Photographer gets into strange copyright dispute with Miracle Strip

Posted Saturday, July 11, 2015 9:31 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Florida-based photographer Kiersten Grant was at the Miracle Strip Amusement Park with her daughter Mylie recently when she came across a board near a ticket line that featured her daughter Mylie. Grant says that she later discovered multiple uses of her photos by the theme park, both online and in print — advertisements with her daughter’s face that she never authorized.

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Sunday, July 12, 2015 10:41 PM

I can't help but feel a little good that the park didn't keel over and acquiesce to a scare letter made up of baseless threats. The park wen't right back at her, and good for them.

Reminds me of a loosely similar incident at my park a few years ago. Long story short, we included a photo of a random family riding one of our rides in our park brochure. It wasn't even a closeup photo, it was more of an overview shot. Shortly after our brochure was released, we received a similar "scare" letter from the family demanding exorbant compensation for their photo and threatening legal action. Of course our attorneys returned fire harshly pointing out the several signs we had in place with the typical "photo shoot in progress, you waive your rights..." legalese that you see at most parks on any given day. The claim went away after that.

Maybe my opinion is jaded because I'm in the industry. But good for the park.

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Sunday, July 12, 2015 11:02 PM

Maybe you are misunderstanding the article. Maybe you didn't read it at all because of your bias, but who am I to judge?

They aren't using images that they took of people visiting the park.

They basically pulled this person's images from the web/Facebook and used them as their own, for their own advertising.

That, my friend, is a horse of a different color.

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Monday, July 13, 2015 12:36 AM

But the photographer took the photos on private property for personal gain. Just so happens that there was a site fee.

The park has as much right to ask for compensation as the photograpgher.

It's the Florida panhandle for pete's sake...it's a far cry from Madison Avenue.

Shoe fly shoe...

Last edited by Hanging n' Banging, Monday, July 13, 2015 12:38 AM
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Monday, July 13, 2015 12:51 AM

The way I understood it, this was the lady's daughter, and the pictures were not, in this case, for personal gain. They were just posts on her personal Facebook account. Plus, these pictures are of a minor, and that goes into different territory with permissions as well.

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Monday, July 13, 2015 11:47 AM

The photos weren't take for personal gain, they were taken to share with family on Facebook. Furthermore, it doesn't matter... they were not the park's photos to take. There is no enforceable contract at the gate that says ALL YOUR PHOTO ARE BELONG TO US!

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Monday, July 13, 2015 12:23 PM

But, it's a family park - Think of all the *charm* they'll lose if they take those pictures down...

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Monday, July 13, 2015 1:13 PM

bunky666 said:

The way I understood it, this was the lady's daughter, and the pictures were not, in this case, for personal gain. They were just posts on her personal Facebook account. Plus, these pictures are of a minor, and that goes into different territory with permissions as well.

Actually, if you look again at the article the photos were posted to her business Facebook account and she asked people to share/like etc as long as they kept her mark in place.

I don't know photo law and defer to Jeff that it doesn't matter, but I don't think it's right to say that the pic wasn't for personal gain when she was using it as part of her online marketing.

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Monday, July 13, 2015 1:54 PM

I initially thought this would be cut and dry in favor of the lady as well, but if you read her actual complaint, she says that Miracle Strip used one of her "professional images" for its advertising. She admits that she used the grounds for professional photography without permission. They admit they used said illegally taken photo without permission. Two wrongs don't make a right, but they can make a settlement.

Last edited by ApolloAndy, Monday, July 13, 2015 1:55 PM
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Monday, July 13, 2015 9:07 PM

Is there a contract of admission that says you can't take photos for personal gain?

Edit: well, never mind. I'd like to see how they inform people of the venue fee. I can't form an opinion till I know that.

Last edited by Tekwardo, Monday, July 13, 2015 9:11 PM
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Monday, July 13, 2015 9:41 PM

The pictures she took were clearly for gain in her personal business, they weren't just "fun Facebook pictures" of her kid at the park.

This is a strange case. Something tells that as a professional photographer who is a member of such lauded organizations, one would be cognizant of a business's rules regarding fees, etc. for professional "use" of their property. Besides, ignorance of a rule/law does not exclude one from the rules/law (i.e., "oh sorry officer, I had no idea the speed limit was 25 here! I'm from Ohio!").

Two wrongs don't make a right, that is correct, but something tells me she was a little shocked when she thought she got away with something and found her error in judgment plastered around the park. And then sent a fairly politely- worded albeit passive-aggressive letter to the park demanding "reasonable" compensation. Uh huh. I'm sure you'll be more than reasonable.

On the flip side, what provoked the park to just start using the pictures without her knowledge? I think what makes their actions a little more creepy is that fact that they used pictures of her child. That's just, well, wrong. And their response to her was slightly...shall we say...flippant?

I have two words for this case:

Judge Judy.

Last edited by OhioStater, Monday, July 13, 2015 10:04 PM
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Monday, July 13, 2015 10:05 PM

Well I am a professional photographer and also one that is employed by a park. My contracts very clearly outline copyright control, usage fees, and rules (particularly for any third party usage). Any 'professional' photographer that is dealing with a park entity (regardless of how friendly the relationship is), should have a clear contract outlining all of this. This is a strange case.

That being said - I know that one of my photos that I took of a friend on a vacation trip to Indiana Beach still lives on their website for 6+ years now and I have been completely ignored to any my requests for it to be removed (I gave up after the first year). They ripped it from my smugmug gallery page - the only place it has ever lived.

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Monday, July 13, 2015 11:51 PM

As a wannabe photographer this is my take.

It's weird for lots of reasons.

If the photos were meant for 'professional' use and the park had protocol in place for professional shoots, then the photgrapher is in the wrong. On a secondary level, I would think that any professional use of a photo taken at the park (even if done under 'amateur' conditions) would require a property release as the park is private property.

However, the park has no right to the photo or its use regardless of whether those rules were followed or not. That only applies to the allowed use of the photos by the photographer.

What blurred things more was that the photgrapher seemed to take more offense to the daughter's likeness being used without permission (a model release), which is an entirely different issue than the photo being used in the first place.

Then on top of that all, the park had the balls to leave the photomark/copyright/watermark/whatever on the photo that they stole making it hard to claim intentional misuse. Quite frankly, that's the single easiest angle to work from if your photos have been stolen. The second they remove the copyright/photomark you can prove willful infringement.

Essentially both sides were wrong. They both overstepped their bounds. However, even if the the photographer took a personal photo and posted it to personal pages with no intent of financial gain at all ever - the park still had no right to use it. Regardless of the photographer's intent and actions, the park is wrong for using the photo. Depending on the photgrapher's actions and intent they sort of have a point with professional photography in the park - they just handled it incredibly and hilariously poorly.

Essentially, park does wrong, photographer overplays her hand and then park overplays their hand even more in response to her mistake. It's an avalanche of stupid.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015 12:42 AM

What's strange to me is that they seemed to have had a prior, albeit informal, relationship allowing the park to use the photographer's pictures (including one of her daughter) for social media marketing. It seemed like a win-win to both of them...the park gets free marketing in the photographer's circles and the photographer gets free marketing for her photography business.

But like so many things, it can't end there. The park extends usage to signage and the photographer fires off a letter that would suggest she never gave permission to the park to use her photos or models and it escalates quickly. Now nobody wins.

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