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Author Topic: Beware of Photog Christopher Sadowski, Notorious Copyright Troll  (Read 3579 times)

kingkendall

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I want to bring attention to this guy.  He's a photographer from New Jersey.  He licenses photos to the New York Post and news organizations in Northern New Jersey.  He's also a notorious copyright troll that has filed multiple lawsuits using different lawyers including Mathew Higbee.  Don't use this guy's stuff no matter what kind of photo it is.  Even if it's a picture of a car that is double parked, Sadowski will come after you for it with an outrageous amount.       

Can I get an assist? 

I been having trouble logging in Pacer.  If anyone can post the lawsuits filed by this guy I think the community would benefit? 

« Last Edit: April 12, 2017, 11:17:17 AM by kingkendall »

DavidVGoliath

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Re: Beware of Photog Christopher Sadowski, Notorious Copyright Troll
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2017, 08:01:25 AM »
Hold on a second; if Sadowski is a freelance photographer who licenses their work to the NY Post... then exactly how is he "trolling" when they discover unlicensed uses of their work and expect compensation - especially if they have gone the extra mile to register their work with the US Copyright Office?

Here's a simple rule: instead of saying "Don't use this guy's stuff no matter what kind of photo it is", howsabout "Don't use photographs you haven't gotten permission to use and/or have a provable license for"


DavidVGoliath

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Re: Beware of Photog Christopher Sadowski, Notorious Copyright Troll
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2017, 03:34:55 PM »
Instead of acting like a gentlemen by sending note asking to remove his photo from a website, he immediately goes to a extortion letter from a law firm looking to cash in for an amount of money much higher than the license fee he got from where his work is published. 

Howabout acting like a gentleman and don't use photographs that you a) haven't taken yourself, or b) haven't obtained a license/permission for?

Also, there is nothing writ into 17 USC that mandates a creator to request you simply stop using their work before they retail counsel, or even file a petition with the courts. Nothing. Zilch. Zip. Nada. You're gonna bleat about courtesy when you likely haven't performed a measure of diligence before you used a photograph? Did you make any effort to find out who the rightsholder was before using their work?

Oh, and here's one more thing for you to consider:

“[The infringer] cannot expect to pay the same price in damages as it might have paid after freely negotiated bargaining, or there would be no reason scrupulously to obey the copyright law.”, Iowa State Univ. Res. Found., Inc. v. Am. Broad. Cos., 475 F.Supp. 78, 83 (S.D.N.Y.1979) aff'd, 621 F.2d 57 (2d Cir.1980)

clist

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Re: Beware of Photog Christopher Sadowski, Notorious Copyright Troll
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2017, 05:55:16 PM »
I agree with @DavidVGoliath here.

People shouldn't just assume that they can just take [and use] whatever media (eg: images, audio, video, etc) they want from the web without consequence.

With that said, I do feel that there should be a dmca takedown type of approach amended into the existing copyright law [that specifically applies to the web] which grants [the infringer] an opportunity to rectify their mistakes before any legal action can be allowed to be taken against them.

I believe this approach would most certainly curb the "extortion" behavior that seems to populate the threads in this forum.

$.02
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Matthew Chan

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Re: Beware of Photog Christopher Sadowski, Notorious Copyright Troll
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2017, 04:43:32 PM »
There is no question that infringements have become epidemic often due to people's ignorance.

I must confess that I agree that people have been too loose about using images that aren't theirs.  People need to do a lot more due diligence before using images.

But I also object to the outrageous, disproportionate amounts also. I also object to the lies, deceit, and manipulation that many people use also.  I also object the presumption and expectation of large payments that have no basis in reality.

Howabout acting like a gentleman and don't use photographs that you a) haven't taken yourself, or b) haven't obtained a license/permission for?

Also, there is nothing writ into 17 USC that mandates a creator to request you simply stop using their work before they retail counsel, or even file a petition with the courts. Nothing. Zilch. Zip. Nada. You're gonna bleat about courtesy when you likely haven't performed a measure of diligence before you used a photograph? Did you make any effort to find out who the rightsholder was before using their work?

Oh, and here's one more thing for you to consider:

“[The infringer] cannot expect to pay the same price in damages as it might have paid after freely negotiated bargaining, or there would be no reason scrupulously to obey the copyright law.”, Iowa State Univ. Res. Found., Inc. v. Am. Broad. Cos., 475 F.Supp. 78, 83 (S.D.N.Y.1979) aff'd, 621 F.2d 57 (2d Cir.1980)
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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Re: Beware of Photog Christopher Sadowski, Notorious Copyright Troll
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2017, 06:17:37 PM »
But I also object to the outrageous, disproportionate amounts also. I also object to the lies, deceit, and manipulation that many people use also.  I also object the presumption and expectation of large payments that have no basis in reality.

What you personally consider to be outrageous, disproportionate etc. is merely a matter of perspective and may (or may not) be further shaped by facts you are not party to.

