In September, a controversy erupted after several prominent poker photographers accused an art company Poker painting for using their photos without permission or compensation.
Based in Washington, DC, and managed by a poker player Brett Butz, Poker Paint commercially sells artwork and NFTs by taking a photo and slightly modifying it into stylized, multi-colored versions. In the process, all copyright watermarks, often including the photographer’s name, are removed.
Hayley hochstetler, who took pictures for both Run Good Poker Series and PokerNews, was one of the first to denounce the practice of Poker Paint.
This account asked me for permission to use one of my photos in June. I politely declined and explainedâ¦ https://t.co/lILFKh6X6m
“He’s been doing it for a while” Eric harkins masters of the image added at the time. “We don’t hate his business, but we are frustrated with his ethics – or the lack of it.”
The problem is with copyright, including Poker Paint profiting from the work of others without permission, let alone compensation.
“A copyright infringement occurs when another person exercises one or more exclusive rights of the copyright owner without their permission,” explains the Professional Photographers of America website.
Initially, Butz was on the defensive against criticism on social media, believing that his work represented original works. However, he said he was “not opposed to giving photographers a percentage.”
Poker Photographers Danny maxwell, Drew amato, and Joe giron were among those who asked Poker Paint to remove the applicable illustrations and be compensated.
âIf you are truly committed to doing it right for us, the creators of content, you must remove all the content that you do not have permission to display or sell,â Giron wrote. âThen a process has to start to do a full audit and accounting of your sales in relation to the works of art sold from unauthorized uses in order to compensate us. “
Eventually, Butz issued an apology promising changes to its business model before removing all applicable elements from its website and social media.
The case seemed to subside after that, but was recently revived when it was alleged that Poker Paint continued to sell copyrighted material.
The controversy is reborn
On December 5th, Maxwell noticed that his work, among other things, was still being used by Poker Paint. He then called Butz on Twitter.
âBrett, you still use copyrighted images in your images, mine is included, please cease and desist and remove all / part of my photos from these images,â Maxwell wrote.
Butz responded with a tweet that read, “Let’s not give this guy a platform, thank you.”
Prize-nominated poker journalist Christian Zetzsche replied, âThere are several copyrighted images that I can spot in seconds over which you have no rights. It doesn’t seem like you’ve learned any lessons from the previous offense.
Poker pro Daniel Strelitz then approached the problem by asking if it was a legal or moral problem.
The poker media and content creators were quick to step in.
âYes, it is clearly illegal. What do you think would happen to you if you took Avengers: Endgame, put it through a Snapchat filter, and tried to sell Blu-rays? ” Thomas “SrslySirius” Keeling responded.
“What he is doing is absolutely illegal and he is well aware that it is … many large poker entities have served him with cease and desist letters and he is knowingly violating these … lawsuits. of the next step, ” Dan Ross of Hold’em Media said.
PokerNews spoke to several poker photographers who have confirmed they have sent Butz and Poker Paint a ceasefire.
In addition to poker photos, Poker Paint offers several other collections inspired by monuments, animals, etc. For example, they used several scenes from Star Trek and turned them into works of art as part of the “Star Trek: Lower Decks” collection. .
Butz responds for Poker Paint
PokerNews contacted Butz for clarification of the situation.
âI try to work with almost everyone,â Butz said. âThe only reason it’s dragging on is because some people wanted 40%â¦ 40%, that’s kinda ridiculous. I respect the shoot for that, but it’s not that important in the creation process, I went from 2% to 20-25%.
When asked if he could share the names of the photographers he currently works with, Butz replied: âThere aren’t as many people as I thought, but there will be plenty of ambitious photographers with whom. work over the summer at the next WSOP!
When asked again if there were any photographers working with Poker Paint who PokerNews could check, Butz simply said, “I don’t see why this is relevant.”
PokerNews then asked if Poker Paint had changed anything in the way they do things (ie not using certain images, asking permission from photographers, etc.).
âLots of things, I’m not a fan of the way you ask those questions,â Butz retorted.
He added: “They decide to slander my business instead of reaching out to me? It’s already exploded more than it should.
When asked who made up ‘they’, how they slandered the company and whether or not Butz believed those who spoke out had legitimate concerns, he replied: ‘It is being discovered. . “
Butz declined to elaborate on what exactly “to be understood” meant.
PokerNews spoke to several poker photographers and while a privileged few confirmed that they were in talks with Butz, others firmly stated that they had no interest in working with Poker Paint.