Band Responds in the Worst Way Possible After Stealing Photographer’s Work


In the beginning of April, Sydney-based photographer Rohan Anderson found himself embroiled in a nasty back-and-forth with the band Red Jumpsuit Apparatus over a photo of his they had used without credit or permission.

Often, when you let someone know they’ve infringed on your copyright, you get an apology and an offer to make things right. This is not what happened to Anderson.

The story begins with Anderson running across one of his images — cropped, lowered in quality and filtered for Instagram — posted without credit on the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus Facebook.

You can see the cropped version above and the original below:


In most circumstances, Anderson explains in a lengthy blog post about the ordeal, most bands who post his photos on social media without first asking credit or thank him and so he will just let it go. But given that the photo had been altered, the watermark cropped out and the quality degraded, he requested via email that the band take the photo down or pay to use it.

He and some of his friends also commented on the image — comments that were quickly deleted — which led to this minor change:


This was not enough in Anderson’s opinion. Adding credit wasn’t what he had requested and he still hadn’t heard back from his previous email. So he tried again and, for good measure, sent a Facebook message to the band as well.

Here’s his message and their less than professional reply:


This was followed by a reply to his email that read:

You have no legal claim as the photo is credited and is not posted for a monetary gain and features our likeness and image not yours. Also you have just got your self banned from any festival or show we ever play again in that region for life! Congrats!
Sent from my iPhone

Anderson was stunned. “Usually I receive an email saying something along the lines of ‘Sorry! We weren’t sure of the original owner, we’ve taken it down for you.'” he writes on his blog. “The fact that they decided to “ban” me from any future shows simply for standing up for my intellectual property absolutely stuns me.”

He wrote the band back pointing out that this wasn’t how copyright for an image worked, asking that the image be removed and they apologize for their unprofessional conduct thus far, and explaining that he would be taking legal action if those things didn’t happen.

He was greeted by this response:

We welcome the “lawyer” and his response. As for the lol it was funny, life is funny. If you want to take it any other way that’s fine with us. As for the “tables turning” remark our music is everywhere illegally and we let it go like all other “professionals” try it out sometime. Most unknown photographers are happy to have world wide known bands use their photos and consider it an honor, you are clearly an example of the opposite.
Don’t send anymore threats or you’ll be hearing from our Lawyer!
Have a nice day ;)
Sent from my iPhone

The back and forth — which you can read in detail on Anderson’s blog — continued in this manner. The image was eventually removed, but at that point Anderson felt he was well within his rights to demand an apology and payment, to which he received a threat of legal action.

The band also got in touch with the editor of the publication he had photographed their show for and presented a less-than-accurate version of events to try and get Anderson in some sort of trouble. This was cleared up fairly quickly when Anderson sent the editor their entire e-mail conversation and the company instead blacklisted the band:

As I suspected, you have been entirely professional against a barrage of unprofessional and juvenile behaviour from the band… rest assured that the band is now blacklisted from (removed). It’s a shame that they’ve acted in this manner. (Removed) supports you 100% on this.

This is where the story stopped until yesterday when his blog post exploded on r/photography garnering well over 1,000 upvotes and attracting a lot of attention. Last night, we got in touch with Anderson for permission to share this story and his photographs/screenshots and emailed the band for comment before turning in.

We received no reply from the band, but it seems they did find out about Anderson’s post because they linked to it (yet another classy move) in the following tweet. The tweet has since been deleted:


Surprisingly, a few hours after this tweet went up, the band apologized and agreed to pay Anderson. We have no way of knowing, but based on some of the replies on their Twitter and the timing of it all, we would guess that their tweet that was meant to shame Anderson for protecting his copyright backfired at least in part.

Responses along the lines of “he should know that Instagram is going to crop his photo and should watermark appropriately #rohanisatool” did come in, but the band’s apologetic tweet — complete with a #sorryrohan tag — and agreement to pay seems to indicate that either the response wasn’t positive, or a PR manager finally got involved.


If you’d like to read the entire story from Rohan’s perspective and get more details (he has reproduced the email convo in its entirety) you can head over to his blog by clicking here.

As he himself said in an update to the post early this morning, “I think this is a big win for not only me, but all photographers around the world.” It’s nice to see the little guy win a copyright bout… especially one that started as nasty as this one did.

We are still waiting on comment from the band, and will update this post if and when we hear from them.

(via Reddit)

Update on 4/21/14 at 3:41PST: The band has responded, and argues that “all forms of digital art should be free.”

Image credits: Photograph and screenshots by Rohan Anderson and used with permission

  • Cinobite

    I lied when I said it takes 27 seconds to point out that you’re wrong. You’ve just done it again. But crack on, change your mind again if you like, pretend you know what you’re doing.

  • Wayne Stacy

    “Pretend you know what you are doing”,…that isn’t a problem. I likely made more over the weekend by “knowing what I am doing”, than you collected in your last year of unemployment checks.

    Rhetoric and hyperbole,……it’s all wannabees like yourself
    have to offer. You better get back to your video game, or your youtube video’s, I am sure twitter is just dying to see what you post next.

