Why I Will Never Support Spirit Tribe or Native Noise Festival
About Spirit Tribe and Native Noise Festival
I can say with confidence that I will never support Spirit Tribe, Native noise festival, or any event associated with spirit tribe. Spirit Tribe is a NYC based psytrance event crew that puts on Native Noise Festival at Echo Lake in Afton, NY annually as well as a number of smaller scale events in NY regularly.
My reasons for saying so are simple:
Primarily, I am refusing to ever support Spirit Tribe or any event put on by Spirit Tribe because of Spirit Tribe's assumption that consent exists where it has not been granted, their willful infringement, their failure and continued refusal to engage with me directly in order to rectify the situation. I will continue to demonstrate direct examples here, and in future posts.
Additionally, after closely reading Spirit Tribe's publicly published Sales Agreement and Photo Policy for Native Noise Festival, Spirit Tribe's publicly published Vendor Contract, Spirit Tribe's Musician Contract as provided to me by a trusted source, and The Spirit Tribe Shop/The Pearl Charmer's publicly published Sales Agreement I am further refusing to support Spirit Tribe or attend any Spirit Tribe event because, in black and white, their policies are merely self-serving and run counter to any outward claim they make of "Community" and "good vibes." Again, I will continue to clearly demonstrate this via examples here and in future posts, based off their own documented policies.
In the meantime, you can look up Spirit Tribe's publicly available policies to decide for yourself what is truly Community-oriented, and what is, in a word, ludicrous.
(Seriously, some of you complained about my "unreasonable" proposal to either pay a $3,843 invoice OR request that they instead delete the photos in question yet Spirit Tribe tries to require your consent to a $5,000 penalty fee for "findings of copyright," "damages of defamation," and threatens to hold you liable for "any damages or emotional distress" caused by, among other things, "negative energy pointed towards us" after completing a purchase?..)
This blog post is not, nor has it ever been, a personal vendetta against one event crew or individuals within that crew. Photographing for the Daily Hampshire Gazette required me to be aware of these potential issues, from day to day, assignment to assignment, and required me to remain emotionally detached enough to be willing and able to record truthfully what I saw around me. I could not function as a photojournalist, otherwise. Spirit Tribe and Native Noise Festival is merely indicative of the kind of rot, hypocrisy, deflection, consent issues, and cowardice that I see infecting multiple scenes from within. This blog post just happens to be documenting my experiences with Spirit Tribe as the most obvious and most current example.
Allow me to be absolutely clear: I refuse to support any Tribe, crew, organization, festival, event, or promoter that willfully engages in any potentially predatory behavior towards their Community, upholds questionable policies towards their Community's children, and refuses to accept any responsibility when held to account by their own Communities.
I hope you, dear Reader, will feel the same.
17:02, 16 Aug 2018:
I have updated this post to reflect what has grown far beyond the bounds of my original post. Yes, Spirit Tribe has deleted the photo that began this whole mess. Yes, I had taken this post down, initially as a gesture of good will and good faith, while requesting input from Spirit Tribe to in order to truly seek to exonerate people based on potential new developments. Without a willingness to engage, professionally, that is impossible; therefore, I was left with no alternative to re-release this blog post live, with appropriate updates.
In the meantime, through private contact between myself and Eric Allen, it is clear that this is something that will remain irreconcilable. As a result am forced to stand by the truthfulness of this post's original claims by placing initial responsibility of copyright infringement squarely on Spirit Tribe, and to also shine a very bright spotlight on Spirit Tribe's refusal to publicly acknowledge their culpability and make amends to the people directly involved.
Over the course of collecting the information that I need to properly document my experiences with Spirit Tribe, more and more information came to light about the kinds of practices they truly engage in within the greater Community, the level of emotional deflection they are willing to engage in, and the degree that Spirit Tribe is comfortable manipulating the Community for their benefit. All of it documented with screenshots, direct links to appropriate publicly available content, and documents provided by a trusted source.
This is not okay, and it is impossible for me to remain silent over what I see as clear problems. I have altered sections of this post to reflect more clearly the very public stance that I am willing to take. This has never been all about me. This has never been about Eric Allen or Mickayla Gibson, personally, no matter how much they try to make it seem so.
