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JS Callahan/tropicalpix vs Paul Taublieb/Media X ( - 2008/09/09 01:57 Hello All -

A request for suggestions:

Mr Paul Taublieb is the producer of "The Lost Wave - an African Surf Story", a recent release about a surfing trip to Sao Tome and Gabon in West Africa.

In his production, several images copyright (c) JS Callahan/tropicalpix are used for illustration. The photos are from a project I produced and photographed in Sao Tome in 2000, including one image which is the "principal plot device" on which the film is based.

The images are (c) JS Callahan/tropicalpix, and were used by Mr Taublieb without permission and without agreement for payment. I did not know my materials were used in his production until I saw the film in August last year, as I did not receive notice of use of my materials, request for a quote, or a copy of the finished film.

The broadcast rights to the film have been sold by Mr Taublieb and Media X to the National Geographic Channel, and the DVD of the film is being sold through and other outlets.

Mr Taublieb and Media X received compensation for these rights, yet have not paid for the right to use images (c) JS Callahan/tropicalpix in the film.

The images should have been cleared for use, and payment made before the release of the film. They were not.

Mr Taublieb was given an appropriate invoice for use of the images at a standard rate derived from tropicalpix, Getty Images, and Corbis industry standard rates for use. After nearly a year, he has refused to pay for use of the images although he is clearly identified as the Producer of Record for the film.

The implications are clear: if persons such as Mr Taublieb are permitted to use and profit from copyright materials without permission and without payment to the copyright holder, then what future do we; as content creators, have? The answer is none.

My attorney had advised if anyone has had a similar negative experience, not specifically but preferably with Mr Taublieb and Media X, we can establish a precedent for legal action if we must take Mr Taublieb and Media X into a courtroom.

The trailer for the film is at the link below - images (c) JS Callahan/tropicalpix appear at least eight times in the trailer, including the specific image used as a "principal plot device".

The film is being sold on at this link:

Mr Taublieb's credits as a Producer appear here, including a listing as Producer of "The Lost Wave"

The Sao Tome images used in the film are on the tropicalpix site, in the Sao Tome section.

Please let me know any suggestions you may have, and feel free to make your opinion of Mr Taublieb's business ethics regarding the concept of copyright known to him directly at

Thanks for your time and best regards,

John S Callahan, Photographer and Director, tropicalpix Pte Ltd
tropicalpix Pte Ltd
Box 881 Singapore Post Centre 914030 Singapore

Indonesia Nias
Laos - Vientiane and Vang Vieng
Comoros - Grande Comore and Anjouan
Malaysia Perhentian Islands
Oman Muscat

Cover Gallery up now:

[In addition to direct email, I will also forward messages on this matter sent to me by PM to John Callahan. Alternatively, email me at . Thanks! mediashark]
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Re:JS Callahan/tropicalpix vs Paul Taublieb/Media X ( - 2008/09/09 14:49 An Open Letter from Sam George:

My name is Sam George. Some of you know me, while some may not, but in either case it is with regret that I send you this letter. I am currently involved in a dispute with photographer John S. Callahan who, as a result of that disagreement, has indicated that he is planning to widely transmit a diatribe that could, if taken at face value, be damaging to a third party in no way involved in the imbroglio.

I am a former editor of SURFER Magazine who is now working primarily in documentary films, both writing and directing. In 2007 I co-produced a film called "The Lost Wave: An African Surf Story." As an element of that story I contacted photographer John Callahan in regards to the use of approximately 15 photos. These were taken on a trip he and I took to West Africa some seven years ago, most prominent being several of myself surfing with indigenous African villagers.

As former travel partners, our arrangement was on a verbal basis, John agreeing that, considering the film's modest budget, I could pay him "Whatever you think is fair." He then promptly and enthusiastically provided me with the photos. I agreed to pay John the same price per photo that was paid during the production of Riding Giants, one of my previous documentary projects, even though its budget was approximately 40 times that of The Lost Wave.

That amount was sent via the PayPal system, unsuccessfully, as it turned out. Many months passed before John contacted me in regards to the outstanding payment. By this time he had upped the price of the photo use considerably. I made several payments, transfering monies directly into his Singapore bank account. This, apparently, was not satisfactory to John and he has now threatening Paul Taublieb with a malicious email in an effort to coerce Mr. Taublieb into making additional payments.

On my end I never signed a model or name & likeness release for being in the photos, which John later sold to various sources, as is traditional in the surf industry (and are still up on his website today). And equally, of course, out of respect for copyright and in my capacity as co-producer of the film, I reached out to John prior to the film's release to secure his permission to use the photo, as well as offer him payment. As someone who is, more than anything, in the business of creating intellectual property, I have the utmost respect for these rights. And to be perfectly clear, the film's producer, Paul Taublieb, assigned me the responsibility to receive the clearance and that become my responsibility in its entirety.

To repeat: Lost Wave photo acquisition was my responsibility and mine alone—this was made very clear between myself and fellow producer Paul Taublieb. The issue of payment for John Callahan's photos is my responsibiity alone. I know it, John knows it. Please disregard as petty and unprofessional any other explanation you may receive.

Thank you,

Sam George
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Re:JS Callahan/tropicalpix vs Paul Taublieb/Media X ( - 2008/09/09 21:43 While waiting for a reply from John Callahan, I will add a few words.

1. The photos were provided under the pretense that they were "for a presentation", NOT as a central plot device for the film.

2. There was no need for a model release as the photos were published for editorial use. They have not been sold for any advertising use. (Except for those used in The Lost Wave.)

3. tropicalpix never received any copy of the film, nor any notification that the film had included the photo, or was to be be broadcast in Europe via NGA Channel. We were not aware of the use of the image until John Callahan SAW the film.

4. Sam George has ignored the verbal agreement for several months and beyond several deadlines to pay us "whatever you think is fair", despite the fact that I, as an assistant at tropicalpix, used my personal connections to contact him. It was until I revealed that tropicalpix was prepared to go ahead with a lawsuit, that he contacted us. There was absolutely no reason John Callahan could not be reached.

5. The payment stated in the invoice was 5040USD. Only half of this amount was paid. This includes late payment, and damages. Both Sam and Paul agreed to pay at least 4000USD. We are very grateful that Sam has been cooperative and has paid half of this invoice to the account, but Paul Taublieb has agreed to match this sum--he never did.

6. Despite what Sam George insists, when this case is brought to a courtroom, it is Paul Taublieb who will be responsible for the late payments, and it is rather unprofessional that he pushes this responsibility to Sam George. But this matter is between him and Sam and whether somebody drops the ball is not our problem and will not be. We have to follow the advice of our attorney when dealing with this case.

Thank you for your time. --mediashark/Cheryl-Ann

Reply from JS Callahan:

I agree with Cheryl-Ann's comments - she is very familiar with the case.

I don't have a beef with Sam. Sam is not the Producer of Record for "The Lost Wave".

Paul Taublieb is the Producer.

The matter of using copyright material as the "central plot device" in the film should have been addressed in the production phase.

It was not.

I did not know my images were used in the film until I SAW the film.

A year later, and Mr Taublieb has paid nothing for the use of the images.

If you can't afford, or will not pay for the use of copyright images from a professional photographer, please don't use them.

It's easy to resolve this issue. Be a professional and pay the outstanding $5540, then forward your agreement for use.

Thanks, John
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