Company Shuttered After Stealing Photographer’s Picture

By Kehl Bayern / January 2, 2019

You know what’s not a good idea?

Stealing someone else’s photography.

Image via Wendy Wei from Pexels.com.

But do you know what can really make your problems a whole lot worse?

Not only stealing someone else’s photograph but using that picture, on the Internet, to make money selling a product – or at least give the impression that you are doing so.

That’s pretty much what happened here and that in and of itself doesn’t make this story interesting. What does make it interesting is how tone deaf some people can be when it comes to the modern world we live in today.

Stealing pics and acting like a jerk will usually get you a nice little write up in blogs, like this one here. And when you add in a little bit of petty spice to the dish, well, we just can’t help but serve it up.

Thunderball Clothing has had to close up shop because they stole one of photographer J. Salmeron’s pictures of the band Arch Enemy and then emailed the band to ask them to ban the photog from future events because he inquired about the violation of his copyright on the company’s Instagram account. He wasn’t asking for a settlement or an exorbitant sum but rather informed the clothing company that they had stolen his picture and, because of this, they should make a €100 donation to the Dutch Cancer Foundation as compensation to him.

Fair enough, right?

Well, Thundetball Clothing didn’t think so, and they decided to reach out to the band Arch Enemy which then emailed J. Salmeron and banned him from future concerts. That’s great but J. Salmeron happens to be a photographer with Metal Blast and the outpouring from the community in support of him was probably something neither the band nor the store expected.

Salmeron received word of his ban from band manager Angela Gossow. She wrote to him in an email, “We have immediately removed the picture you took at FortaRock…By the way, we are sure you don’t mind that you are not welcome anymore to take pictures of Arch Enemy performances in the future, at festivals or solo performances. I have copied in the label reps and booking agent who will inform promoters – no band wants to have photographers on site who later send such threatening correspondence to monetise on their images.”

Well, it didn’t end here. The lead singer of the band Arch Enemy then weighed in with a less-than-well-received statement: “The photographer of this particular photo was ALWAYS fully credited for the ENTIRE duration of his photo being on my Instagram and Marta’s…As soon as he expressed discontent the posts were immediately removed. There was never ANY attempt made by Thunderball or Arch Enemy to use that photo for commercial use, and certainly not without compensation. …We reserve the right, however, to decide who is allowed to photograph our shows and after having corresponded with him we didn’t want any more issues like this in the future, especially when passes are limited and we know so many photographers who love having the opportunity to get a photo pass and have fun with us at shows. In conclusion, no one from Arch Enemy nor Thunderball ever denied paying the photographer in question for the commercial use of his photo: We simply did not use it.”

A subsequent posting from Thunderball Clothing said that Salmeron accepted their apology and that a donation would be made to the Dutch Cancer Foundation as requested.

Nonetheless, the Internet tidal wave continued to wash over Thunderball Clothing until it was forced to shutter, posting the following announcement: “Within last 2 days I received literally hundreds of comments and messages that I’m a whore, a nazi, a communist, a worthless cunt, and that I either should quickly die, or that I should kill myself…There is no anger in me, and I apologise everyone that felt hurt or upset by this situation. Anyway, there is no Thunderball Clothing anymore. You won.”

Salmeron and Metal Blast issued a response to these developments, echoing the sentiments of many out there, “What Marta made was a mistake, a mistake that in no way justifies her losing her livelihood or seeing her life negatively impacted to this level. She deserves, like all the rest of us, the opportunity to move on from it and to continue her creative career.”

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.


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About the author

Kehl Bayern

Kehl Bayern is our staff news writer and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing. In terms of photography, he is interested in architecture and modern design. Kehl Bayern is also the author of science fiction thriller Animus Proxy. He is based in Boston, Massachusetts and studied politics at the University of Virginia and, later, Harvard University for graduate school. He spends much of his time traveling up and down the east coast of the United States. You can follow him on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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