Band Publicly Refuses to Pay Photog, Leads to Facebook Firestorm

It’s difficult to ignore the fact that photographers are finding it harder to get paid for their work now more than ever, but a recent altercation between concert photographer Dan DeSlover and the band Alter Bridge took on a different dynamic — criticizing a photographer for asking to get paid.

The story goes something like this: When concert photographer Dan DeSlover discovered that his photo of Alter Bridge guitarist Mark Tremonti was being used on the band’s Facebook page to advertise Tremonti’s solo project, he respectfully asked to be paid $75 (his commercial use fee). The management refused, apologized, and removed the photo. Ideally this is where the story would end.

Unfortunately, after the photo was removed, the admin of the band’s Facebook posted the following status update:

Sorry we had to take down the picture of Mark. Got an email from the photographer wanting to charge us $75.00 to display it. Needless to say, we declined…

This update then led to a massive commenting war between fans of the band and the Facebook group “Music Photographers,” spurred on in large part by the admin who over the next two hours removed many of the comments by photographers trying to explain why using DeSlover’s work for commercial purposes without payment was wrong. Finally, after 400+ comments, the admin deleted the thread entirely.

It’s not our place to pass judgement on what happen — for the most part this was caused by a poorly worded status update, not malicious intent — but it’s hard to miss the irony of music fans not seeing anything wrong with a little copyright infringement.

Screenshots of the back and forth — including tweets from band member Brian Marshall — and more details are available here.

(via Uncounted Circles.)

Image credit: Alter Bridge @ Claremont Showgrounds (5/3/2012) by stusev

  • fay

    So if everyone downloaded his album without paying that would be bad too, right?

  • Vijay Raaja

    75 dollars wasn’t that great an amount considering this is a band…I guess official photographers are paid much more than this amount…and secondly if the pic was good enough to be displayed and used for the advertisement, I don’t understand why just not appreciate the photographer’s work and get it anyways?

  • Dan Howard

    lols at the irony of a music group refusing to pay an artist for their work.

  • mike

    I don’t think you know what irony means.  I believe music fans have somewhat of a history of not paying for copyrighted material.  So this isn’t ironic at all.

  • John Stock

    Yeah, you’d have though they would have understood!

  • BillyG

    If they had any music worth listening to.

  • Happy_Tinfoil_Cat

    It’s funny how I almost always end up on the side opposite the person cherrypicking posts. I suspect the admin knew right from wrong otherwise why would he delete posts.

  • Happy_Tinfoil_Cat

    Agreed. Just how much are concert tickets these days? Having someone photograph your concert and paying them the price they paid to get in, for their best shot, puts it in perspective.

  • DL Cade

    You’re right, music fans in general do have a history of copyright infringement. I was referring specifically to the Alter Bridge Facebook admin who would probably be outraged if someone infringed on the band’s copyright. I apologize for any confusion :)

  • L_photo1

     lol artist dont make money from albums but from concerts. clearly where the photo was taken.

  • Kris

    Not music photos, but my photographs in general, got number of requests, some  from large businesses who would like to use them in their promo, web and print, but for FREE. Once they are told how this works they often do not come back, even with thank you. Despite of making millions every year few $ is to much… I guess, that’s why they are making millions :-)

  • ScottieC

    To sum this all up, essentially Brian Marshall, his band Alter Bridge, and his management all feel that it is ok to steal a photographer’s work and cry because they were caught using the photographers image to promote their business. Later on, this artist, and his band Alter Bridge, and his management will cry about their musical work being illegally downloaded and shared by “Pirates” and they will use their giant ape called RIAA to go after people. That is hypocritical. 

  • T

    I wonder if Shell corp is asking for his shirt to be taken off since its yet another copyright infringement?

  • Rob S

    Hmmm…so the RIAA thinks a song that cost $.99 on the iTunes store should be worth $22,500 in litigation.

    By that math, the photographer should hand the band a bill for $1,687,500 along with the transcript from the court case.

  • lazystalker

    The comparison of using the photo on the band’s website and downloading a song without paying are miles apart.  I doubt most bands care if a fan downloads a song without paying them – realistically, they are out pennies of revenue in this case.  This is more akin to using a song in a car commercial without paying the artist.

