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SyFy Uses Copyrighted Images in Their “Heroes of Cosplay” Show, Neglects to Get Permission From Photographers

by Felix Esser on 08/26/2013

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Olympus EM5 Link Cosplay shoot (10 of 23)ISO 200

Uh-oh. Someone over at NBC is in a lot of trouble now. According to this report by BGZ Studios, SyFy was using copyrighted images in their “Heroes of Cosplay” show–albeit without the photographers’ consent. And apparently, it weren’t just a few pictures, but the copyright infringement was massive. One of the photographers whose images were used without permission (let alone proper compensation) is Brian Humphrey, who happens to be an affiliate of BGZ Studios. So BGZ’s Darrell Ardita took the matter up, and sent SyFy an invoice for the eight images used in the show to which Brian holds the copyright, asking a total compensation sum of almost $ 30k, together with a detailed letter explaining the legal grounds.

However, instead of complying with the request, SyFy tried to talk their way out of the affair, stating that they had an agreement with the Cosplayers shown in the images, who happen to be the legal co-authors of the photographs. When Darrell pointed out to them that this was not the case, the people in charge at SyFy/NBC tried to put an end to the affair by threatening to compromise the careers of the cosplayers featured in the show. If you’re thinking, “WTF?” by now, we’re totally there with you. WTF indeed. So Darrell told the network that he would make things public if they would not show any desire to peacefully settle this matter, which of course they wouldn’t.

So here we are. The NBC, a TV network that one should think has enough financial resources to properly license copyrighted material, neglected to do so, and infringed several photographers’ copyrights on a considerable scale. When made aware of this, they tried to discuss their way out of it. To this point, Darrell has not heard back from them, and the matter is unresolved. In a next step, he opts to take legal action against the network, unless they meet his original deadline to settle the matter. If this story outrages you as much as it did us, what you can do to help is head over to BGZ Studios and write an email with your opinion to one of the people in charge at SyFy/NBC. And share this story. Maybe the negative feedback and PR will help bring these people to their senses.

This story comes only shortly after a stolen picture won a photography contest. It’s sad to see that copyright infringement is so commonplace, and that it’s done even by huge companies like the NBC.

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