Best day turned into worst nightmare

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by jennifer_fall, Sep 23, 2013.

  1. Hi,
    So here is my scenario. My mom's fiance offered to do our wedding photos for free. We didn't ask, he offered. With much reluctance we accepted to appease my mom. He used my camera, memory card and lenses (all of my equipment was used). He uploaded the pictures to his computer after the wedding and left the images on my memory card for me to upload to my computer. Now he is telling me that he owns all rights to the photos and that if I use them in any way shape or form he will sue me. He is telling me that I have no rights whatsoever to the photos and cannot send them out in our thank you cards to guests, post them on facebook or anywhere else or even print copies. We had no contract whatsoever and nothing was said about us being able to use our wedding photos taken with my equipment. Does he have a case if I use the photos on facebook or print copies to send out in the thank you cards? Please help!
  2. Jennifer,
    Is this for real? Please forgive me for doubting you but lately we've had some weird posts here and this one falls into the weird category. I understand the "appeasing mom" part of your story. The part I don't understand is, "I agreed to let someone photograph my wedding who had to borrow my camera and lenses to do it."
    Have you considered talking to your mother about this?
    I'm not offering legal advice. But if you've got the disk that the photos were on, I think my inclination would be to go ahead and use the photos. I assume you're not planning to claim you took them. My guess would be that, if your mother's fiancé has threatened to sue you, you're already not planning to have a close personal relationship with him.
  3. Here is my two cents as a US (California) based attorney. Look at the contract law concepts of "consideration" and "meeting of the minds" Wikipedia has a good summary. Without providing you with legal advice and based on the facts that you have provided, it does not appear that you two entered into a contract because there were no agreed upon terms and conditions. As such, an argument can be made that his conduct was a gratuity (a gift) for which no compensation is needed. However, it could be argued that there was a quasi-contract, which would require that he be compensated to some degree.
    The facts sound strange though, seems like this could all go away if you sit down with mom and fiance at some point...
  4. Kevin, Jennifer stated "My mom's fiance offered to do our wedding photos for free. We didn't ask, he offered."

    It would seem to me that as a gift, one would expect this gift to be used in ways considered normal and reasonable in today's Internet world to include sharing on social media, etc., copyright notwithstanding.

    In fact, under the legal definition of a "gift" without prior stipulation of conditions, as I understand it, there was intent from the gift giver, and the gift was delivered to the recipient, therefore the gift giver can no longer claim any rights to the gift.
  5. Yes, this is for real. We got into a huge argument because my mom posted wedding photos on facebook after I specifically asked her not to. My mom's fiance is not someone I would ever want to have a close relationship with and I don't approve of her marrying him (but that is not for me to decide). I know it seems strange to allow someone who had to use my equipment to take the photos. He claims that he used to be a professional photographer and did weddings for a living. He also claims that his camera and equipment was recently stolen. I don't know him well enough to say that he was just angry and be spiteful when he said it, so I want to make sure I have the rights to the photos before using them. And no, I would not claim the work as my own, I do photography as a hobby and wouldn't want someone to claim my pictures as their own if I took them and I know better. I was trying to avoid a conflict with my mom (we've had a tense relationship since he's been in the picture), which is why we reluctantly agreed to it. Will never make that mistake again!
  6. Tell your mom to find a decent man.

    Kevin, thanks for the legal advice.

