An online following of over 617,000 folks can be a powerful negotiation tool. I read recently that a NY street-photographer leveraged his online following by “unleashing a viral whiplash” on DKNY for using some of his photographs in a Bangkok window display without permission.
Evidently, DKNY approached the photographer for permission to use some of his photographs… but the parties couldn’t agree on a price and the deal fizzled out. Yet… some of the photographer’s photographs ended up being used anyway in the window display of a DKNY store in Bangkok. Someone who happened to be familiar with the photographer’s work (possibly one of the 617,000 folks who follow the photographer online) saw the images in Bangkok and notified the photographer.
This is where it gets interesting! In response, the photographer launched the following online campaign by posting this on Facebook at 9:01am on 2/25/13 [The Facebook page for HUMANS OF NEW YORK]:
I am a street photographer in New York City. Several months ago, I was approached by a representative of DKNY who asked to purchase 300 of my photos to hang in their store windows “around the world.” They offered me $15,000. A friend in the industry told me that $50 per photo was not nearly enough to receive from a company with hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue. So I asked for more money. They said “no.”
Today, a fan sent me a photo from a DKNY store in Bangkok. The window is full of my photos. These photos were used without my knowledge, and without compensation.
I don’t want any money. But please SHARE this post if you think that DKNY should donate $100,000 on my behalf to the YMCA in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. That donation would sure help a lot of deserving kids go to summer camp. I’ll let you guys know if it happens.
The online campaign quickly transformed into viral whiplash. The Facebook post garnered over 4,500 comments the same day that it was posted and was noticed and “liked” by over 41,000 folks and was shared over 30,000 times. Within four hours, DKNY issued a prompt apology and pledged to make a $25,000 charitable donation to the YMCA in Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn in the photographer’s name. [Click to read DNKY’s statement issued at 12:52pm on 2/25/13 and the photographer’s response accepting the donation as a settlement issued at 1:18pm on 2/25/13].
Not the full $100,000 donation that was asked for… but a creative an interesting negotiation and resolution within FOUR hours. In support of this creative negotiation I “liked” the Facebook page for HUMANS OF NEW YORK, becoming follower number 617,012.
See also, a creative resolution to a trademark infringement between Franklin & Marshall college and a hot European Brand at http://wp.me/p10nNq-lu; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.
BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.