You Wynn some, you lose some
April 25, 2005 4:37 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to be in Las Vegas this weekend with friends. Coincidentally, the new ultra-luxe Wynn casino and hotel is also opening there this weekend. The mainstream media has been "prohibited" from publishing photos of its super-secret interior until at least a week after the next issue of "Vanity Fair" hits the stands May 4th, since VF got some sort of exclusive deal with Wynn. But ordinary Vegas tourists--and, presumably, our cameras--will be allowed in starting this weekend. If I take and upload photos of the hotel's interior to my blog or to a site like ourmedia.org while I'm in Vegas, the photos will beat VF by several days and the mainstream media by almost two weeks. If I license the photos under a non-commercial Creative Commons license and won't be profiting from them, would/could I get sued for breaking the media embargo?
posted by Asparagirl to Media & Arts (18 answers total)
 
Who cares? That's what Freenet is for. Publish anything you goddamn well please. Wrap the pics in a page that explains they're CC licensed, and you should be able to remain anonymous.

Or were you looking for credit? ;)
posted by Myself at 4:45 PM on April 25, 2005


Nah. :-) But I'm curious about the legality of the thing. How can a private enterprise muzzle the press like this? How and why would the press agree to it? (To preserve future access?) Are bloggers considered mainstream media (and thus affected by the publication ban) or aren't they?
posted by Asparagirl at 4:48 PM on April 25, 2005


Unless they specifically prohibit cameras upon entering (which they very well might), you should be clear as there are no laws that would prohibit you from doing this. Slick web site though.

And wow, what great way to generate buzz but to put media prohibitions on photography. Suddenly getting pictures on the internet early becomes ultra-cool. Awesome, awesome marketing.

Looking through the Wynn web site, I don't see anything that pops out as "oh my god cool", besides standard contemporary luxury.
posted by geoff. at 4:57 PM on April 25, 2005


I doubt they will care much about somebody's itty-bitty blog.
posted by mischief at 5:22 PM on April 25, 2005


Even if they prohibit photographs you should be fine. You own the copyright to your photos and as long as the photographs are for personal or news-related purposes (i.e. you're not selling posters of them) then you're probably fine.

They could claim copyright over their entire interior or something and claim that you're infringing, and they could sue you for whatever they want regardless of whether they actually have an actionable complaint, but that would be a pretty shitty thing to do.
posted by bshort at 5:23 PM on April 25, 2005


I'm somewhat cynical and I think this is just a publicity stunt, and they would secretly love it if Newsweek published some "hidden camera" photos.
posted by grouse at 5:42 PM on April 25, 2005


Unless you are told you can't shoot pictures, why not? The question then enters the tiresome thicket of "what is a journalist?" and who is subject to a media embargo.
What if a newspaper or magazine runs your photo? If you didn't copyright it and it has news value, I think that would be kosher too. (Not that I can imagine too many courts upholding such a phoney embargo anyway.) I think grouse is right - this is all a publicity stunt and they would love to see as many pictures out there as possible.
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:51 PM on April 25, 2005


I thought you weren't allowed to take pics inside a casino?
posted by amberglow at 5:52 PM on April 25, 2005


If you agree to an embargo, I suppose that's that. Besides, wouldn't you want a Wynn-sponsored trip to his Macau casino that's opening in a couple of years? I'd agree to an embargo for that.

There's no law against photo-taking, but as a private establishment, they can choose to prohibit it, and all casinos (that I know of) do. It's like card counting - it's not illegal, but it's against the rules of the house at every casino.
posted by sachinag at 6:25 PM on April 25, 2005


Amberglow: I can't speak for the rest of the world, but many casinos in Las Vegas (where I live) allow photography, so long as you're sensible about it, not taking photos of guests, not using the flash, etc. And of course the non-gaming parts (lobby, buffet...) of a property are filled with snapping tourists all the time.

