Every racetrack, casino, sports book bookie and dog track operates on the very same time tested business model – that people armed with all sorts of data and past history, are rarely able to correctly predict the outcome of future events. These failed efforts come from laypeople as well as experts who have immersed themselves in every aspect of horse racing, NFL football, craps, poker and so on.  Very, very few bettors can beat the house. If you ever go to Vegas and see the enormity of the casinos, we can accurately state it isn’t the winning gamblers that paid for it all.  In gambling the odds are generally fixed and well known to the bettor. There are variables and human elements at play but generally they are very limited and play almost no role in for example, a spin of a roulette wheel.

Contrast that scenario to those matters which involve legal claims, over who said what to whom, when and where.  Was the photo ripped off?  Was there a consent or license? Members of the public with no legal training and even attorneys well versed in the law but not privy to all of the facts in a given case, are rarely reluctant to predict – often with great certainty – the outcome of cases about which they know little to nothing. These modern day crystal ball readers and predictors can be found without any difficulty at all. They abound and multiply faster than Starbucks. These predictions of cases from both lawyers and laypeople often find a home on cable news programs in high profile murder cases or in the “comments” sections of web articles in the visual arts fields.

We have often advised photographers and illustrators to conduct “autopsies” of prior jobs performed by them. By that we suggest that an extensive review of previously performed work will assist the creative in assessing just what techniques employed yielded a profit as well as highlighting mistakes of the past so as not to repeat them in the future.  In that light, our staff here at the firm reviewed hundreds of “predictions”, “comments” and other statements made about then legal cases, which were covered (to varying degrees of accuracy) by the media.

To no one’s surprise here, the accuracy rate of the predictions of outcomes made by photographers, illustrators and attorneys, with no knowledge of the facts (nor even exposure to any court documents) was abysmally low.   We used cases about which we had actual knowledge or where the public court file(s) yielded more than sufficient information to determine the accuracy of the predictions and statements of law or fact posted with great certitude by those moved to comment on blogs and web sites of all kinds.

Will this horrendously inaccurate track record deter creatives and lawyers trolling for cases, from making new predictions and making “authoritative statements” regarding future cases? Absolutely not. We can’t stop them from making their statements or predictions no matter how oblivious they may be to the law or the relevant facts of a given case.  We do however, make every effort to warn our readers and attendees at our seminars, not to ever accept the statements made by photographers, illustrators and lay people who deem themselves experts on the law or on a given case as remotely authoritative.  Unless you are an attorney or a party involved in a specific case, you can not possibly know all of the relevant facts and circumstances, good, bad or indifferent which influence the settlement or outcome of a claim or litigation.

Those who don’t know continue to talk and post – often recklessly.   Those who do know the intimacies of a given matter are typically prevented from talking or writing about their own cases.  If we were to believe in the accuracy of a tiny fraction of the predictions made about cases handled by this office, we would have been out of business long ago.  Generally speaking the media is as selective in its reportage as an ad agency is in promoting a product.

The public never knows the outcomes of most legal claims.  Few get tried to a “public” conclusion.  Settlements typically have confidentiality provisions and many claims simply die for lack of merit. Some cases make big headlines and blog storms when they file, but little to no noise when they die or are settled. But those who comment on blogs and chat rooms with great fervor are rarely if ever are aware of those simple facts. Our advice is to read such comments which a large pitcher of salt in one hand and the assumption that “there is a lot missing from this story” on the other. Reader beware.

Ed & Jack