Confrontation at the Red Robin


Sell Art Online

An art dealer I know recently related this story. Now keep in mind he is not usually known for his “tact” and can come off as abrupt so I can certainly see how this scene escalated.

I recently had dinner in a Red Robin restaurant. RR as you may know covers their walls with posters and art prints.

I was sitting in a booth next to a wall with a big ugly black and white print of a cat drawing. At the table next to me there was two couples sitting there. They looked like your average to above averages, mid 30’s folks that could be lawyers, doctors, accountants, or some other profession. They were well dressed and sipping martinis.

One of them pointed of to me, or what I thought was at me but was actually just showing her friend the cat print and told her I wish I had that print for my daughters room.

Her friend jumped up, pulled a camera out of here bag and came over to the our table and asked if I mind if she took a picture of the print. She was very nice about it. I handed her a business card and said, I don’t mind, but I am sure the artist would not like it and told her that if she went to the website she could buy any number of cat prints that may work for her friend. She looked at me like I was crazy and said why should I buy one when this one is free for the taking?

I told here because what she was planning on doing was a violation of the copyright laws. She asked me if I was out of my mind and told me that if they did not want us to copy the art, they would not have it hanging on the walls where anyone can take a picture of it.

I told her that she obviously did not understand the laws and that if she would give me her email, I would send here some links. She got red in the face, told me to go F myself, clicked off several pics and went back to her table. She told the other gal and the guys what I had said and they looked at me and the girls both flipped me the bird. Their husbands were laughing their butts off and high fiving the girls like I guess you told that a******e!

These were probably very nice people. Very upper, middle class, well to do and well educated people.

These people don’t know and they don’t care about copyright laws.

I’m not a copyright lawyer but my understanding is that taking a photograph in a public place is not a violation of copyright. Unless you are going to start trying to sell copies of someone else’s image, taking a picture is not some kind of crime.

I was actually in a Red Robin yesterday (completely different coast than the above account). An unusual occurrence since its about an hour and a half from my house. But we were in the “big city” of Manchester, NH doing a bit of shopping at the mall. I did notice they had a lot of posters displayed on the ceiling of all places.

Later we went to the Currier Museum (which by the way my GPS in my Mazda CX-5 can not for the life of it – find) and noticed that they in fact encouraged social media photographs of the collection. This seems to be the trend these days to allow photography (without flash) as a way of free advertising.

The only collection that had a no photos sign was a traveling photography show that dealt with 911. I can understand not allowing photographs of photographs.

With paintings, many are way beyond their copyright expiration date the possibility of someone taking a great reproduction photo under “ok” lighting with a hand held camera is small and they sell responsibly priced reproductions in the gift shop. Beside I don’t think museums have had to deal with the same issues the movie theaters deal with – namely shady operators filming movies from under their trench coat.

Back to Red Robin – is it worth getting into a confrontation with someone taking a picture of a poster in a chain restaurant? I don’t think so. Chances are the shot will come out terrible and if nothing else it will remind the photographer to look for a legit copy of the poster. How many people follow through with anything anyway? Most likely the image will get deleted in a few weeks to make room for more. Or it will end up on social media as a promotion for the artist. The likelyhood this act will have any negative impact on the artist is rather small. And anyone who is clueless about copyrights probably is not much of an art buyer.

Personally I see my clients as a several steps above someone snapping photos at a chain restaurant.