Photographer claims Stranger Things stole his storm cloud image

Then you’re not looking hard enough. Look at the boomerang-y bit just right of centre in the middle of the dark base. Look at the tiny little dark bits in the middle that protrude into the lighter section. If you look at the boundery between the rain and the base there are identical details all around it. It’s the same photo. They may have worked the top and the bottom, but it’s clearly the same photo.

I’m with the photographer. His work is used in a for-profit product without compensation.


I did look ‘hard enough’. It’s not the same. It’s similar, but then it’s also similar to other clouds that look like that. Those kinds of clouds aren’t unique, and they aren’t even rare.

Google image search “rain tornado cloud”


Is it even against copyright law to use photo reference in concept art? It’s not made to be sold to the public only for their internal design teams to use. I guess if they published it in a book of art for the show that could be against the rules.

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You can clearly see certain parts are identical. Is your vision perhaps blurry?


If you think those are identical…well,whatever. You’re right.

No, I don’t think you did. Fun fact: Clouds are, in fact, unique in their details, even if their general shapes are often common.

Go ahead, trace a line across the bottom edge of the dark area where it meets the bright bloomy rain. Besides a small amount of squeeze/stretch, the outline is completely identical, with the same small wisps, curls, and bulges. And then move upwards a bit, and trace the outlines of the other bulges catching the light. And then once more up, to where the folding “lip” part begins, and trace the long wispy bright line across the top and upper right.

It is exactly, 100%, the same. This doesn’t happen in nature.


I hope neither of you two check fingerprints or currency.

Are you looking at a different article than the rest of us?


Yeah, this is pretty clearly infringement–it’s a derivative work that was displayed publicly. See 17 USC § 106(1), (2) & (5).

As other folks have pointed out, though, this could very well (and, in my opinion, really ought to) fall under fair use.

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Here are several of the more obvious points of identity between the two. If I had more time I’d’ve made the ovals better, but I don’t.


The photographer is right on this. In the case of Lucia Moholy and her negatives of the Bauhaus building and its environs, it was determined that " the photographer is clearly making decisions about composition, position, angle, lighting, framing—therefore, the photographer in this case is generally afforded more legal claim to the photograph’s copyright" Thank you, Roman Mars for being enlightening.

It’s clearly his image, the question is whether this internal use is ‘fair use’ or not. IANAL, but I’d say it is. This is how many many creative processes work: gather ideas and then synthesize your own. At least that’s what we were taught in design school.


That’s not the point, though. It’s not called copy-and-sell-the-copyright. It’s just copyright, the right to reproduce the work. If you reproduce somebody else’s photograph, or use it as the basis for a derivative work, and the reason you made that copy does not fall under fair use, then it’s copyright infringement. You don’t have to make money of the copy, or ever intend to make money off the copy, for that violation to exist.

It’s up to Netflix to prove a fair use exception. Netflix didn’t use this person’s photo for purposes of journalism, criticism, commentary, parody, research, or scholarship, and they wound up using the image in a commercial production viewed by a potential audience of millions. I don’t see an easy way they can claim fair use for that.

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I think you are engaged in trolling.

…this is why I hate copyright law, and I say this as someone that works in the industry. What you’re seeing here is the only way things like this get done, and bullshit like this is simply going to ensure that you no longer get such behind the scenes content.

A photograph of a naturally occurring phenomenon was used as inspiration for a concept in a fantasy TV show. The final product was not used in a way that would be confused with the original, thus no damage was done to the precious photographer. This is exactly how things like this should work - the creative works of others can and should inspire others to build upon them, but in a way that’s distinct and doesn’t end up taking anything away from the original.

Instead…we get lawsuits. Hooray for art…


Yes, it is his exact cloud image in the actual aired scene – the scene in the “Beyond” special where they featured the concept art. How is that not considered to be a product? It’s as much a product as the show itself.

Or they could at least do the original artist the courtesy of attribution if their work ends up in a DVD extra or behind-the-scenes show. Or maybe seek to license the works present in the damn Netflix thumbnail.

This is some real “one copyright law for media companies and one copyright law for everyone else” bullshit.

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Yeah, it certainly looks like they used part of the photo for the mockup. But I don’t think that violates the copyright. It wasn’t used in the production, and the it was significantly altered.


Unless it’s fair use (which it could be and ought to be), it’s infringement–a derivative work. It doesn’t matter whether they used it in the production. Just making a copy or a derivative work from a copyrighted work is infringement.

(I’m a lawyer, but this isn’t legal advice–just arguing on the internet.)


I think it clearly is because it was significantly altered. It would also fall under “research” or “teaching”. As shitty as our copy right law is, you can’t sue someone because they used your image as a reference while brain storming.

If they had taken that image and made say posters with it, then yes. That would be infringement in my book, similar to what Farley got in trouble with for his famous Obama image.

And all art is derivative to some degree.

Also, I wonder if the Pop Art movement would have survived in this era?