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!

  • Guest

     You seem to know this woman. I feel bad for you.

  • Guest

    On her latest post she has used yet another picture with several tineye hits.  I wonder who that copyright belongs to.

  • PhillipP

    Jay did exactly what he should have done. He did not take down her site, GoDaddy took it down because of her theft of an image. This woman is supposedly a lawyer yet she does not seem to know the law, that is what is so weird if you ask me.

  • guest

    I hope this will take her stuff down permanently. I am highly suspicious of the “special needs advocacy” type. There is a lot of fraud and nonsense going on in that area. And there is lots and lots of money in it that isn’t kosher. This one seems to be the type that real advocates for legitimate special needs issues might not want to be associated with.

  • MikeWren

    Even more…

    is one of her websites… take note of the banner.

    Should we give her the benefit of the doubt?  Who want to reach out to Mr. Harrington?  I think he owes her an invoice.

  • MikeWren

    And the Schwager Consulting Boutique logo… there seems to be other folks using it also.

    Maybe it’s time for a new game.  Can anyone find any images on her websites that *hasn’t* been pilfered?

  • MikeWren

    Good, she should expect to pay for commercial usage of copyrighted photography.  Full stop.

    Jay isn’t obligated to call, or email, fax, send postal mail or smoke signals, the law has relief for copyright claims, which he followed.

    I don’t know Jay personally, but I do know plenty of photographers, myself included, who have had to take the unfortunate step of protecting our respective copyrights and file a DMCA takedown notices.

    Not all the corporate sites removed their photos;  I can still see a few have them his photo up.  Have you considered the possibility that maybe they did the smart thing and offered a very kind compensation to Jay for his talent and time, as well of the unpleasantness of getting caught with your hand in the cookie jar?

  • …just a mortal…

    Thats an interesting one, as her is certainly commercial, so not only would she need permission/license to use the picture from the photographer, but she would also be using the image/likeness of members of the Christensen family so I would think model releases would also need to be in order… 

  • MikeWren

    Absolutely.  She better call Saul.

  • Pablo M

    I support Jay. This woman seems like a weirdo. Period.

  • Regal4God

    You people are a lynch mob! Trusting in the sob story that jaylee put up, licking his wounds for days and stirring up controversy where there was none. Look up copyright law. There is no evidence Jay ever applied for copyright over his picture. I have done the searches online. He is not even listed as a copyright holder for any material. So I think it’s clear there is no copyright over this picture at all, and it’s free for use. Who posted it on the internet in the first place? Jay did. And if he doesn’t have copyright over it then whose in the wrong? Remember he swore black and blue that this was all his copyright and now his withdrawn his accusation and begged Crissy’s ISP to put all her sites back up. If he had a valid claim and wasn’t applying tortious interference would he do this? doesn’t sound the actions of an integrity to me. Sounds like the actions of a hacker computer expert who knows how to do the most damage with a single email. Remember hacker isnt just computer hacking but using something to do something it wasnt meant for. The king hit. He king hit a mom who looks after kids who are disadvantaged and he did it without remorse and anyone defending him has no recourse. The picture wasn’t even the same picture, it was resized and used differently, and crissy is a non profit who HAS RIGHTS and fair use applies. I’m sorry but if you just don’t see that then you’re as bad as he is. Bait and switch. Garcia can’t take the heat so he had to get out of the kitchen, but before he did he employed MULTIMEDIA EXPERTS to create a viral sensation. Your all being played here. This is a false story and there is no need to attack attack attack the innocents. Remember atty4kids has the right to use the image even if it was copyrighted, and there is no evidence of copyright over this image or of the claimed copyrighter ever registering anything as copyright so the picture is FREE TO USE and he posted it on the internet so HE IS THE COPYRIGHT INFRINGER. The trouble with lynch mobs is they end up hanging themselves. Crissy is proclaiming a list of attackers who are all of you who will be hearing from houston’s heaviest hitter and the list of defendants is long. long as your arm. And she has deep pockets. She won’t back down. Fearless.

