Photographer J Salmeron of Metal Blast sparked a huge outpouring of support from other photographers and creatives last week after he shared how he was blacklisted by the band Arch Enemy while trying to protect his copyright. Now the clothing business at the center of the controversy has closed up shop in response to all the “hate and threats” it has received.
Salmeron originally shared how he discovered that Thunderball Clothing was using one of his photos without his permission to promote its products.
The photographer offered to let Thunderball use the photo and keep the post up by retroactively licensing it through a €100 donation to the Dutch Cancer Foundation.
Instead of responding directly to Salmeron, Thunderball (i.e. fashion designer Marta Gabriel) decided to turn to Arch Enemy instead. After a little back and forth with the band, manager Angela Gossow (who was the previous lead singer) informed Salmeron that he has been blacklisted from all future performances.
“We have immediately removed the picture you took at FortaRock,” Gossow wrote. “By the way, we are sure you don’t mind that you are not welcome anymore to take pictures of Arch Enemy performances in the future, at festivals or solo performances.
“I have copied in the label reps and booking agent who will inform promoters – no band wants to have photographers on site who later send such threatening correspondence to monetise on their images.”
Unhappy about how the whole situation unfolded, Salmeron turned to the Web to share what happened. His post then went viral in not only the world of photography but in the music world as well.
Less than 48 hours later, current Arch Enemy lead sinder Alissa White-Gluz posted the following statement to her Facebook page defending both Thunderball’s actions and Arch Enemy’s right to ban Salmeron:
“The photographer of this particular photo was ALWAYS fully credited for the ENTIRE duration of his photo being on my Instagram and Marta’s,” White-Gluz wrote. “As soon as he expressed discontent the posts were immediately removed. There was never ANY attempt made by Thunderball or Arch Enemy to use that photo for commercial use, and certainly not without compensation. […]
“We reserve the right, however, to decide who is allowed to photograph our shows and after having corresponded with him we didn’t want any more issues like this in the future, especially when passes are limited and we know so many photographers who love having the opportunity to get a photo pass and have fun with us at shows.
“In conclusion, no one from Arch Enemy nor Thunderball ever denied paying the photographer in question for the commercial use of his photo: We simply did not use it.”
This response didn’t sit well with people, and White-Gluz’s has been flooded with angry comments and reactions.
The next day, Thunderball Clothing issued an apology:
View this post on Instagram
THUNDERBALL CLOTHING – STATEMENT / APOLOGY I would like to publicly apologise Mr J. Salmeron for reposting one of the photos he took, on my Instagram page, without having his permission. When few months ago I was reposting his photo from the Instagram page of the Arch Enemy singer Alissa White-Gluz, I was simply proud that such a great artist is wearing a clothing piece that I made, and wanted to share these news with my followers. As I did the repost with an app that included all original credits and watermarks, I thought that it's OK. I meant no harm, and it wasn't my intention to promote any product, however, I do agree that it might looked like that, and I understand that the author of the photography could feel upset about it. And I am sorry about it. After I received an email message from J. Salmeron, who introduced himself as a lawyer and author of the photography, I interpreted it as another spam or scam (well, all of us receive this kind of emails all the time). I saw the amount of 500 Euro and the name of Alissa White-Gluz, from whom I reposted mentioned photo, so without going deeper into that message, I did what I thought was most logic – I contacted her, forwarded the original message that I got, and asked her what to do. I was instructed to take down the photo (what I immediatelly did), and was informed that someone else will take care of it. That again seemed logic, as I was aware that I'm not at the position of taking any actions on behalf of Arch Enemy, nor their members. I had no other contact with J. Salmeron, I haven't heard from him since then, and to be honest, for the last 6 months I had no idea that something is wrong, especially as the photo was taken down. That being said, I would like to apologise J. Salmeron once again. Not only I'm willing to discuss with him how to compenaste him and fix the situation, but also how to make sure similar situation won't happen ever again. After all, we're all playing in the same team, and we all have one thing in common. We love music. Marta Gabriel, Thunderball Clothing
“I would like to publicly apologise Mr J. Salmeron for reposting one of the photos he took, on my Instagram page, without having his permission,” Gabriel wrote. “[…] As I did the repost with an app that included all original credits and watermarks, I thought that it’s OK. I meant no harm, and it wasn’t my intention to promote any product, however, I do agree that it might looked like that, and I understand that the author of the photography could feel upset about it. And I am sorry about it.”
