This morning I read a post on Facebook that was shared from fStopper. What I read was so infuriating that I posted it in my LinkedIn Group Photography Business (over 17,000 members now) and I am also posting it everywhere else. And… I ask you to do the same.

We’ve discussed many times how some companies and people think that they are entitled to photography for free. This is the worst case I have seen yet and because of the aggressive and bullish nature of this case people have to be called out by name.

The infringer and how they describe themselves.: “The Color Run,was  founded in January of 2012 as an event to promote healthiness and happiness by bringing the community together to participate in the “Happiest 5k on the Planet”. We are the original paint race and have created a completely new genre of running events that continues to grow exponentially.”

fstoppers reports: Maxwell Jackson went to one of The Color Run events in Miami in 2012 with some friends from his photography club at Florida Atlantic University, where he is still a student. He photographed the event and posted the images online. He was then approached by Scott Winn, who identified himself as the Photo Director of The Color Run. Winn asked Jackson for permission to use his photos on their Facebook page and said that they would even give him “photo credit wherever (his) photos are used.” As a new photographer, Jackson felt this would be a great way to get some exposure. “I was a new photographer and this amazing new company was offering to feature MY photos on THEIR page!” Who would have thought that would take a tun for the worse.

You will not believe what happened next. Maxwell finds his image published on an advertising flyer, and used in The Color Run’s ad’s all over the world and in several newspapers. When the photographer investigates and asks for payment he is in for the surprise of his life.

Travis Lyman Snyder, owner and founder of The Color Run, answers and said that he “would rather spend $500,000 on lawyers than be extorted by (Jackson).” And promptly they sue the photographer for  trademark infringement. Photography college student Maxwell Jackson is not just not getting screwed by The Color Run for the unauthorized use of his images but also has to defend himself in the court of Utah against this (can I say idiotic?) lawsuit.

Maxwell has to figure out how to defend himself and pay for legal counsel. He has started a GoFundMe Campaign. My favorite part on this is his Dad who did a YouTube video explaining what has happened. The story will blow your mind.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VM5m-0kaWyk[/youtube]

So here is what we can do. Because one thing is clear we need to do something. Quick reminder: we are professional community. Let’s keep our language and our actions non-threatening and focus on on the support of Maxwell. He really needs our help here and our goal should be very simple:

Drop the lawsuit against Maxwell Johnson, apologize, reimburse his expenses, and pay him fair use for the images The Color Run used.

In the meantime:

  • Please tell everyone in your circles who likes them – to unlike The Color Run’s Facebook page, and to unfollow them on Twitter.
  • Tell all your runner friends to spread the word throughout the running communities and to boycott all races or withdraw until this is settled.
  • Post the link to whatever article that represents your disdain with situation. Call out The Color Run throughout every photographer forum.
  • If you were planning to do so – do not cover any The Color Run event and discourage other photographers to do the same. Tell your writer friends that their work could be  infringed next and to drop all coverage but rather report on the bullish behavior that is in direct contrast to The Color Run’s ‘happiness statement’ on their website.

Do what you can to make this incident worst public relations incident that CEO Travis Snyder has to deal with. Saving a couple thousand dollars so he can force a kid into submission will hopefully be the stupidest and most costly decision he ever made. And perhaps this will finally get his attention and he’ll realize that he is out of line.

Note: The ability to comment on their Facebook already has been taken down. But you still can send a message. They do have a company LinkedIn page, you can comment on that as well. If you find out anything else, feel free to post in the comments.

Thank you, let’s go help this kid out.

Your coach

Beate

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