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!

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    was spell check joke :)

  • Chris Bowen

     yes, however he can get it registered when he likes, it does not have to be at the time that it was produced. He can wait until he needs to sue someone, get it registered and then go see a lawyer.

  • Bonzo_Wilson

    Lots of 403 errors from her sites today … some soiled pants in TX???

  • Bonzo_Wilson


  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    I wonder if Candice finally became aware of what was being done to her online empire and thought pulling the plug would make it stop.

  • Chris Bowen

    probably slashdot effect.

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    her sites managed to survive the first slashdotting wave…
    I think this is her taking her ball and running home after realizing how bad it got.

  • …just a mortal…

    T A C, 

    The sockpuppet line of thinking is very interesting, is your sockpuppet about 38ish years old?  

    If you look at the Linkedln profile of CH, you will see KW Real Estate with a big expanse of time.  Candi also has link online to KWRE from a couple of years ago. If you go to the myspace page that goes with CH and the same avatar, and hover over the avatar eventually it will say 38 yo. FB gets more interesting as there are three profiles, 1 avatar matches from stock art/invisible disabilities blog, 1 avatar matches the politixchix of houston blog and 1 with avatar of Wren from Gods Girls porn site (blush-my pure eyes have been corrupted–tho if they are God’s Girls its ok to look right, no confession needed) –who fakes an avatar from a porn site–Rick maybe?

    I keep seeing a pattern of things that are related to Candi and her family and friends, but each time something is just a little off, like its an addy from 10 years ago, one letter is off in the spelling, maiden names, etc., ..Its like that person who perpetuates a lie so much they forget where/why/how and stuff gets muddled.

  • zorinlynx

    It’s mind blowing just how much negative publicity this woman has generated for herself and her cause. If she had simply dealt with the DMCA complaint, either licensed the photo or found an alternative, and gotten her site back up, without making a huge deal, this would all be over and her organization would be continuing to do whatever it does.

    But instead, she’s come off as quite a bit disturbed, the credibility of her organization is in the dumps because of her behavior, and she herself has become a bit of a laughing stock.

     The fact that she’s a lawyer and should know better how to deal with this situation makes it even more hilarious (and sad, too)

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    According to what is listed on her website 42.
    “Investigative Blogger, Real Estate Broker, Website Consultant, Internet Marketing”

    So its still not proven, but lots of crazy and coincidences to go around.

    Several of the websites that “Crystal” appears to have been running are 403’d right now.  This was after publishing a “home” address for Candice that matches nothing we’ve seen before.  I think she was mad how much info I got without trying that hard about that property.

    Check out my response to her and then the 3 more sets of infringing things I posted (Page 2 near the end).  I wonder if someone has time to figure out where the pictures of the bags/ugly jewelry were lifted from.

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    She or someone working for/with her does not let things go.
    There were several sockpuppets in the comments here defending her actions.
    They are circulating the contact info to file complaints against lawyers in TX on slashdot.
    I am curious, in the can’t look away from a car accident sort of way, if there will be another chapter to this story as we find out none of this was Candice but was her helper masquerading as her.

    Her organization doesn’t appear to be legit, infact one of the groups she worked with is holding a $10 seminar teaching people how to setup their own 503c’s at an amusement park.  No really… you can’t make this up.

  • …just a mortal…

    T A C, 

    Actuallly that addy was out on papers she filed in FL last month.  

    Sunbiz File # N11000003483.

    FL corp started last year and dissolved this year.  

    LDL is CS’s Cousin, ASM I think is her Mother in Law, tho it by maiden name.  more common threads…

    and the dissolution:

    Wow, 10$ seminars at an amusement park, does it include cotton candy?  You see the TX EV post below?

  • Joe American

     You seem to have the story mixed up.  Candice is the perpetrator, not the victim.

  • Mansgame

     If you’re not Candice and I have no way to know who you are, how are you so sure the other person is Jay?  This is an international website and photographers from all around the world visit it. 

    Now photographers like to be competitive and argue about whether Nikon is better than Canon and then there are the Sony freaks out there who made a terrible terrible choice in gear (haha that’s a joke there…) but the one thing every single photographer will agree on is we hate image thieves and on top of that we hate bullies.  Your girl somehow has seemed to portray herself as the worst mixture of the two in my opinion and opinion of many others. 

  • Conner Gunn

    Interesting… three of her sites are no longer accessible:
    All turn up as 403 Forbidden.