  • wickerprints

    Serious photographers, who spend significant sums of money for their camera equipment, collectively bear some of the responsibility of this trend.  It used to be the case that high-quality photography was the exclusive domain of professional photographers–few amateurs had the means to produce high-quality images that publishers sought to use, and those who did were generally hobbyists who understood the value of their work.

    Now, the ubiquity and affordability of digital imaging and the omnipresence of the internet has made everyone a “photographer.”  And these masses of people don’t have the understanding that the older generation did; they don’t assert their ownership rights.  And if you don’t defend what’s rightfully and legally yours, then one should not be surprised when someone just decides to take it.

    And that’s what’s happened with today’s photographers–as a group, we have failed to convey the idea that WE OWN THE WORK.  It’s not the ones who protect their work that are to blame so much as the clueless amateurs who inundated the market with free images on Flickr, Facebook, etc.  But all of us should know better.  We don’t have a centralized trade group that helps us enforce and pursue copyright infringement.  I’m not suggesting that photographers need a MPAA/RIAA cartel.  In any case, the horse left the barn long ago–it’s far too late to start now, because hypocrites and a**holes like this band have demonstrated that the “if it’s posted online it’s free” mentality is too ingrained.  But it would have been nice if, say, 20 years ago, we had a standardized way of pursuing infringement through a professional body.

    Sadly, you’re going to find this trend worsening.  It’s never going to get better.  Many types of photography that were at least sustainable have already become economically unfeasible.

  • Richard

    I read this story to my wife who said “there are assholes everywhere.” She was referring to the band and its management. I agree. Boycott that band and their music and pass the meme on.

  • Gethin

    They used the pic. Taking it down doesn’t mean thy didn’t use it. I’d be sending them a bill, anyway with a note saying I’d waive my 500% unnapproved usage fee if they paid in the next 7 days.

  • Costa Gromov

    As a Pro photographer, it basically tells me to  stop buying music from iTunes and start using torrents. As simple as that.
    Lets see what these unethical bands have to say now.

  • Dov Hechtman

    Actually no irony at all just stupidity.
    1. downloading music isnt stealing since there isnt a tangible asset being taken2. taking music deprives no one of a sale since no one use taking a physical object the musician can always sell more copies.3. what is at issue isnt that the band took the image and yes same realities apply above and just go “hey awesome picture I’m gonna keep it and look at it” they used it to advertise themselves. What we have here is a commercial use of the artist (photographer) work for monetary gain.4. The image was used commercially taken down or not therefore the band owes him at minimum the $75 and at maximum much much more depending on the status of his copyright with the copyright office.

  • Guest

    They’re now taking down any comments from photographers or anyone who supports the photographer. I commented, and it was removed within an hour.

    Here’s what I posted on their wall:
    Hi Alter Bridge. Hmm. I think I’m just going to go to YouTube, find your music, and use the free YouTube to mp3 converter to listen to it. Or you know; I might just not listen to it at all. I like that I can get it for free; because it’s just not worth paying for.In case you can’t tell- I’m a photographer. And I support the photographer you threw under the bus for a measly $75. Hopefully he has a PayPal donation link so I can pay him the $75 that you couldn’t spare.Assholes.

    Good luck showing your support.

  • branden rio

    Don’t worry, I was already boycotting them without knowing it

  • Mark

    This is why I have started distributing what I call a “Client Handbook” for all of my contractual work (which is about 99% of my business). It explains, in plain English, everything a client needs to know about licensing terms and copyright. It’s my own version of a Public Service Announcement and it brings me peace of mind that I won’t be spending an entire afternoon on the phone arguing with a client as to why it’s NOT okay to send my photograph off to a national newspaper or corporation without new terms being signed.

    The ignorance and entitlement amongst even those clients that “should know better” has gotten out of hand, and despite professional organizations and non-profits trying to convey the message, it’s all washed out by the free media orgy of social media. We have PPA, ASMP, etc and I honestly believe they do try to advocate on our behalf, but we aren’t doctors and we don’t need a license to snap a photograph–it’s tantamount to herding cats.

