Will Bueché

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Lithium Picnic lawsuit settled

Posted in Personal by Will on Sunday, June 15th, 2008 ~ 7pm

Closure, for photographer Phillip Warner and his wife Apnea: http://community.livejournal.com/lithium_picnic/155979.html

Part of the settlement is that Suicide Girls will be allowed to publish a new “new book coming out this fall that features some great classic Lithium Picnic photography”. I’d rather see a book entirely of Lithium Picnic’s own work… but perhaps that will come.**

In their statement, they say everyone is reconciled. But a commenter replied with a sentiment that I share: “While I am glad that your legal issues are over, I will still continue to not support SG. I know too many people who’ve been screwed by them to do so in good conscience. Your lawsuit was about more than simply the practices directed against you and Apnea, they became a spotlight for all of SG’s sketchy business practices, for every person who’s ever signed a legal document with them.”

Rumors (purely unsubstantiated, and probably inaccurate) are that the settlement involved Suicide Girls paying off maybe half the legal bills that they’d caused Philip Warner and Apnea to suffer, and in exchange, Phillip Warner and Apnea will never again expose or comment on Suicide Girls’ unethical (and illegal, according to Los Angeles Superior Court) contracts. An alternate rumor is that Phil was going to lose, and that he accepted a settlement that provided him with nothing, left him with $40,000 in legal expenses, and forces his silence, but at least saves him from the $100,000 that Suhl sought.

Some supporters are upset that Warner has accepted a settlement that forces his silence, but, didn’t he speak out clearly enough already? His statements are a matter of record. Accepting a deal that meant he couldn’t say anything more was probably acceptable in light of the knowledge that he’d already spoken out. It is a compromise, sure, but one that lets him continue his life without a financial burden that was simply untenable.

(To be fair, most people do understand this, so what we are hearing now are the people who do not understand this).

Some people seem to feel that if he’d gone further than the two years he’d already spent fighting, if he’d gone all the way to a judge’s verdict (and possibly become liable for the $100,000 that Suhl was seeking) he could have …done something. To that sentiment, I’d like to quote LadySio, from her comment on LP’s DeviantArt page:

“if people are angry LP didn’t destroy SG, then they haven’t been listening to what he’s been telling us. they seem to have wanted a jesus, willing to sacrifice himself to rid the world of evil, but he never promised us this. those who are angry with LP for settling have expected to much from a man who is only human and can only do so much. …i still don’t believe LP wanted to bring SG down. he never said anything like that. all of his posts that i read were along the lines of: ‘this is unfair, and we will fight for our right to work’. …even if he’d won the law suit, it wouldn’t have brought SG down. and yeah, it is unfortunate he didn’t have the monetary resources to continue the battle. but this battle was always about him and his work, not SG’s treatment of anyone else. the public battle is far different and encompasses all the individual battles of each photog and model, and this we should continue to keep alive, since it appears to have more impact than any past or current law suit.”

We are legion, indeed. It is up to us now to continue to express our disapproval of SG, since he cannot.

My disapproval of SG comes from the way they attempted to destroy a more creative rival than themselves by using the courts rather than by allowing people’s art to stand on its own, to be valued (or not) by those who regard it. Some feel he Phil deserves no sympathy because he may have violated a non-competition agreement, but as anyone in business knows, non-competition agreements are a difficult area — and Phil’s argument from the start has been that he abided by the letter of the agreement. I believe him. I believe that the agreement was likely misused by SG. This feeling is strengthened by the fact that other SG contracts have already been found by the courts to be unreasonably restrictive, and have been overturned.

A synchronicity occurred in regards to this development. Yesterday, I felt that there was no longer any motion on the Lithium Picnic livejournal site, and decided to delete that group from my groups. But I didn’t want to make it seem as if I did not still support their cause, so I decided to leave it, even though the feeling was strong that I could delete it now. And then today, I check the news, and, ta-da.


** Here’s a letter I sent to one publisher:

Dear Dark Horse Books,

On the strength of your release of L’ Art de R. Black: Futura, I’d like to suggest to you that a similar sized (mini coffee table) book of prints by alt photographer Philip Warner (known professionally as “Lithium Picnic”) would be right up your alley.

The timing would be good for you, because Philip “Lithium Picnic” Warner is coming off of a year-long, well-publicized lawsuit with Suicide Girls, in which his freedom to pursue an independent career after he left that organization was at stake. Although the now-resolved lawsuit was unfortunate for him, it raised his profile in the alt community to the stratosphere, with benefits for him held in galleries across the country, and supportive articles written in many photography circles. A large fanbase became a larger, even more-devoted fanbase.

I am writing simply to encourage you to check him out, as Dark Horse Books seems to be the kind of company that would be able to market a book of his photography not only to book stores, but to record stores like Newbury Comics, and comic shops. Newbury Comics previously carried the Suicide Girls’ photography book, which is why I mentioned them specifically; there is an evident cross-over between bands and alt culture that Suicide Girls has capitalized on, which Dark Horse Books could capitalize on too.

Check out Philip “Lithium Picnic” Warner’s alt photography by visiting:

http://public.fotki.com/lithiumpicnic/prints_for_sale/

A brief note: I am not a representative of Phil, nor is this an official solicitation. I’m just a fan of Dark Horse and a fan of Lithium Picnic.

P.S. I keep my copy of L’ Art de R. Black face-out on display in my living room and visitors absolutely love it, by the way. It’s always getting picked up and browsed through.

Best regards,

Will Bueche

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