Photographer Threatened with Lawsuit After Protecting His Copyright

Clockwise from top left: Jay Lee's original photograph, a screenshot of Google Image Search results, and a screenshot of Candice Schwager's website showing the image being used

After discovering that multiple websites had used one of his photos without permission, photographer Jay Lee began sending out DMCA takedown notifications to web hosts in an attempt to protect his copyright. One of the websites was owned by a woman named Candice Schwager, who had 14 of her sites temporarily taken offline as a result of the takedown request. Turns out Schwager is involved in both helping represent special needs children and helping a man named Louis Guthrie get elected as County Sheriff. This is where the story gets weird.

Lee and Schwager engage in an email exchange that grows increasingly bizarre, and both parties subsequently write blog posts presenting their cases. Lee published emails from Schwager (here’s a cached copy of the page) that appear to show her accusing him of conspiring against her charitable business and campaign. Schwager also published a lengthy piece titled “Chronicle’s Jay Lee’s Cheap shots at Atty4kids Nonprofit ~ Garcia Style” on one of her websites, and then emailed Lee stating that she intended to sue him for “libel, defamation, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and seek punitive damages as well as actual, court costs, attorney fees, and interest.”

Not wanting to engage in a legal battle, Lee quickly took down his post… but not before the story began to go viral online with the help of sites like Slashdot. What began as an effort to protect one’s copyright quickly swirled into a very messy and public battle, and one of the strangest infringement stories we’ve seen thus far.

Thanks for sending in the tip, Joshua!

  • …just a mortal…

    TAC thanks for thinking of me!  

    I am fairly certain they went to High School together, so he probably already knows what kind of person she is. I am fairly certain the idea is he keeps a CLEAN campaign going, while that crazy “special needs” lady dirties the race with her posts, tweets and blogs…   One of her blog posts that was scrubbed pretty quickly claimed she was his campaign manager, not just coordinator.  Unfortunately, I can’t find it at the moment and I didn’t screen shot it.  I have wondered what a press inquiry to his campaign about her claim to be coordinator, her roll, the incendiary posts she makes and his position on all of her copyright infringement would result in. Speaking of fun, I am working on my creative writing, one topix post at a time.  I am thinking of doing a serial.

    Feel free to “judge it” or comment on it, and while you are there, Candi has some posts in the houston forum to read. they are probably pretty obvious.

  • …just a mortal…

    I am thinking, with all this foil on my head, I should get some highlights too.

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    She is getting boring without her web pulpits to spew her insanity from.
    And it appears her husband is getting in on the act now too…

  • Guest

    The photographer(s) sooooooo need to sue you.  You don’t have the right to demand he remove his Blog.  It’s called free speech and he is protected by that law of the Texas Constitution.Here’s a little song for you:  “I’m a bitc_.  I’m a tease.  I’m your hell on my knees…..”  Cmon everybody sing!

  • Jim Mackenzie

    Candice, your incredibly poor writing isn’t fooling anyone.  Figuring out which of your egos is trying to communicate with the real world is tiring. Seek help!

  • Guest

    I’m LMAO right now at some of the comments on

    Epic. :)

    Perhaps she has some form of lawyer Tourette’s…  She seems to toss out legal threats like someone with Tourette’s tosses out f-bombs.  It’s like a spasm reflex.  She can’t seem to help herself.

    Maybe the Giraffes could create a follow up to their hit “Louis Guthrie wants to kill me.” and call it “Lawyer Candi wants to sue me.”  In addition to creating legal defense funds for Jay Lee and Michael Zhang (should it come to that) it would be fun to create a fund on kickstarter for the Giraffes to do this.   Lyrics may or may not include “she can’t spell or use good grammar but she’ll sue to put me in the slammer”, “For form 990, we’ve been searchin’, while our character, she’s been besmirchin’.”,  “She’s like the Red Queen shouting ‘off with his head’, but she just bleats ‘I’ll sue’ instead.”  “We’ll never know how she passed the bar, but she’s the worst lawyer I’ve met by far.”, “Her sockpuppets they are legion, sham after sham in the Houston region”

  • Paul Flores

    last thing google has of her site before it went down… a DMCA takedown against petapixel, sent to godaddy…

    I guess she doesn’t realize she has to hit the hosting provider… which is probably petapixel :D

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    You have to understand that is one of many she sent.
    It fails to meet the requirements to be a DMCA notice, and instead is an emotional letter screaming how mean everyone is being to poor innocent her.

  • Paul Flores

    oh yes, her last post mentions it’s the sixth notice… :D

  • BenChasePhoto

    Totally agree with QT, but I file DMCA complaints where I don’t get a response from the infringer.

