June 05, 2006 12:12am
SuicideGirls Content License Flap
Source: Blue Blood
by: Company Press Release
(LOS ANGELES, CA) -- Blue Blood has been called out repeatedly in public to respond to rumors that the pre-launch BlueBlood.com megasite, which already boasts 60,000+ images, also has a license to add approximately a fifth of the content from SuicideGirls. This is Blue Blood founder Amelia G's official response to these allegations:
As you may know, a bulk content package called Content Pinup and describing itself as, "Over 19,000 Images of 20 Suicide Girls" recently surfaced for sale to webmasters. In addition to my own work and Forrest Black's, I publish other photographers every week on my sites, so, in order to provide the best value for my site members, I would normally pick up a license to any decent appropriately themed material which came on the market.
The provenance of this particular package with images going for just a bit more than two cents each seemed questionable, so I very nearly skipped it entirely. However Jonathan Silverstein aka J$tyle$ was marketing the package and he said, "I've been in this business for 10 years and the only thing I have in this world is my word and my balls. I don't break either for no one!" I had met up with Jonathan Silverstein on a number of occasions with people I respect. So, after consulting with some of the talent which appears on the Content Pinup DVD, I decided to move forward to acquire a license to the package.
Before I say anything else, I want to state unequivocally that Jonathan Silverstein and Content Pinup were totally professional in all my dealings with them and neither I nor my affiliate program SpookyCash nor my overall company Blue Blood has any problem or dispute whatsoever with anyone from Content Pinup or Blowout. I believe that they did the best they could in what turned out to be a bad situation.
When the Content Pinup package was first offered for sale, a number of webmasters expressed concern that the terms of the license were very limiting. Blue Blood was only interested in the content in a very limited way, so there was only one sentence in the contract which concerned me: "Licensee May not use any Suicide Girls name, logo or trademarks anywhere on Licensee's website(s) or otherwise." I found this sentence vague, confusing, and potentially overreaching, so I asked Jonathan Silverstein for an explanation. His clarification sounded fine to me, so I provided the much clearer replacement sentence, "As the Licensor is not Suicide Girls, nor any of the models, this license specifically does not confer any special rights to use the Suicide Girls name (registration Serial Number 76408248) or logo (registration Serial Number 76408240) or any particular model pseudonym in previews on licensee's paysites, banners, designs, logos, TGPs or MGPs created with this material."
SG's attorney Paul Loving rejected the clarification of that one sentence, stalling for more than a month, refusing to enumerate what trademarks he was trying to protect. If SuicideGirls owns some of the model pseudonyms or characters, such as Missy Suicide, I was willing to respect their intellectual property rights and avoid infringing. SuicideGirls was, however, unwilling to state which model pseudonyms they felt were SG trademarks. It was going, however, to be a deal breaker for me if the Content Pinup package could only be published with fake names and fake profiles for the models pictured. No third parties appeared to have any input on this deal, apart from the brokers and SG's attorney.
So SG's attorney Paul Loving had the position to block Blue Blood from getting the content, when Blue Blood would have presented the images respectfully. It seems reasonable to conclude from this that surely SG also had the position to block less flattering sites from receiving the content, but they allowed sites which would make up fake names and fake personas for the girls to receive the content. Which makes it seem like the source of the Content Pinup package may not have been some manbearpig phantom, as has been suggested, but perhaps someone seeking to specifically embarrass and distress the individual models in the pictures.
I don't know how much SG edited these photo sets before publishing whichever ones they published, but, after seeing a more complete preview, I concluded that, if SG signed off on our license to the content, Blue Blood would still not publish all the content on the DVD as SG's photography is much worse than I had thought, using bracketing rather than metering the light properly and sometimes missing the girl in the shot. I would not have wanted to run any photographs which would have embarrassed either the models or the Blue Blood brand with the poorness of the image quality. Photographers license their work for publication all the time. There is nothing wrong with that. But, if a photographer promises a model that a shoot will not be licensed, then it is reprehensible to do so.
"When models sell their photosets to SuicideGirls, they can be sure of what the pictures will be used for... It would be surprising if they suddenly found that their images were sold to a different site without their consent or knowledge, or were being altered, or were being misrepresented, but nothing like that happens." --Olivia Ball, purported co-owner of SuicideGirls, Nov 18, 2005 post on SuicideGirls.com
"Well, you could argue [that it arrived with] Blue Blood magazine or the Probe--but absolutely, they were very underground... I'm not gonna say that we don't exploit the girls, because I don't know. I think that five years from now I will know." --Sean Suhl, CEO of SuicideGirls, Jan 30, 2003 issue of the Stranger
Sean Suhl used to work as a clerk at a punk store on Melrose, selling copies of Blue Blood magazine over the counter. Given how inspirational he says Blue Blood was to him, it is no surprise that there is crossover between SuicideGirls and Blue Blood in terms of talent we publish. Sometimes Blue Blood works with someone first and sometimes SuicideGirls does.
People keep asking me what I would have done with the content from this package, if SG's attorney had not blocked the sale. I don't think it is a secret that, in addition to being a writer and a photographer, I am an editor and a publisher. So, the short answer is that I would have edited the sets down to what I felt was a good fit for Blue Blood and then I would have published that edit. The long answer is as follows. I'm going to list what I believe to be the content of the DVD package in reverse alphabetical order, along with what my likely edit would have been. I will list the content by model pseudonyms as they were listed in the Content Pinup preview. These are pseudonyms which may or may not be owned by SG or the models and I utilize them here merely for simplicity and with no intent to challenge any existing trademarks.