  • …just a mortal…

    Actually Traceyrco, in one of her online rants, Candice explains that she and “counsel” determined that her using other peoples works were not an issue for her–I am sure it was a “worst thing that will happen is a C&D letter” kind of decision.  No need to pay or license, just use till you get caught, eh?  Guess it was a little shocking when GoDaddy shut the sites down.  

    So she knew it was someone else’s work and she made a CHOICE to use it (them?) anyway.  If she was concerned about it enough to get another opinion, then, she was certainly in a position to know what she was doing was wrong.  DMCA exists for this very situation so that the rights holder doesn’t get “raped, bullied and intimidated” by the rights abuser by allowing rights holders a way to get relief with out having to play games with or deal with the rights abuser.

    Further as an officer of the court and a licensed attorney, her adherence to the laws and statutes should be held at a higher standard.  In fact, as a lawyer, I would expect she would have access and understanding to decipher the complexities and legalese of the copyright laws better then we “un-law-degreed mortals” are capable of.  Given that so many of us mortals understand the concept of DMCA, copyright and fair use very clearly, I can only surmise that she is either lazy in her endeavors as an attorney or ignorant to the world around her.   

    What is weird is that she is remaking herself into this social media marketing genius to help other attorneys, special needs children and a sheriff campaign, yet she does not understand basic copyright as it applies to social media and the internet. I would venture a guess she would understand it if one of her blog posts was used with out attribution, permission or license.     

    In the real world, ignorance is not much of a defense, Candice should know that very well, as I know she does not accept it in her legal dealings, and her deflection of the issue by playing the victim here only makes it worse for her in the long run.  

  • Tdwesbo

    Well hello, Candice…

  • Mhammer

    Chick is clearly nuts 

  • …just a mortal…

    Nice post Candice… (rolling eyes) 

    Go look up copyright as it applies to photography and how it applies to the internet.  

    1) If you are the photographer of an image, by  default, you have full and complete copyright the moment you take the photo.  You do not need to apply for copyright, period.  If he took the picture, he owns the copyright, end of story. Unless he places that image in the public domain or grants you license to use it, you DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO USE IT. If you did not take the picture then you should assume that it is copyrighted, because in fact it is, and because it is assumed to have a copyright typically photos are only marked as public domain or creative commons.   Atty4kids does not have any special standing to use a photo they do not have copyright or license to use as a banner, masthead or the like on their website, even as a not-for-profit, tho I have not seen any documents to prove that they are a not-for-profit. 

    2) Posting a photo that you have taken on the internet does not place that image in the public domain nor does it negate the copyright.  When in doubt refer back to point 1.  In fact, once again, copyright law favors original works that are posted to the internet.  If you post your original work to the internet, be it a photo, a drawing, copyright is again recognized with out needing to apply for it.  If he was the one to post it to the net, as you have stated, he is again granted further claim of copyright.
    3) cropping and resizing a photo does not negate the copyright, tho in some cases it could be construed as vandalism.  (think about that one for a while)

    4) No one here gives a flying efff about garcia, guthrie or your petty houston politics.  There is no conspiracy here for photographers except the conspiracy of a woman who would get outside counsel to tell her it is ok to use others works on her web site.  Photographers as a group have our works raped and pillaged on a daily basis.  We fight a never ending battle against ignorance and stupidity that would have the entire world believe, as you posted, that showing our work on the internet makes our work fair game for every person including those that want to open shop as a social media consultant with a blog.    

    5) asking the isp to allow the site itself back up is not a withdrawal of copyright claim.  When I have had to use DMCA’s to get an image removed, it is not my intention for the site to be taken down, just my image.  In two instances, entire sites were taken down and I sent emails to the isp’s to reinstate the sites, just remove my image from the site.  One did, and 1 did not.  