  • Mansgame

     Wow just when I think your arguments can’t get any more dumb you bring up Garcia.  NOBODY HERE CARES ABOUT GARCIA!

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    I ran across that charity name earlier, it lead me to a website where yet another sock puppet was trying to find lawyers and donors in FL.
    And then I found her posts, and shes kinda cracked, but not as cracked as we have seen around here…
    Once upon a time she setup houses to be pretty to be sold… then she was getting EV from them…  so sads…

  • Bonzo_Wilson

     Who the hell is Garcia?

  • Mansgame is still showing that family as the banner lol.

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    as well as…

    Remember kids we have to hit 13 or 14 for the coverall bingo game.  Lets find all the sites what were taken down…
    She locked up her twitter too…

    Still up –

    Oh this is cute as well…
    website by her people, she gives the review of the clients work and the response to that is from her jewelry store freind…

    Oh and here is her SEO mad skillz…

    Can’t even sock puppet enough votes to be relevant.

  • Lennaert Goris

    Then I am not the only one. After reading her post about recording all our IP addresses I assumed my IP address was added to her block list. A, well, everything is already downloaded to my computer so I can read it whenever I like anyway. 

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    Ohh ohh ohh I got this one…  traveling in her wake of digital character assassination he is/was the Sheriff near her.  She supports the GOP candidate and has been running around using her SEO awesome skillz to make it so Garcia will lose.  Everything bad that happens to her is done by Garcia supporters, even when its not.

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    she blocked *.*.*.* and all was better…
    Anything you missed is still in the Google Cache.

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    Oh dear me… my head hurts…  I’m tracking sock puppet accounts of hers through Digg.  All of this effort to SEO herself… when all she needed to do to get the top spot was steal a picture and go mental.

  • zorinlynx

     Just checked from a machine of mine that has never accessed her site (on a totally different network).. Still 403 forbidden.

    So her site is broken. Oh well, karma I guess. :)

  • Bonzo_Wilson

     You do realise that backwards your name is Dog 4 Lager ?

  • …just a mortal…


    I think you win! :-)

  • another_Texan

    It all makes sense now, a dyslexic poster looking through beer goggles.

    Watching sociopathic tendencies has been entertaining.  I can tell they’re sociopaths, because I’ve seen quite a few in my time.  You can tell by the pixels.

    Stand back or her massive SEO will crush you.  She should feel ashamed.  She won’t, but she should.

  • Deane T Rimerman

    Yes Troy has it right… The rest of you are insane… Do you really think sites like Pintrest would even exist if people had to get permission to “steal” other people’s images? I don’t know much about petapixel but based on most of the comments here they are not a website I’ll ever want to associate with. Their readers seem to be a bunch of out-of-touch with reality zealots that’d rather be vindictive and ruin people’s online lives rather than except the legally defensible fair use allowances and safe harbor practices under current copyright laws… PS:GoDaddy is the worst webhost ever! Anyone who does business with them is a fool…

  • Deane T Rimerman

    Pinterest doesn’t exist if people have to ask for permission… All of you people who think permission for your image must be granted have no clue what happens to your photos once you make them publicly available online.  As long as pinterest continues to grow and thrive you can “steal” all the photos you want. “Stealing” corporate movies and music on the other hand is much more strict…

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    Except Pintrest isn’t using other peoples works for their commercial ventures, then play the victim, then make insane claims that it is a smear campaign setup by someone running for Sheriff, threaten to sue the copyright holder, and make up laughable claims about her rights to use the photo for a nonprofit we can’t find any paperwork to prove is a nonprofit.
    Oh and then you missed the part where she is trying to shut down this website because they said mean things about her and hurt her feelings.

    You might want to get the whole story before making a decision about a “lawyer” who has demonstrated an amazing lack of understanding of the law and has stolen many images from many artists to benefit herself.

  • jdm8

    You’re the first person to mention that site.  Pinterest was not the topic of this thread.  Even then, it’s not to the same degree of using someone else’s work to promote your own work.

    “All of you people who think permission for your image must be granted have no clue what happens to your photos once you make them publicly available online. “I don’t think anyone has delusions about that, but the fact that it happens doen’t make it right.

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    You understand your talking about a lawyer willingly ignoring and violating the law.  You understand the ethical implications of doing this for a lawyer is much worse than someone who re-blogs a picture they found online.  You understand the source of the image made it clear it was copyrighted, and efforts were made to bypass the restrictions on downloading it for this type of use.

