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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…

    I was thinking of sending her Barbara Streisand’s Greatest Hits–to “inspire her.” 

    I bet Candi does a mean “Don’t Rain on My Parade” …anyone else think it would sound like Ethel Merman and Divine had a love child?

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    Dear babbling moron…
    You can call me TAC, everyone does.  Who is Maurice Fisher?  Are you still stuck in the idea I am someone form Texas who gives a rats ass about the Sheriff office race?  Let me make this very very clear, I’m not from Texas you moron.

    You understand nothing about copyright, and Candice has been violating copyright in the most vile nature, for commercial purposes.
    $150,000 a pop lady, that is the law.  If you knew a real lawyer you’d know how screwed Candice is.

    So how long have you been off your meds?  Because your ranting in circles.

    What did I discover, nothing much really.
    Candice is a sad little woman who has a network of sockpuppets who upvote each others posts on different websites to pretend her crusades matter.  She steals images for her commercial ventures, stealing from hard working people while trying to hide behind children who need someone to help them. 

    Her actions and her actions (or overreactions) alone have made all of this possible.  I say her actions because you post as her.  You write letters as her.  You make statements as her.  Your out of your damn mind.

    The only person delusional here is you.  You make claims that you can’t back up.  You read only what you want to see the laws to say, rather than what they actually say.

    If your not Candice, I suggest you get in touch with Candice ASAP.  I know of many reports to the Texas Bar about her/your behavior in her name.  The disciplinary committee will look at all of this you’ve done, and most likely suspend her right to practice while looking deeper into her activities.  The failings of her nonprofit to file paperwork and other things will come out and well because you turned it into some giant crusade its going to hurt Guthrie.  Guthries largest supporter a thief.  Its monday, I look forward to your next stupid stunt, if you try really hard you can completely ruin Candice by Friday and take down everyone around her.

    I’m still pretty sure I’m winning here lady, Your merely an amusing story that keeps going… when its over I’ll find something else to entertain me online…  Your going to spend your time trying to find a way to “destroy” me for daring to attack Candice, good luck with that.

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    *shake n bake kid*
    And I halped!

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    Its a shame they won’t televise her disbarrment, because I’d love to see her coming in with blowup dolls in clothes to offer her sockpuppet speeches of support.

  • dr2chase

    It seems to me that you have it completely wrong.  I have certainly asked for permission to use photographs, and received it.  Sometimes I didn’t, and I didn’t use those photographs.

    And apparently it is easy enough to file a DMCA takedown notice, and (as we read here) it even works.  Politeness is completely unnecessary.

    I have also had my work copied online.  In one case I let it go, in another I considered whether I should make a big deal about it, but decided instead (because it was easy) that I could just leave a comment on the copying site pointing to my original (I have apparently written the finest instructions on the internet for setting the time and alarm for a particular brand of wristwatch.  Who knew?).  And obviously, if the comment is removed but not the post, there’s always DMCA.

    A friend of mine once owned a valuable registered trademark, and sometimes kvetched about the stupidity of time-wasting infringers who thought that they understood the law, and that there was room for negotiation, or that he was supposed to be polite.  (He no longer owns that trademark because there actually IS room for negotiation, but unless you can credibly offer a large sum of money, you’re not in that room.)

  • Bonzo_Wilson

     How about “Enough Is Enough”

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    So the PDF of the lawsuit is kinda telling…
    She took great pains to protect her child’s name, except didn’t in the medical reports she added to the public record. *boggle*

    Page 86…
    The family history is s*long blacked out line*er.

    It is also amazing to see her scribbling notes on medical records making accusations because they disagree with her.
    So I think my original assessment that this might be Crystal Cox was incorrect, and I am left with the much scarier idea that there are 2 obviously deranged SEO genius operating in the US.

    This is entertaining.
     

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    Photographer exercises his rights, sends the required notice.
    GoDaddy follows their procedure.
    Lawyer goes off the deep end.

    Lawyer hosts with GoDaddy and knew the terms she was agreeing to. If she did not like those terms she had other options.