Gabriel also states that she interpreted his original copyright infringement notice email as spam or a scam, so she decided to contact the band about it.
“Not only I’m willing to discuss with him how to compensate him and fix the situation, but also how to make sure similar situation won’t happen ever again,” Gabriel writes. “After all, we’re all playing in the same team, and we all have one thing in common. We love music.”
But the next day, Gabriel announced that she has shuttered Thunderball Clothing:
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STATEMENT 30/12/2018 – UPDATE / THE END OF THUNDERBALL CLOTHING * As many of you seems to follow this story, here's an update, and a final statement (you can see my previous statement and an apology from December 28 in my previous post). * The photographer, J. Salmeron, accepted my apology for reposting the photo he took, without having his permission, and as this was his request, I made a donation to the charity organization of his choice (the Dutch Cancer Society). I believe we can say this ends the dispute between us. * However, as I'm not able to handle the amount of hate and threats that I received and keep on receiving, I decided to do what I think is best in this situation. To end the being known as Thunderball Clothing (it's hard to use a word "company" here, as since day one it was just one person – me). I apologise for not being strong enough, and for not being next Internet hero that keep on saying "haters gonna hate". Within last 2 days I received literally hundreds of comments and messages that I'm a whore, a nazi, a communist, a worthless cunt, and that I either should quickly die, or that I should kill myself. There is no anger in me, and I apologise everyone that felt hurt or upset by this situation. Anyway, there is no Thunderball Clothing anymore. You won. * Marta Gabriel, Thunderball Clothing
“The photographer, J. Salmeron, accepted my apology for reposting the photo he took, without having his permission, and as this was his request, I made a donation to the charity organization of his choice (the Dutch Cancer Society),” Gabriel states. “I believe we can say this ends the dispute between us.”
But it’s the flood of “hate and threads” that she is unable to handle, the fashion designer says.
“Within last 2 days I received literally hundreds of comments and messages that I’m a whore, a nazi, a communist, a worthless cunt, and that I either should quickly die, or that I should kill myself,” she writes. “There is no anger in me, and I apologise everyone that felt hurt or upset by this situation. Anyway, there is no Thunderball Clothing anymore. You won.”
Here’s Salmeron’s response to the news of Thunderball’s closure:
“What Marta made was a mistake, a mistake that in no way justifies her losing her livelihood or seeing her life negatively impacted to this level,” Salmeron writes. “She deserves, like all the rest of us, the opportunity to move on from it and to continue her creative career.”
“[W]hile we sincerely appreciate the support that we have received from thousands of people from around the world, we categorically and absolutely reject any and all threats of any kind made against Marta, Alissa, Angela or, frankly, anybody else. Nobody deserves to be terrorized, or to fear for their safety, because of things like these.”
Salmeron notes that he too has received death threats — from supporters of the band — and that he will be passing the messages on to authorities.
Band manager Gossow also took to social media to weigh in after Thunderball’s announcement.
“I am reacting to the bully rally this photographer has set lose with his well crafted (he took 6 months to get it done and released), well timed mash up of different subjects at hand,” Gossow writes. “The details often get lost in the emotion of the narrative – and the narrative is often controlled by who presents the story first. Mr photographer threw a bunch of different things into one pot and highly emotionalized it.”
Gossow writes that (1) Arch Enemy didn’t infringe upon any copyright and wasn’t involved at all in that core aspect of the controversy, (2) Salmeron should have billed Gabriel directly and donated to charity himself, (3) she didn’t ask anyone outside her “circle of people” to blacklist Salmeron, and (4) Salmeron threatened Gossow with legal action over parts of her original public statement, which led her to edit the post.
“I took away the word sheep because those people who damaged Marta beyond repair, who are threatening Alissa and me in very serious ways are not sheep – they are much worse. They are bullies,” Gossow writes. “We wish to move on from this and wish Mr Photographer the best with the career.”
Gossow left the comments section open to promote discourse, but she’s still being slammed for her handling of the situation and blamed for the outcome.
“Because of the way you ‘handled’ this fiasco from the start, an actual good person, Marta Gabriel (who was the only one to apologize for the error) is now ending her clothing company,” writes a Matt Vicente in the most popular comment. “Nice job. And you STILL don’t get it.”