  • NoOneSpecial

     I actually contacted the Guthrie campaign a few days ago on this matter.  They are actively looking into it.  Now may be a good time to cool off until they are ready to say something.

  • 123

    You work with clients that handle websites and stuff with your philosophy?  Dear God, please stop.  You, from reading your comments here, have no right, knowledge, or common sense to ever deal with clients and legal grounds.  You can’t get a hold of the photographer/artist/etc after asking permission?  This doesn’t give you the right to just STEAL their work.  Just quit and go do a menial job that requires no amount of intelligence because you clearly are not equipped to handle doing ANYTHING that involves being remotely in charge of a project or dealing with clients with the level of intelligence you’ve demonstrated in these comments.



    That’s what Troy meant.  “Blame GoDaddy not the victim [photographer].”  If you are confused, the antecedent to victim is “he” and “he” is the photographer. 

  • Candice Schwing-schwing

     “I’m a bitc_.  I’m a tease.  I’m your hell on my knees…..” 
    Cmon everybody sing!

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    I think her world has crashed…
    I’m more in a keep tabs on the developments mode now.
    It looks like Jay Lee has gotten a lawyer, at least from a posting on his website. 
    It looks like the Sheriff Campaign is going to need to deal with whats been going on for a very long time on their behalf. 
    I think the TX Bar is going to investigate. 
    And I think her non-profit claims will be put to the test.

    I’m curious to see how the story ends and thats about all.

  • Al Borrelli

     I also sent notifications to the Guthrie campaign.. AND their opponents, including Garcia who’s getting hammered by Candi/Candice/nutbag on so many forums/websites there has to be some libel/slander going on..  I can’t imagine Guthrie wanting to keep her around. And if he does, it just shows you what US politics has come to that he thinks Candice Schwager is actually an ASSET!?

  • …just a mortal…

    I think she took a short intermission while she regrouped after pissing off the /. crowd.

    There was a topix post about Atty4Kids being legit that apparently was taken down, not sure why, but one of the comments that was on there before it went down stated that Candi had never been authorized to speak for the Guthrie campaign which I think is interesting and goes with what NoOneSPecial commented.  

    There is def. activity today… will be interesting to see the next point at which she sticks her foot in her mouth.  Never underestimate a crazy person to continue crazy. ;-)

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    It is a wonderful asset to have, someone you can disavow and cut loose after they do the damage.  They can also then issue a weak condemnation of those actions and hey look their hands are still clean.

  • That_Anonymous_Coward


  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    I swear I mentioned that by Friday she would have destroyed her reputation completely.

  • Donovan Rekanize Fannon

    Not since Jack Thompson have I heard such crazy ooze out of someone’s mouth. They should start a charity together.

  • Gary Packwood

    How about negative publicity for DMCA complaints and those that file such complaints against unsuspecting citizens of the United States? 

    Was that the intent of the law?

    Americans reserve a special place in hell for those who sabotage them to include no doubt, the journalism community along with attorneys who have attempted a diversion by slandering this women.That is cowardly in my view.But fortunately Facebook has been most helpful in my case. When I decided to find a pretty picture of Houston via Google Images for my out-of -state friends to see on my profile page, I learned several weeks later that a DMCA had been filed against me even though the image has no instructions or identification or copyright notice. Facebook notified me in such a way that more of less says … The idiot that caused your account to be suspended is (name here) and this person is not associated with Facebook, Inc.

    That was helpful as I now know the name of the the amateur terrorist who is trying to make a name for himself at the expense of others.

    I’ll now work hard with many other people to change the law.

  • MikeWren

    Did you check the IPTC metadata in the photo for copyright info?  What about the webpage hosting the image, no infos there?

    Your argument have no merit in statute or morality.

    Better put your name and statement of ownership on the outside of your car.  And your house.

  • …just a mortal…


    In the words of special needs attorney, “non-profit” president and “campaign coordinator” for Louis Guthrie for Sheriff, Candice Schwager: 

    “Ignorance of the law is no excuse!”

    The intent of the DMCA was to make it illegal to decrypt data protections/circumvent DRM, decrypt protected or copyrighted data, and for big corporations to be able to quickly, precisely and with out legal intervention take down any music, photo, movie, book, newspaper, you tube video, etc., should they contain any content that was copyrighted by said big corporations and organizations.  I would venture a guess that the vast majority of DMCA takedowns are issued by large Publishers of Movies, Music and Books.  In fact it has recently come to light that certain music and movie publishers have favored nation status with services such as YouTube and have the tools to take down anything without even issuing a DMCA.