  • Cinobite

    Aaww, the way you have a to keep trying to justify yourself despite the fact that everyone knows you’re wrong is so cute

  • Cinobite

    So I just had a look at your website – you sell your pictures for $37, I very much doubt you make more than me.

  • Wayne Stacy

    lol,…yeah $37 dollars for a 5×7 card……

    By the way does mommy know you are at home, or better yet does she know you are in her room with the laptop during nap time?

    You should be more worried about the eyes on you for your “tinder” fetish,…….you talk quite a bit about it. I am sure there is a therapist out there who wants to talk to you, and a detective or two as well.

  • Wayne Stacy

    “Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances. As it is a coward who is much more exposed to quarrels than a man of spirit.” – Thomas Jefferson

    One day when you grow up, you can use facts and evidence to debate people,…..instead of running your mouth from the safety of mommy’s closet.

  • Cinobite

    Yeah, I did, you didn’t, remember? Thanks for the quote, it proves my point – again. You keep this up and I’ll have to start paying you as my PA.

  • Cinobite

    She does know I’m home yes, she just dropped off some bits before she went back to her house. I like how you attempt to insult me in this thread while in the other posting philosophical quotes about how resorting to insults is for children.

    Tell me more about my tinder “fetish”, does, what 2 tweets in 5 years count as a fetish now? I don’t know. I’d love to know why a therapist or detective would want to speak to someone about tinder – or do you think that’s completely contrary to the law as well?

    By all means, reply again, you can try and form a decent response or you can crawl out some half assed insult if you want. You might have missed it before, but I run my own company now and employ photographers to do the work, so I can literally do this all day. In fact, I’m being paid to show you the error of your ways.

  • Cinobite

    But you can’t register your images with the copyright office because – according to you – you don’t own the copyrights, the images or the likeness to the people in them.

    Even here, you’re saying that the “photographer” stole the image from the band, and yet you’re taking photos of bands and happily laying claim to them. So which is it? Of course, I fully expect you to change your mind again, hell you might even come up with ANOTHER angle this time

  • Wayne Stacy

    LOL,…I am sure you run a global empire from the cozy confines of your mommy’s basement…all under the “Cinobite” trademark. By the way genius…….it’s actually CENOBITE.

    However, I am massively impressed by the number of imaginary photographers at your disposal. How do they ever find you though,…since you slither around on your stomach, hiding behind fake names.

    I told you before boy,… couldn’t carry my camera bag.

  • Cinobite

    Ah you went for the attempted insult, instead of responding to the points I raised. I thought you would.
    Not a global empire no, not yet at least and not a massively impressive number of photographers that I employ either, only 7. But you know, that means that when you’re shooting your one client, I’m shooting up to 7 – whilst sitting on the sofa watching films.

    Top tip, it’s actually “Cinobite” – you know, that’s why I chose it. It’s a play on words between Cinema and the Cenobites from Hellraiser as it was initially to be used for film reviews. So, you know, you’re wrong about that as well.

    You are right about one thing, I couldn’t carry your camera bag, mostly because you wouldn’t pay my rate.

    You’re very chatty today, can we assume then you have no big photo shoot. I only ask because you seem insistent that anyone who has time for comments doesn’t have time to work.

    It’s interesting that your are impressed by my “imaginary” employees. Let me guess, you also think there’s a magic imaginary man in the sky who judges your every move?

    What we are going for for the next reply, a petty insult, some vain attempt to mock or something more coherent. Place your bets now ladies and gentlemen!

  • SeanLockePhotography

    “Because I have followed the required legal obligations to obtain model
    releases, and commercial licenses to sell and distribute my work; and I
    list all of my images with the US Copyright and Patent offices.”

    Sigh. You don’t need to do any of that to hold copyright and to control distribution of your work. I’m not even sure what the but about commercial licenses in your statement is supposed to mean. I think you just put together words you find online in the hopes it makes you appear like you know what you’re doing.

  • Jay Levin

    I agree; we should have a mutual understanding. Tragically and obliviously, you value your own work but not that of your creative peers. If you want to “stand by” a “fellow creator,” start by respecting his work and his rights. You are not just a creator; you are also a consumer of creative works. And when you abuse or disrespects the work of others, you are no less guilty than any non-artist. Not even one tiny bit less guilty.

  • John

    Actually, they changed it later to “We believe MOST forms of DIGITAL art should be FREE!”
    Meaning that things like Rohan’s pictures should be free, but their own music and albums should still cost money.

    Also, a little loophole some people aren’t realizing: “our new record and entire discography will be posted JULY 4TH!”
    Yeah, free for just one day. How magnanimous of them.

  • qqweqweqweqweq

    What a bunch of pricks!

  • Rigby

    Intellectual property is a ridiculous idea that shouldn’t exist in the first place.

  • likalaruku

    I read on his website that the band finally caved in & paid him.

  • Julian Laviada

    see jasmine he’s the same freaking person. JASMINEEEEE wtf jasmine!!!!! I will force feed you jelly fish! Live jellyfish. I will literally shove its slimey body into your mouth hole. Your parents will cry when they see what i’ve done to you AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

  • Taylor

    Bands > Photographers. Natural born talent > pushing a button.
    Red jupsuit ftw.