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Tribal Warfare
04-09-2011, 02:50 AM
Photographer sues Chiefs, others over use of photos to decorate Arrowhead (http://www.kansascity.com/2011/04/08/2787193/photographer-sues-chiefs-others.html)
By MARK DAVIS
The Kansas City Star

Football fans who fell in love with the new Arrowhead Stadium last season should brace themselves. Many of the Chiefs photos saturating the place may have to come down.

So demands the man who took those photos over a 40-year history with the team but who says he was never paid for their use at the stadium.

Hank Young, a longtime area photographer, has sued the Chiefs and five other companies that he said never paid for or sought permission to use his many images of Chiefs games, players, cheerleaders and fans for the remodeled Arrowhead.

Instead, the lawsuit contends, the Chiefs obtained the photographs from Young’s archives “under false pretenses” and unsuccessfully tried to coerce him into handing over his copyrights to the pictures before ending his generation-long gig as Chiefs game-day photographer.

Young, who said he worked as an independent contractor and not a Chiefs employee, now wants those images torn down and destroyed if he isn’t paid.

“Hank’s preference, obviously, is to be paid,” said Patrick Stueve, Young’s attorney.

An attorney for the Chiefs said the team appreciated Young’s long service and were disappointed by the lawsuit.

“However, the Chiefs strongly disagree with Mr. Young’s version of the facts and claims, and plan to vigorously defend against them,” said a statement issued by Gregory Gerstner.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, stirs up the complexities of labor law and intellectual property rights. The fate of those stadium images, or at least their cost, depends on who owned what rights to those photos.

Young’s lawsuit contends that the Chiefs infringed on his copyrights and committed fraud in the process. The team has not yet replied in court.

He seeks removal and destruction of the images, unspecified amounts of actual and punitive damages, and at least $1.4 million in statutory damages at the rate of $150,000 for every instance in which his copyrights were infringed. Young’s petition cited 30 of his images used at Arrowhead, but he hasn’t been able to do a complete inventory. He also wants “any additional profits” of the defendants stemming from their use of the photos.

Fans see the contested images throughout the stadium, at entrances, in concessions areas, in the Hall of Honor, on walls and along the spiral walkways.

The collection ranges from emotional memories of players Derrick Thomas and Joe Delaney — who lost their lives in off-field accidents — to a photo of KC Wolf that points fans toward the stadium’s visitors center.

According to the lawsuit, Young took the photos as an independent contractor working for the team’s public relations department. He used his own equipment and made “all the creative decisions,” such as choosing which photos from the games to give to the public relations department.

Stueve said Young never received a regular check from the Chiefs, he had no boss there, and the team had no control over how he worked.

Those are among several tests that the Internal Revenue Service looks at to determine whether someone is an employee or independent contractor. The difference means money when it comes to collecting payroll taxes.

The greater point of dispute hinges on the extent to which the Chiefs had the right to use the images. Intellectual property rights — which establish who owns the creative product of work — have become increasingly disputed issues.

Typically, there’s no issue when an employee produces something working for an employer. Even contractors can run into trouble if their product is determined to be “work for hire.”

According to the lawsuit, the Chiefs’ use of Young’s photos over the years was governed by a “limited license” that he granted to the public relations department for “editorial content.” The team could use a photo of one of its players issued along with a press release.

Young, the suit said, was paid “an additional licensing fee” when the Chiefs used the photos for other purposes, such as for banners or posters, or to decorate a suite there.

Young was paid higher fees when the photos were used for “a sponsorship or other revenue-generating function,” the lawsuit said.

It said he even was paid for his time to search his 40-year archive for the type of photos the Chiefs requested. He thought recent requests were for a hall of fame connected to the stadium but not part of the concourse, and covered by the limited license.

Young, however, had worked on a handshake.

There was no written “limited license” document and no signed contract to take photos as either an employee or contractor, his attorney said. Instead, Stueve said, his client worked under an oral commitment over 40 years and that “course of conduct” can be the basis for the agreement.

“History and tradition demonstrates” that the Chiefs recognized Young was “the exclusive holder of the copyright” for his photos, the lawsuit said.

Besides, the team tried to “coerce” Young into signing over the copyright on the photos last summer, threatening to stop using him as the team’s game-day photographer, the lawsuit said.

“In essence, the Chiefs wanted to rewrite history and change the terms of a forty-year relationship,” the lawsuit said. “Mr. Young was offered no compensation for this unprecedented demand.”

Young, still unaware how the photos were being used at the stadium, was given a deadline to decide whether to sign over the copyrights — July 23, 2010.

It was the same day he learned what had been done — the day the New Arrowhead opened to outside viewers.