    However, since what is good for the Goose is good for the Gander, the little people who have copyrighted work are just as able to issue a DMCA as the big guys.  

    As to your situation, it sucks to have to learn about DMCA and copyright as a result of a takedown, but now you are that much more knowledgable.  

    As far as fighting to change the law, good luck, you will be going up against the lobbying force of Music and Movie industry just to name two of the groups who lobbied for DMCA.  While you are at it, you should look at SOPA, PIPA and CISPA if you want to see proposed legislation that makes DMCA look like pre-school.  Good Luck, You will need it!

  • Bonzo

    You made the mistake of assuming that it was a royalty-free picture. Accept that you were in the wrong and move on.

    The DMCA was the reason that the site was taken down, but without it you could still have been sued for copyright infringement

  • Looser Grammar

    “Of course it won’t be her fault if she looses her bar card …”
    LOL, can’t tell if you are doing that deliberately or not, but your grammar makes me laugh. Only “loosers” don’t know the difference between “loose” and “lose”.

  • Al Borrelli

     Seriously.. how fucking crazy is that Houston Press article.. awesome!

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    The crazy keeps on rolling…  I keep hoping for lawsuits to be filed so the drama can play out…

  • Benjamin Chase

    Disagree with regard to DMCA notice being the first step.  DMCA is an option, not any kind of a requirement.  I’ve handled 6 cases where my own work has been infringed lately, and I only used DMCA in one of them.

  • SomeoneElse

     Going back to the original article, which has since been lost to the sands of time, Jay Lee actually did email the webmaster at websites where the appropriate information was listed in the whois info.  For those that did not he DMCA’d.

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    While you can email folks, this entire adventure should explain why that is a bad idea.  When you hit crazy your life goes upside down.
    It is one thing to email someone who posted your work on their tumblr or something like that asking they remove it, when it is a lawyer using it on their commercial site it makes way more sense to DMCA it.
    Every case is different, but if your dealing with having to send out multiple requests on the same image it becomes problematic keeping up on each single email and person.

  • Observer
  • Jimmywli

    Holy. This woman is a mess!  Look what trouble she gotten herself into now!

  • Al Borrelli

     Wow. Not that I wish harm on anyone, but why am I not surprised?  Let’s hope she gets all the help she needs for it is a lot.  Poor crazy delusional drunk medicated woman.

  • Wayne

    Bat shit crazy lawyer now has new problems. She’s been arrested for hitingt a motorcyclist and passenger while DUI and fled the scene.

    and a follow-up:

  • Chris Helton

    completely agree. Who in their right mind wouldnt call a person first? oh wait… SHE didnt call him and ask to use his image, thats who.

  • billtx

    In normal cases, the web host notifies the accused that there has been a complaint filed against them and they are given the chance to take down the copyrighted material themselves. They are usually given a certain amount of time to do so, so that they can change their site to something that is compliant and not have their account shut down.
    If the accused does not respond or just flat out decides to ignore the accusation, their site is pulled down until an investigation is completed. If they are found guilty of what they are being accused of, then their site is not allowed back online until they change the design or remove the copyrighted material.

  • Al Borrelli

    Anyone have an update on this nutter?Did she ever go to trial?

  • Sorry but True

    Candice is not really a attorney for special needs children. She is a “painter” she “paints” herself as one. I heard her say it out of her own mouth. She sits around all day and does not take care of her own children. Her husband can’t even trust her to watch them by herself. Poor guys should divorce her but she threatens to kill herself and he is too stupid to let her.

    She also is now guilty of Social Security Disability Fraud. After losing her job because she is so arrogant and mouthy. She couldn’t find work. So she concocted this “special needs scam”. She spent a lot of time wanting to sue the only client she had, a poor mother with a special needs child. Because, she couldn’t pay her for her work. Really it is an excuse to ignore her children and husband and tell everyone how wonderful she is.

    So, she stays up all night drinking monster energy drinks and taking all kinds of prescription drugs. Drugs to to to sleep, drugs to wake up, drugs for this and that. She is a pill head. Anyway, she started staying up all night drinking Monster Energy Drinks and blogging about “special needs” then sleeping all day and ignoring her children. She is a small woman. All the drugs and caffine makes her nuts.

    So she went to a doctor and scammed him into saying she is Bi-Polar and now gets 3,000 a month of the Taxpayer. She doesn’t stop talking long enough to learn anything so obviously she doesn’t know the law. She is a fraud and should be in Prison. Her kids would be better off.