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Walmart Sucks

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Old 02-22-2006, 11:06 PM
dsanchez dsanchez is offline
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Join Date: May 2005
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Walmart Sucks

Ok so maybe I am being a bit touchy however the better I get the more problems I seem to have.

This happened on Saturday January 28, 2006, I copied and pasted a piece from my blog. Any help or advise on this situation would be appreciated. Please keep in mind I am struggling to get this new found love/business up and running and can't afford paper and ink on my own, most of my money went into the camera. I tried Eckerds and Walgreens but the quality was significantly better at walmart but now I have to deal with this.

I was having a great day yesterday up until I went to Walmart up by the Galleria. Here I thought I would be in and out of there in a flash. Boy wasn't I wrong.

I had ordered some pics online to be picked up in the store through their one hour service. When I got there I was told that they would not be able to give me half my pictures. Now mind you I have been through this with them twice before so I knew what was coming but tried to stay optimistic. When I asked why she said that that pics were professional pics and there for by their store policy I could not get them.

By now I am getting quite heated. I took a deep breath and explained that I had already proven on two prior occasions that I am starting up a business which includes photography. I was flattered that they keep thinking my pics are professional quality but annoyed and insulted that they take one look at me and flat out tell me "so we are sure they aren't yours and you can't have them" WTF!!!!

I tried pleading my case with the store assistant manager LuAnn who only repeated what seemed like their pre-rehearsed lines. They pull out their copyright policy and slide it towards me. I push it back to them without looking at it and say point out to me where it states that I need to prove to you each and every time that I come here that these pics are mine. I have done it twice and refuse to keep being treated this way. Mind you they couldn't point out their so called policy of having to prove your pics are yours because it wasn't in their written copyright policy that they were trying to shove down my throat. **sigh**

Needless to say they weren't trying to be helpful what so ever. And I had to leave without my pics. I'm starting to wonder who else might be going through this. Or do I have to wonder if it is a prejudice againt me???

I will not return to that Walmart for any further business and will be contacting their corporate office to lodge a complaint. I might do business with a another Walmart and see what kind of treatment I get there.

Walmarts $0.19 and quality work well for me for now until I can make enough money for a good printer and supplies. So what can I do?
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Old 02-22-2006, 11:39 PM
Gina_D's Avatar
Gina_D Gina_D is offline
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 44
Feel your pain...

That must be incredibly frustrating. I had a friend tell me a similar story not too long ago. It involved Wal Mart and another store, thinking a pharmacy type like Walgreens or CVS. In any case, he and his fiance', both students, decided to take their own engagement photos outside in a picturesque setting. They used the self-timer on their little digital camera, nothing too fancy. When they went to pick up photo reprints they got the same run around you did; the store telling them they couldn't give them the photos because of copyright infringements. The first time they signed a waiver that the store insisted upon before releasing the photos to them. The second time, I don't believe they got the photos. All in all, it was a time consuming, frustrating and upsetting experience for them. I'm sure with technology being what it is now with digital cameras and the ability to manipulate images, so many people must be facing this issue. I can't imagine how stores can profess to know, to make that call, as to whose photos are "professional" and subject to copyright protection. Touchy issue on both sides.
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Old 02-22-2006, 11:52 PM
RL Design RL Design is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 77
Nothing like the customer is always right...

I would suggest calling other photo labs in the area and seeing if they would be able to give you a wholesale discount (if the photos are for resale).

You could also try online printing and shipping, but it takes more time.
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Old 02-23-2006, 12:18 AM
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CJ Swartz CJ Swartz is offline
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Were these photos that you had retouched for people, or did you shoot some portraits of people in a studio-like setting? If it was a photo retouch job -- the original photo might have a professional's copyright which had to be protected. If you did portraits in a studio, the store staff had reason to question who had the copyright for the photos.

Wal-mart and other businesses that develop prints have to attempt to follow U.S. Copyright laws -- sometimes people try to get prints of photos that they do not own the copyright for (photographer proofs or prints from their wedding, portrait sitting, etc.), and it is the store's job to set up procedures to prevent that from happening. Sometimes this can result in disputes over who owns the copyright of the photo, and the store staff is not usually knowledgeable in handling all the possible legal questions that can arise. Imagine that you took some portrait shots and let your customer have the proofs to look at over-night -- they could have copied them to a digital-media card and run them down to Wal-mart to buy cheap copies instead of paying you for your work. YOU know what the true situation is, but the staff have to be given some proof so that they know they are not breaking a federal law and assisting you to break the law also.

In other forums, photo hobbyists who have had a problem post that Wal-mart (and other stores) have a form you can fill out stating you are the copy-right owner, and they can keep it on file -- then you can have them look it up when you go to pick up your prints. Once they get to know you, they probably won't have to look up the file copy.

You might also consider using a photo lab like Mpix or other online lab.