The screenshots I've collected since this blog post first went public have been very revealing. If making a public stand against the predatory practices of one event crew is enough for individual people to make very publicly absurd calls for me to be "banned from psytrance," or make public offers to DDOS my website, or issue poorly worded threats to "go after this fucking asshole...we need to this ashole he deal with Wrong crowd" or make emotionally manipulative and libelous claims of me being "one specific person" making them feel they "should just be in the ground" and that I am making them "sure know [they] should feel this way," rather than face your own culpability, your own hypocrisy, your own "negative energy," or if people continue to remain unwilling to honestly acknowledge the problems infecting this scene from within your own precious community, or if people within this scene remain willing to scream about "vibes" yet turn away from what is right, then this scene is not rotting. It's rotten.
22:18, 03 Aug 2018:
As of Monday, 30 Jul 2018, Spirit Tribe has removed the image in question below, prominently linked in three locations for promoting Native Noise Festival. I have reached out to Spirit Tribe and offered to assist in moving forward by helping to craft a more child-friendly photo policy. I also signaled a willingness to issue an immediate and public retraction and apologies to Spirit Tribe, should new information received by me on Tuesday exonerate Spirit Tribe as acting in good faith. Spirit Tribe via Eric Allen, refused to consider further contact until this blog post was removed. As an act of good faith, I removed the blog post on Tuesday and informed Eric directly of the post's status in multiple locations, and reminded Spirit Tribe of my willingness to issue an appropriate apology and retraction should any new information come to light, and corroboration of any new information would require cooperation and assistance on the part of Spirit Tribe.
As of today, I have received no response, nor any signal from Spirit Tribe that they wish to receive any retraction or apology from me by corroborating information I received that has the potential to demonstrate that Spirit Tribe acted in good faith up to the point of choosing not to respond to my initial contact on 26 Jul 2018.
Therefore, this post is re-released as live with appropriate updates made for accuracy as the story evolves. Edits will be on-going as needed.
Spirit Tribe took a photograph from DJ Miah Love's profile that I created. It depicts his likeness and displays artwork created by Diana Lunorb and Kalomo Jordan for Heady, an an unrelated event, for LoveTribe, an unrelated crew, incorporated it into an advertisement for Native Noise Festival 2018 on 25 Jul 2018, and then posted it onto Facebook in multiple places. Spirit Tribe deleted photos in question linked to from the promotional images in question on Monday, 30 Jul 2018, within about four hours of this post going live. Continuing efforts to resolve the issue based on new information received on Tuesday, 31 Jul 2018 and an offer to assist in crafting a more community-friendly photography policy remain ignored. Additionally, Spirit Tribe continues to refuse to directly address any of the issues I raised over their Photography Policy, especially as it relates to children who attend their events.
The photo used for Spirit Tribe's marketing collateral was textually watermarked by me with my name visible, and the event crew's website visible, part of my normal workflow prior to delivery of images. Additionally, the photo link it was taken from clearly shows me as the photographer based on the conversation about the photo. The image was appropriated into a Spirit Tribe "Sound Shaman Spotlight" profile graphic, altering the original photo, and obscuring the watermark.
I have reached out to Spirit Tribe to do the right thing in this regard: pay me for commercial use of my image, or remove any advertisement and any post containing the image. Not only have they refused to contact me directly, Eric Allen, co-founder of Spirit Tribe, reached out to Miah in an effort to find out if they could continue using it, instead. Clearly, it is seen as having value in Spirit Tribe's eyes:
It should also be noted that Miah informed Eric that he does not, to the best of his knowledge, have any usage rights to the photo and re-iterated to Eric that he, too read the email I had sent repeating my request to be paid for the photo for Spirit Tribe to remove it. He went so far as to remind Eric to "work it out" with me and that he would repost it if satisfactory arrangements were made. Per Eric's request to Miah, he had been informed by Miah that he did not have usage rights and that Miah had removed the photo from his own profile. Why was this not sufficient?
Spirit Tribe's Native Noise Festival Photo Policy as of 26 Jul 2018
I searched their photo policy posted online to see where they could make any claim to my photography. One slightly concerning thing I noticed was although it was not particularly difficult to find, it is also not very clear where it can be quickly located.
