent Vermont Woods lawsuit was compelling enough for me to look more deeply into the machinations of the VKT extortion money machine. That is the reason why I took the time to visit his website. And when I saw he has made some public statements about some of the topics we discuss here, I would be remiss and out of integrity to NOT acknowledge and discuss it.

Please note, I didn't make this announcement in some obscure corner of ELI.  I am prominently acknowledging his statement on his position AND correcting some possible misinformation that have been discussed on ELI.

I am not saying to blindingly believe everything he is claiming but his statement should be considered because I believe it has some rings of truth to them.

Even if everything he says is true, an innocent infringer should NOT have to bear the entire recompense or the entire responsibility for piracy and co-opting of his imagery by willful infringers outside (or even inside) the U.S.

And since we are discussing his public statement, he wants to believe any diminished income he is experiencing is entirely due to piracy.  He, like many desperate artists and software developers, want to ASSUME that every person that infringed on his photo would have paid his fee to use them.  That is a flawed argument.  Some people would never have bought them at all.  Hence, there would not have been any compensation anyway. I am not using that argument as a justification to piracy.  However, from an economic calculation perspective, the calculation of losses are inflated and extremely flawed.

Unsurprisingly, VKT like most photographers, are always bragging/spouting off about how much money they spend and invest in their businesses.

First of all, it was HIS choice to do so.  Going into business for yourself is often risky business. It is part of the process. It has always been the case. Business owners and investors are at risk financially all the time every day.  If VKT doesn't want the risk associated with the photography business, then maybe he should get OUT of being in business for himself and go to work for some employer.

If you want to talk about risking real money, trying signing your name to commercial real estate and engage in a storefront business such as retail store, hotels, motels, restaurants, dry cleaners, bars, etc.  Or franchise owners of brand name businesses such as McDonald's, Burger Kings, other chain restaurants, and chain businesses where the entry fee is $100,000 or even higher.  Or how about the landlording business as I am in.  Don't talk to me about financial risk and capital investments. Most business owners would laugh at VKT's remarks because it sounds so pitiful and weak in comparison to other businesses.

Many business owners would laugh at VKT's and other photographers so-called business and capital expenses and investment in time.  People who own and work in bars, restaurants, bed and breakfasts, car shops, etc. work ALL THE time dealing with the demanding public.

Most photographers have an entitlement mentality.  They don't want to acknowledge the technology upheaval devastating their industry.  Apparently, they can't see the glut of ever-improving smartphones and digital cameras being produced and sold each year to amateurs.  Those amateurs have dumped out millions of additional images for far lower price points than the old-timers.  Plus the fact, customers don't value imagery as much because there is so much to choose from. The supply of imagery far exceeds demand regardless of the piracy and infringement factor.  They want to blame it all on piracy and innocent infringers who stupidly downloaded a few photographs and put it up on their website.

They feel because they invested so much time and money and years in the photography business, they should be immune to technological upheavals such as those in the movie and publishing industries.  Almost anyone can get a very nice camera today and photo editing software to produce their own. And in fact, with such a low cost and ease of entry, I have seen a number of people do exactly that undercutting the "established photographers".

Travel agents used to be needed to travel and now they are nearly extinct.  Don't let the photographers argument of how much time and money they spent in their business blind you to the fact there are many groups of business owners and entrepreneurs who invest and have invested so much more and they don't have such an entitlement mentality.  As I said, restaurant, bar, hotel, landlord, franchise, and other owners/proprietors ROUTINELY invest lots of personal time, sweat, and money in their businesses and support employees to boot.  They live and die by the decisions they make daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly.

Most photography businesses don't compare to those industries in sheer labor, financial risk, or capital expense. So, boo fucking hoo.  VKT and other photographers don't have a monopoly in having risk in their businesses.  I suspect compared to laborers and farm workers and so many other physical workers, few are going to feel sympathy for an outdated, obsoleted photographer living and working in Hawaii playing with his tech toys and coloring up his photos on his computer.

I think most of us can agree the entitlement mentality is not limited to the lower-income strata.  I predict one day there will be some photographer who will encounter VKT and his business reputation and then capitalize on all the badwill and vindictiveness by emulating his style but engage in an innovative, open model of revenue generation.

VKT claims he is committed to enforcing his copyrights.  Well, Oscar, myself, and the ELI community are equally committed to copyright infringement defense against unjustifiable and outrageous claims against entitled photographers and stock photo agencies.