    BTW, it totally sucks that people put photographers in the position of needing to use DMCA in the first place and then they have the nerve to play victim.

    I did not see any copyright notices on Candice’s blog posts, does that mean they are fair game to repost?  

    Heavy hitters and deep pockets–thats entertaining–calling us attackers and defendants–thats rich…so where is that list again? 

    here is another take on it…

  • Regal4God

    1. No
    2. No
    3. No
    4. No
    5. No

    Case closed. The true colors will come out in the wash. In just over a week Garcia will know this and you’ll see you picked the wrong horse to back.

  • Muhammad Amir Asyraf

    @Traceyrco  What the fuck is your problem? He is clearly in the right and the bitch is clearly in the wrong… Are you her relatives or something?

  • Guest too

    “In 1989, the U.S. enacted the Berne Convention Implementation Act, amending the 1976 Copyright Act to conform to most of the provisions of the Berne Convention. As a result, the use of copyright notices has become optional to claim copyright, because the Berne Convention makes copyright automatic”

  • Mark Hanna

    I think if you had posted the photo somewhere and said what a nice photo it was, you’d have some credibility. However, you used the stolen photo to promote your business. You stole his photo and then tried to wriggle out of it, while bad-mouthing the photographer. Nobody gives a rats about your stupid sherriff’s election!! In court of course he will be able to prove he owns the camera that took the photo. He wins, you lose, he’s the king of the castle.  You are a bizarre fool.

  • PhillipP

    If you had one last shred of decency you would have posted with your real name Candice, you can’t hide your convoluted mentally unstable style of writing. Not to mention the fact that, once again, you are completely wrong. I can see now why you are changing careers as you seem to be so unfamiliar with the law. Please don’t forget to remove the link to the illegal music downloading site as I have emailed about it. I certainly wouldn’t want them to force Google to take your Google+ site down.

  • Guest

     You sound like a complete loon lady.  Who is Garcia and what does this have to do with you allegedly stealing pictures?

  • Guest

    Did someone take notice of her video on YT?
    i wonder whether she owns the copyright (or a license) for the music and all the pictures in there (the crappy-quality ones she probably has taken herself, but the rest (e.g. the two children at 0:36 ?)
    also see her the comment under the video… she seems to have some trouble with another law firm.
    also, she doesn’t like obama: (what about the music in this video?)
    what about the music in this video?
    what about this one here? it’s even blocked in switzerland because it contains content from EMI:
    oh… and one more with some music:–GnP8

    maybe we should notify YT about her channel so they can look into it?
    @candice aka Regal4God: I’m not even from your continent, i’ve never heard of your town, i don’t care about your sheriff… but based on what i read from (from, not about!) you, i really hope that you get disbarred, because to me you seem to be mentally ill – but so do a lot of right wing people, so maybe you’re normal for some right wing nuts from texas. but nonetheless you don’t seem to care about (copyright) laws so you’re not bearable as a lawyer anymore.

  • sandervanderveen

    She’s just a ordinary thief.. 

  • …just a mortal…

    Hahahaha… do you even read? Your telling me I don’t know my own experiences with DMCA? Or that Photographers do not get their work ripped off every day?  Or that if you just crop and resize any image, even those that are copyrighted, you can use it freely? Or that my life in Chicago cares one bit about your petty Houston local politics?  Or that what has been true of copyright for many years now doesn’t apply to you?  Get your head out of the sand and take some PERSONALLY RESPONSIBILITY for the situation.    