As written, no condition exists to where Spirit Tribe would have any rights to my photo: I have never photographed for Spirit Tribe, nor have I ever attended an event hosted by Spirit Tribe. The photo of Miah was not taken at an event hosted by Spirit Tribe. The photo of Miah was released only for use on social media non-commercially. Additionally, the photo was released to LoveTribe for their marketing collateral in exchange for them providing me a few perks and granting my access to their event.
Neither LoveTribe, nor myself, have ever released my photos taken and hosted on social media for commercial purposes. In order for me to legally do so, in this specific case, a model release from Miah and property releases from Kalomo and Diana would need to be signed to me before I could assign and license commercial use rights to Spirit Tribe. Again, to date, none of which exists in full.
Additionally, any agreement between myself and LoveTribe had been made as a verbal agreement between myself and LoveTribe. In general, this does not create a work-for-hire situation where any copyrights would belong to LoveTribe. Without getting into an in-depth analysis, according to United States Copyright Law, a work-for-hire relationship is generally based on a written agreement. Since no work-for-hire relationship was agreed upon in writing, copyright status legally remains by default, with me, the photographer.
I am including the full text of my email sent to Spirit Tribe here at 19:52, 26 Jul 2018:
Hi Eric, Mickayla, Spirit Tribe, et al!
I was going through my paperwork the other day, and noticed a discrepancy that I thought you could help me clear up.
In your marketing collateral for Native Noise Festival 2018, a photo of mine appears to be used in one of your most recent ["Sound Shaman Spotlight" graphics], depicting Miah Love, a DJ. https://www.facebook.com/djmiahlove
I have searched my records from 09 Apr 2016, the original date of the photo's public release, through yesterday, 25 Jul 2018, the first date that the altered photo was used commercially by Spirit Tribe. I have been unable to find any record of a commercial-use license purchased by Spirit Tribe authorizing any rights of use to Spirit Tribe.
This is causing me great confusion, especially since the photo itself had been taken at a LoveTribe/Awake Productions event for LoveTribe/Awake Productions's future marketing collateral. It is also important to note that the image depicts artwork created by Diana Lunorb, aka Artemis, and Kalomo Jordan, aka Meszenjah/Om Olak, both active members of LoveTribe/Awake Productions, and for LoveTribe/Awake Productions' use. To the best of my knowledge I have never been hired by, or taken photos for, Spirit Tribe or any of Spirit Tribes frequent events, nor has any agreement to license photos been made between myself and Spirit Tribe. Also, to the best of my knowledge, no agreement has been made between Spirit Tribe and anyone else that I am currently affiliated with to share any of my image rights.
To put it simply: Any model release, licensing/usage rights, property release, or any other agreement on that specific photo of Miah would fall between him, myself, LoveTribe/Awake Productions, and/or anyone else to whom I am able to legally assign my rights. Spirit Tribe and I have no such agreements in place.
Did Mickayla have a difficult time in finding who the original photographer was for the image of Miah? I have screenshots of her, in a different photography related thread dated 18 Jun 2018, confidently expressing that she will "give credit whenever [she] can find the information. It's a photographer's job to ensure his/her watermark is on their photos when sharing them with the public and other blogs..." To date, this has not happened, and I am happy to provide those screenshots, if you like.
Regardless, “proper credit" does not clear up any commercial usage issues created by altering my original photo, obscuring the watermark, and placing it in an obvious advertisement for Native Noise Festival 2018. Properly licensing my photo will.
From which link below did Mickayla appropriate my photo? After all, a token glance at any of the links I've provided below will very easily demonstrate that, I, in fact, have and regularly do watermark my images for the very purpose of easy identification. I imagine that one could even more clearly see the watermark if one were inclined to magnify the image on any modern electronic display. If it had been via one of the links where a conversation between myself and Miah had taken place, Facebook creates a clickable link on my name which would easily bring one to my Facebook profile, where contacting me directly is an equally trivial effort.
Moving forward, for what it is worth, I do have permission from Miah, from Diana, and from Kalomo to license this specific image depicting their respective likeness, and/or intellectual property for Spirit Tribe's commercial use.
