Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Whole Kitsch And Kaboodle

Stealing is wrong. Steal from me and you've opened a can of worms.

In my previous post regarding "bloominidiot" and his decision to infringe my copyright, someone said, "woah dude, the person totally gave you credit..."

I would like to say that giving me "credit" is cool as long as you've had permission in the first place. What if I stole your car and drove around and told everyone, "Dude, look at my car. I took it from Eugene. He has others, too." You would be telling everyone that Eugene is your bitch and that you might go get another. Unless Eugene said, "You look like you need a car. Here, take mine." You would say, "Eugene was really cool and gave me his car." Unfortunately, Eugene woke up in the morning and didn't have a choice on which car he was going to drive.

I've been in touch with "bloominidiot." He said, "It would have been nice if you had contacted me first prior to threatening me with litigation..." I see that the shoe is on the other foot. He wanted to be contacted first — what about me? Shouldn't I have been contacted before the image was stolen? I've afforded "bloominidiot" the same courtesy that he afforded me.

Why did I head straight to the attorney? Ha! Imagine waking up one morning and your car is gone. You go searching and you find it a couple streets over in your neighbor's driveway. The doors are open and he's putting luggage in the trunk. Clearly, he has taken your car and he's not giving it back. What do you do? You could fight him (and maybe lose). You could shoot him (and go to prison). Or you could call the police and show that you are the owner of the car and let them recover it.

I sought legal council so that I didn't have to argue with some guy on the Internet.

Here is what my attorney had to say: " will be eligible for statutory damages since you timely registered your copyrights... it sounds as though you also have a claim for breach of contract. You may want to pursue this on your own in small claims court.... It technically is a willful infringement... Note that you have three years from the date of infringement to sue for copyright infringement." Hmm.

This site spells out the remedies for infringement. It's the US Copyright Office, so the info is straight from the horse's mouth. I suggest reading to the part about $150,000 for statutory damages.

Sometimes people can be so right that they are wrong. I don't want to be wrong.

If Mr. "...idiot' could find it in his heart to come to this blog, leave a comment (on this post) and admit his mistake, apologize and promise to never download anything without permission, I will call off the dogs. I believe in grace and forgiveness when a mistake has been made. I hope Corby is willing to wave The White Flag.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Sort of Birthday

Today is a special day for Tony Blei Photography (or should I say TONY BLEI PHOTOGRAPHY). Today is a day of rebirth. A sort of Birthday.

I don't think we should ever be happy with where we are. I think it's important to continually strive for excellence — and once excellence is achieved — find ways to improve. Resting is not an option.

I use to work at a couple of places where certain people didn't embrace the concept of e-mail. Oddly, one of the guys was in charge of the technology section of the newspaper (and we wonder why newspapers are in decline).

Not only is it important to be an early adopter, it's important to look for ways be be better. If you aren't continually moving and climbing, someone will step on you on their way to the top — and "The Top" is a mythical place. Our lives and careers are on an incline — or a decline — you choose.

Today, the caterpillar has shed its cocoon and a butterfly has emerged. Gone is the previous design that, for four years, was "SmartAz Photography" and in its place stands TONY BLEI PHOTOGRAPHY . This has been a long time coming and has involved a team of consultants, designers, printers and Internet gurus. TONY BLEI PHOTOGRAPHY is reborn and rebranded.

The graph for business for many photographer has gone from resembling a treacherous jeep trail to a cliff. Some have gone over, never to return. We didn't. Me an' Mrs. TONY BLEI PHOTOGRAPHY had a board meeting and decided that all of our resources would go into not only surviving in this market, but in positioning ourselves, so that in better times we would quickly recover, be stronger and in a better market position.

We aren't out of the woods yet, but clearly we're not a Babe in those Woods. If you haven't done so yet, go to our Web site and look at our new portfolio. We have a new addition that I call "Fresh Squeeze." It's new work. And that new work will be changed from time-to-time. I want it to stay fresh.

Adversity brings about change. I can't say this is a new beginning. It's a birthday. It's not a first birthday, but one of many. And like a birthday, it marks time and looks ahead to a future. A future of more change — and success.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Kaboodle of Kitsch

A few weeks ago, I had no idea who Taylor Kitsch was. Now I know.

Taylor Kitsch is a super-groovy actor that people just adore and because of their undying love they do stupid things like break the law. In my book, Taylor is a cool guy. His fans on the other hand...well...I've discovered one "bloominidiot."

I photographed Taylor Kitsch a few weeks ago at the Wolverine: X-Men: Origins premiere (that movie title has a serious colon issue). Taylor is a dude the kids were going ga-ga over. I didn't think anything of it — until last night.

In case you haven't noticed, I have a newly designed Web site. I was hangin' out admiring the place's new paint job and thought I'd take a peek at how much traffic I was getting. I thought it was interesting to see that I was getting a lot of traffic from LiveJournal (not to be confused with LiveBooks, the Web-site developer). I clicked on a link and was taken to a page that, lo and behold, had one of my pictures on it! The guy who stole my image goes by the name "bloominidiot." He really is.

