Daniel Negreanu Calls Out PokerPaint in Photographer Copyright Row

9 months ago
Daniel Negreanu Calls Out PokerPaint in Photographer Copyright Row
28 Sep

Daniel Negreanu has joined calls for poker photographers to be credited and paid in a copyright row involving PokerPaint, with the self-styled “artwork for gamblers and high rollers” company accused of stealing others’ work...

Hayley Hochstetter, head of the WSOP photo team for the PokerNews outlet, was distinctly unimpressed with PokerPaint, having already refused permission for them to use one of her photographs in stylized form.

“This account reached out for my permission to use one of my photos back in June", Hochstetter revealed on Twitter. She added: “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.”

PokerPaint have produced, or reproduced, images of Phil Hellmuth, Phil Galfond, Matt Berkey, Dan Cates and Jason Koon among others, their version of Koon currently on sale for $1500.

With PokerPaint launching the disputed artwork as NFT collectibles on OpenSea recently, it is a potentially extremely lucrative art market.

The person, or people, behind PokerPaint – reported to be poker player Brett Butz – claimed they were doing nothing wrong when the story broke on social media.

“I understand a lot of you may be upset that I saw a photo on social media and loved it enough to imitate it in a very different style,” the PokerPaint account posted. “No, I'm not opposed to giving photographers a %, it's hard work. I also challenge you to at least try to draw a similar style before criticizing the project I've worked tirelessly on for the past 3 years. You can find my contact information on my site if you believe your content was stolen and will be happy to figure out a much more positive approach.”

That cut no ice with Hochstetter, who replied:

“You can’t “see a photo on social media,” save it, put a filter on it, & sell it. You’re not imitating, you’re stealing. We as the creators aren’t obligated to a percentage when it’s ours to begin with. The fact that you cut out the COPYRIGHTED WATERMARK. You know what you’re doing.”

Several poker players who had either bought, or been the subject of the colourful, filtered-photographic content were extremely unhappy to find out how the artwork was produced.

KL Cleeton tweeted:

“I still love my piece, but, as a former video producer/content creator, I 100% want to see the photographers of the original images made whole. Hoping everyone involved can work together to come to mutually beneficial agreements.”

Josh Burkhalter was similarly unimpressed...

While some were debating whether PokerPaint’s version of the unattributed photographs and uncompensated photographers were simply “derivative” or “transformative”, Hochstetter made it very clear where she stands on the issue.

“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.”

Hochstetter’s colleagues in the poker photography world have also spoken out against PokerPaint.

Joe Giron told USPoker’s Sean Chaffin:

“No one from this company has contacted me to license my copyrighted photographs for a fee or seek permission to create artwork or NFT.”

Others, such as Danny Maxwell, tweeted their thoughts.

“Go ahead and make your own "art" but what you're doing with these photos created by photographers is stealing & you then monetize them. No if/and/buts about it.”

Butz and PokerPaint have been approached for comment on the allegations.

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Andrew from Edinburgh, Scotland, is a professional journalist, international-titled chess master, and avid poker player.Read more


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