    Lawyer threatens lawsuit claiming political dirty tricks and hacking resulted in her sites going down.
    Lawyer attempts, poorly, to use the same DMCA process to stifle media coverage of her use of the image and subsequent fire storm.

    Lawyer manages to draw enough attention to herself that it is found she is a serial copyright infringer, is exposed at using sockpuppets to promote her causes, and the rest writes itself.

    One person overreacted, the lawyer. Everyone else played by the rules that are spelled out for everyone.

    Pinterest deals with DMCA claims from rightsholders who don’t understand the value of the promotion of their work. Pinterest isn’t selling anything, and claiming to have special rights because they defend poor disabled children.

    Comparing Apples to Psychos isn’t a good comparison.

  • Stewart ‘Sideromelane’ Doyle

    This story is incredible. Truly.

    I hope she loses everything. Perhaps, by starting again with nothing, as so many people have been forced to do, she will learn to value other people, and not merely use ‘for the children’ as an excuse to make other’s lives miserable.

    Fascinating to see her sockpuppets jumping up and down in her defence, puts me in mind of some fat mouthbreather in a hovel, surrounded by half a dozen PC’s posting as several people.

    The more I see of this, and the comments, the more I am sure it’s actually someone’s scam falling down around them.

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    Never fear a lawyer who has a yahoo email address…

    I fear she doesn’t really have anything except her magical online kingdom and her causes.  She is firmly wrapped up in the idea she is doing gods work.

    If she had just accepted that she had no rights to the image and moved on this would never have exploded all over the internet. 
    Instead everything is a personal attack on her and secret plots to stifle her doing good works.  It didn’t get personal until her crazy escaped confinement, and now it is all in tatters.
    Several of her websites are MIA, but her ludicrous claims remain.
    Most of her social media outlets have been sealed off to try and stem the tide of people calling her out.

    I’m waiting for her to wake up and start posting again this morning, its gonna be fun… she is convinced I am someone involved in TX politics out to get her… rather than someone on the internet poking the troll.

  • http://twitter.com/robertjgannon Robert

    I was wondering how Candice found my post. Thanks for linking to my take on this ridiculous case. 

  • Jimmywli

    That is a scary thought, that there is other people with the same frame of mind. How can that be possible people can have absolute zero sense. Plus, you can tell this Candice never change all this year. From that PDF, she was basically using the sam tactics on forcing her own universe
    heard in her exchange with the school over her child. Just hope the world has fewer people like these.

  • Bonzo_Wilson

     Is there a link to the pdf I’m having difficulty finding it…

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    There is never anything wrong with making a mistake, the problem is when you refuse to accept you could be wrong.
    She cost a school thousands of dollars in legal fees, all sorts of damage to their reputation, and didn’t win.
    Her righteous campaign didn’t fail because she was in the wrong, it was because everyone worked against her in her mind.
    It came as no surprise to me that someone had caught her posting “birther” crap online that had been proven false months before she took up the banner for it.
    She is a whack job, and she might have pushed to far now.  Of course it won’t be her fault if she looses her bar card, it’ll be the result of an evil plot against her.
    On the upside she’ll be after the Texas Bar and leave the rest of us alone.

  • Guest

     HE DIDN’T… Her Hosting Company did based on a complaint of copyright infringement

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    A guest posted the link up the thread…
    http://www.senate.state.tx.us/75r/senate/commit/c530/handouts10/0616-CandiceSchwager.pdf

    They were pointing out her 800 member nonprofit might just be a boast to far.

    Its a lawsuit filing and its painful to see her at work.

  • Bonzo
  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    The fact there are blog posts missing is her style.
    The Liberty is Brewing is a Teaparty slogan and she is a big Tea Party supporter.
    I can’t believe anyone in the UK would have bothered to parrot her crazy claims.
    More than likely this is another one of her super secret SEO websites to raise her profile.

  • Bonzo

     Fuck me, a weapons grade fruitcake

  • Matt

    Good grief.  This really outs her as a severe serial conspiracy theorist.  