However, I was at Caesars Palace this weekend and noticed a semi-prominent "no photography" sign by an entrance. I think it's a dying sentiment in this town, though. (And certainly didn't apply to all the people taking photos around the slots in the adjacent Forum Shops.)

(On preview: While many casinos may still prohibit photography, they don't seem to enforce this right. I've never been asked not to take photos, and I play tourist and shoot casino interiors every week or two. Also, the number of "no photos" signs is definitely on the decline, even from just a few years ago. That said, watch me get barred from the Venetian this weekend!)
posted by Liffey at 6:42 PM on April 25, 2005


I think you'll be fine. As others have said they probably *want* you to take pictures (viral, etc.) I don't think any hotel who's website immediately made me think of Barry White can be that classy, though.
posted by carter at 9:36 PM on April 25, 2005


A media embargo applies only to those who agree to it. Even if the casino put up a sign saying "No cameras" they have no sound legal recourse if you publish photographs.*

*IANAL; also, corporations sometimes do sue even if they have no sound case.
posted by sacre_bleu at 10:01 PM on April 25, 2005


I was politely instructed not to take pictures on the casino floor at the NYNY. So, they may be watching you closely.
posted by MrZero at 5:04 AM on April 26, 2005


I'm curious about the legality of the thing. How can a private enterprise muzzle the press like this? How and why would the press agree to it? (To preserve future access?)

Some complex government reports or medical journal articles are embargoed until publication and it helps to be able to get the thing early and research it beforehand. In those cases, everyone gets it but they ask you not to report on it until the next day or whatever. Same with presidential speeches - you might get a copy ahead of time but be asked not to report on it until it's been delivered. (Most DC reporters have a copy of the president's Saturday radio address on Friday, for example.)
Magazines with a blockbuster story (or a TV show with a hot interview) will also sometimes hand out proofs or tapes ahead of time with an embargo until the magazine is on the street or the show is on the air.
The press generally goes along because it's the other guy's scoop and they appreciate the heads up in the first place. Sometimes there's a brouhaha over a broken embargo but in my experience it serves to hype the show or story anyway and no one minds all that much.
In this case in Vegas, it's not a real embargo. It's Wynn trying to keep the press out to preserve his exclusive deal with VF. There will be hidden cameras in that place on day one if the Vegas press is any good. They didn't agree to an embargo at all. Neither did you.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:04 AM on April 26, 2005


I heard from somewhat reliable sources that the Wynn is booked solid for 5 Years...viral or not, their marketing is working.
posted by schyler523 at 12:19 PM on April 26, 2005


They may not have a claim, but that doesn't keep them from suing you. The courthouse door is open. The clerk accepts papers from anybody who pays the filing fee, whether or not the suit has any merit. Remember the suit by Fox against Al Franken for using "fair and balanced" in his book title?

You'll end up having to defend in Vegas, and pay a lawyer a LOT of money to get even a frivolous suit thrown out. The casinos have lawyers on staff, and lots of money to pay them. Do you?

Not to mention getting barred for life from this and probably most other Las Vegas casinos.
posted by KRS at 1:50 PM on April 26, 2005


I am struck by the tone of some of the responses and to some extent the question--How can I get around this, who cares, how can I benefit from this--set aside the rationalizations and speculation--If you agree to not take photos don't take them, if they permit them but ask you to not publish them do not publish them--Let's bring this down home--you spend a bundle redecorating your mom and pop business--you cut a deal with the local city Magazine to run a feature on it in hopes of getting good publicity--remember, you put your heart and soul into this--as part of the deal you agree to limit prior publication of other photographs --you implement this commitment as conscientiously as you possible--is it ethical to see how you can get around this--I do not think so--is it legal--who knows--possibly some civil liability--but is this really about what is legal or what is ethical--My Best Frank
posted by rmhsinc at 2:02 PM on April 26, 2005


You probably should have skipped asking here and just gone ahead and did it, claiming ignorance if the hammer fell.
posted by esch at 5:04 PM on April 26, 2005


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