    Here is the bottom line, Ms. Candice–Its uncertain to know if JL knew GoDaddy would take down your sites completely. For me it was a surprise when my own DMCA take down letters took down two entire sites, I did not agree with taking down entire sites, and I voiced my displeasure of this with the ISPs.  I think it is a bit of a reach to think this is some political conspiracy against you.  However, even if it is a politically motivated action, it does not change the fact that you are a copyright infringer, plain and simple or that a DMCA take down is the proper way to handle it, and that you probably acknowledged that DMCA takedowns would take down your entire site when you agreed to GoDaddy’s TOS for your account with them–I’ll bet GoDaddy’s TOS even covers use of photos.  Ignorance of the law & GoDaddy’s TOS, especially given that you are a lawyer, is not a defense of your actions.   (a side note here, there is a reason why photolabs all over the country have started requiring release letters to print photos that look to be “professional” quality)

    Unfortunately, you like many who have been seduced by the political world think everything is about YOU or your politics, when really this issue is about everyone elses rights and how you trample them.  Not being able to see the forest for the trees keeps you from seeing that you have been your own worst enemy thru this whole thing–afterall, where is your own personally responsibility in this? You chose to use HIS picture, you could have licensed a photo, in fact if you have the deep pockets you profess to have, maybe you should have HIRED a graphic designer (still should imo ;-) ). 

    I did see your post stating that you had retained “top Houston Lawyer” but you didn’t name who that attorney is.  Now is it your ghost attorney’s strategy for you to continue your social media blitz/pr campaign? 

    BTW, the banner on your site has been pointed out in comments above to be the work of Steve Harrington, and the photo is of the Christensen family as noted on his website.  Licensed? Model releases? More infringement?  Just saying… 

  • …just a mortal…

    Ok, Ms. Candice (aka Crissy, aka Crystal) 

    For fun, I looked up GoDaddy’s DMCA policy for takedowns–

    In section B, part 2 states:

    “2. For Copyright Claims, upon receipt of appropriate notification from the Complaining Party, pursuant to Section 1 of Copyright Claims above, Go Daddy will remove or disable access to the material that is claimed to be infringing.”

    Which would simply be removing JL’s photo from your site…

    However, Section D states:

    “D. Repeat InfringersIt is Go Daddy’s policy to provide for the termination, in appropriate circumstances, of Go Daddy customers and account holders who repeatedly violate this policy or are repeat infringers of copyrighted works, trademarks or any other intellectual property.”So to put it in ice-cream-ese for you, the cherry on top of this banana split is, that it looks to be that GoDaddy didn’t take down your sites simply because of your infringement of JL’s photo, but because you are a repeat infringer… Hmmmm… Isn’t that interesting… I am thinking you have been at this Rodeo before, the difference was, before you just got an email telling you that the infringed work had been removed… 

  • Aksa8

    There are many ways to look at the issue of ‘picture-hijacks’. Some common sense can be brought to bear on the matter. If a communication to the offending web-site does not have the requisite effect, the owner of the copyright to an image is well within his or her rights to go down the DMCA route. Some would even argue that the DMCA should be the first stop. Having gone into the DMCA phase, it may be prudent to let the process take it’s own course rather than getting into a parallel interaction, like a public spat, that might compromise the legal action.

  • Regal4God

    Well you all have too much time on your hands. Looks like this is. A habit. Accusing me of being Candice. I’m just an honest independent onlooker with integrity and a critical eye. I can see none of you know the law or can act with integrity. Candice is a powerhouse. A strong willed woman who gets things done. There is no pulling the wool over her eyes and she won’t let you get in the last laugh. Not when you are wrong and it’s so easy to see. I am not Candice. So you who want to spread lies about her even to my face are just revealing yourself for what you are. Like I said. Too much time on your hands. Interesting that nobody here claims to know anything about their idol Garcia. Well look there. Judas also abandoned Christ when the going got tough and you at no better than him. I suggest you open up a web browser with a clear mind and heart and read everything you wrote about Candice and rephrase it. Like I said I am not Candice just a supporter who can see she is a go getter with the talent to take down bullies who think they own everything and can harass a mom and aim to make profit off of the backs of disabled children

  • Andy

    ugh, what does Garcia have to do with any of this? Sheesh. Candice used an image without permission and she suffered the consequences. She didn’t like the consequences and now she opened up a can that she cannot close. I have had many of my images used without permission and I have had to spend a ton of time trying to defend my copyright. If I didn’t I actually lose the ability to keep my copyrighted material.