    IANAL, but some highlights:

    It apparently has her filing suit against what I count as 18 different people and organizations under the RICO act, wire fraud, mail fraud, discrimination and disability harassment under the ADA, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, claiming that they are all working together as part of a  massive criminal conspiracy against her family to deprive her son of the education he needs (placement in special ed classs, as far as I can tell).

    She also apparently claims that she had to hire a bodyguard to protect her family from the school district and their lawyers.  She also claims that she became unable to practice law because any potential clients of hers would be fearful of persecution by the school district and/or their lawyers.  On documents that support the opposing case, she hand writes “incompetent/lying”.

    She talks about doctors being unable to diagnose her own health condition, but then she was able to do her own self-diagnosis using Google.  In another place, she talks about being able to diagnose her son’s learning disability using Google.

    She also seems to have reported the school district to child protective services for “neglectful supervision” for letting her child be bullied.

    I’m disappointed to not see any reference to the sheriff in there though.

  • Yohannon (Just Yohannon)

    Wait… right-clicking is disabled… as in Javascript?? Sheesh, she is a braniac, isn’t she? I love “security” like that (fires up dev tools to turn off the right-click behavior blocking…)

    I am stunned at how many people, despite the clear indication that the photographer is 100% in the right here. Just because this woman is doing something charitable does not give her the copy right version of a “get out of jail free” card, any more than the BTK mass murderer’s church work got him special dispensation.

    As a photographer and writer who has been ripped off at times on the ‘Net, the DMCA is the only way to have any power over the sneering idiots who think you can’t stop them. This idiot is a perfect case in point.

  • http://twitter.com/terragalleria QT Luong

    As someone who actively protects my copyright, I am not keen of DMCA complaints. I don’t think they achieve anything productive, and as this example shows, they can be counter-productive. In my opinion it is more useful just to ask for retro-active license fees and financial damages, if necessary by filling a copyright infringement lawsuit.

  • Yohannon (Just Yohannon)

    Jimmywli: Orly Taitz. Seriously, the style, the whole “reality has a liberal bias!” attitude, and (above all else) that arrogance even in the face of being told by other lawyers and judges that she is WRONG. Period.

  • Yohannon (Just Yohannon)

    …just a mortal…: Thank you! That particular bit of political cognitive dissonance is something that has baffled me for quite some time (the shining Tea Party example is “Keep Government Out of my Medicare!” signs at these rallies where people are wearing hats with lipton’s bags dangling beneath).

    I almost ejected my frosty caffeinated beverage nasally at the phrase “pseudo geek expert hacking technical ‘business'”. If we’re not real geeks, then how are we also expert hackers? And I’m just this guy in California who, until reading about this abomination on slashdot, really had never heard of nor cared of her nor her sheriff candidate’s petty existence.

    I’m with the poster who noted that they were aware that not everyone in Texas is like this. I actually know many people all over the state very well, and have visited pretty much every major (and several minor!) cities in Texas. I can attest to the fact that most Texans would be all over this idiot for being such a douche about this whole situation.

  • Yohannon (Just Yohannon)

    Guest, EPIC win. Dogs and beer would explain EVERYTHING.

    “On the internet, no one knows you’re a Dog 4 Lager”.

  • Yohannon (Just Yohannon)

    Slashdot Samurai: Well said! I suppose there is a fine line between the XKCD point of “There’s someone WRONG on the internet!” and a simple expression of stunned amazement that someone can make their own lives… and possibly the lives the purport to CARE ABOUT… more difficult than can be imagined. In this case, however, we have someone practically BEGGING to be crowd-slapped for their almost darwinian insistence of being in the right despite the clear guidance provided by the very law that they claim some expertise in.

    If it stopped being fun, I’m guessing we’d stop. There could be a point when someone is so clearly emotionally disturbed that piling on would just be… well, cruel.

    But not yet. ;-)

  • Guest

    Apparently Candice has had a run in with ‘teh hackerz’ before:

     http://www.topix.com/forum/houston/T55T1E694TTUPCVP1
     http://www.topix.com/forum/city/seabrook-tx/TL44J7E9K9CT1MAMC
     
    I wonder if that episode was all a conspiracy linked to local politics as well?

