Broward News

The Color Run Vs. FAU Student Photographer: Settlement Reached

Last week, we reported that The Color Run had filed a lawsuit against an FAU student who photographed one of its races and later saw his image used on the company's marketing materials.

The student, Max Jackson, had agreed to let the company use his picture on Facebook but did not expressly agree to let images be used in print. When he discovered the picture on flyers and displays in Sports Authority, he asked to be compensated $100,000.

The Color Run, in its lawsuit, included a copy of a letter from Jackson with the $100,000 request, and later said that Jackson had privately upped his demand to $300,000.

The parties also tangled over Jackson claiming on Facebook that he had been employed by the Color Run. Jackson explained that he had worked for a Color Run subcontractor setting up and breaking down courses for the races.

Various photography blogs covered the dispute, and Jackson raised over $5,000 for his legal defense on a GoFundMe page.

In any case, yesterday, Jackson confirmed that the parties "did settle and it would not have happened without everybody's help." He said that anyone who donated to his case would have their money refunded.

The Color Run's founder, Travis Snyder, issued a statement:

I want to sincerely thank every one out there for their voice and support to us and these issues. This could have dragged on for years without it. We have been able to reach a joint agreement, that alleviates both the needs of and The Color Run. We are happy to have avoided the drain of the legal system and look forward to continued great products from each of our companies.

As referenced in yesterdays statement (written below), my hope was always that we would be able to reach a mutually fair resolution, and I am grateful that through this weekend we were able to resume discussions with Max and come to a solution.

I do want to be clear that the recently resolved issues were never about The Color Run lifting and stealing images. We made a contractual "use" agreement with Max and in return received high resolution, un-watermarked images for use. The problems arose from a poorly worded, semi-verbal, semi-written contract. We each had a genuine misunderstanding about the parameters of that agreement regarding attribution of Max's name. The recent negotiations revolved around what a fair solution was to that misunderstanding.

Lessons Learned:

-If you are a business, when sourcing images, be explicitly clear about the use, compensation, and parameters of the agreement with the photographer. Make sure all of it is in writing and you will ultimately help protect each other.

-If you are a photographer, understand the level of access you are providing and also protect yourself with clear, written, release agreements.

-Lastly, if for some reason neither of these things happen enter into a respectful and ethical discussion about how to resolve the issue. Bottom line, in our new social/visual/online world, businesses and photographers need a great relationship more than ever. Assume the best each in other and make it work.

There is no doubt that the social media voices on both sides and middle of the issue helped provide perspective to this process. I sincerely appreciate those that engaged thoughtful perspectives on the situation and how to resolve it.


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