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gravity

Member Since 19 Dec 2008
Offline Last Active Feb 06 2014 03:29 AM
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Topics I've Started

Nautilus Swell - Images used without permission

11 February 2013 - 01:47 PM

I have been trying to deal with the Nautilus Swell using my images without permission for almost one year now. They have used five different images (one photo they used twice for a total of six infringements). I have made a significant effort to come to an amicable settlement with Nautilus, but ultimately they continue to send me on a wild goose chase. I know wetpixel occasionally runs trips with them, and I am hoping someone on here can give me advise about how to move forward at this point.

I went on a trip with them in May of 2011. Upon returning, the dive master aboard saw pictures on my facebook page and sent the link to their office. The office asked me if I would do a blog post and include photos. I did so, but I asked that other than the blog post my photos not be used without my permission. They agreed and put up the blog post. Since then, they have used two of my pictures (for a few months each) as some of the main photos on their homepage. They have used two of my photos in their email newsletter. And two of my photos are currently up on their blog under blog posts by people other than myself. The photos on their blog are credited to me. The other four uses had my copyright cropped off.

The photos are all very high quality. Three of them were unique situations where I was able to capture photos that would be extremely difficult or impossible to replicate. And in my opinion they are higher quality photos than Nautilus typically uses in their marketing materials (other than when photogs contribute to their blog). According to the Internet Archive, the first infringement started approximately November 2011. I noticed it in February, and I have been trying to get compensation since then. Because I have been a customer of the Nautilus twice, I like the people involved, and I hope to be a customer many times in the future, I have asked for minimal compensation. After the first infringement I asked for $200 in credit towards a future trip, but since then there have been five more infringements. My most recent ask was for $1200 in credit towards a future trip or a $1000 check -- their choice.

I have been passed around to retell my story to six different Nautilus employees. Each time, it is if I am starting over completely and they don't know they are using my images. All of the people have been very poor at replying to emails, and I have had to spend a lot of time following up. My emails now are going unanswered. The latest is that Mike Lever got involved. First he told me, "I am an avid photographer myself and would be furious if I perceived that someone was using my images for commercial gain after taking the copyright off. That's stealing. I would never condone it." After a few months of no action, I set a deadline. So after 11 months of showing his employees that these were my files (11 months of back and forth and back and forth), Mike Lever's latest response is that he doesn't believe I took the photos. He asked me to watermark my raw files and send them to him as proof. He said he won't engage in any negotiation until I do so. I let him know that I am unaware of any way to watermark a raw file and I am reluctant to send my raw files because of how my photos have been repeatedly (accidentally?) misused, but that I could send him screenshots that showed the pics along with the Nikon .nef extension of the photos in my Lightroom photo library. I could also send screenshots of the pics that come before and after in the sequence. I asked him if that would suffice as evidence for him. I offered to send those to him on January 29 and as of Today, February 11, I have still received no response. I have also repeatedly asked Mike Lever to call me because some of his emailed questions suggest that his employees haven't told him the whole story, but to this point he has declined to do so.

I don't presume to know what is going on in the Nautilus brain trust regarding dealing with me. But it seems that their modus operandi is to be extremely apologetic and assure me that they will get the the bottom of this and resolve it fairly with me, then never follow up with me, then when I follow up pass me on to the next person. Now that I have made it to the top of the organization, my follow up is being met with accusations and denials. It is extremely frustrating. I am sure many photographers deal with this kind of thing all the time. But I never have before. So I don't know what to do next. Does anyone have any specific suggestions? Thanks,