  • John

    Regal4God wrote>”I can see none of you know the law or can act with integrity.”
    Bottom-line: a photograph is atuomatically copyrighted at the time of creation. THAT is the law…period. If you can’t understand this then I feel sorry for you.

  • …just a mortal…

    Candice, Crystal, Crissy, Traceyrco, Robin, Ms Ross, Mr. Candice, whoever you are, you are presenting the same line as the posts on, and the Candice party line.  Supporter, surrogate, alternate personality, pseudonym, secret lover, chipmunk, drag queen,  it makes no difference. Tho my money is still on you being Candice, same tone and word usage, or maybe Candice is the sham and you are the “man” behind the curtain and all of her posts-eh?.  

    If your candidate for sherif is the best man for the job, then I hope he wins, but know that being in chicago IT DOES NOT MATTER TO ME who your sherif is— Stop deflecting the issue, which is copyright infringement—your petty local politics has no relevance to the fact that Candice infringed on copyright, she has acted poorly, has no real understanding of what she has done and this unified Candice party line ignores reality.  Further in true right wing form she has played the victim card and propagated this story in blog posts as a political spring board of sorts to complain about how everyone is against her righteousness. 

    So my question today is, how many DMCA’s has she received in the past to actually activate GoDaddy’s repeat infringer take down?

    “independent onlooker with integrity and a critical eye?”  lol… I almost lost my coffee… Why is it when the right runs out of real arguments they pull in Christ and religion? Well just for the record, the Christ I believe in didn’t infringe on anyones copyright.  

    Still waiting for not-for-profit docs on Atty4kids… maybe IRS forms to see how much Candice does not profit off the backs of disabled children, like my nephew.  

  • Suq Madiq

    He doesn’t have to notify her. She used the photo without permission. She shouldn’t have used something without permission in the first place.

    Moreover – she should have read GoDaddy’s policy re: uploading content that you do not have permission to upload.
    Don’t point the finger at him. She’s an idiot.

  • Tdwesbo

    If you want art for your website, you buy it or create it. You know, just like art for your house… Dunno why all this is so hard for a lawyer with two or three titles at her own companies to understand.

    I’m also baffled that someone who claims to be a writer (Ibsen’s granddaughter or great-granddaughter, depending on which post you read) writes so poorly. Bad spelling, poor grammar, sentence fragments, etc. Methinks Candice has spent too much time in her own little martyr echo chamber…

  • Suq Madiq

    I knew Texans were stupid – what with electing people like George W Bush and Rick Perry, but Candice brings stupid to a whole new level.

  • Andy

    Are you kidding? Jeez. Myopic fool.

  • Suq Madiq

    I think social media needs to spread the word on Candice. She’s got 14 websites and by the look of things, she may just be pilfering artwork from many others.

    I think some more DMCA takedowns would teach this blatant copyright infinger a lesson….

  • Jetskreemr

    Sure Candice….whatever you say. You’re “Not Candice”. Whatever. You can’t hide behind a made up screen name. (Just an FYI to help you out: anyone can tell it’s you because of your bad grammar and obsessive writing style — you keep referencing the same specific terms and subjects on all of your blogs and websites AS WELL AS these comments under the R4G name….yeah, pretty obvious.)

  • The_photographer_Tom

    I read on Twitter that she’s also suspected of copying her logo. This lady is behaving very unprofessionally for a lawyer and should be reported to the relevant bar association in her state.

  • The_photographer_Tom

    “bullies who think they own everything?”
    You mean the photographer who created the copyrighted work? The same piece of work that was stolen and used without permission?

  • …just a mortal…

    tineye search does show others with that basic logo.  Also her banner is a family photo taken by a Utah photographer, see links above… 

  • The_photographer_Tom

    Just taken a look at that piece. Strange that there’s no comments…..