    Permission does need to be granted, a lawyer would know that better than anyone else.

  • Regal4God

    Well it looks like the more I dig the more I find out about you lot and your pseudo geek expert hacking technical “business” taking on your “copyright” against Candice and I say “copyright” because it’s fake invalid nonapplicable. “That_Anonymous_Coward” Maurice Fisher attacking fake invalid nonapplicable with copyright and supposedly “digging” for dirt that doesn’t exist but gets covered in mud himself liberal copyright hound is finding himself down a path he doesn’t want to go down. Candice has been attacked over and over again by fake invalid nonapplicable copyright “holders” who can pretend online all they want but all they find is speaking words to the air and incestuous relationship with themselves taking only fake invalid nonapplicable liberal copyright hound opinions into account nothing could be further from the truth or reality. You won’t harass Candice any more. This stops here. Candice does not deserve fake invalid nonapplicable attempts to sully her name and draw it through the mud why don’t you pull your heads in and understand Candice works for children and special needs disadvantaged real applicable children who deserve support and who nobody else cares for stuck in fake invalid nonapplicable jobs with nothing better to do than construe problems of their own making towards integrity Candice acting with righteousness Candice you deserve better Candice stick in there they won’t get the last say you’ll get the last laugh and can go back to practise law for the deserving applicable real children who give love not fake invalid nonapplicable hatred and self delusion pity.

  • Bonzo_Wilson

     Any chance of you writing that again, but this time in English?

  • …just a mortal…

    R4G–Candi/Candi Clone,

    So where is the Form 990 for her “non-profit”, or an official annual report, or simply the State of TX classifying it as such on their tax website?  Right now the State of TX shows Attorneys for Special Needs Children as being “not in good standing” with regards to their franchise taxes, something that I do not think they would be paying if the state of TX recognized her org as a non-profit.

    With so much information about her on the interweb, how is it, there is not one thing that corroborates her claims to be a non-profit that did not originate from her?  How about using some of those SEO skills to get that Form 990 at the top of the results! ;-)

    CREDIBILITY … say it with me; CRED-I-BIL-I-TY, Credibility.  

  • Deane T Rimerman

    The more money a Lawyer ‘makes’ the better they are at making sure their client doesn’t have to worry about someone accusing them of breaking the law, as well as the better they are at twisting the law in favor of a client who wants to make someone else’s life miserable even if the laws don’t allow it.

    To suggest that Lawyers would “know that better than anyone else” when it comes to following laws rather than being an expert at bending and breaking laws is extraordinarily naive!  

    And to think someone will suffer any kind of substantive consequence for making an unauthorized copy of an image in a non-commercial way is ludicrous. And if it isn’t ludicrous… where are the lawsuits against Pinterest?

    All the zealots on this thread are using the same ideology as someone who is so against people who drive too fast that they insist that cops start confiscating people’s cars if they are caught driving one mile per hour over the speed limit. Does anyone think that would get people to drive under the speed limit any more than it would make lots of lawyers really rich? 

    And, as was pointed out by some of the smarter people on this thread: the issue here isn’t about the unauthorized copying of an image, it’s about the over-reaction of all parties involved…

  • Deane T Rimerman

    Have you ever tried to ask someone permission to use a photo? It’s a waste of time… They almost never reply and if they do it’s never in a timely fashion. It’s like asking permission to take a cup of water out of the Ocean.  If someone doesn’t like their photo being used they can politely ask to have it removed, which in turn means that less people will see their image and they will realize less monetization opportunities from their image or their watermark. 

    And of course the one exception to that philosophy is when I’ve worked for websites with sizable assets that could be threatened by copyright trolls. In those instances there is a way more strict standard of photos that can be used. But other than that, jousting windmills is way easier than protecting your images online.

  • Arekin

    Anyone else enjoying watching a Bully get her but kicked all over the internet?

  • Guest314159

    Dean, if you know nothing about a subject don’t go pulling fiction out of your butt. If you are ignorant on the subject of copyright law then don’t post wild claims about it.

    Uploading images to Pintrest without permission is generally a violation of copyright law AND a violation of the Pintrest Terms Of Service.