The point to all of this is simple. Spirit Tribe can appropriately help clear up the discrepancy by doing one of the following:
1) Purchase a license for Spirit Tribe's commercial use. The photo is not authorized for use by Spirit Tribe for any purpose that falls outside of Fair Use. Publishing the altered photo on a page linking to ticket sales falls under commercial use, and is not authorized by myself nor is it allowed under Fair Use provisions.
Is there an address where you'd prefer me to send an invoice? My time at the LoveTribe/Awake Productions event was roughly five hours, plus expenses including round trip travel from Boston to New Haven and parking, plus time editing, plus a licensing fee. This would NOT include my time actually traveling to and from Boston to New Haven, just gas.
My hourly rate is 300/hr for the first hour, and $200/hr per additional hour (listed here: alphajulietfoxtrot.com/rates )
To base it on just my hourly rate, at 4 hrs, my fee would be $900 but I am willing to offer Spirit Tribe a one time discounted purchase price for the image as full resolution, 16-bit TIFF, with full usage rights, including commercial use, for $375.
2) Please remove any and all advertisements containing my photo immediately.
The links to the original photo are as follows:
Original Photo Released to and licensed only for Social Media use clearly showing LoveTribe related links, watermark and contact info (09 Apr 2016):
Original Photo in use by Miah on his personal profile clearly showing partial watermark and contact info. If you follow the comment thread it is also very clear who the original photographer is: (09 Apr 2016)
Original Photo in use by Miah reposted his personal profile clearly showing watermark and contact info (26 Jun 2017):
Original Photo in use by Miah on his DJ profile clearly showing watermark and contact info (09 Apr 2016):
Current links with my unauthorized photo:
Eric Allen's personal profile on 25 Jul 2017 (https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100010172713593)
In the event page for Native Noise Festival 2018 on 25 Jul 2017 (Posted by Spirit Tribe: https://www.facebook.com/SpiritTribeCommunity)
And in the community page for Native Noise Festival on 25 Jul 2017 (https://www.facebook.com/NativeNoiseFestival)
In the future, please make sure to actually contact the photographer whose images Spirit Tribe would like to use, pay the photographer for the correct usage rights to the photo, and use the images properly under the terms of the rights/license purchased from the photographer.
Thank you for your very prompt assistance in resolving this discrepancy. I will be checking back tomorrow morning.
Love and Light!
An Open Letter to Spirit Tribe:
Dear Spirit Tribe,
When I reached out to Spirit Tribe, I gave until the morning of 27 July 2018. You obviously received and read my email because Eric Allen, co-founder of Spirit Tribe, contacted Miah, instead of me, to address my concerns. In the original email, I had given a written time frame of "tomorrow morning" to reply, approximately fourteen hours from the time I sent the email. Within about four hours you had chosen to reach out to Miah directly, instead of to me, so clearly you had access to email and could have contacted me right away to clear the matter up. You didn't. Rather than confront over it, I continued to quietly give you more time, and you've continued to brush me off, and during the course of that time continued to promote for Native Noise Festival, even until Monday 30 Jul 2018 at 09:37AM. I published this blog post at approximately 12:00 on the same day, after you were given approximately four days to respond.
I had hoped you would choose to do the right thing and reach out to me, the copyright holder, in order to quickly resolve the issue. Instead you chose to respond to Miah, who informed you that the status of any usage rights on the photo you chose was very unclear immediately, and chose to continue ignoring me in favor of continuing to promote for Native Noise Festival. Therefore, I am free to conclude that theft, assuming consent exists where there is none, and hypocrisy is acceptable to Spirit Tribe.
According to your own contract, titled "Musician Contract Terms and Agreements" you clearly know the importance and value of respecting the copyrights of photographers, proper credit, and proper licensing of images for promotional use.
Excerpts From Spirit Tribe Document Titled "Musician Contract Terms and Agreements"
If you require the very same considerations for your photography as I would for my own, then you should know better than to steal someone else's photography no matter where you found it, especially after one of your co-founders publicly declares that she always make an effort to contact the photographer and that "it is the photographer's job" to ensure that their images are properly watermarked when sharing them publicly. In this light, it is an act of profound hypocrisy for Spirit Tribe to STILL take my photo without my consent, alter it in such a way that it obscures/crops out the very watermark you insist is so important, and then incorporate it into an advertisement in a very obvious a violation of United States Copyright Law.