    I do believe that the outlook could be a positive one for several reasons: First, if and when the economy picks back up, many unemployed individuals with idle time may be putting the camera back into the closet after realizing that just having “passion” doesn’t cut it. Second, with the advances in technology allowing more people to take properly exposed photographs (note I did not say artistic nor well executed), the demand for true craftsmen will rise. It is true that a naive bride may not be able to tell the difference between a veteran craftsman and Uncle Frank, but corporations and commercial industries sure do. This is one reason that I have shifted my focus to corporate work, and less “lifestyle” type work. And lastly, no amount of technology–be it a 4000fps camera that offers 36mp stills, or a Lytro iteration–will ever be able to knowingly move an ultra-wide angle lens that extra 4mm to the left and 10mm down in order to produce the “right” photograph.

    I used to be afraid that my chosen career would be irrelevant, but I have realized that painters, composers, carpenters and glass blowers have all felt the same way. Yet I also know that oil-on-canvas paintings, hand-crafted cabinets, commissioned symphonies and crystal glassware are not synonymous with inexpensive and cheap. Instead of jumping ship, I now try to educate any person I come in contact with as to the intricacies of running a photography business–most end up being very sympathetic, the problem was that no one ever told them.

  • Guest

    I don’t see anything wrong with the admin of the band’s comment. What he posted is true – Photog want payment, they refuse. I guess photogs and fans got too emotional about this.

  • newamericanclassic

    I used to go to concerts all the time in high school, and they weren’t even big-name bands but the ticket price was always $50-60. I’d consider this the price of the ticket, plus transportation.

  • Guest

    I understand how the blame is thus placed on ‘amateurs’, but as someone who enjoys photography as a hobby, with no intention of profiting from my images, I am content with exposure and credit. 
    I don’t think I should be villainized. Not that you are, but that seems to be the general trend–self-proclaimed “professionals” attacking hobbyists, which I see frequently on this site.

  • newamericanclassic

    Guess the semantics just flew over your head? A single word has a profound effect on the connotation of an utterance. The troubling part here is “Needless to say”.

    If he just said “he wanted us to pay, we declined.” I guarantee no one would care. But he said:
     “Got an email from the photographer wanting to charge us $75.00 to display it. NEEDLESS TO SAY, we declined..”

    It’s not about the number of words or the overall tone. It’s the fact that it touches upon how copyrighted laws are so flippantly abused–how people automatically assume a photographer’s work is free to be ‘stolen’ and shared (often without credit).

    The response was heightened by the fact these are musicians–who get their own pieces of work ‘stolen’ all the time. If you’re a musician and you get your stuff downloaded, at LEAST people know the source. With ‘stolen’ photographs, there’s usually no trace. The photog just has to chance upon his/her work in other places.

  • MusicPhoto666

    This whole situation cracks me up because of how close minded everyone is and has no idea what they are talking about.  What was a simple misunderstanding has blown into something ridiculous in my opinion.  The photographer asked for permission to shoot the band which he was given. ANyone who has host musicians as I have knows we do the asking, they don’t ask us.  By looking at his website, it is from a Creed concert, not Alter Bridge. The photo was sent to the web administrator who thought he had permission to use it in a blog post which is what essentially Facebook is.  It wasn’t on any commercial advertisements, there was no copy added to the image or was it altered in any way.  When he was told about the fee after realizing that they weren’t cleared to use the image, they declined as they are allowed to do and it was promptly removed.  At which point, the admin reached out to the fan base to ask for any images that they would be allowed to use.  Again nothing wrong with this. Apparently then the photographer thought he was being attacked and it turned in to something else and he shared it with his photographer friends saying how Alter Bridge stole his image which was never the case.  The reason Alter Bridge is being viewed as being in the wrong is because they are a band with money that opted to not spend it on this particulate image.  That is well within their right and they were in no way trying to profit off of the photographer’s work which he clearly is trying to do while shooting the band without being on assignment so this happy story fell in his lap and is making him famous.  I, for one, hate some of the photo releases I am presented as it is and I now expect because of this misunderstanding that I will be presented with far worse ones making it even tougher for me to shoot artists moving forward.  


    Thanks for the great post. Now, might I suggest you find a way to sell your guide book so the rest of us can educate the masses. Thanks again.