    It's nice to see someone to share with us some legal advice. Every few weeks or so someone pops in, a photographer and often the bride and groom asking what to do.
  7. The photographer, i.e. the person who pushes the shutter, owns the copyright unless it's a work for hire or there is some contract indicating to the contrary. Doesn't matter if it's your camera and memory card. If you were standing next to him, pointing the camera for him and telling him when to release the shutter then you could claim joint copyright, but if you just gave him the camera and he decided what to shoot and when to push the shutter, he's the copyright holder. He was responsible for the creative act.
    Unless you can show that there was some sort of implied contract (good luck proving that), he owns the images and has control over where they can be published and who can publish them. However it's possible you might be able to claim an implied licence to use the images by lending him the camera. He would still own copyright but you could use them for personal, non-commercial, purposes.
    I suspect that a law suit would be more trouble than it would be worth and any damages that might awarded would be minimal, though I guess he might try to bring one just to make your life miserable. I suspect any law suit wouldn't get very far if the circumstances you describe are accurate. Just a guess though. Anything is possible.
    Are you sure you didn't see this on Jerry Springer? Thanksgiving must be a barrel of laughs at your house.
    The standard advice here is to consult an attorney familiar with intellectual property law in your state if you want an opinion that carries any weight. Getting legal advice off the internet isn't recommended.
  8. I don't get this. Why VOLUNTEER to take wedding photos and then NOT allow the wedding couple to use them ? What was the point of doing this at all ??!!
    If I were to guess, this clown SOLD all of his gear to pay for something, and is now going to try and jump start his "carreer" with your photos.
  9. Bob, thankfully my mom lives nearly a thousand miles away from me
    and I only see her every couple of years. Thanks to everyone for the
    advice. I will contact an attorney regarding the matter. The only thing I
    can say is that he had no problem in us using the pictures before the
    blow out. He even said that he printed and put up an 8x10 but would be
    taking it down until we sent him an 8x10. The only other thing I can say
    is he will have a hard time proving he took the photos. Not that I would
    lie in a court of law, but I would like for him to be able to provide actual
    proof. He is a clown, and for someone who supposedly used to be a
    professional doesn't act like one, and you can't find anything
    whatsoever about the guy, which is freaky in itself. Anyway, thanks!
  10. John, I agree! What was the point in all of it? Was that his plan all along?
    I don't know, but the guy had been creating chaos from the very
    beginning. My mom and brothers are estranged for the most part. They
    don't have anything to do with her. The most we can figure is he wants
    her to himself? Who knows, the guy's a jerk and a creep if you ask me,
    looks like someone you'd see on America's most wanted and been to
    prison a few times. More than likely we will just hire a reputable
    photographer, like we should have done in the first place, and do some
    recreates (although my family lives states away so we won't have any
    to share with them in it). So if you know of any good photographers in
    the Spokane WA area please let me know.
  11. Sounds like your mom and he are trying to punish you for not letting her put the photos on Facebook. In light of what Bob Atkins posted, its probably best if you do consult an attorney. Good luck, unfortunate situation.
  12. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    In what country were the Photos taken? I am guessing USA, by the spelling, but it's worth my checking it, anyway.
  13. In what country were the Photos taken? I am guessing USA​
    Jennifer mentioned her mom being states away and referencing being in the Spokane, Washington area. You bet sounds safe.
  14. "as a US (California) based attorney. Look at the contract law concepts of "consideration" and "meeting of the minds" Wikipedia has a good summary. Without providing you with legal advice and based on the facts that you have provided, it does not appear that you two entered into a contract"
    California is part of the United States which has a Copyright Act which determines ownership of images. Absent a contract altering ownership or allowing usage, claimed to be the case here, the photographer owns the imagery and can assert authority (including infringement) over it. Infringement actions must be filed in federal District Court however which is an onerous task for a legal lay person to undertake.
  15. Obviously family pressure here, the ordinary way to deal with such behavior, seems toothless with this guy. From a legal standpoint, however, you may have a so called implied license
    Implied licenses arise when the conduct of the parties indicates that some license is to be extended between the copyright owner and the licensee, but the parties themselves did not create an specific express license. The purpose of an implied license is to allow the licensee (the user) some right to use the copyrighted work to the extent that the copyright owner would have allowed had the parties negotiated an agreement. Generally, the custom and practice of the community are considered. Also, Implied licenses have been used to grant licenses in situations where a copyrighted work was created by one party at the request of another.