  • …just a mortal…

    Oh and one more thing before I head off to lunch :-) 

    Candice/Candi-clone, check out this link:

    You will notice that the date the photo was taken was July 25, 2008.
    You will notice the first comments about this photo was 47 months ago.
    When you scroll down, You will notice the license clearly says © All Rights Reserved.
    If you click on Actions > View All Sizes you will notice download has been disabled. 

    Any question who owns the copyright?  Any doubt that JL did NOT want his image used by others?  If he did, why not let others download it, why not license it under creative commons… 

    Still looking for Form 990 for, can you help me out?

  • The_photographer_Tom

    Just taken a look at that “whenigrowup” site. I was actually referring to a banner from another of her sites that I saw mentioned on Twitter about two days ago. I’ll see if I can find the link again.

  • Troy Heagy

    Um….. a photographer does Not have the power to pull down sites.  All he did was follow the legally-proscribed method of contacting the website owner (DMCA notice) and ask them to remove the photo.  GOdaddy is the agency that over-reacted.  They could have removed  the (1) website that had the infringing photo, but chose to pull all 14,.  Blame GoDaddy not the victim.  

    (You probably read a stolen car story, and if the man called the cops, say he overreacted and should have “talked or emailed the thief first”. That is not logical. You let the law & authorities handle it.)

  • RichardOverton

     To call or email her there has to be some contact information on the site. Was there? I don’t see any on two of the sites and there is no contact in the whois records either. In such cases you go to the hosting site.

  • Suq Madiq

    there is no doubt she’s a serial violator.  along with the many photos/graphics and images she’s most-likely using without permission, she’s also got a lot of music in homemade videos that she’s likely also using without permission.

    a “lawyer” who doesn’t know the law. What’s even more ironic; her G+ page and her politics page shows she’s a rabid Gingrich supporter. He’s being sued by the band Survivor for using their song “Eye of the Tiger” without permission….

    it’s not like this dumbass can plead ignorance of the law. She’s a thief who was caught red-handed and like every other republican I’ve ever seen – is now trying to blame others for her actions.

  • RichardOverton

    “Remember atty4kids has the right to use the image even if it was copyrighted”

    Really? All photographs created within the last 20 years are under copyright, and do not require a copyright notice on the image. Even for those earlier than 1989 the individual image does not have to have a copyright symbol, you can see vgarious copyright casers involving the music industry. So do you have any evidence to show that the photograph is older than say 1989?

    Next there is fair-use you’ll find that fair-use does not apply to the usage on “Schwager Consulting”. Whether it applies to the non-profit website (if ever it was on there) will depend on how it was used. If it was used as eye candy then almost certainly fair-use does not apply.

  • AlstonRoberto98

    my buddy’s mother go t paid $21508 the previous week. she is making money on the internet and bought a $386500 house. All she did was get fortunate and put into work the instructions explained on this web site===>> ⇛⇛⇛⇛►

  • Troy Heagy

    (1) Search Tracyrco on this comment section.  Her comments that it’s okay for a corporation to Not pay workers for labor/work will make you laugh.  

    (2) When I looked up GoDaddy’s policy, I found that taking down the whole site(s) is reserved for REPEAT copyright/trademark infringers. I think that is an important piece of information that has been overlooked.  This was not Candice the Lawing Blogger’s first offense.

  • KironKid

     She’s a lunatic. Hopefully, this will make it into a Court of law. Once she is ruled against, she may actually begin to understand the law…

  • RichardOverton

    Read again. GoDaddy will TERMINATE an account for repeat infringement. This is not what happened, they didn’t terminate the account they disabled access to the hosting site. This is usually the quickest way to a) remove access to the material, and b) bring something to the account holder’s attention. After all its not GoDaddy’s responsibility to fiddle with someone’s database.

    The account holder can then either remove the material themselves or file a counter notice.