Client broke contract, stole images now what?

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by jess28, Aug 9, 2009.

  1. jess28

    jess28 TPF Noob!

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    Long story short, I am contracted to do a very informal tiny wedding this coming Saturday. I have a contract with the couple. First line of the contract they both signed stated I own copyright to all images, not to be reproduced or distributed in print or digitally without my explicit written permission.

    I did a free engagement session when they booked the wedding, and took their 50% non-refundable deposit to hold the date. Posted the portraits in a gallery on Backprint for them to order from. They ordered one poster sized image and that was all so far, asking for an extension on the order deadline citing budget difficulty because of the wedding (which I did)

    I met with the bride this morning and went over last minute details. This afternoon I discovered the bride has circumvented my watermarks and posted all of the engagement pictures on Facebook. (Apparently there is a glitch on Backprint where you can view the portrait without the watermark to custom crop, something to take up with them on Monday)

    I contacted the bride who also admitted they tried to print at home, but images printed with the watermark. She admitted to posting the pictures and said she knew that was unacceptable based on the terms of our contract. She made no apology, but did say she would take them down. I also contacted Facebook to make sure they are taken down.

    Anyway, I don't know where to go from here. I have only sold digital files once, at a fee of $50 per file. She took 37 files.

    I now believe she would do the same with any images from the wedding, since she seems unapologetic and says she knew it was breaking our contract to do it the first time but did it anyway.

    Now what???
     
  2. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    People are simply astonishing.

    Raise your prices 50% so you attact a differerent clientel.

    What pixel dimensions are the digital files you sell? 800 x1000? (8x10 print at 100 ppi) the native resoultion of your camera?

    Are you still going to shoot the wedding? Have you been paid?
     
  3. jess28

    jess28 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the input! I have only sold one digital file, it was an agreement to sell the one file in exchange for being credited as the photographer in the brochure. It was a high res. and one time thing, not for this client. Other than that I have refused to sell digital files.

    I am wondering if I can back out of the wedding now, because this breaches our contract. If so what are my obligations?
     
  4. UUilliam

    UUilliam TPF Noob!

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    Add a line to your contract:
    If we find you or if you force any one else to have broken anything in this agreement we will automatically cancel all Pending events without a refund.

    as for the event you are set to do, I would tell them they can only order prints from you via phone call or face-to-face as a result of the recent breach of contract, None of the images will be placed online (or they wont be given the link to the images)
    and you will let them off with the breach this time, but any time in the future you find they have breached the contract / broken copyright laws, you will take it to the courts.

    If you feel so strongly as to object to photographing the wedding, you can tell the couple, as they had broken the legal agreement which they both signed and understood that you are now backing out of the wedding and they will not recieve a refund as breach of contract or if they wish to keep you as the photographer, they can pay you a good will gesture of 25% of the deposit price. (e.g. if the deposit is £100 then they pay £25.)
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2009
  5. jess28

    jess28 TPF Noob!

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    Forgot to answer one, I have been paid a 50% deposit.
     
  6. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    It is unfortunate you call it a deposit and not a retainer. As a general rule a deposit has to be refunded but a retainer doesn't.

    And you get the other 50% before the wedding, right? When is the wedding?

    I take it you expect to sell prints after the wedding?

    Since she took the purloined images down I would say the contract is still in force, at least from you side.

    Now, is when your skill at acting will come in handy.
     
  7. jess28

    jess28 TPF Noob!

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    Keith- Yes the other 50% is due before the wedding. She took the images down, but admits she has them saved on her computer for printing.
     
  8. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    There is nothing you can do about that.

    Have they paid for the engagement images? and when is the wedding?
     
  9. jess28

    jess28 TPF Noob!

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    The wedding is this Saturday. The engagement session was free with the booked wedding. They ordered one print in poster size.

    Would this email be appropriate to send

    Dear Client,
    Thank you for taking the portraits down, and for your honesty on the phone with me. I hope you can understand my frustration with the terms of our contract being breached. The third section of the contract you and your fiancee signed states the images are copyright protected and not to be reporduced in any manner without written permission. The website the portraits were taken from also clearly states several times they are copyright protected and not to be reproduced.

    Digital files are a source of income for me. At $50 per digital file the 37 images you copied would be work product of $1850.

    An amicable resolution here seems to be that I will be unable to post the portraits from your wedding online. We can set up a time for a face to face meeting for you to review the images and place orders. This will make sure that we are both covered. The only other solution I would see would be payment for the high resolution digital files you currently have saved on your computer, at which point I would be able to post future portraits for online review, with the understanding that they are not to be copied without written permission.

    Please let me know what direction you would like to go with this.
     
  10. jess28

    jess28 TPF Noob!

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    Also, in the contract it is referred to as a retainer. Sorry!
     
  11. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Do you have E&O insurance?
     
  12. jess28

    jess28 TPF Noob!

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    No (which I know is a mistake on my part) I do have a section in the contract that states my entire liability for any reason, which specifically mentions errors, omissions, equipment failure or inability to attend among other reasons, is limited to refund of amount paid.

    I am not dead set on not shooting the wedding. This close to the date I don't want them to be without a photographer any more than I want to be known as the photographer who backed out at the last minute.

    I am however very concerned about posting images online for them to copy again. I am considering sending the above email and hoping they agree to face to face review of images, or tell me they no longer want me service. The contract covers no liability on my end should they cancel.
     

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