As always, we believe victims need to not only get educated but to make a stand for themselves by allying yourself with those that understand your position.
I'm a non-lawyer but not legally ignorant either. Under the 1st Amendment, I have the right to post facts & opinions using rhetorical hyperbole, colloquialisms, metaphors, parody, snark, or epithets. Under Section 230 of CDA, I'm only responsible for posts I write, not what others write.

DavidVGoliath

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First off, I wanted to say thanks for putting out some fairly balanced information, Matthew. In delving in to the VKT case, you've raised points I hadn't considered before and, as a photographer whose work is routinely found without license of permission all over the web, this has been a good lesson in perspective.
I'd also like to lend some of mine, if you will.

On one hand, he is obviously a victim if what he says is true that sleazy offshore companies are co-opting and pirating his images to generate traffic for their own gain.  I have no doubt there are many such companies that lie OUTSIDE the U.S. that do such things.  His claim has a ring of truth to them and I am willing to give VKT some benefit of the doubt on this.

I've had one particular image of my own picked up by quite a few wallpaper sites around the world and have put in a lot of work to get it removed from any site I find it on. It really has been a learning curve fraught with frustration at points and, at this juncture, I think I've manged to to scrub image files from about 60 ~ 70% of the sites that hosted them.

The remaining 30% are proving tricky, as they're seemingly way beyond any legal reach. Some of the sites are spyware bait, expecting you to download a file (for "sponsorship") before you can access the content - and a few more are sites that are hotlinking through to files which have been legitimately licensed by clients of mine. When these sites are operating outside the US and EU, it opens up a can of worms with regards to how to deal with these acts - which doesn't even factor for whether such a removal request will be honored, or if the site owner will simply laugh in my face and say "get lost" (it's usually more profane)

Still: a 70% reduction in proliferation is worth the effort. I'll keep plugging away to scrub as much of the remaining 30% as is humanly possible. This makes me think that VKT could be doing the same thing and, if he hasn't got the time to do so personally, I'm sure that he or HAN could employ someone to do the same thing.

Is it tiring? Yes. Tedious? Damn straight. Demoralizing? You bet... but nothing worth doing is ever easy, and for any shooter who is serious about protecting the value of their work, they need to be pro-active in ensuring that any unauthorised dissemination is nipped in the bud.

However, the rage he appears to be projecting on others is being wrongfully and recklessly redirected to innocent infringers within the U.S.  The problem with VKT's extortion letters are that the amounts he is trying to extract from innocent infringers is too damned high, outrageous, and cannot be easily justified (except within his own vindictive and entitled mind).  He is trying to "correct" wrongs done by others and outsiders by making innocent infringers pay for outsider infringements and piracies.

This is the point of divergence - what constitutes innocence?

For the VKT issue, I can see that people who are not web, tech or legally savvy would look at something labelled "free" and think that may be genuinely the case - but I think the more apt question is "Should this person / company have known better?"

Most of the infringement claims I wind up referring to counsel are for entities which, in my opinion, should damn well have known better. I'm talking about people with journalism or media qualifications, businesses who are routinely in the habit of licensing content, corporations who should be performing due diligence before using material - and yes, even a few lawyers. That last one always surprises me.

As for innocence? That's something that can only be determined once both parties have laid out factual evidence and, unfortunately, that usually means going to court or, at least, court mandated mediation.

Most victims who come to ELI for help do not even question whether they should take down the image. They take them down immediately upon notification. Most are willing to make some kind of financial compensation for the infringement. However, the willingness to pay does not mean people have lost their minds either and get financially raped.

My personal experience runs a little contra to this: in instances where I've offered infringers the ability to retroactively license the images - for upper two or low three digit sums in the majority of instances - a good many responses have been less than pleasant, along with the inevitable stonewalling. I'm then left with a choice as to whether to drop the claim, or kick it up to counsel. It's never an easy choice.

And since we are discussing his public statement, he wants to believe any diminished income he is experiencing is entirely due to piracy.  He, like many desperate artists and software developers, want to ASSUME that every person that infringed on his photo would have paid his fee to use them.  That is a flawed argument.  Some people would never have bought them at all.  Hence, there would not have been any compensation anyway. I am not using that argument as a justification to piracy.  However, from an economic calculation perspective, the calculation of losses are inflated and extremely flawed.