    Discuss this with a lawyer there. This may be your legal shield if your in-law really had the practical ability and actually were to to make a federal infringement claim.
  16. Seems like we are always in a hurry to take legal action. I believe there is some over reaction by both parties here. It's your mom. Leverage your mom to get the rights to your images. At least you currently have the images and you didn't say that you were dissatisfied with the work. I would use the images as I saw fit and if your mom just stood by and let it happen, then it was worth it to find out the truth about where you stand. If your mom defended you and broke up with him, then it was worth it to get rid of him. Win/win. You still have your husband and all the wonderful memories to come.
  17. Heh. I programmed the "copyright" field in my D700 to have "Copyright (c) [year] [my name]". Now, if I were to have lent the camera to someone, the metadata on all the photos they shot would contain that text. I wonder if Jennifer did the same on her D300?
    Perhaps the easiest way out of this unfortunate situation for Jennifer is to ask how much $ he wants for copies (digital or otherwise) of the images she wants? Just put it on a business footing and get it done with. Arguing will only prolong the delay in acquiring the images.
  18. I agree that an attorney should be consulted. But, if he made it clear from the beginning that he would take the photos for free, as a gift, then, regardless of copyright, no payment should be necessary. There are several issues going on here, whether he needs payment, whether you own the images, whether you can use the images, etc. Depending on how nuclear you want to go, you can either pay the dude a couple hundred bucks to give you all the images, or you can use that money to talk to a lawyer and have him write a letter to the fiance. The result may be the same either way, but the relationship between you and your mom may be very different, depending on how you decide to proceed.
  19. I would:
    1. Spend a little money to consult a lawyer, you are not litigating, you just need an office visit to discuss this and see what your options are. It won't be that expensive. Just make sure you talk to one who does IP type law.
    2. Personally I would just use the photos give the circumstances. I suspect he is just threatening to be a jerk and doesn't have the motivation or means to litigate you. If he doesn't even own equipment, I suspect he can't go forward and take it to court. Not including his travel expenses, etc. He can't go to his local small claims court as the wedding didn't take place there (I'm assuming). The gray area in my mind is that he did give you a digital copy of the images. I'll also assume he knowingly returned the memory cards with the images for your use. He had the option to format them, etc or tell you at the time of the return of equipment that you couldn't use them.
    3. Most importantly, I'm just some guy on the internet. So like everyone else said, don't take legal advice off the internet. Spend a couple hundred bucks on option #1. It will go a long way.
  20. Peter S. writes:
    Perhaps the easiest way out of this unfortunate situation for Jennifer is to ask how much $ he wants for copies (digital or otherwise) of the images she wants? Just put it on a business footing and get it done with. Arguing will only prolong the delay in acquiring the images.​

    Peter, she has the images already. The photographer left them on her SD card when he returned her camera to her. So she has the original, raw or high-res images.

    Jennifer, has the photographer — your mother's boyfriend — given you a reason why he doesn't want you to use the photos? I'm having trouble thinking of reason why he would deny you the use of the images. I expect my brides to want to "use" my images. I try to control the ways in which they're used, to some extent, but you didn't mention any use that would violate my sense of what's normal and proper for a bride to do. If you'd said you were selling the images or entering them into a competition under your own name, well, that would be a different story.

    Let me say again, I'm not a lawyer. And I'm not going to ask my lawyer wife about this one because lawyers generally are bound to tell you (a) what the law says and (b) what the safe thing to do is. I'm not bound by professional ethics to be so cautious. I also realize that it's easy for me to say what I'm about to say because if I'm wrong, it's not going to cause me any grief.
    But I would also note that you are not the photographer here. I say that because, this is a forum for photographers and many of our discussions about law reflect the fact that, as business-people, we want to understand how the law applies to us. You are, in this situation, the bride, the client. You have some moral rights here, certainly, and probably some legal ones, as well.
    Anyway, speaking as a NON-lawyer: I would take the fact that he delivered the images to you on the SD card as meaning you have permission to use them. And if it were me, I'd use 'em, for the normal things brides want to use their photos for: Facebook, prints, an album. If you think printing them for the thank yous or posting them on Facebook is likely to be provocative, then perhaps it would be prudent not to do that. But honestly, there's no way he's even going to know if you make prints, make an album. It's unlikely he's going to know that you posted a few on Facebook. I assume you aren't friends with this guy on FB, and it sounds like you may not be FB "friends" with your mother, either.