    In my opinion this this Candice person is a dangerous headcase. Any second year law student should know damn well that that it is a flagrant violation of the law to take someone else’s copyrighted work and use it to promote he business website. I am a huge advocate of expansive Fair Use, but there is no way in hell this even remotely qualifies as Fair use. It doesn’t matter what supposedly charitable work she may or may not do, SHE WAS USING SOMEONE ELSE’S COPYRIGHTED WORK TO PROMOTE HER BUSINESS.

    She screwed up. She broke the law. And apparently she’s some sort of vile abusive excuse of a human being attempting to intimidate the victim photographer with outlandish legal threats. She’s attacking the victim. And I think maybe she should check with a shrink for some psych meds or something. She seems pretty paranoid coming up with conspiracy theories that random strangers are targeting for her political views or something.

    And by the way, GoDaddy are the scum who were supporting SOPA. I’ve never dealt with them directly but I hear that this sort of draconian treatment of their customers is pretty standard. However GoDaddy’s draconian shutdown of all of Candice’s websites in no way diminishes the fact that Candice herself is responsible for taking the image without permission, and GoDaddy’s policies towards their customers has zero relevance to the photographer’s perfectly appropriate infringement notification.

  • Guest314159

    Under US law the statutory damages for copyright infringement is up to $150,000. And in case you haven’t been paying any attention, people engaging in casual non-commercial P2P infringement are getting hit with several thousand dollars in damages per file. In addition, it is pretty standard for US courts to force the infringer to pay %100 of the legal costs spend prosecuting the case. This Candice idiot took someone else’s work and used it for commercial purposes promoting her business. The court award in this case would certainly be nearer the high end of the $150,000 range, with little doubt that she’s have to pay %100 percent of the legal costs for both sides.

    If she had any brains (which does not appear to be the case), she would shut the hell up, remove the infringing content, and hope the photographer is uninterested in the hassle of persuing a court case against her. If she is dumb enough to actually pursue any of her threats against the photographer then he’ll have little choice but to pursue the copyright infringement claims.

    And as for a lawyer “make someone else’s life miserable even if the laws
    don’t allow it”, the law provides sanctions against a lawyer who willfully pursues claims they know to be frivolous. In fact in the 8th circuit such frivolous claims are the #1 cause for sanctions against lawyers, and I believe that is likely true for every other circuit as well.

    Furthermore I conclude that “Deane T Rimerman” is not Candice posting under a pseudonym, because a lawyer would have to be seriously brain-damaged-stupid to post such a statement on a public forum, knowing that a simple subpoena could trace that post back to their internet address. Any judge or jury would not look kindly upon a person indicating their intent to willfully “twisting the law” where they know in a case they know is invalid, a case they know “the laws don’t allow”.

  • Guest314159

     “Why? Because somebody – well pages of somebodies used a photo not realizing their mistake?”

    No. If that’s all it was she could have simply fixed her website and this all would have been simply and quietly resolved already.

    The reason he suggested a legal defense fund is to *DEFEND THE PHOTOGRAPHER* from the wild threats made by this (IMHO) psycho bitch. She took a simple mistake and turned it into a major public incident being covered on the front page of multiple major tech-news sites. Apparently she thought she could use her lawyer degree to intimidate and abuse the photographer. The prime reason legal threats often succeed in intimidating people is because it is so costly to defend yourself, even against entirely bogus claims. But she screwed up bigtime. There are now thousands if not tens of thousands of people willing to contribute to a defense fund for him. He now has the option of virtually limitless funds to defend himself and to pursue copyright claims against her. She needs to drain that venom out of her pompous ego, apologize for her mistake in using the photo without permission, apologize for her threats against the photographer, and hope everything blows over quietly.

  • Deane T Rimerman

    There’s a big difference between theory and practice Mr or Ms. or Mrs. Guest314159.  I was not in any way defining my personal intent. I was merely explaining the political reality of how lawyers are used in our society as well as the difference between unauthorized online image use (most everybody breaks this law, especially pinterest) and corporate music or movie piracy (loads of people do this too and some are punished in extreme ways). 

    I mean is this really a meaningful way to value your Sunday? Is your everflowing verbose vindictiveness really serving you or those who are reading your words? Do you really have to lower yourself to name calling? And do you really have to lower yourself to finger pointing and tamper tantruming about a body of case law that you may understand in theory but that you clearly don’t understand in practice?