Savvy content creators are well aware that an individual act of piracy does not always equate to a lost sale, because that individual may well not have made the conscious choice to pay for the content instead. What most content creators agree on, though, is that piracy as a societal norm is the issue - the "I'm going to do it because everyone else is" claim.

I actually had a version of that discussion with an infringer once which was along the lines of "Hey, yeah, I took your shot from a Google image search - but do you know how many other sites are using it too?" (I did) "Why are you going after me and not them?" (I was)

It's clear that our laws need to play catch-up with our technologies if we're to make any headway in ensuring that both content creators and consumers get an equally fair shake.

Unsurprisingly, VKT like most photographers, are always bragging/spouting off about how much money they spend and invest in their businesses.

This is usually less to do with bragging than it is as a statement of the input time/knowledge/skills required to get the results... and it's usually aimed at the less-than-knowledgeable potential client who can't quite grasp why a shooter with a certain skill-set might be so costly to hire, or why they charge a premium for their prints or digital files.

If you want to talk about risking real money, trying signing your name to commercial real estate and engage in a storefront business such as retail store, hotels, motels, restaurants, dry cleaners, bars, etc.  Or franchise owners of brand name businesses such as McDonald's, Burger Kings, other chain restaurants, and chain businesses where the entry fee is $100,000 or even higher.  Or how about the landlording business as I am in.  Don't talk to me about financial risk and capital investments. Most business owners would laugh at VKT's remarks because it sounds so pitiful and weak in comparison to other businesses.

I get where you're coming from with this statement, but it's a little apples-to-oranges. The risks faced by "bricks and mortar" business with tangible, physical product are different than those faced by content creators whose work can easily be shared around the world within the space of a few mouse clicks.

Most photographers have an entitlement mentality.  They don't want to acknowledge the technology upheaval devastating their industry.  Apparently, they can't see the glut of ever-improving smartphones and digital cameras being produced and sold each year to amateurs.  Those amateurs have dumped out millions of additional images for far lower price points than the old-timers.  Plus the fact, customers don't value imagery as much because there is so much to choose from. The supply of imagery far exceeds demand regardless of the piracy and infringement factor.  They want to blame it all on piracy and innocent infringers who stupidly downloaded a few photographs and put it up on their website.

I disagree. When you go into business as a photographer - which is to say when you elect to pursue it as a career and your sole source of income - it's a different world. There are some shooters who are quick to pin their lack of success and finances on everything else other than themselves, but the truth is that they haven't embraced the principles of what it takes to be successful in business.

a) You can provide a better quality product / significantly different product than your competition
b) You can provide a lower priced product than your competition
c) You can provide a greater quantity of product than your competition

In business, you generally get to pick two out of three of the above at most, and you better have a good business head on your shoulders. About 80% of my time is spent doing things other than taking pictures, and that's all to ensure that my overall business remains stable.

They feel because they invested so much time and money and years in the photography business, they should be immune to technological upheavals such as those in the movie and publishing industries.  Almost anyone can get a very nice camera today and photo editing software to produce their own. And in fact, with such a low cost and ease of entry, I have seen a number of people do exactly that undercutting the "established photographers".

The best photographers I know embrace change, adapt to it and thrive and yes, it's never been easier to get started in photography. That shouldn't be a threat to anyone - it's just progress. Professionals will always be in demand in my industry so long as we can produce the content our clients want.

VKT claims he is committed to enforcing his copyrights.  Well, Oscar, myself, and the ELI community are equally committed to copyright infringement defense against unjustifiable and outrageous claims against entitled photographers and stock photo agencies.


Whilst I do not dispute that there are some "copyright enforcers" out there who misguidedly think that pursuing an infringement claim is a route to easy money, I would refrain from tarring all content creators with that same brush.

Since you discussed technological changes, it's only been relatively recently that small scale content creators have had inexpensive or free technologies at their disposal to track down instances where an infringement might have occurred.

Heck, the first time I was made aware of any significant infringement of one of my own shots - well, if I hadn't been told about it by a third party, it would have escaped my notice completely, as this was before the days of TinEye and other image searching engines.

These days, in the same number of mouse clicks it takes someone to grab one of my shots, I can also find out if that very thing has happened - and that's the position for a lot of creators out there. We're trying to stop the flood, doing our best to educate people that sharing our work with reckless abandon has real-world consequences for us and, when all else fails, using the law to level the playing field.

