Beware of False DMCA Takedown Notices

photo of model taken at red rock canyon

Canadian photographer Réjean Brandt organized a portfolio shoot while vacationing in Las Vegas, Nevada. The images posted on Facebook garnered some positive feedback, but were abruptly taken down soon after for reasons unknown.

Why? Brandt had received an email from Red Rock Canyon stating that they would seize his equipment if he didn’t take down all photos taken on State Property or of State Property without a permit. According to the email, the permit costs $200 a day, but the fine for each photo would be 10 times the cost of the permit which translates to $2,000 per photo!

Please find the enclosed copy of State law regarding photography on State property or of State property.

It has become evident to us, that you have violated State Law and are now subject to fines.

It appears that on February 15th of 2013 that you photographed a model within the State park boundries, that you have attached your name to such photos and that contitutes advertising and as such, is a violation. Per each occurance of every photo we find, your fine will be 10 times the cost of the permit, had you filed for one. Your Permit costs would have been $200 for one day, your fines will be $2,000 per photo that we will find. We will contact the local authorites in your province to insure collection of monies or the seizure of equipment.

We will also be notifying the Federal Park Authorities of possible violations on their land as well.

You will have 24 hours before this matter is turned over to the State’s Attorney General for prosecution. to remove any and all photographs taken on State Property or of State Property without a permit. As the photographer, you and you lone are responsible for removing ALL photographs from prior receipients, internet advertisingagencies, social media sites, etc.

-[—- Burke]
Red Rock Canyon Conservation Group

photo of model taken at red rock canyon
Brandt had to blur out the background after receiving the notice.

Brandt, being from another country, heeded the warning and took the photos down immediately. He later apologized to the representing officer from Red Rock Canyon in the hopes of rectifying his mistake by buying a permit, to which the mysterious Mr. Burke replied:

Dear Sir,
This is not a matter that we discuss. We are only the conservation group and we only notify the proper authorities. It will be up to them to discuss any terms.
If you removed any photos, there will be nothing for them to prosecute you for. In the future, please fill out the appropriate forms for the property you will be photographing on. Just about ALL public property, Federal, State, County and City, require a filming permit and insurance. Even some local homeowner associations require these, but that is a civil matter.
You were among 12 photographers who received notice yesterday.
Please note: Your pleading of not knowing is of no importance to us as we here are aware of property copyright laws of Canada.
[— Burke]
Red Rock Canyon Conservation Group

Long story short, no one at the official office of the Red Rock Canyon had any knowledge of Mr. Burke or the ‘Red Rock Canyon Conservation Group’. In fact, the law enforcement head mentioned that these things happen and that they are usually pretty lenient when it comes to smaller gigs, but stressed the importance of acquiring a permit.

While it’s good practice to do your research about locations and any required permits beforehand, be wary of suspicious emails and notices especially if they come from a questionable email address. For official business, a “.gov” email is usually used, along with official documents or letterheads.

Brandt has now reposted the controversial images non-commercially.

photo of model taken at red rock canyon photo of model taken at red rock canyon

Patricia Ramos

Patricia Ramos

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.