If a lawsuit doesn’t sound very rock n’ roll, then this controversy might surprise you. While you may have thought to be in the news was in the past for the 80’s rock band; Motley Crüe got back on the front page news over a 2016 photo copyright controversy.
What caused the attention? Rock photos. Not the rocks that you have in your backyard or see by the ocean, but professional performance photographs of the band in action.
Why Did the Photographers Sue Mötley Crüe?
When Motley Crüe went on their farewell tour during 2014 – 2015, they sold merchandise which featured a great (rocking!) image of the band. The only problem, according to 2 well-respected photographers, the group and their management team did not have the legal rights to use the images, as they lacked copyright permission.
As reported by the website TMZ, photographers Neil Zlozower and Barry Levine first took the images in the 1980s, when the band was arguably in its prime and selling out arena-sized shows. These images were added to t-shirts, crop tops, stickers, vests, patches, flags, and even clothing for infants (like on onesies). Over that year-long tour, the merchandise was in demand.
The photographers are seeking damages, and their attorney’s fees paid for. They may have taken note as the band sold a lot of merchandise. According to TMZ, not only was Motley Crüe’s merchandise sales successful during that farewell tour, but they sold more merchandise than during past tours!
Cases like this leave many web users and photographers debating fault and if these types of lawsuits have merit. Most at stake are whether the band had the correct rights to use the iconic images through a past agreement, or whether they used them without going through the proper avenues and without consent. Copyright theft is dangerous, and a well-known band should know better and protect the cherished photographers who helped make them famous. After all, this wasn’t the bands first foray into copyright challenges!
However, if Motley Crüe is like many bands, they may not be aware of these concerns and rely on their management team. The decision of whether these types of cases go to trial or are mainly settled depends on the wording of the original contract.
While each case is unique, one thing is for sure; photography theft is a severe problem. If you make your money as a photographer or even shoot in your spare time, after a 9 to 5 job, no one wants their hard work stolen! How would you feel if you were in the above photographer’s shoes? What steps do you take to protect your work?
To make sure your images stay credited to you and are only used by those you have granted specific publishing rights, go to Berify.com. At Berify, we protect your intellectual property and help you retain your copyright with comprehensive web searches. We scour the web and let you know who is stealing your photographs and where.