Last edited by CJ Swartz; 02-23-2006 at 12:24 AM.
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Old 02-23-2006, 02:15 AM
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NancyJ NancyJ is offline
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Could you not just take your camera with you and show them that the pics came from your camera?
Personally I always use online photo printing, takes a couple of days but theres no hassle and they never ask about copyright - you jus aggree to their T&C which says that you agree that you have permission to print them.
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Old 02-23-2006, 02:26 AM
magnavox magnavox is offline
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Post IMHO, as a current wal-mart photo center employee


I think that I might be able to help you with your predicament as I am currently employed by one of Wal-Mart's photo centers. In most cases, you can contact the Photo Center Manager and/or Photo District Manager and let him/her know that you are starting up your own photography business and would like to use their service to produce prints. You might possibly provide the lab manager with a business card so s/he can let her/his associates know that you will be frequently sending in orders online or in-store through the photo kiosk and your orders do not require a copyright release. You may also come up with your own copyright release form to include with your orders on a 4x6 size image. I might add that this would be wise since you say you are starting up your own photography business because sooner or later you will have a customer who wishes to get prints made of an image you previously photographed and you may not have the original negative or digital file.

I am saying all of this granted that the particular photo lab you are sending orders to has a somewhat knowledgeable lab manager and associates. I have read many debates as to how we, photo lab employees, determine whether a copyright applies to an image or not. It is my understanding that Wal-Mart's policy is as follows regarding copyrighted or potentially copyrighted images: "In compliance with federal law, Wal-Mart Photo Centers will not copy a photograph that is signed, stamped or otherwise identified by any profressional photographer or studio without a release. In addition, we will not copy a photograph that appears to have been taken by a professional photographer or portrait studio without a release, even if it is not marked with any sort of copyright indication."

The previously stated policy leaves doubt in some people's mind as to how it is determined an image is deemed professional or have characteristics of a professional image. As a current employee of Wal-Mart the only explanation I can give you is that through experience of looking at thousands upon thousands of photographs, a person begins to have an eye for such photographs. This is not the case with every associate, as many people do not take pride in attempting to know the skill and art of photo processing.

Ron Parr has made a quite useful "Digital Photography FAQ" that includes some helpful websites about copyright law. The current copyright law(if you can decipher the legal jargon) is accessible here.

This has been COMPLETELY my 2 cents on the topic and in no way, shape form or fashion do I claim to be a spokesperson for Wal-Mart.

Hope this information helps and feel free to ask me anything so I can hopefully provide you with an answer.

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Old 02-23-2006, 03:51 AM
Doug Nelson's Avatar
Doug Nelson Doug Nelson is offline
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This has been brought up more than once here. It boils down to the fact that by using their services, you agree with their terms. This is true of any photolab, but Wal-Mart is a bit more defensive than most. And there is the potential argument that part of the definition of "professional" might include "doesn't use Wal-Mart".

But in a way I'm relieved, as I thought this was going to be a thread about this.
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Old 02-23-2006, 04:10 AM
Gary Richardson's Avatar
Gary Richardson Gary Richardson is offline
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Thank God we don't have all this grief in the UK.

I'm all for protecting copyright, but lets keep things in perspective. If the pictures had carried clear evidence that there was copyright on them, I can understand WalMart's position, but in this case they are way out of line.

Best policy, screw WalMart, take your photos elsewhere.
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Old 02-23-2006, 06:35 AM
dsanchez dsanchez is offline
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Originally Posted by CJ Swartz

Were these photos that you had retouched for people, or did you shoot some portraits of people in a studio-like setting?
I have been setting up a home studio. Got lucky and won a portable background set up on ebay, here is a pic of my daughter which was playing around with my camera and the set up

As you can see the lights are reading clip on lights and a lamp right behind it, as well as using $2 and $3 fabrics from (ironically enough) walmart.

Here is one of the pics of my daughter (by the way pics are usually family members, but mostly my kids)

This is how it looks after I altered it with PSP9

Here is the pics of my son...first unaltered

And then altered in PSP9

When I sent these pics to print I printed both, unaltered and altered, hoping that they would see I did this to the pics myself. No luck.

Last edited by dsanchez; 02-23-2006 at 07:28 PM.
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Old 02-23-2006, 08:33 AM
dsanchez dsanchez is offline
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Join Date: May 2005
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Originally Posted by Gina_D
I'm sure with technology being what it is now with digital cameras and the ability to manipulate images, so many people must be facing this issue. I can't imagine how stores can profess to know, to make that call, as to whose photos are "professional" and subject to copyright protection. Touchy issue on both sides.
Gina you have a point. How can you claim to be able to tell the difference and where do you draw the line?

I understand both sides. As I photographer I love the fact that they are doing their best to protect our work, but as a mother (with kid pics) I want my pics!!! Flattered that they think they are so good they look pro quality and are copyright protected, but insulted that they keep making me prove it over and over and keep looking at me like "They look to good to be yours"
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