I'd like to think that no creator actively wants to litigate - and, as I said in another positing, I'd also like to think that VKT would not be complicit in allowing his work to spread, with the sole intention of threatening litigation. That would be plain wrong on so many levels and contra to the spirit (in my opinion) of protecting the value of one's work.

lucia

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Thanks for the link to VKT's self-defense. (http://www.hawaiianphotos.net/VincentTylorcopyright.htm) It would be nice if he would expand a bit on claims:

Quote
I HAVE A WELL-DOCUMENTED RECORD OVER THE COURSE OF THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS OF SENDING DMCA TAKE-DOWN NOTICES AND ENFORCING MY COPYRIGHTS WHERE I HAVE FOUND UNAUTHORIZED USE OF MY PHOTOGRAPHS. 
He underlins "Well-documented record". Sadly, there is no link to anything explaining the precise actions he has taken. We know he has sent cease and desist / demand letters. Those aren't DMCA takedowns. If he has sent DMCA takedowns, I would be interested in seeing the documentations he suggests exists.

He also writes
Quote
TO CLARIFY: I HAVE NEVER SUPPLIED ANY OF MY PHOTOGRAPHS TO ANY WALLPAPER SITE YOU MAY FIND ON THE INTERNET TODAY. NOR DO I APPROVE OF OR ALLOW ANY SUCH WALLPAPER-SCREENSAVER USAGE OF MY PHOTOGRAPHS ANYWHERE.

Note the "TODAY" in 'YOU MAY FIND ON THE INTERNET TODAY'.  This is different from claiming he never supplied photos at all.

In 2012,  his pages at (http://www.hawaiianphotos.net/SiteMap.htm)  linked to "WEBSHOTS", a wallpaper site that advertized wall paper sites (and it was possible for people to get 1 day free subscriptions) I discussed that here:
 http://www.extortionletterinfo.com/forum/getty-images-letter-forum/free-baitpapers/msg4501/#msg4501
If you examine that post, you'll see that I archived VKT's HAN site at webcitation
http://www.webcitation.org/64ai2bj4N . The VKT page contained a link to
<a href="http://www.webshots.com/search?new=1&source=viewauthorgallery&queryAuthor=Vincent Khoury Tylor&querySource=gallery&tab=photos">
       <font color="#99CCFF">Webshots Screensavers</font></a></font>

This looks suspiciously as if VKT was aware of the screensaver site, and advertised its existence from his own 'hawaiianphotos.net'.  The link to the Webshots site has been removed from FKT's hawaiianphotos.net site and the images appear to have been removed from WEBSHOTS. So, his images are not available as wallpapers on that site TODAY, but the evidence indicates they once were and that he likely loaded them or if he did not, he was aware they were at that site.

Note that I am not the only one who saw these at webshots. We can find this conversation at http://photo.net/photos/VinceTylor
Quote
"Jill Placey , August 18, 2005; 12:12 A.M.

Wow, I've admired your work for a long time through Webshots. I can't believe so many of the gorgeous downloads I have from that site come from one talented photographer. Keep up the dazzling work!'

Of course, I would applaud his taking these large very high resolution images off Webshots (or getting them removed). But in fairness to those who described what he did or may have done in the past, it might be wise if he engaged the Webshots issue directly -- possibly telling us if he ever posted those there or whether someone else did so.

VKT also writes:
Quote
PLEASE NOTE: THERE IS A CONSIDERABLE AMOUNT OF MISINFORMATION AND OUTRIGHT UNTRUTHS BEING SPREAD BY A SMALL NUMBER OF WEBSITES THAT APPARENTLY DO NOT RESPECT THE RIGHTS OF PHOTOGRAPHERS AND OTHER ARTISTS TO PROTECT THEIR COPYRIGHTS.
Here it would be useful if VKT told us which websites were spreading 'misinformatino' and what bits of information are 'mis-information'. For example: did the images not appear on webshots? Did his site (http://www.hawaiianphotos.net) not provide links to the page at webshots? Is it untrue that one could get very inexpensive subscriptions and download skillions of images in that way? Was it not possible to obtain a 1 day free membership permitting people to download his images for free? 

JLorimer

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Vernon King over at vtdigger.org posted the link to this thread in the discussion there.  Maybe the conversation can continue here since vtdigger.org seems to only value one half of the argument and none of us can post over there.

 

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