    We tend to get a little technical here. For one thing, as amateur lawyers we have a tendency to imagine all kinds of things that could go wrong, theoretically. And we cling to our understanding of key points of law. But I think that it's highly unlikely (not impossible but highly unlikely) that he'll be able to do anything at all, other than get mad (and I'm not even sure why he'd get mad). He may indeed "own" the copyright here. Big flippin' deal. I hold the copyright to every wedding image I've taken — but my brides all the time do things with their images, including things that are in violation of the explicit license I gave them when I delivered the images. Trust me, I've never threatened to sue a bride. Unless the images are so extraordinarily outstanding that they have commercial value, his holding the copyright is, as a practical matter, a technicality. You've got the images, they're of your wedding, he offered to take them for you and with your equipment.
    And I want to emphasize that, by doing so, I don't think you are doing anything wrong. Assuming that there are no other pertinent facts that I'm unaware of, then in my view — and I dare say in the view of a large majority of non-lawyers — you have a moral right to use these photos. They were taken of you, for you, with your equipment, as a gift given without contract or conditions. He may be armed with the pea-shooter of copyright. You in turn have the body armor of justice, not to mention common sense.

    The fact that he used your equipment is an interesting aspect of this story. Who owns the equipment is one of the questions asked to figure out whether work is done by an independent contractor or as work for hire. It's not the only question, still, it's an interesting wrinkle. In addition, the fact that you have the raw files on the SD card is an interesting detail. If it were me, I'd put that SD card away in a box and hold on to it as it is, in other words, don't erase it or reuse it.
    There are other aspects of this situation that suggest to me you have a legal leg to stand on. "Detrimental reliance" (a.k.a. "promissory estoppel") comes to mind.

    Keep in mind also that you have some recourse. If he's got some hope of returning to professional photography, he's got a website, a Facebook or Google+ account, listings with services. You have the power to fight back with a review in which you tell your story. I know you don't want to do this. But it could be an option.

    Final thought. Would your mother really let this guy sue you, because you used your wedding photos? If so, you have bigger problems here than what to do with your photos. I hope you can work them out.
    p.s. Just curious: Were the photos good?
  21. she has the images already. The photographer left them on her SD card when he returned her camera to her. So she has the original, raw or high-res images.​
    @William: Yup, missed that. Which, of course, makes his attitude all the more confusing.
    I still say the quickest way out may be to ask him what he wants for the photos and pay him (getting, of course, a written receipt and transfer of ownership/rights to all the photos). He feels his effort is acknowledged and Jennifer gets her photos free and clear.
    I'm curious, too -- did he do a decent job?
  22. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    John: I missed 'Spokane', but was going on 'mom'. Thanks.
  23. Good grief, if it were me personally, the very last thing I'd do is pay him. He offered to do the job for free. His offer was accepted on those terms. I would be inclined to think that paying him at this point would be, in some way, to validate retroactively whatever claims he's making now.
    If I did pay him — which I wouldn't, but hypothetically — I'd insist on a detailed written memorandum explaining the transaction and detailing what I was getting in return for my payment. But forget that. Wy should she pay him? She has the images. If she were considering doing something out of the ordinary with them, then I'd stop being an advocate for the bride here and might become an advocate for the photographer. That is, if she was going to sell the images. But what she's told us she wants to do is what brides do with the images their photographers give them. If he had given her, before the wedding, a contract specifying that he didn't want her to post images on Facebook and if she had agreed to that, well, she might be bound by her agreement. But as I understand it there was no written agreement beforehand at all, no terms or restrictions articulated even orally. She simply wants to do what it is common and ordinary and reasonable for a bride to do.
    He did the job without having been paid anything at all, which to me indicates that there was no commercial relationship here at all. He borrowed her equipment to do it. He's her mother's boyfriend or fiancé. He gave her the images on the SD card when he returned her equipment to her. I'd be inclined to say that there's virtually no commercial dimension to this controversy at all. This was a private, non-commercial arrangement among family members.
    Not every disagreement among family members or even among friends rises to the level of a lawsuit. Not even here in the USA.
  24. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    If you seek a professional opinion (i.e. if you go and ask a lawyer), and if I were you:
    I would ask the lawyer what are the possible legal matters HE can raise IF you just go ahead and use the photos.
    Then I would ask what it would be necessary for YOU to do if HE ever raised those legal issues.
  25. what are the possible legal matters HE can raise IF you just go ahead and use the photos​
    I was asking myself the exact same question - and what possible motivation he could have for his behavior? He may want to sell the images and thus not already have them freely available on facebook or elsewhere online? He may want to benefit from wedding guests purchasing prints or digital copies from him? But wouldn't he have to have some sort of release if he was to sell the images for some commercial purpose? Given that there is no written contract and he wasn't hired - wouldn't that potentially be a show stopper for this kind of action of his? Wouldn't he expose himself to a lawsuit for using images without permission? I don't know the answer - maybe some wedding photographers could shine some light on this issue?
    On the other hand, if the bride was to use the images - wouldn't eventual payments be limited to actual damages incurred? Wouldn't he have to prove the amount of those damages? What if he hadn't sold a single one?
    If one really was to consult a lawyer over this - then not really to escalate it into a lawsuit but just to get the information what the possible issues could be. The bride might be on some shaky legal grounds - but maybe so is he?
    I do agree that I wouldn't pay him a dime - a gift is a gift - even though this one comes with some strings attached. Might actually be better not even consider the images that he took and get by with what other guests might have taken. Certainly not an easy decision - but there is certainly a lot of emotional ballast attached to them now.
  26. I'm going with implied license all the way, a life time ban on interaction with step-dad Bob to the fullest and in all respects that family reality allows and future children not to be left unsupervised with said step-dad Bob (and mom unless step-dad is independently confirmed to be at least 300 miles away or until mom's marriage is effectively dissolved).
    I'm sort of joking about the last parts but, not really.
  27. William, thank you for your response. To answer a few of your
    questions/assumptions/curiosities :)...I think he is doing this because I
    got into a fight with my mother and told her that not only do I find him
    creepy, but so did most of the people who attended the wedding. Things
    got extremely heated with me and my mom and also with him. I also
    believe that he kind of planned this. Knowing the already tense
    relationship I have with my mom he took advantage of it and played on
    it. Like I said before, he has been causing chaos from day one. A little
    insight to the tense relationship with my mom. She's an alcoholic. Has
    been for 22 years now (since I was 8).