  • Guest

    From http://www.hotfrog.com/Companies/Attorneys-For-Special-Needs-Children“Attorneys for Special Needs Children (“AFSNC”) is a Texas Non-Profit Corporation dedicated to raising public awareness, educating families and fundraising to level the playing field for children with special needs.  An outreach of AFSNC is Atty4Kids Radio on Blogtalkradio, where we have been featured as a favorite and are routinely in the top 10 Legal Talk Shows! is the Radio Site and is the Non-Profit!”Er?  What does that last sentence mean?

  • None

    This is more entertaining than E3! =) Besides Sara Palin getting called out. Love the fact she stated “Being attacked by intellectuals…” ROFLMAO

  • …just a mortal…

    Yohannon, 
    Thanks for the reply!  I totally do not understand it myself.  In much of what CS has put out there about all of this stuff, there is so much hypocrisy/contradictions that are ultimately I think very Masochistic of her, granted I do love a good masochist at times , but she ISN’T my type!

    IN CS’s case tho, the levels and depths of that lawsuit and the ask-es on damages, in my opinion go against all the TEA party stuff she spouts off.  Where is the smaller government, reduce the deficit at all costs, personal responsibility in any of that crap–Oh I need IV’s and a bodyguard, and the state should pay for it, Give ME a Break!

    I am also stunned she would bring suit against individuals under RICO? I would think they would need to be found GUILTY of RICO offenses by the government first?

    Anyone have some insight into RICO?

    As always, as a public service to the people of the Great State of Texas, I will once again ask Candi/Candi-CLones who I know are reading this as I type, with their complex automatic monitoring device (iPad email ;-) ) to prove that her org is a REAL non-profit: a form 990, articles of incorporation, official annual report, TX non-profit entity search engine.  

  • None

    Errr, think she said academics and not intellectuals, come to think about it. Still funny, and scary at the same time. 

  • Matt

    Hah, search around Topix for “dana and greg pennington” and look at all those aliases she uses to post over and over to try to get lots of negative publicity for a client of hers that refused to pay up.  The obvious aliases I see are Stacia77, TrishRokz, Seriuosly, Springinsider, Libertyizbrewing, TexasAtty.  Amusingly, she makes posts under these aliases and then follows up from other alises, forming entire posts that are nothing but conversations between her various alises.

    More fun.  Search youtube for “louis guthrie is trying to kill me” and check out the comments for gems from our favorite attorney.  Here’s a good thread from her related to that song:

    http://www.topix.com/forum/city/brooklyn-ny/TPN1HD517JL1QF2AL

    Gosh, there’s a conspiracy against her or her sheriff quite regularly.

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    DMCA notice is the first step in filing the lawsuit.
    It is the first step you need to take, while some argue a polite email might work they never took into account the sheer amount of crazy they would hit with her.

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    Aww I think she took her ball and left…
    Come on Candice come back and tell us how we are all people in Texas, out to stop your righteous sheriff candidate and crushing special needs children underfoot.
    As someone in a movie once said, get down off that cross someone needs the wood.

  • Guest

    Wow!  Apparently all the cease and desists, takedown notices, and libel lawsuits didn’t quite have the desired affect on the Giraffes as the videos  of the “Louis Guthrie is trying to kill me” are still there.

    “This band is running scared because they committed libel against Louis Guthrie. Vadicream is an idiot. He first says Louis Guthrie’s his buddy, then a figment of his imagination who he never intended to harm, then it’s the real Lou, then its a woman. And drumroll, then he begs for mercy saying they’re broke, have no insurance and tons of medical bills and this isn’t funny. Please remove this from your youtube site as we’re collecting defendants to name in a libel lawsuit.”

    The B&W video made from the old movie wasn’t bad.

  • Jimmywli

    With her track record, pretty sure she will show up online again one day claiming yet another person slandering her or her buddies and then hating on all special needs children.  This sick person is too deep in her delusional mind.

  • Guest

    I wonder if the repeated requests to see her form 990 scared her away?