  • JD929

    I think you’re best off looking at a micro stock site if you have any money at stake in the project.  You’ll get it quick and it’s cheap insurance, and it works like insurance.  99.99+% of the time, you’ll be fine either way.  But there’s that one in a hundred thousand chance that you get pursued for infringing on someone else’s work.

  • Deane T Rimerman

    If you install ad block on your browser you won’t see any “unskippable” ad window. 

  • Guest

    “As a member of the Bar, President of an 800 member Texas Non-Profit Corporation for disabled children…”

    Seems like quite a boast if it’s not true.

  • Tdwesbo

    I just made a donation to Garcia’s campaign using Candice’s contact info.  I shouldn’t have, but I couldn’t resist stirring the pot just a leeeeeetle bit.

  • Rusty Badger

     Oh, my dear R4G- how wrong you are! This does not, in fact, “stop here”- it’s FAR too much fun. The poorly-spelled, grammatically-incorrect, and logic-defying invective spewed forth by Candice and her followers has provided a great deal of amusement to a great number of people, and these things don’t simply “stop here”.

    I know on an intellectual level that not everyone from Texas is an illiterate ignoramus, but you’re not helping the stereotype any. You cannot repudiate decades of IP law and centuries of linguistic development by simply snapping your fingers and coining a nonsensical phrase like “fake invalid nonapplicable copyright”, even if you meant “inapplicable”, which is a real word. Methinks that perhaps you forgot your respirator when you went outside on the last Chemtrail day.

    Ah, let’s talk about Candice’s so-called SEO prowess, shall we? Since she’s such an expert at it…no, wait- I’m sorry. I can’t do this with a straight face. Her websites suck; were they made by a 12-year old? In 1997? And you mean to tell us that she has been doing SEO since the BEGINNING OF THE WORLD WIDE WEB? Seriously? U R DUM. Take for example, the hideous train wreck that is her ‘Fairy Godmother LLC’ series:, and Now, these two websites purport to be some kind of e-commerce thing, whereby people can purchase trinkets or prom dresses or cheer-leading outfits: the problem is that they don’t offer an actual e-commerce interface. Instead, readers are urged to email for information. There are no detailed photos of the items allegedly for sale (to raise money for the cause, apparently); in fact most of the photos are simply lifted from the web, which is easily confirmed using Google Image Search and TinEye. Furthermore, a cursory examination reveals these websites are simply hacked up using (and hosted by them as well), which says a lot about the so-called skills of their author. I know your feeble mind can’t really grasp this, but I have to say it regardless: it’s very difficult for any of us to take you or Candice or your causes seriously when you’re so ludicrously stupid.

    I’d suggest that you (or y’all) do a few things:

    1) Hire a lawyer who understands your Copyright Act.
    2) Hire or blackmail a Grade Six or higher student to proof-read EVERYTHING you and your group write. Seriously, I cannot emphasize this enough: your writing is terrible, and it’s not because you’re Texan, but rather it’s because you are illiterate.
    3) Stay out of the heat. I know that by now in Texas most of the grass is withered and your electricity consumption is skyrocketing due to the summer heat, and you need to know it can affect your mind as well. Keep hydrated and wear a hat if you do have to go outside for any reason.
    4) Take some online classes in web design, SEO techniques, and e-commerce integration. Get a Paypal account, perhaps.
    5) Make or purchase some more Orgone Blasters (aka “Holy Hand Grenades”). It’s obvious that the ones you are relying on are either insufficient in quantity, or are worn out due to age or substandard materials.

  • Rusty Badger

     Oh, and is another weebly site…sigh.

  • …just a mortal…

    I am going to make one political statement after skimming thru that court filing… How on God’s green earth can someone who feels so strongly about being ENTITLED to so much support from the education system support the GOP and the TEA Party, two groups who as soon as given the opportunity will SLASH any shred of special needs education funding across this country.  Seriously?  If 1% of what is asserted in that filing is true about the bulling and such, then I feel very bad for her son.   

    [back to the subject at hand]

    Tho, keeping with the political theme: her idea that most of the things on the internet are virtually free, is kind of a communist ideal, don’t you think?  Candi, are you a communist pretending to be a GOP Darling?

    So there it is in a court filing, non-profit, so I keep wondering, why is it I can’t find a form 990, an annual report,  application to become a member, a donation button, or find it any of the State of TX non-profit search engines?  If you search on member of the group, you would think someone would list it on their website or thier profile, something, right?