It turns out, Marty Odom was on the clock when he snapped photos of a bare-assed man dangling from a ski-lift in Vail, Colorado earlier this year.
Now SharpShooter Imaging, the company he was working for, is threatening to sue anybody who publishes the photos, one which is published above.
But considering the photos have been posted on a multitude of websites throughout the world, SharpShooter’s lawyers will be working their asses off just sending out cease and desist letters.
Maybe one day they’ll get to me.
Odom, whose job was to photograph skiers for SharpShooter, claimed he was off the clock and using his own camera when he photographed the dangling, bare-assed man on New Year’s Day.
He submitted the photos to the Vail Daily, who published one in their newspaper as well as on their website the following day. Within a few days, he was getting calls from magazines around the world, wanting to buy rights to the images.
The exposure ended up embarrassing SharpShooter, who suspended Odom and forbade him from selling the photos because he had signed a “no-compete clause” with them.
Meanwhile, the photos and the story spread throughout the internet, landing on such sites as The Smoking Gun and Photography is Not a Crime.
But now it turns out that Odom was not only on the clock, but he was in full uniform and using a company camera. So SharpShooters officially fired him and is now claiming ownership of the photos.
A SharpShooter lawyer has since sent out cease and desist letters to the Vail Daily, who removed the photo, and to The Smoking Gun, who did not remove the photos but published the letter instead.
The letter states that anybody who publishes the photos are in violation of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 and can be liable of up to $150,000 in damages.
However, it failed to mention the “fair use” doctrine in the same copyright law that states the use of copyrighted material for the purpose of news reporting “is not an infringement of copyright.”
So maybe I should start preparing my own CYA letter.