PokerPaint is back in the headlines after receiving cease-and-desist notices from two major players in the poker industry. This week, iBus Media Inc., who owns PokerNews, and Flutter Entertainment, the parent company of PokerStars, threatened PokerPaint owner Brett Butz with legal action over the use of imagery owned by them without consent.
This story kicked off in September 2021 when disgruntled photographer Haley Hochstetler revealed that she was approached by Brett Butz asking permission to use her photos as a blueprint for artwork and she declined.
“This account reached out for my permission to use one of my photos back in June. I politely declined and explained my reasoning why. A month later, the same person messaged me, having ignored my previous wishes, with an edited image that I had told him he couldn’t create. He knows what he is doing. I told him no and he did it anyways. Some people are saying this is a “grey area” involving copyright. It’s not. He is simply stealing other photographers work without permission, illegally changing it, and selling it for a profit.”
The copyright owners were impressed with Butz’s work but still insisted that the correct process was undertaken to properly compensate the content creators.
Joe Giron wrote:
“If you are truly committed to making things right to us content creators, you need to remove all content you don’t have authorization to display or sell.Then, a process has to start to make an audit and full accounting of your sales as it relates to the sold works of art from the unauthorized usages in order to compensate us.”
After this back-and-forth, Butz apologised to all involved but was then called out for copyright breaches a couple of months later before the story died down.
Back to Old Tricks?
Fast-forward to the World Series of Poker 2022, and we see yet more allegations of improper use of copyrighted photos.
We don’t know if any photographers managed to work out a fair deal with Butz but the majority said the percentage on the table was far below their expectations.
Butz has tried to sell his artwork at premium prices and even jumped on the NFT bandwagon, but he later ended up giving away a lot of his work for free, including an NFT gift to Fedor Holz.
Holz, seeing the controversy, immediately blocked the NFT from view along with Brett Butz and PokerPaint on social media.
iBus Media Inc. insists that Butz comply with its demands by September 30 or formal legal action will begin.
Stay tuned to see where this story goes because given Butz’s abrasive attitude towards the aggrieved parties we expect there is a lot more to come.
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