Sue The Los Angeles Times At Your Own Risk

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An arbitrator has awarded the paper $266,000 to cover the costs of defending itself against a suit by the longtime Hollywood editorial photographer [David Strick].

via LA Observed.

There Are 11 Comments On This Article.

  1. In a country of frivolous lawsuits, not saying this was as I know nothing about it, it is good to be reminded that there is always potential repercussions if you loose aside from your own personal expenses.

  2. For those of you who still think a “work-for-hire” contract means you can claim ownership to the photographs you created working for “the man”…think again.

  3. I recommend people read the comment on this topic by the photographer, David Strick.

    “Update from Strick: He emails to say the dispute is over work he uploaded to the Times’ FTP site during the last six months of his contract. His position is the photos and stories only would have been available for use had the Times reupped his deal; the paper had a different view. ‘Basically, they were trying to get six months of my work for free, which was not my notion of an equitable situation,’ he writes.”

    So the issue was not about photos shot for hire during the contracted time period and which would appear during this time span in the Los Angeles Times, but instead the work Strick ftp uploaded to the LA Times server was shot in advance for the subsequent contract that Strick was led to believe would be forthcoming. Strick had provided the photos needed to fulfill the contract terms. By working on the photos for the subsequent contract, Strick was acting in good faith and in the LA Times best interest, and ensuring the project would enter the second period seamlessly, and that the LA Times writer(s) could work on copy, and that the editors could schedule and place the pieces in advance. Unfortunately, the paper decided to not renew the contract. This in my opinion is bad faith and Strick should have been paid the same terms as offered for the previous contract based on a percentage of photographs created. This left the unassigned, extra (call them what you will), photos in contention. Strick wanted these photos removed from the image library, for his own usage, or paid for or whatever — and rightfully so.

    I had the exact same thing happen to me 11 years ago. I worked on an ongoing assignment for a newspaper through 2 one-year contract periods. They told me a 3rd contract would be forthcoming. They gave me a list of places to photograph and I began working on them. When the 3rd contract wasn’t offered, the paper paid for the photos I’d shot in advance in a pro-rated formula.

    It’s too bad the judge in my opinion didn’t understand the matter. Or perhaps Strick’s attorney didn’t clarify it. How the LA Times which must have staff or retainer attorneys could claim over a quarter million dollars to defend itself for a matter that never came to a jury trial is mind-boggling. I hope Strick is able to appeal. What a mess.

  4. Outmaneuvered Justice

    Arbitration clauses are used more and more by companies in order to circumvent our just, judicial system.

    Arbitrators are entrepreneurs as they provide a service they get paid for. They have clients where a real judge has defendants and accusers. Big companies are regular clients, private people are one-time occurrences. It is no unimaginable to see those justice entrepreneurs lean towards regular clients more – just like other entrepreneurs do.

    On top of it, the cost of arbitration makes it prohibitive for individuals to seek justice. Arbitration is a way for big corporations to buy justice to forbid individuals to seek the help of the real courts of justice – and agree to use those expensive justice peddlers.

    Legislation is needed to fend off this attack on our fair, judicial system and make it impossible that the justice system can be declared off limits.

    I am very sympathetic to Mr. Strick’s case, which was ruled against him on a technicality. While the LA Times may have currently the upper hand, justice probably cannot be completely paid off. See at the current troubles that corporation has.

  5. The stories of Sam Zell and the Tribune (owner of LA Times) make for sad reading indeed: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303815404577335940450110800.html In the midst of all their unsavory shenanigans they somehow find time and resources to ruin contributors like Mr. Strick. I still want to know how the LA Times came up with $266,000 in costs. After all, they do have in-house counsel, lawyers on retainer, etc. Also, wasn’t the $266,000 decided by an arbitrator? I thought the whole argument by LA Times was that Mr. Strick wouldn’t go through arbitration. As far as I know, the worst part of going through an arbitrator is that it makes appeals tougher. But hey, I’m not a lawyer, just a photographer — so what do I know?

  6. Outmaneuvered Justice

    The LA Times needs those $ 266 000 to stay afloat. They can’t get the money from readers, so they have to wreck the lives of those who work for them to get it. I must say I wouldn’t be sorry to see that pirate ship sink.

    The amount of $ 266 000 for legal “fees” gives the impression that the whole arbitration system is corrupt.

    Does that newspaper actually have to prove this legal cost with receipts and real accounting, or is everything up to “creative” bookkeeping ( and shouldn’t the LA Times executives be rather more creative about their paper’s content instead?).

    It’s incredible how this corporation willfully ruins an individual. This kind of justice smells like the gunpowder years of the 1930′s in Chicago.

    It took centuries to develop the justice system we have, and which many, many countries would be grateful to have. And now we are endangering it by allowing more and more cases being handled by those paragraph hustlers?

  7. Check out the following links to the LA Times online. They used my photo, “acquired” from New York Magazine’s online site. Of course I was not contacted, paid, asked permission, or anything. And there are ads displayed on the site, so it’s making LA Times money — allegedly.

    http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/moviesnow/la-et-mn-hurricane-sandy-headed-toward-russell-crowes-noah-ark-20121029,0,5318685.story

    http://www.twylah.com/LATimesEnt/tweets/262997143625801728

    I’d consider asking them for money, but then they would probably sue me for $266,000.

    Oh well….

  8. Is there anything at all that we, as a community of photographers, can do to help David Strick? This is just awful–and unless he’s a multimillionaire, this award of more than a quarter million dollars could ruin him. How can this paper do such a thing with a clear conscience?
    And in other news of photographers being marginalized, to say the least–has anyone seen the cover of this weeks Economist? I was gripped by the heartrending close up of a man kissing a war victim’s hand. I thought it was Pulitzer worthy, and quickly searched for the cover credit, but I couldn’t find it. Anywhere. It is possible I glanced right over the credit and didn’t see it. But I did look for a long time. Has anyone else seen the photo? Any idea who took it?

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