    I had no plans on using the photos except to share them on facebook,
    send out in thank you cards and make an album. I would never take
    credit for them as my own. And to answer your curiosity of if the photos
    are any good. Lets just say my 5 year old nephew has taken better
    photos than he did. I have only been playing in photography for a little
    over 2 years now and take better photos. Don't get me wrong they aren't
    horrible, he got some decent shots, but not what I would expect from a
    professional photographer (which is why I say a supposed former

    Yes, he did leave the photos on my SD card so that I would have them
    right away. He wasn't even planning on editing them and sending us
    copies (I posed the question to my mom of since when do the bride and
    groom edit their photos just to be a smarty pants). Again he stated that
    he would take down the picture he had printed and hung up until we sent
    them an 8x10.

    And to answer your question on if I really think my mom would let him
    sue me over using the photos....I honestly don't know. She's been
    choosing men and alcohol over her children for 22 years now so it
    wouldn't surprise me if she did.

    And yes the wedding was in WA so he would have to come from ND to
    litigate it. And he is currently unemployed and they do alright money
    wise but are not well off by any means or at least not to my knowledge.

    And no I am not facebook friends with either of them and have blocked
    them both so they cannot even find me on facebook. The relationship
    with my mom, at least for now, doesn't exist. That may change, as I tend
    to be a very forgiving person.
  28. You all have great responses and it's hard to respond to them all. But I
    want to make sure to thank you all for your input. So thank you! It is
    much appreciated. John H. Your response made me roll. If I ever have
    children I would most definitely never leave them alone with him. I'm not
    even sure I would leave them alone with her given her habit.
  29. Unless you can show that there was some sort of implied contract (good luck proving that), he owns the images and has control over where they can be published and who can publish them. --Bob Atkins
    He uploaded the pictures to his computer after the wedding and left the images on my memory card for me to upload to my computer. --Jennifer​

    Verifying the terms of the "agreement" is the legal difficulty here, as I see it. You clearly thought that he was giving you rights to the pictures. He might have had a different interpretation of what he was volunteering to do, and for what purpose. I do not think that he would sue, given the ambiguity of the situation, but that is not a certainty.
    I would definitely consult an attorney on this one.
    I keep thinking that you are going to tell us more about what might have been said at the time you consented to let him take the pictures, but apparently not.
    Barring your ability to demonstrate that he acted in bad faith, with intent to defraud, I regret to say that I think that Bob is right in saying that a prima facie interpretation is that he does have the intellectual property rights to the pictures, as ridiculous as that sounds in this case as you have described it.

