As previously reported, photographer/lawyer J. Salmeron said he was banned and blacklisted from the band’s live performances after he reached out to Thunderball Clothing – the company that makes Alissa White-Gluz‘s onstage clothing – to stop misusing his work.
The interview was originally published on December 31, 2018. The photographer started by saying:
“Let me give you a little bit of background on how this happened: After I shared the photo of Alissa at Fortarock on my Instagram, [she], and a lot of her fans, reposted it.
“While that, in and of itself, is infringement, I tend to turn a blind eye to people like that sharing it, since there is no financial gain on their end. Nobody is going to buy an Arch Enemy album because of my photo, and the fans are just showing their love for the band.
“Things changed when I saw that a store shared the photo, since I saw an obvious commercial aspect to it. I sent them a message saying that they’d have to pay for the use, and, well, I think the correspondence that we posted in our article is really self-explanatory. The designer behind the brand contacted Alissa, who told her that AE’s management would ‘take care of it’… and, well… you know the rest.
“The problem, and this is what I was trying to shed some light on, is the terrible power structure that exists within the music industry, and which allows somebody in a band like Arch Enemy to say, ‘Well we’re going to destroy your career because you don’t want to play by our rules’ even though the only thing I was saying was that I simply did not want somebody to use my work for free for commercial gain.
“The band lashed out against me not because I was doing anything wrong, but because they simply had given themselves the right to own other people’s work, and did not want to be challenged on that point. Keep in mind Angela Gossow expressly said that Arch Enemy had the right to do whatever they wanted with the work of photographers!”
“I thought that this was a good opportunity, not to bring ‘exposure’ to myself, but to expose this systemic problem in which people in these powerful positions are able to take advantage of others.”
Focusing on the development of the situation caused by the reaction of Arch Enemy manager/ex-singer Angela Gossow, Salmeron said:
“What ended up happening, was that, after seeing the communications, even the fans themselves realized that what Angela Gossow in particular had done was so unfair, and so absolutely disgusting, that they couldn’t support it.
“They realized that this type of behavior is aimed at creating a chilling effect among other photographers, and they couldn’t support it. People from all over the world have reached out to me and shown their support. It was extremely touching and very rewarding.”
“There was a moment where Angela, for reasons that I still fail to understand, decided to make a statement where she said that these were ‘alternative facts.’ She said, quite literally, that this was only ‘part’ of the story. But it wasn’t!
“Aside from removing all of the email addresses, everything was posted in full. She knew exactly what had happened, she was well aware of it. Sadly, this is not the first time that something like this happened.
“As it turns out, Angela had done something similar back in 2010, banning Dutch photographer Anouk Timmerman because she had asked her to either take down the photos that she had posted without authorization on Angela’s personal website, or that she would have to pay for a license. In other words, she was punished for just saying, ‘Please don’t use my work for free.’
“This seems to be a carefully engineered system that results in keeping people quiet. And, as I mentioned in my article and in our video, it is certainly ironic that this comes from a band that has tried to portray itself as an anarchist, anti-establishment, outfit.”
Metal Insider: So they’ve been doing this for a long time?
“That’s what it seems to be. They did this in 2010 and in 2018. It is very difficult for me to believe that between 2010 and 2018 they were handling things the right way, and that I just happened to get them on a bad day. It’s very difficult to think that they just so happened to take a break from being nice, just to be a dick to me and to Anouk.”
Metal Insider: Had you known things would escalate as it did, would you have handled things differently?
“Some people have said that I shouldn’t have said that I’m a lawyer because that made them feel threatened. In fact, Angela expressly said that she saw the word ‘lawyer’ and she felt threatened.
“Give me a break! You are one of the biggest metal bands in the world, at least among the ‘new wave’ of metal bands. They are a massive band, they have a following of 1.5 million people on Facebook, they have massive amounts of money. Sure, it’s not Jon Bon Jovi in the ’80s kind of money but, you know, a very comfortable amount.
“Also, keep in mind that Angela isn’t ‘just’ Arch Enemy’s former singer, she is their manager, as well as the manager of Amaranthe, another huge band. She runs a management company. How can she say that the word ‘lawyer’ scares her?
“It’s just a childish excuse. It makes no sense. Not to mention that Anouk obviously didn’t say that she was a lawyer and got a very similar result. Being a lawyer had nothing to do with it.
“When this happened I did exactly what you are supposed to do when you contact someone who infringes on your copyright. You, respectfully and clearly, state your case is, why you feel that your rights have been violated, and explain the way to fix it, so I don’t think that I could have done anything different.”
The photographer also said that the apology issued by Thunderball Clothing owner Marta Gabriel “was absolutely heartfelt, and I gladly accept it,” pointing out that Arch Enemy “clearly did Marta a disservice by acting the way they did, and now they left her out to dry.”
“Marta has acted like the adult in the room, issuing this apology, and wanting to make amends. I think we can agree that both Angela and Alissa could learn from this, as their answers demonstrate a worrying lack of self-awareness.”
Metal Insider: How do you think this should have been handled?
“First of all, they shouldn’t ban photographers who expect compensation.
“Second, Angela should not have sent an e-mail to people within the music industry accusing me of sending ‘threatening correspondence.’
“That is a very serious, slanderous accusation, and which can permanently damage my reputation. She was hoping to scare me into being quiet… well, it didn’t work.
“Now, after the article was published, what they definitely should not have done, was to double down, accuse me of lying, of falsifying the facts, of committing a crime… instead of, you know, just saying, ‘Hey guys, sorry, we f*cked up, we are all human.'”
Metal Insider: Although you’ve received an overwhelming support, there are still those who are against you. Some people say that you are greedy and that you just want attention. What can you say to people like that?
“One of the cool things about making a YouTube video is that you can see how long people watch it. People rarely watch the whole thing. The same thing happens with articles, which are rarely read in their entirety, as most people leave within the first 15 seconds.
“So, with that in mind, I know that some people will just assume I’m trying to score a quick buck. There’s nothing I can do against that. At some point you just have to accept that if people don’t read the entirety of what you say, and move on.
“I stand to make no money from this photo. Zero. The video has no ads, our website has no ads. If you want to say that I’m doing this for the money, I’m clearly terrible at it.”