Young, according to the lawsuit, took one of the media tours and saw his photos everywhere.

At a meeting later with Chiefs President Mark Donovan, the lawsuit said, Young was told he would receive no additional compensation and would no longer be the game-day photographer for the team.

Although Jackson County owns the stadium, Young sued the Chiefs because the team managed and oversaw the renovations.

Young also sued Populous Inc. as the architect on the project and Workshop Design LLC as provider of graphic designs.

The lawsuit also names stadium sponsors Sprint, Hy-Vee and Time Warner, which used Young’s images in their own promotions at the stadium. Each had worked with Young previously and paid him for promotional use of his images and should have known to do so again, the lawsuit said.

Populous could not be reached, and none of the other firms would comment about the lawsuit.

|Zach|
04-09-2011, 05:17 AM
An almost identical situation happened to me with an NCAA team. It was pretty shocking but when I went to them hoping to work it out in good faith, they responded positively and ended up making a great situation out of it.

Photographers have to keep their eyes open to where their work is floating around at.

JD10367
04-09-2011, 05:51 AM
Sounds like the Chiefs will have to pony up some dough.

Micjones
04-09-2011, 11:21 AM
The Chiefs will settle. Sucks for him...
I'm sure being a game-day photog's a great gig.
Hopefully he gets what he deserves.

kcfanXIII
04-09-2011, 11:54 AM
An almost identical situation happened to me with an NCAA team. It was pretty shocking but when I went to them hoping to work it out in good faith, they responded positively and ended up making a great situation out of it.

Photographers have to keep their eyes open to where their work is floating around at.

The main reason I do a lot of work for free is I'm not sure what I have to do to protect my work. Its more or less a hobby of mine right now, so its no big deal for now. That and Phobia is cheap...


I hope they cough the dough up and don't take the pics down. They are one of my favorite parts in the new Arrowhead. Its nice to see all those memories in giant form.

Bump
04-09-2011, 12:05 PM
An almost identical situation happened to me with an NCAA team. It was pretty shocking but when I went to them hoping to work it out in good faith, they responded positively and ended up making a great situation out of it.

Photographers have to keep their eyes open to where their work is floating around at.

you would think they would want their work noticed, I don't know though.

lostcause
04-09-2011, 12:16 PM
you would think they would want their work noticed, I don't know though.

Of course he would like his work noticed, so that he can get a gig with a big money client and then get compensated when they decorate their nfl stadium with his work.

|Zach|
04-09-2011, 12:18 PM
you would think they would want their work noticed, I don't know though.

Of course you want your work noticed. But you also want value you back for all the value the Chiefs get by using his imagery all over the place.

Obviously they liked it enough to to decorate their new stadium. There is value in that and he should be fairly compensated.

|Zach|
04-09-2011, 12:28 PM
The main reason I do a lot of work for free is I'm not sure what I have to do to protect my work. Its more or less a hobby of mine right now, so its no big deal for now. That and Phobia is cheap...


I hope they cough the dough up and don't take the pics down. They are one of my favorite parts in the new Arrowhead. Its nice to see all those memories in giant form.

To me it is all about value. But that comes in many forms. There are a million variables that comes into pricing photography but at the end of the day my photography services come in at *about* $150\hr for event type stuff.

But licensing is a different game. That is why for a business a picture doesn't (at least it shouldn't) have one price. If I sell the ability to use one of my photos to a local coffee shop for $100 and then sell the same to WalMart that won't make sense. Even though it is the same photo WalMart is gonna be able to put it in every single one of those stores getting value on it until the sun comes up. So it is all about end usage.

A lot of photographers work really hard to lock up their photos...and while I take some precautions I have pretty much accepted that in this day and age images are going to be out there in the wild. If they are floating around I try and make it easy for people to link back to me so I can get some value from that...like if they are posted in a forum or something. If they are used commercially I just go to that entity and say "hey, I see you used my photo without permission. surely there is some way we can work this out so I get value back from the value you are getting on my photo." Instead of just lawyering up and being mad dickish. It has worked out pretty well. The example I talked about earlier ended up netting me more work even.

Bump
04-09-2011, 12:30 PM
Of course you want your work noticed. But you also want value you back for all the value the Chiefs get by using his imagery all over the place.

Obviously they liked it enough to to decorate their new stadium. There is value in that and he should be fairly compensated.

true, but I always imagine the artsy fartsy types who love photography to not really care about being compensated for their work but just happy enough that people are enjoying it.

|Zach|
04-09-2011, 12:31 PM
true, but I always imagine the artsy fartsy types who love photography to not really care about being compensated for their work but just happy enough that people are enjoying it.

This isn't that type of photography/photographer.