Adam and Keli – Wedding Photography, The Spaniers
Many of you followed along my saga that happened a year ago. If you want to read my full account of it, the original post is here. If you don’t have a whole day to get sucked down that rabbit hole, I’ll do my best to give you the shorthand version.
Around a year ago, I found out that Adam and Keli Spanier (Adam and Keli – Wedding Photography, AdamandKeli.com or TheSpaniers.com) had been stealing from me. The majority of my content, branding, and business efforts had been copied on their site. They stole 46 blogs of mine verbatim, including personal stories that I wrote about my husband, in which Adam sloppily swapped his wife’s name for Brians. They copied my logo, took pictures of mine and passed them off as their own, the whole nine yards. My lawyer said it was the most blatant case of copyright infringement she’d ever seen.
I felt violated. It made me angry. I wasn’t the only one.
After more digging, we found where Adam and Keli – Wedding Photography had violated not just me, but many photographers in the area and across the US with their website content. We found where they had stolen reviews, claimed they had been published in publications that couldn’t be proven, and other things that made me scared for potential couples that could be duped by The Spaniers of Adam and Keli – Wedding Photography.
The most frustrating thing of all was that a year before any of this, I was a part of a cease and desist that was sent to The Spaniers after we were able to connect them to false leads to gain their competitions confidential pricing information and other business materials. They left my business a false negative review under a fake name. This wasn’t even my first run in with Adam and Keli being dishonest.
Because my original post gained a lot of attention, I often times get asked, “So whatever happened with that couple that stole all of your stuff?”
Well, nothing. It feels like a kick to the gut every time I think about it.
This entire process was a quick lesson in how unfair the laws can be in our country. I was advised that I would absolutely win a case against them for copyright infringement. However, it would cost me $60,000 to take them to court. Even so, the estimated judgement would far supersede that number. Copyright infringement is something you can get out of it with a bankruptcy. Basically, I would spend $60,000 taking them to court, for them to flip the table, get out of a judgement with bankruptcy, and I’d be left with the legal fees.
Sounds super fun, right?
So, begrudgingly, I let the fight go. I had already racked up $5,000 in lawyer bills and had nothing to show for it. Adam and Keli Spanier stole my time, creative property and got away with it because of the way the laws are written.
At least, I thought, people would know the truth about them. Several articles about this infringement popped up on sites like Photo Stealers and in Wedding Industry Education. Adam and Keli quickly changed their URL from AdamandKeli.com to TheSpaniers.com in order to avoid those articles being associated with them in search engines.
For me the scariest part of all of this is for potential couples.
Prior to this, I would have told my couples to look up reviews. I would have told them check out full galleries of work from their potential photographers, and encouraged them to look into the publications that they have been featured in. I would have told them to make sure that they like the photographers personality! It’s so important to have a photographer you really connect with.
But now, I don’t know.
How do you ensure that your photographer isn’t stealing images from other photographers, the way Adam and Keli were doing? Is there a way to make sure that photographers like The Spaniers aren’t making fake positive reviews for themselves, meanwhile leaving negative ones for their competition? How do you make sure that the words you are reading on TheSpaniers.com aren’t someone else’s words? What about the icons on Adamandkeli.com where they claimed to be featured publications that couldn’t be found?
Your guess is as good as mine. I thought there would be a way to fight against this type of dishonesty, but it seems like the laws aren’t favorable to stop this deception from businesses like Adam and Keli Photography, The Spaniers.