It is not the victim's job to prevent theft; it is the thief's responsibility to not steal.
When confronted about it by me, directly, Eric tried to find ways to continue to avoid engaging with me by reaching out to Miah to see if there was any way that he could continue using my photo to advertise for Native Noise Festival.
Consider this to be the only opportunity, and a very firm learning opportunity, that I will give for you and Spirit Tribe to do the right thing by me, yourselves, the artists, and the very community you claim to support and be a part of by doing one of the following:
Pay me for the appropriate rights to use my photo to advertise your event, a desire Eric Allen clearly expressed to Miah. Unfortunately, I am no longer offering it to you at the discounted price of $375 that I had proposed via email on 26 Jul 2018. Eric's obvious and willful attempt to continue using my image to promote Native Noise Festival 2018 via Miah, who has no legal rights to do so, in order to avoid engaging with me directly has destroyed any chance of that.
The price for full-usage rights, including commercial rights, to my photo is now $3,843 based on the following:
$1,200 - 5 total hours at event
$800 - 4 hrs time spent on emails, conversations, phone calls, text messages
$600 - Over 100 miles driving
$400 - 2 hrs editing/post-production
$375 - Licensing Fee
$200 - Wasting my time fee
$112 - Insurance
$50 - Creative Editing fee
$30 - Tolls
$26 - Misc Fees
Delete my photo immediately, including any and all advertisements and marketing collateral, from any and all online pages, groups, social media accounts, properties owned by Spirit Tribe and/or members of Spirit Tribe, Spirit Tribe's agents, assigns, vendors, and/or anyone else affiliated with Spirit Tribe, and or anyone else potentially affiliated with Spirit Tribe or Native Noise Festival and never again try to appropriate any other image of mine, or any other photographer, for any purpose related to or affiliated with Spirit Tribe, et al. without properly licensing it first, licensing that you require for your own photographic works.
AND (in either case)
Issue a public apology to Miah for putting him in an uncomfortable position due to Spirit Tribe's assumption of consent existing where there was none; to LoveTribe, in particular to Diana Lunorb, and Kalomo Jordan, for appropriating an image depicting their artwork commercially, again, by assuming consent existed where there was none; to your Community including, but not limited to, members and representatives of your fellow Tribes, crews, groups, festivals, attendees, vendors, venues, and families for making yourselves a very poor example of PLUR, Community, Vibes, and Spiritual Wokeness by engaging in behavior that runs counter to the incredibly thin veneer of Love and Light that you market for yourselves; and, finally, to me for stealing my image, hypocritically declaring that you make every effort to properly contact and credit the creators of images you decide to appropriate while obviously refusing to do so when given the opportunity to live up to your bullshit, trying to find a way to continue using an image you'd stolen, ignoring my outreach to you, and wasting my fucking time when all you needed to do was take five minutes to reach out to me directly and ask if you could make use of a photo (which I would have gladly granted for proper credit back) or reached out to Miah to ask if he had a specific photo that he wanted to use for your festival's Woke "Sound Shaman" Profile Spotlights, the way that a real and professionally run organization normally would.
AND (in addition to the above)
Change your photography policy into one that is friendly to the following: Your photographers and your brand, the attendees who show up to your events, and to the children of those attendees that you place at incredible risk to their safety in the name of marketing and advertising your events, potentially exposing them to domestic abuse situations, family court problems, and other potential legal issues, by requiring that their consent is given by default to be photographed by your photographers while additionally claiming ownership of any photography taken by any attendee naive enough to be present at your events.
Until you fully comply with all four terms as listed above, and I will accept no less, I will continue to ensure that any artist, photographer, crew, tribe, promoter, organizer, or potential attendee, any other member of our shared communities, anyone I am personal friends with, or anyone else no matter how remotely relevant they are is made very aware of Spirit Tribe's practices, the manner in which Spirit Tribe inappropriately uses other artists' intellectual property, Spirit Tribe's underhanded responsiveness and refusal to professionally address concerns when contacted directly about them, and Spirit Tribe's total disregard for the safety and privacy of any child unfortunate enough to be brought to Native Noise Festival or any other event hosted by Spirit Tribe as a result of Spirit Tribe's predatory photo policy.
