J. Salmeron – a photographer, writer, lawyer, and the editor of the Metal Blast website – recently penned a piece in which he detailed how he ended up getting banned and blacklisted by Arch Enemy.
In his article, Salmeron explained he photographed Arch Enemy back in June at the Fortarock festival in the Netherlands.
J. wrote that after the event, one of the photos of singer Alissa White-Gluz he had snapped and shared via Instagram “was very well-received by everyone, even by Alissa herself, who re-posted it on her account.”
However, the problem for the photographer started when a company named Thunderball Clothing – which creates the clothing worn onstage by White-Gluz – had shared the imageto promote their products. He wrote:
“Since the post haerate), but instead a business, profiting from my work without even asking for my permission.”
After sending Instagram messages to the company he says were ignored, the photographer noted he wrote a direct email to the owner, in which he noted:
“My name is J. Salmeron, I’m a photographer and [an] attorney based in the Netherlands.
“I’m contacting you because yesterday you posted my photo Alissa White-Gluz, taken at Fortarock, and used it on your site to promote your products (the photo is uploaded here: [the link is now broken]). So far the photo has gathered more than 200 likes and has been viewed, of course, not only by your over 10 thousand followers but also by anybody looking for tags related to Alissa White-Gluz.
“Your use of my photo is unauthorized and, as I’m sure you are aware, represents a clear and blatant breach of my copyright. This infringement is, of course, made more serious when we take into consideration that your use of my photo is in connection with your business, which you are trying to promote with this post.
“In general, I charge a fee of at least €500 (five hundred Euro) to businesses that have posted my work in an unauthorized manner. In this case, however, I would be willing to forget about this problem and let you keep up the above post in exchange for a donation of €100 (one hundred Euro) to the Dutch Cancer Foundation. This is an organization that seeks to benefit cancer research as well as improve the quality of life of cancer patients. I can send you a link for the donation (which would be direct to the foundation, not through me) if you accept this method of payment.
“I am looking forward to hearing from you.”
Saying he sends notices like this one “all the time” and that he “sincerely thought that things would go smoothly,” Salmeron wrote that this was the point where “the shit hit the fan.”
J wrote that the owner of the clothing brand didn’t reply to him, but reported the issue to the band’s management, who then reportedly sent the photographer the following email:
“I would like to ask why you are sending discontent emails to people sharing the photo of Alissa? Alissa’s sponsors and fan clubs are authorized to share photos of her. Thunderball Clothing is a sponsor of Alissa and Arch Enemy.
“Arch Enemy loves to have nice cooperation between photographers, fans and festivals, and sharing moments from the concert is a way to stay connected. Generally speaking, photographers appreciate having their work shown as much as possible and we are thankful for the great photos concert photographers provide.
“Please let me know if there is really a problem here or merely a misunderstanding.
Thinking he was communicating with the clothing-company owner, the photographer replied:
“Thank you very much for your message.
“I believe that there is a fairly significant misunderstanding regarding how copyright works, and which leads to your confusion on this matter. I am happy to explain the current state of the law here, so as to highlight the strength of our position.
“It is not correct, as you assert, that ‘Alissa’s sponsors and fan clubs are authorized to share photos of her.’ This is not at all a legal argument, as the only person who can authorize the use of a photo is the copyright holder. In this case, as you certainly know, I am the copyright holder of the photo, and therefore the only party who is able to authorize its use.
“While, in general, I might allow fans or even the musicians [themselves] to use my work, this does not change the fact that I hold the right to authorize or deny the use. Additionally, here the images are used for promoting a business. In this case, as you undoubtedly understand, the images are used to increase the visibility of your products and drive up sales, allowing you to profit from my work without any revenue being reported on my end.
“In regards to your assertion that many photographers are happy to see their work exploited for free for ‘exposure’, I can only say that other photographers are free to deal with their work in whatever manner they please. Their right to oppose such a use, however, remains the same.
“It is in light of the above that I would like to give you the opportunity to remedy the infringing use of the photo by donating to a cancer charity (the Dutch cancer society) in lieu of a direct payment of a license.”
J followed this letter up with another email in which he wrote:
“I just realized that the message was not sent by Marta, but by Arch Enemy directly. Could you tell me who I’m speaking with here?
“As for Arch Enemy, I did not object to Alissa‘s use of my photo (I even spoke about the use with her after she posted it) although, of course, this would be my right. The problem is that now my work is being used to promote a product.
“I hope the above clarifies the situation.”
It then turned out J was communicating with Angela Gossow, the band’s former singer and current manager, who sent a reply the photographer he described as “a ‘F**k you and your photos,’ fabricating facts, and copying other people in the music industry in the hopes of affecting my future as a photographer.”
Angela’s letter reads:
“Fair enough, Mr Salmeron.
“We have immediately removed the picture you took at FortaRock. By the way, we are sure you don’t mind that you are not welcome anymore to take pictures of Arch Enemy performances in the future, at festivals or solo performances. I have copied in the label reps and booking agent who will inform promoters – no band wants to have photographers on site who later send such threatening correspondence to monetise on their images.
“Btw, the email below was not from Marta, but from Alissa herself personally. The artist you blatantly wanted to sell the picture to. Nice price tag. 500 EUR. In bcc the band so they know about you in the future.
“Thank you and have a nice day!
“Btw – we do frequently donate to charity, but on our own terms and free will.
“best regards, –Angela Gossow”
The photographer replied:
“Thank you very much for your message.
“As I explained directly to Alissa on Instagram, she was free to use my photo on her Instagram and welcomed her to do as much. I routinely allow fans of the band to use the photos I take of her, and even [others] musicians [that I have photographed]. As an artist yourself, however, I’m sure you believe that you should be compensated for your work when it is being used to promote products.
“I think it’s regrettable to see that your reaction to an artist reasonably requesting compensation for the use of the work is so dismissive and disrespectful. I fail to understand the rationale behind it since I have maintained a respectful tone throughout my communications with you.
“As for the price tag, I routinely work for much higher amounts. In this case, however, I requested a donation of €100 to the Dutch cancer foundation by the company that was exploiting my work. I would receive absolutely no part of this money.
“I sincerely regret the reaction of banning me from the band’s performances as a photographer, but that’s certainly your prerogative.
“Have a fantastic day.”
J added that he reached out to Alissa later in the evening “in the hopes of clarifying what clearly seemed to be a misunderstanding.” But things “didn’t go well” according to the photographer, who wrote:
“Sadly, Alissa was quick to portray me as some sort of bottom-feeding scum trying to score an easy buck.”