Voltaire (9 sets) Voltaire of course appears in numerous Blue Blood sets lensed by myself and Forrest Black already and we enjoy hanging out with her and working with her. She was the first person I called when I saw the Content Pinup package offered for sale. She confirmed for me that Selena Mooney, who plays the Missy Suicide character on SuicideGirls, had in fact been the person to shoot the images of Voltaire which were on offer in this package. I expected Voltaire to be as outraged as I was that either Mooney or SG would resell like this, but she told me that, at this point, she really didn't care that much. She did, however, mention that she really didn't feel some of the Mooney photographs of her were very flattering, certainly not remotely on the level of quality of the other sets of her on Blue Blood. Voltaire and I are friends so I promised her that, if I got the package, she would be able to go through each set before it went live and remove any images she dislikes.
Victoria (2 sets) Cute girl photographed horrendously. Would not have posted these.
Tegan (5 sets) Only maybe one of these sets would fit Blue Blood's format.
Stormy (6 sets) I think Stormy is super cute and she is still modeling and she seems sweet in the correspondence I have had with her. I would have removed the unflattering images of her and the shots which were out of focus or where there were severe lighting errors. The rest I would have posted using the name Stormy which Stormy quite legitimately prefers. I hope to work with Stormy more directly in the future.
Skylar (2 sets) Don't fit Blue Blood's format. Would not have posted these.
Sicily (6 sets) Would have waited until I could get together with her for coffee again and discuss her feelings on it and my feelings on it and some of the larger feminist issues involved. If, after that, she was cool with Blue Blood publishing the images, I would have gone through and removed the unflattering images of her and the shots which were out of focus or where there were severe lighting errors before posting.
Shera (6 sets) Probably would have posted around 5 of these using the name Catra which she told me she prefers now.
Penelope (7 sets) Agonizingly bad lighting and composition errors. Would not have posted these.
Pearl (4 sets) One of these sets has a cute enough concept that it probably would have been worth the time to edit it down to the presentable images. Would have asked around to see if anyone I knew had contact info for her, as men and women who appear on Blue Blood sets get various perks if they so desire.
Nala (6 sets) She currently models for one of the sites in the SpookyCash affiliate program under the name Selena, so I would have posted these sets identified with her current preferred name, after of course removing the unflattering images of her and the shots which were out of focus or where there were severe lighting errors.
Marla (6 sets) Painfully bad lighting and SG branded clothing. Doesn't really fit Blue Blood's format. Would not have posted these.
Katie (10 sets) I'm not sure how I would have handled what name to call this model, as I didn't hear back from her when I wrote to her. Some of these sets would definitely have not made the cut, but I think I would have posted around half of them.
Hel (4 sets) Forrest Black and I have been meaning to work with Hel for ages. I wish she didn't live so far away or we would have definitely shot together directly already. I would definitely have posted these, along with giving Hel various Blue Blood perks and I would have hoped that my members enjoyed the sets enough to justify airfare to visit Hel or fly her out to visit me.
Heather (2 sets) the nice shoot concept can't save the photography on these. Maybe they could have been edited down to just a few images, but probably would not have posted these.
Dusty (3 sets) Some pretty terrible photography and SG branded clothing, so probably would have posted approximately half of one set. Would have asked around to see if anyone I knew had contact info for her, as men and women who appear on Blue Blood sets get various perks if they so desire.
Dia (4 sets) the model submitted one of these sets in the past to both me and to one of the sites in SpookyCash but didn't want to provide proper paperwork. If she owns the rights, then I don't see how it could be in this package. If she reps SG, then I wouldn't really want to post images of her. She submitted to model for Blue Blood this past fall and I turned her down as a model but offered her a writing gig instead, because I didn't feel her heart was in modeling and I didn't want to photograph her and have her change her mind after the fact. I consulted with her recently on what name she would want to be called if I were to post these anyway, but no idea how this would have panned out.
Claudia (7 sets) Doesn't fit Blue Blood's format. Includes SG branded clothing. Would not have posted these.
Aries (3 sets) Very cool hair. Would probably have posted these, again after removing the unflattering images of her and the shots which were out of focus or where there were severe lighting errors. Pretty sure I would have been able to get in touch with her to check on what name she prefers to go by and to offer her various Blue Blood perks.
Apnea (1 set) My only comment here is that I think it is telling that this package initially appeared to contain a number of Apnea sets, but, after Apnea expressed interest in licensing the Content Pinup package herself, all of a sudden there was only one set of her on the DVD.
Adahlia (1 set) I contacted her and got the info on what name she uses before I'd seen what this set looked like. She is a pretty girl, so I would post images Forrest Black and I shot of her and not this set, which really does not do her justice.
So, in summary, a whole lot of content from SuicideGirls was recently made available for general license. It appears that SG and their attorney Paul Loving thought it was worth the effort to stop Blue Blood from having a license to the Content Pinup DVD of archived girls, but they didn't bother to do anything about sales to sites the models would be less pleased to appear on. Plus you all got a fabulous bonus tour of Amelia G's editorial creative process.