  • 9inchnail

    Why would they pay you? They’re gonna find someone who WILL give up his photo for free. The market is saturated, there are too many people trying to make it in photography. That can be exploited quite easily.

  • 9inchnail

    If I was the photographer, I would have made a video with the photos taken at the show and dubbed it with a song of theirs’. See if they like it.

  • Tmprsns

    If the photographer was *really* smart, he would’ve commented on the photo clarifying that it was his photo, and how cool it was that Alter Bridge had used it. He could’ve parlayed that into a gig worth a lot more than $75. Instead … messy.

  • 9inchnail

    You ask BEFORE you use a photo. You can’t use the photo for days, maybe weeks hoping that idiot photographer won’t notice.

  • Devin Irving

    Unless you’re in canada and are using for personal use…

  • Robertv

    Doesn’t work that way.
    That’s just like saying “I shot this photo and gave them it free. Contact me for more free photos. It’s OK, I don’t expect paid. Ever.”

  • PaulGreo

    First off, the band members had nothing to do with the comment made on facebook or the pic used on it.

    The social media for AB is done by Mark’s brother not by a professional social media company and like already stated not by the band members themselves.

    It’s well known that Mark’s brother who is probably late forties suffers from post tramatic stress disorder. He speaks about it often on his twitter account. He was once in a horrid car accident. He became the bands social media person probably
    by his brother looking out for him and wanting him to be able to have a job while dealing with PTSD.

    That all said, there have been a few time when Michael (that is marks brothers name who does the bands social media) speaks on the bands accounts forgetting
    he is representing them in a way. He tends to say what he wants and has caused
    some drama online previous to this situation.

    Now all that said you are filled in on the facts with this all. The band members themselves had nothing to do with any part of what happend. And the photographer said they have contacted him and they are working on a resolution.

    End of story people.

  • Richard

    Me too.

  • Richard

    Well said. “Needless to say” may be the straw that breaks their backs. I hope so.

  • Prodeg

    Some band called alto bridge or auto bride or something asked me to pay $0.99 for one of their songs…needless to say, I declined.

  • BiggusDiccus

    What do you expect, from someone who had a vagina for a chin, and $hit for brains.

  • marc

    This is an amazing idea.  I’m tempted to talk to my IP lawyer and draft something similar up.  I haven’t had any incident with my current M.O., but I have been seeing some brazen thievery of images of some of my colleagues lately…

  • mrbeard

    How did the band get access to the picture? did the photographer post it on their facebook wall or tag them in the shot? how would they find the picture otherwise.

  • paoliyaun

    I’m not really in to this..but can we be harmony ? .. just sayin

  • Dawnmarierkern

    Sorry this happened to you,mark…Some people just don’t get it.

  • Dawnmariekern

    Sorry I mean the photographer 
    Dan DeSlover

  • Don Giannatti

    Mark Thomas Tremonti is an Italian American musician and songwriter, with a net worth of $25 million.” 

    Maybe he was a little short of cash.

    A 1%er for sure, and a creepy greeeeeeedy guy.

  • Jake

    How does him being emotionally unstable excuse this?  If he can’t do the job well and makes the band look bad, he should be given a different job!  If it’s not his fault, than it’s the band’s, but certainly it’s not excusable.

  • Basslines no charge

    as i celebrate my 20 year anniversary as a full time photographer in the music biz (or what is left of it) it sickens me to see a popular ($) band (and i use those two terms very loosely together) trolling the internet for free photos rather than to throw a bone ($75) to someone to use a half decent quality shot. What sickens me even further is what a douche Brian Marshall is. You really ought to have kept your mouth shut douche, I could easily play all your bass lines for free, that might save the band a few bucks they could put towards a decent shot or two.

  • Sir_Elton_Juan

    These are the same kids crying when their stuff gets downloaded for free.

  • Guest

    heh heh, childish of me, but I wrote on their wall:

    “Found your music on iTunes. They wanted me to pay for your songs. Needless to say, I declined…”

    comment removed an hour later, blocked. shouldn’t the guy behind their FB make some sort of apology? at least a “hey sorry guys, didn’t mean to cheat fellow artists”