At the Deck Expo in Baltimore two years ago, I was stunned when I came across a picture of my deck (which had won first place from NADRA the prior year in the exotic-wood category) on the cover of a brochure for a bamboo importer. When I went to the company’s booth to let them know exactly what I thought about this, I found to my amazement that they had a 10-foot-wide-by-12-foot-high picture of my deck as the backdrop of the booth! I would call that “willful” disregard. You can imagine how the conversation went after I was told that it wasn’t my deck and that the decking was bamboo rather than the ipe that I actually used on the project. Later I checked the manufacturer’s website, and, yep, found photos of several of my other deck projects there too. Long story short, I told the owner of the company that he would be getting a bill from my lawyer for $35,000 for the use of my photos, and a cease-and-desist notice. Of course I didn’t get a dime, but I did get a signed statement back saying that all marketing material with my deck pictured on it had been destroyed, and the company would no longer use any unauthorized pictures. Unbelievable.

Sean McAleer
Sparta, N.J.

(from online comments)