    This is truly one of the most bizarre scenarios that I have ever heard of. Good luck in resolving this outside of a court of law.
  30. After reading the thread, I think there may not be a question that he " owns the copyright " to the images. However, to make a valid case against you, he would have to prove DAMAGES, would he not ? If you never sell them, or cost HIM business, then I don't think he can prove some damages. As a former photographer, he knew in the back of his mind, that the rights thing existed. Once there was a fight, he chose to rub this in your face to make a point. Does he have the ability to sue you ? Probably not. He doesn't have the money to pay a lawyer and what lawyer is going to see big dollar signs around this case, which is really just someone being petty ?
    Send him a bill for equipment rental if he makes any noise ! There was no contract for that either.
  31. No doubt you'd be better-served by getting actual legal advice from a lawyer licensed in the jurisdiction(s) involved (probably where the wedding occurred and/or where you and/or he were when everyone agreed that he would photograph it).
    But without giving you legal advice, generally speaking, he very likely owns the copyright to the pictures, but whether you have some (limited) legal right to use them probably becomes an issue of contract (or quasi-contract) law. You may have a hard time proving a contract, but IMO this case screams detrimental reliance / estoppel (, quite possibly sufficient to get you the legal right to use the pictures as you propose.
    As a practical matter, if the wedding was where you live, he may have to sue you there (the likely issues including personal jurisdiction, venue, and forum non conveniens). That alone may mean the likelihood of adverse legal action is low. Also, suppose he sues you and wins--how much money would he be awarded? Is he really going to try to collect? Never underestimate what the crazy will try, but you can't let them dictate how you live your life, especially as here, where it certainly sounds (caution: based on only one side, yours) like ethics and equity are firmly on your side.
    Good luck!
  32. As far as what was said when we agreed to let him do the pictures, it
    was a lot of hype and pleading from my mom. She said that he used to
    be a photographer and he was really good and he wanted to do the
    pictures for us as a gift. There was nothing said about copyright or what
    I could or could not do with them.There wasn't any talk of him owning
    full rights or us not being able to use them. After the wedding they kept
    asking when we were going to get cards and photos out and when we
    were going to post them. Like I tried saying before none of this was an
    issue until our blowout. Quite frankly it never even crossed my mind
    about who would have rights to the pictures as I didn't think it was ever
    something that would be an issue. I've never dabbled in taking photos of
    events or people. I do nature photography and of course I've
    photographed my friends and family for memories. I certainly like the
    idea of telling him he needs to pay me for equipment rental. But I'm not
    sure I want to stoop to his level. I willingly let him use my camera. I'm
    almost certain that he is not getting back into the photography
    business, but I do not know him well enough to say for sure. I'm almost
    fairly certain that he did not have a different interpretation of what he
    was volunteering for and what the purpose was. Unless he doesn't
    know what the purpose of wedding photos are for? This just seems like
    complete non sense to me. He is mad and that is that. If he didn't want
    me to use the photos I don't believe he would have left them on the SD
    card and wouldn't be asking when I am going to send out and post
    photos of the wedding. I feel we may be better off trying to recreate the
    event the best that we can. But the stubborn side of me doesn't want to
    let him win.
  33. The other thing we were thinking is maybe he is embarrassed by the
    way the photos turned out. They are, in my mind, not of professional
    quality. We have a lot of over exposed pictures and a lot of sun peaking
    through the trees onto peoples faces. I could post a picture that was
    taken by my husbands niece to show an example (she sent us copies
    and gave us full permission to use them). That's the only mildly
    understandable reason for his behavior other than being upset with the blowout.
  34. Just a question about your camera.
    Have you set your camera to record you as the copy right owner in the EXIF data?
  35. You may need to settle things with your Mom first. Then Mom's boyfriend may fall into line. Sounds to me like your Mom's actions are what started the whole feud.
  36. George, I will have to check my camera. I remember looking at it, but I
    don't remember if I actually set it. Will get back to you on that one.
    Brian, I have tried talking to her and working it out. Unfortunately for the
    moment she is siding with her man and doesn't care what I think or feel.
    Things may change down the long do I just sit tight and
    wait for her to come around? She tends to hold onto things for months
    on end.
  37. Forget about this being your worst day and change this to your best day.

