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sean wood
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While in Amsterdam (I’m still here as I write this but about to leave) I discovered a lot of planes leaving contrails. I’d seen this occasionally but not to the point where there were so many planes and trails all in the same place. I recall a contact on…

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Please share my story.

Like many other photographers on Flickr, or elsewhere on the Internet, I fell in love with photography and decided to show my photos to anyone and everyone who wanted to see them.  I never had a plan of making a living off it, but if by chance somebody found value in one of my photos and wanted to use it in exchange for reasonable monetary compensation I would be ecstatic.  Sadly, this isn’t one of those stories.

Sometime back in November I was bored and randomly did a Google reverse image search on this photo. http://www.flickr.com/photos/jason935/4095276374/ To my surprise I saw it was being used as an album cover to a single by a New Zealand band by the name of Late Nyte Hype.  The returned links came back to the song on the iTunes Store, to Warner Music New Zealand’s home page, Spotify, some other music stores, and a promotional video on YouTube.(all have since been taken down)  Doing some research I found out via the band’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/latenytehype) that the song had been on sale since September of 2012, but nobody had made any attempt to contact me about using my photo. There was even a free download of a large version of the album artwork via the band’s Facebook page.

Being that I live in Japan and the theft took place in New Zealand I took screenshots and print outs of all the webpages where my stolen photo appeared and contacted a lawyer in New Zealand.  His plan was to demand a one time payout from Warner Music New Zealand, so to avoid any public embarrassment for them in court for using a stolen photograph and that would be the end of it.  The deadline for the response from my lawyer came and went and Warner Music New Zealand never replied to my lawyer.  At the same time my lawyer had contacted Scotty Ray Nicols from the band and he quickly apologized, claimed they hired a designer/photographer by the name of Michael Braid in New Zealand http://michael-braid.com, but made no offer to right the wrong except to pay my lawyer fees so I “wouldn’t pursue this any further.” What about Warner New Zealand you ask? Well, it turns out there is a provision in New Zealand's Copyright Act that excludes claims for damages from innocent infringers.  Instead, a claim for profits from the innocent infringement can be made. The song was terrible and it didn’t catch on.  My lawyer said in all the song made about $230 total. What about this Michael Braid guy?

Michael Braid is the designer/photographer who works out of New Zealand and is the criminal in this case.  He claims that he did this work and all of his other photography and video work for free because he “loves doing this work for fun in his spare time.” If you look at his portfolio on his website, you can see that he has photographed artists LMFAO, Lupe Fiasco, Kings of Leon, Jimmy Eat World, Neon Trees, etc. This guy does this all for “free.” I would also like to point out he made a TV commercial for Toyota New Zealand for free as well apparently. Here’s a link to it. (http://michael-braid.com/video/toyota-tvc)  

His story to me was that he has never heard of Flickr and that he found my photo on a stock image site, but he “can’t remember which one.” This right here is a blatant lie.  Anyone doing photography for a hobby while using the internet has heard of Flickr.  Anyone doing professional work (free or not) documents where they got stock photos from and confirm usage rights.  I should mention that my reverse image search on my photo does not pull my photo up on any stock photo sites and that I have only ever posted it to Flickr to where it says my photos usage rights are “All Rights Reserved.”

I talked nice and kept things civil.  It seemed Michael was going to work out some compensation between us, but the last I heard from him was on February 5th of this year.  I emailed him for an update on 19th and the 24th, but he seems to be ignoring my emails. My lawyer agreed to work off a percentage of the settlement and didn’t find it worth while to pursue Michael Braid any further as it was unclear as to how much money he has.  Me being a new Father, I don’t really have the cash to chase this shady character down only to find out he can’t pay up and be stuck with huge lawyer and court fees.  

This leaves me like so many other photographers before me.  Ripped off and nothing can be done about it.  All I can do it warn others of Michael Braid’s amoral way of doing business to make up for his lack of creativity.  

If you would like to contact Michael Braid and express your displeasure to him of people stealing other people’s work, he has posted his contact information (phone and email at the bottom of his webpage) as follows:

Email: hello@michael-braid.com or braid.mike@gmail.com
Phone: +64 021 044 0356
LinkedIn: http://nz.linkedin.com/pub/michael-braid/4b/b06/781

You can also find him on Google+ here. https://plus.google.com/101040137968917825477

His Twitter account: https://twitter.com/mikebraid

#photography #stolenphotos #filmphotography #publishedphotography #believeinfilm #publishedphotographer #publishedwork #michaelbraidphotography #michaelbraid #NewZealand #warnermusic #warnermusicnewzealand  
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