Here's a real-life scenario for you: I often license images to large media companies for four-figure sums. If an image in my library is timely registered, and a global media company who is not one of my clients simply lifts it from my client's website, and then publishes it on their own site, what is a disproportionate expectation?

What if I can also 100% prove that the source image they pilfered was accompanied by copyright management information?

What if it's not the first time that this company has infringed on my work?

Do I politely ask them to stop using my work, as @kingkendall might wish it?

Should there be some pre-attorney-retention procedural hoops that I have to jump through, similar to a DMCA takedown, that @clist has suggested?

Perhaps I should simply ask for them to pay my undiscounted license fee based on the type and duration of use they have made of my work... only to have their staff or counsel attempt to whittle the fee down in some sort of retroactive bargaining, regardless of their clear breach of my rights. (this has happened far too often for my liking)

What is the proportionate, reasonable response?

clist

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Re: Beware of Photog Christopher Sadowski, Notorious Copyright Troll
« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2017, 09:09:29 PM »
@kingkendall

Just out of curiosity, about how many emails / notifications would you say you have you received regarding unlicensed images on your website(s)?

Just curious.
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DavidVGoliath

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Re: Beware of Photog Christopher Sadowski, Notorious Copyright Troll
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2017, 04:14:46 AM »
If you disagree on what a copy troll is because you're a photographer yourself then we're gonna have to agree to disagree.  I've had other people contact me to remove an image from my blog and I apologized and removed it right away.  Playboy even sent me a notice telling me to remove their image and I immediately complied.  That wasn't the case with Chris Sadowski.  He immediately went to extortion letters no different than Linda Ellis with the stuff she does.   

Okay, so let's get this straight: hearing from Sadowski wasn't the first time that you'd been contacted by someone to say "stop using my photographs" - but it was (I'm guessing) the first time you heard directly from an attorney, without prior notice?

Like I said before, there's nothing in US copyright law that says a person has to send a polite "please stop?" notice before they engage counsel. Heck, there's nothing to stop them going straight to filing suit in Federal court if they wanted to, but lawyers tend to advise against that because some judges frown on it - since it shows no prior attempt to settle things outside of an overburdened civil courts system.

Now I obviously don't have all the facts in my possession, but your statement "I've been blogging since 2009.  When I started I didn't know what the heck I was doing. I'd say three times in eight years." implies that you've infringed on a shit-ton of content... simply from the fact that the majority of photographers and rightsholders don't know how to police their work, or don't care to.

The professional photo hosting service Photoshelter held a copyright clinic live stream a few years ago, and during the stream, they published poll results from their members. If I recall, only seven percent of respondents actually registered their work with the US copyright office. Most didn't know how to, and a few more didn't care to. Given that their target audience was professional photographers who pay for a hosting service, then I'd say 7% is a generous figure when you also factor for enthusiasts and the general public. I'd be very surprised if more than 1% of image ever get registered.

Taking those facts into consideration, to be contacted only three times in eight years is just dumb luck, because every time you posted a photograph to your blog, you had maybe a 1% chance of being caught.

Now, when you got your first polite cease and desist, maybe that should have triggered a thought along the lines of "hey, this could have gone a lot worse for me - perhaps I should change my approach to sourcing images, and clean up my site."

When the second one came in, you might have mistakenly thought "Oh, I can use whatever pictures I want to, so long as I remove them when I'm asked."

Then you used one of Sadowski's registered photos, who (well within his rights), retained counsel and sent a far more formal settlement offer.

Now, all of this is supposition on my part. I don't know in what order you were contacted, or by who. You clearly believe Sadowski's approach to be an overreaction based on previous requests. Let's add perspective by ways of an analogy.

You set out to walk through a crowd. You're not paying attention to everyone around you and, in the course of your travels, you bump into someone, who spills a some of a drink they're carrying onto themselves.

The first person, being polite and non-confrontational, says "Hey man, look where you're going!". You apologize, they accept, you move on - not correcting your behaviour.

The next time you bump into someone, they're also carrying a drink and call you out on your ignorance, but they're also accepting of your simple apology, and quickly get on with their own business.

The third person, however, is different. They're wearing a suit that, in their mind, represents an investment in themselves: one they go to pains to ensure is neat and presentable. You might think it to look unremarkable, but it's one they had tailored. You bump into them, they spill their coffee on it - and before you can utter a word, they're in your face, demanding that you pay for an expensive dry-clean... or perhaps even a replacement suit.

Compared to how the first two responded, you might well think this to be an overreaction (and likely other people could too) but from the perspective of the suit-wearer, they have a legitimate expectation that people look where they are going so as to not bump into them, and getting coffee spilled on their suit - one that has special personal value to them - is not something they will just shrug off with a "hey, no problem" and a smile. Perhaps you thought that, at worst, you'd owe them a $4 cup of coffee, and never imagined facing the prospect of maybe having to pay to replace a bespoke suit.

 

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