    I've been thinking about this and reading all of these posts.

    I'm inclined to forget about the ownership rules and do whatever you wish. Let him sue you. Then if he's a total jerk and does sue you, there's really not that much he can do. You simply take the photos off of your website. Here's my thinking behind this. You live about 1000 miles away. So is he the type to file an expensive suit against you? If he files a small claims lawsuit I don't think you need to show up because a warrant won't be issued. I've never once heard about someone going to jail for not showing up to a small claims court!

    Has anyone on this forum heard that you can be arrested for anything related to a small claims lawsuit?

    My gut feeling is he doesn't ever have to know. Put the pictures on another site, a new site. Use a different name such as your middle names.

    If it were me I'd take my chances. 1000 miles away is a very long distance to mess with a silly lawsuit. He's looking at big bucks if he hires an attorney and avoids the small claims court.

    If it were me, I would most likely tell him you are posting the images anyway! Just to let him know he can't do something like this and get away with it.

    Keep us posted.
  38. I'm assuming all of your details to be as you state them. I'm no attorney. I do think I have reasonable common sense. My advice. (1) Use the pictures (2) Don't bare any more personal details (3) Do your reasonable best with the relationship with your mother (4) Don't spend any more time overanalyzing all of this. I think everything will work out if these are done. R
  39. Rod S. writes:
    I'm assuming all of your details to be as you state them. I'm no attorney. I do think I have reasonable common sense. My advice. (1) Use the pictures (2) Don't bare any more personal details (3) Do your reasonable best with the relationship with your mother (4) Don't spend any more time overanalyzing all of this. I think everything will work out if these are done. R​
    Big +1 to that.
  40. "So here is my scenario. My mom's fiance offered to do our wedding photos for free. We didn't ask, he offered." . . .

    "She said that he used to be a photographer and he was really good and he wanted to do the pictures for us as a gift."