Let's Review
Copyright is established at the moment I push the button on my camera. I like to think of each assignment as an opportunity to create children — and I love them all. Ok, maybe not children but how 'bout Real Estate? No? Ok, property. I push the button and create property. My property. I create the property and license it to those who are interested. Easy — unless you are a "bloominidiot."

What it is!
It is what it is — and that is Intellectual Property (told you I was smart). Intellectual Property, or IP, is a photograph, music, software and even the written word (there are more examples but I'm stoppin' here 'cause you know what I'm talkin' 'bout). This blog? Yep. It's IP and copyright protected. Tru dat!

So. I take a picture of Taylor Kitsch and it's copyright protected. What does that mean? It means that I get to determine where my pictures go and what they are used for. It also means that if some "...idiot" steals my picture of Kitsch, things will go badly for my mouse-clickity-clickin' little buddy.

"bloominidiot" may end up with his computer confiscated. He may have to pay for what he has stolen AND because I've registered the image with the Library of Congress (specifically the US Copyright Office) he will have to pay damages, including court costs. Tru dat, too!

Dude, it's only
a friggin' picture, Chillax!

So you think it's only a picture, eh? Can I have your car? After all, there are millions of 'em. I should be able to take your Escalanche, right? Well ma'am, photography just happens to be what I do for a livin', an' I don't take 'em so that you can take 'em (know what I'm sayin'). If you built a house, could I live in it for free?

Imagine a world without art. No photos, no paintings, no movies, to TV, no stories to read. All we do is work and sleep. I can hear you disagreeing because you say you would go on picnics our out to dinner. Ha! Who would decorate your restaurant or weave the basket for you picnic. Art makes our lives better; more enjoyable. Artists need to be compensated and their property protected.

What you don't know is that I only become an asshole AFTER being pissed off. Normally, I'm pretty cool (at least in my mind). If Mr. "...idiot" had written a simple e-mail and asked permission, I might have agreed. My goal, after all is to have as many people as possible see my work. More than that, though, I want people to love my work so much that they become fans who promote my photography. True fans after all, help you succeed — not steal from you.

Ironically, the movie that Taylor Kitsch was recently in has been illegally downloaded from the Internet by its "fans."

I have a couple of friends who frequent this blog. They've come to me and said they really like some of my pictures and mentioned they would like to use them for their desktops. Cool (as long as it's for personal use).

"bloominidiot" could have come to me and asked. He didn't and now I'm pissed. I'm not going get emotional though. I will leave that for the attorneys.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Hip Replacement — Expletives Included

My latest and greatest Web-site design was suppose to be up and running yesterday. If you've been to my site, you'll notice it's the same design as last week. Grrr!

I hired a designer to make me look stylish and hip. After all, last year's "hip" is this year's hip replacement. What the designer came up with is stunning. It's clean, simple and really sets off my photography.

In April the redesign was delivered to my Web host and for some reason it's taken a month to get it posted. Yesterday I received an e-mail saying the project was ready to go live. All I had to do was sign off on it.

An expletive is a word or phrase that is used to fill out a sentence or a line of verse without adding to the sense. By definition, you would think that expletives do nothing more than add fat to a sentence. This is far from the truth — especially when I saw that a switch had been made. Frankly, a lot of expletives were used. None of which were "fatty" words simply used in order to fill out my sentences. Nope. My expletives were specifically used to punctuate and communicate the fact that I was angry and not going to sign off on a foreign design.

The lesson I learned and want to tell you about is that we should always be nice to one another. Hire professionals to do that which professionals do. Pay their price (it's so worth it), but above all, be nice!

If you are a mean person, like the guy who called (before coffee) to tell me how much I "suck," you will be the equivalent of a metal trash can placed over someone's head that is being struck repeatedly with a club. You will only be annoying and provoke a negative reaction. And when your project goes bad, nobody will care.

By being nice, people think good thoughts and they might do a few extra "favors" simply because they like you (well, me anyway). Another thing about being nice is that when things go awry, you are much more credible and people will go out of their way to return you to your previous, happy state.

The new and improved Web site should be delivered tomorrow. It's going to be very nice. After redoing the files and shipping them to my site host in San Francisco, my designer called me from Seattle to make sure I was happy. She's also called my printer to make sure that work is on track and then she called a New York agency that I do business with — she wanted to ensure they were getting what they needed.

Always be nice until it's time to not be nice. Choose your words carefully and make sure your spicy expletives season your language, not make it fatty.

I would like to take this time, on this date, May the seventh, in the year of our Lord, two-thousand-and-nine, to thank you very much for coming to, and reading my Web log, also known as a blog. It is my hope that you have been most excellently uplifted by my less-than concise use of the English language.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


This isn't what I was announcing yesterday, but this is REALLY cool.

I want you to all think about this and do it!

Take an "S" and then an "M" and add it to the word, "Art."

This is one of the smARTest things around.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Coming SOON!

Read what it says above and check back Wednesday afternoon!

Now run and go play!

What are you still doing here?  GO!

Fine.  Clean up after yourself and turn the lights off when you leave.