By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily
Two social media companies intervened Monday on behalf of a Casper photographer to take down photographs that “Yellowstone” star Cole Hauser posted without the photographer’s permission.
Laura Redmond was excited to see her photo of Hauser from the Cody’s Fourth of July parade where he’d been grand marshall featured on his social media accounts. Her photos had also been used with her permission in a story about the parade by a media outlet in Casper that credited both her and her Heart of Wyoming Photography company.
Initially, she was thrilled that Hauser had shared her photo on July 7 with his more than 1.1 million Instagram followers and his more than 200,000 fans on his “Cole Hauser Fans” Facebook page. Then she noticed that unlike the media outlet, her photos on both social media sites were reposted from her company’s Facebook page without giving her credit.
When Redmond saw her photo, she posted on both of Hauser’s social media pages, thanking him for using it and asking that she be given credit for the shot. That request and a subsequent private message from Redmond went ignored.
Shortly after she’d sent the message, the photo was “pinned” to the top of his fan Facebook page, and Redmond wasn’t sure that was meant as a defiant response to her request.
She gave it about two weeks before ultimately filing intellectual property complaints with both Facebook and Instagram, which agreed that Hauser’s page had violated the terms of agreement. Her photos were removed from his two accounts on Monday.
Redmond has no idea if Hauser runs his own page or has a team or person who manages it, but as a professional photographer, she was offended by the lack of response.
“It’s cool that he or someone thought enough to take the photo, but it’s disheartening to think they didn’t think enough of me to credit it, especially in a profession where you are recognized for the work you do,” she said.
Even more disheartening for Redmond was the response from her friends who found the story interesting or funny but didn’t consider it a big deal. Others discouraged her from complaining publicly or taking legal action against Hauser because of his stardom and fears she would be attacked as a “whiner” or receive negative reviews on her business page from avid Houser fans.
When she suggested pursuing legal action – which was her next step had the social media companies not intervened – one of her lawyer friends refused to take on Redmond’s case because she said nothing good would come of it.
While Redmond understood, she still found it upsetting that movie stars are held to a different standard. Had the roles been reversed, Redmond believes she would have heard from Hauser’s team almost immediately.
Apart from not getting credit, Redmond said the larger concern for her professionally was that the tables might have been turned on her and she could have been blamed for stealing the photo from Hauser, which would have put her own reputation and career in jeopardy.
It is legal in the U.S. to take photographs of public figures without their permission as long as it is in a public place where that person would have no expectation of privacy. The photographer then holds exclusive rights to that image, per U.S. copyright laws.
As someone who studied online marketing and public relations in college, Redmond goes out of her way to credit other people for their work and would have felt bad about using someone else’s photos without permission.
“That’s why there’s a ‘share’ button to tag that person and thank them,” she said.
She wasn’t looking for an apology or payment, but just wanted to be credited for her work, she said.
“It isn’t about money,” she said. “It’s just about integrity and professional courtesy.”
She said she would have been happy to give him a copy of the photo for free had he just asked.
She added she felt validated that the social media companies took down the photos.
A message from Cowboy State Daily to the “Cole Hauser Fans” Facebook page was not immediately answered.
UPDATE: 11:43 a.m. A person from the Cole Hauser page said, “This was my fault and I took it down immediately, I saw it on a group and re-posted it, so sorry to you and the owner [sic] picture, next time I’ll credite [sic] for the photo!”
He further said he planned to contact Redmond.