    Those are essential elements of your version of the relationship between fiance and the two of you. You quote both of them making a wedding gift. (Perhaps because of a financial inability to make any other gift.) That is your version of the contract.
    They images cannot both be a gift and also be something which you have to purchase. One does not purchase a gift. He gave you the memory card with the image files.That act is not consistent with retaining and exercising copyright powers to prevent your having the images. The story of following events, however, is contrary to the idea of a gift of the images. To claim, and then exercise, copyright powers, fiance has to argue that he was not making a gift of wedding photos, rather he was doing something to profit from taking the images, profit at the expense of the bride and groom. Not a very compelling story to make to a decision maker in a courtroom. Have you memorialized any agreements? Did you send a thank you card? is it legal in your state to record telephone conversations?
    The issue is not copyright. The issue is whether a gift of the images was offered and accepted as a wedding present. If copyright restraints are imposed, there is not much of a gift left.
    You do need to speak to an attorney. It might be interesting to know what a counselor might say about the best way to deal with a relative who might be an alcoholic. Presumably Mom and fiance can hear about and then read this very public discussion about them on, with opinions expressed about character, addiction, claims of broken promises, and dysfunctional relationships, all of which may not produce peace in the valley. I do hope this somehow works out for you and a future relationship with your mother.
  41. To claim, and then exercise, copyright powers, fiance has to argue that he was not making a gift of wedding photos, rather he was doing something to profit from taking the images​
    Seeking or realizing profit in order for copyright ownership to exist along with the power to control usage is not required under the Copyright Act. As a result, "doing something for profit" or not is irrelevant in order to be able to "claim, and then exercise, copyright powers".
    The issue is not copyright. The issue is whether a gift of the images was offered and accepted as a wedding present. If copyright restraints are imposed, there is not much of a gift left.​
    The issue is, indeed, copyright. More specifically, licensing. Either expressly by verbal agreement which has contract consideration problems or by implied licensing under the circumstances (which the factual observations in the same post tend to support). If the legal claims above were true, however, then a copyright would be lost merely because the owner gave someone permission to use them which is complete nonsense.
  42. It seems to me the photos are the least of your problems. Contact an attorney about protecting any family assets and keepsakes from this creep.
  43. Send them a couple photos, then go about your business. Enjoy the pictures you have. Don't get pulled into interpersonal dramas and manipulation.
  44. Just post 'em and let him rot. His lawyer can waste his and everyone's time by sending you a cease and desist letter. Then you can decide what to do. I can't see this progressing anywhere as a legal case, assuming what you said is true of course.
  45. Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. Some might call it stooping down to his level but i call it standing up to a bully. First you can start by asking for signed documents by you and your now husband of the contract for the wedding ( I know there's not one ) . When he can't provide one than ask if he has the signed release forms to photograph the wedding ( yes once again there's not one ). Do this in writing preferably e-mail or certified mail . When he can't provide any contracts you can then ask him who gave him the right to dictate what can be done with the photographs that were taken on your camera either buy him , your mother or anyone else at the wedding that might have picked up your camera and snapped a shot. Something else that can be done is sue him for the rights to your photographs that were taken with your camera. Its hard to imagine that he would travel 1000 miles to fight you in court , and more than likely you would win by default. Then you would have court papers to protect you from anything he might do in the future regarding the photographs.
    disclaimer-- i am not a attorney of any form. This is just another way to look at how to handle the situation.
    On a more personal note , some times you have to make hard decisions and turn people loose. Even a family member like a parent or sibling. It sounds harsh but when all they do is bring you down and make life harder then it has to be, then you have to think about your new family and the mental stresses that stuff brings with it.
  46. To John H
    You miss the point. There is zero argument about who owns the copyright under the tortured statement of the facts. The general rules have been broadly repeated here and need little repeating. He pushed the button, and she has not articulated facts to meet one of the exceptions. That is not the point here, and it is almost never the point in an ordinary wedding transaction as the bride and groom receive images and the license to make use of them. Otherwise, there would no sense to hiring a wedding photographer.
    The key question is what was to become of the images taken, who was to receive them and have what use of them regardless of whether photographer retains the copyright otherwise. Any wedding photographer retains copyright without other contractual agreement; that is always the case. And, every bride and groom always receive pictures and can always make ordinary use of them. They receive a license to use the copyrighted material, and the photographer retains the copyright. Here, there is an oral agreement to make a gift of wedding pictures, from a photographer to a bride and groom. The understanding of that gift will be taken in the common understanding of such a transaction since there is no other written agreement to limit the license the gift represents.
    There is another legal principal that arises from the broken promise by the fiance. The fiance has damaged the bride and groom because of their reliance upon his false promise, the false gift. Without his failure to honor his contract by providing images with the ordinarily understood license one receives with them, the bride and groom would have been able to make other arrangements to memorialize this important and unique occasion. The fact that the promise was made by both the mother of the bride and also by her fiance, creates a special circumstance. Family members can, and expect, to rely on promises made in reliance upon a special family relationship where stranger, otherwise, would memorialize the agreement in writing. This is often called a constructive trust. Courts have the equitable power when there is reliance upon a false promise, especially where created in a special relationship, to force the photographer to make it right. There is the alternative legal claim of damages against the photographer. While damages are not measured here in precise dollars and cents, such as a ton of corn not delivered, in the hands of a good advocate, the emotional and mental anguish from a spoiled wedding have the potential to loom larger than the fiance may want to think about. I doubt that he has insurance to pay for his defense counsel, but also, unfortunately he is likely not financially responsible to make good on a judgment against him.
    Again, the issue is not who has nominal ownership of the copyright. The issue is whether the images should have been delivered with a reasonable license for their use as any bride and groom would expect.
  47. I am no lawyer, but at the moment, you are the one with a legal reason to sue them. Your rights to control the use of your visage is DEFINITELY within your rights for a suit. You and your husband can SUE your Mom for failure to do as you requested, as long as the posted images include you and/or your husband.
    I know you don't want to do that, but if push comes to shove, you have some clear recourse. You have not broken any laws as yet, but she has.
    Just a couple of cents worth.
  48. Tell him to suck it and use the pictures anyway.
  49. Tell mom to dump his butt and use the photos anyway. He won't sue.

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