    A real non-profit is listed with the state and federal government:http://aixtcp.cpa.state.tx.us/exemptorgs/address.php?tp_id=32043087694
    http://apps.irs.gov/app/eos/pub78Search.do?ein1=65-0877085&names=&city=&state=All…&country=US&deductibility=all&dispatchMethod=searchCharities&submitName=SearchHas solid info on the charity’s own site:http://www.copaa.org/about-copaa/ (has PDF with financials)Has other references:http://www.guidestar.org/organizations/65-0877085/council-parent-attorneys-advocates.aspx

    It would seems that none of the above are true for Schwager’s alleged non-profit.

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    I have a feeling her life got /.’ed
    She took on the internet and she lost, hard.
    People posting instructions on how to file a grievance with the TX bar, all they needed to include was her ranting and threats of lawsuits.  Then there is the whole its a charity but not a charity maybe…
    I’m guessing she finally got enough rope to hang herself and then encouraged people to kick the stool….

  • …just a mortal…

    She is still at it, she just chose to take her ball back to the home court she is comfortable in.  Digg… :-) 

    So I may have taken my ball to her court…

    I do think the constant asking for a form 990 is probably wearing on her nerves a bit as well as the /. movement to file grievances. 

    So that comment from  her yesterday that she has WAY more experience then me at the SEO game got me thinking, If all you have to do is post on Digg, then why not try it see how the shoe fits on the other foot so to speak–for both of us… 

    http://www.topix.com/forum/houston/T685RGKJ5OL3Q0EJU

    check it out… 

  • …just a mortal…

    Did I say Digg, how very candice of me, I meant topix

  • Jonas

    I’ve really enjoyed your commentary, and I think you make some excellent points, but FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, please learn the difference between there, their and they’re. 

    Trust me on this, you will be taken much more seriously when you argue with people online.

  • Bensherman

    Man.. That woman never seize to amaze.

    More ranting on topix.com as pointed by Just A Mortal:
     
    “If you blog things objectionable, they’ll destroy everything you have. They’ll even set you up, planting evidence for crimes you did not commit. He’s officially corrupt alright! He destroyed every website a mere mom owned bc he can’t stand being exposed for what he is. ”

    So she is just a mere mom when being attacked but when she’s out attacking another innocent person, she’s a fierce lawyer with mad SEO skills that can crush others.  

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    Please find it in your heart to forgive me.
    I’m just a poor little dyslexic doing the best that I can.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/64CY3XS6EJPDZ6XSG5B5SYEX5U J

    Garcia being… who’s Garcia?

  • None

    LOL @
    …just a mortal… nice!

  • None

    ROFLMAO =) Stop! I think I just broke a rib laughing so hard. 
    And in other news, crazy Houston attorney afraid Sheriff Garcia’s use of the CIA’s earthquake ray gun will burn out the light bulbs in Atty’s town house, cause elvis level shaking in the pelvis and require IV treatments for all that over-thinking.Foil hats, conspiracy theories and wa-mbulance chasing are the new vogue for the Emo Hair crowd. 

  • ZamoraBeverly26

    my roomate’s ex-wife got paid $15158 the prior week. she is making an income on th e laptop and got a $584800 home. All she did was get fortunate and set to work the advice shown on this web site ===>> ⇛⇛⇛⇛► enternet-work.Blogspot.Com

  • Guest

    The photographer(s) sooooooo need to sue you.  Okay yes you removed the photo you STOLE from him, but that doesn’t give you the right to demand he remove his Blog.  It’s called free speech and he is protected by that law of the Texas Constitution.

    Also I want to sing a little song with you (by Meredith Brooks):  “I’m a bit__.  I’m a tease.  I’m your hell…..”  Cmon everybody sing!

    :-)

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    Hey now the tin foil hat makes me look sexy.

  • That_Anonymous_Coward

    @6002086803e028838530067405be5777:disqus
    Here is something you can have fun with…
    https://mashable.com/follow/atty4kids/
    2012 Sheriff Louis Guthrie’s Campaign Coordinator &
    President of Attorneys for Special Needs Children! Internet marketing 4
    attorneysCampaign Coordinator…. really?  Someone wanna let Guthrie know what sort of person he’s hired or is pretending to be someone he hired?