All of this could have been very easily avoided if:
- Eric Allen or Mickayla Gibson of Spirit Tribe had reached out to me directly to work things out after my initial notification via email
- Eric Allen or Mickayla Gibson of Spirit Tribe had just bothered to reach out to me directly about using my photo of DJ Miah Love for a Native Noise Sound Shaman Profile
- Eric Allen or Mickayla Gibson of Spirit Tribe had just bothered to reach out to DJ Miah Love about which photo he would have wanted to use for a Native Noise Sound Shaman Profile
Document Edits and Alterations
16 Aug 2018
- Update "Status Update" section
- Updated Blog Title
15 Aug 2018
- Updated "About Spirit Tribe and Native Noise Festival 2018" section to better state reasons for refusing to support Spirit Tribe or Spirit Tribe events and to clearly state that issues raised are not personal in nature but are intended to raise Community awareness to problematic behavior within "the Scene" itself.
- Updated TL; DR section to clarify more precisely summarize where issues remain
- Added direct links in anchor text to Spirit Tribe's publicly accessible policies
03 Aug 2018
- Added "Potentially" to Blog Post Title
- Added paragraph explaining how work-for-hire status does not apply between myself and LoveTribe. Linked externally to US Copyright publication, and American Bar Association for reference
- Added screen-shot with caption for morning of Monday, 30 Jul 2018
- Added references to the time, to the dates, when my original email was sent, and Spirit Tribe's initial response to Miah was sent. Time difference was approximately within four hours.
- Added section describing, and referencing direct quotes, from Spirit Tribe's "Musician Contract Terms and Agreements"
- Added "licensing that you require for your own photographic works"
- Altered text with H3 tags, bold face, and/or italicization in places for better emphasis
- Emphasized Miah's actions were taken in good faith, explaining to Eric, of Spirit Tribe, that there were doubts to correct usage rights to the photo selected by Spirit Tribe
- Removed references to "The Radial Engine Tribe" from watermark from banner photo, and in image caption. Rephrased to "at a public event before doors opened in Brooklyn, NY"
- Updated grammar and punctuation document-wide as appropriate
- Updated TL; DR to reflect current status of images. They have been deleted.
- Updated first paragraph in "Open Letter" to more clearly describe my use of "tomorrow morning" as a time to respond to, added language to clarify Spirit Tribe's choice within an hour to respond to Miah instead. Added additional paragraphs describing where I continued to give time to respond while Spirit Tribe continued to promote for approximately four days
- Updated document to more clearly reference Eric Allen and Mickayla Gibson in their role as co-founders and representatives of Spirit Tribe rather than referencing them personally
- Rephrased paragraph "It is not the victim's job to prevent theft, just as it is not the victim's job to prevent their rape. It is the thief's responsibility to not steal in the first place, just as it is the rapist's responsibility not to rape" to be more palatable. Rephrased it more succinctly and removed all references to "rape" and "rapist"
- Rephrased "trying to sleaze your way behind my back into continuing to use " as "trying to find a way to continuing using"
- Rephrased "engages in such blatantly hostile and predatory behavior towards their Community, and Community's children" as "engages in such potentially predatory behavior towards their Community, and questionable responsibility toward their Community's children"
- Deleted "To this date, Miah has not heard back from Spirit Tribe after that last message while I have not heard back from Spirit Tribe at all" to reflect Spirit Tribe's responding to me on Monday 30 Jul 2018
- Deleted "Eric and Mickayla" from salutation from "An Open Letter to Spirit Tribe" and replaced reference with "Dear Spirit Tribe:"
- Deleted "sleazy" from "Eric's obvious and willfully sleazy attempt"
- Deleted "How slimy of you, Eric"
- Deleted word "Spiritool" from "Woke 'Sound Shaman' Spiritool Profile Spotlights"
- Deleted "As parents of children, yourselves, how dare you!"
- Deleted "Mickayla" from "I mean, proper credit DOES 'help in the growth of MY photography,' too, right, Mickayla?"