December 9, 2016 -- updated July 11, 2017
RE: The 11th anniversary date of my Sycuan Casino copyright infringement complaint.
Dear guests and supporters,
I am sorry to inform you of my career-ending complaint and second failed copyright infringement settlement 'negotiation' with the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, the sovereign Sycuan Tribal Government under Chairman Cody J. Martinez.
The Sycuan Tribal Council's first offer to buy "full rights" to my 30,000 Sycuan-related still photographs to settle my complaint in 2008 failed under Chairman Daniel J. Tucker when he withheld the tribal council's $125,000 payment without explanation and refused to return my letters or resolve the serious problems to my life that Sycuan Casino and Resort employees and contractors created through their alleged grossly negligent handling and illegitimate use and anonymous digital storage and release of my intellectual property.
- What's it like to work for the Sycuan Indians?
- How does Sycuan treat its employees, contractors and guests when they have a complaint, including age discrimination and unfair termination?
- Read my honest insider testimonial about my personal experiences working for Sycuan over a 20-year period as a professional independent photojournalist, producer and consultant.
The Sycuan people may be able to leverage their Golden Tickets of tribal sovereignty and unfair advantage to ignore me and my legacy out of existence, or their wealth to exploit the legal system to silence me altogether.
But is this the Sycuan way?
I published my online protest because I want my evidence on public record so people know the truth about how Sycuan 'acquired' my photographs they didn't pay me for them (with only a few exceptions).
And how Sycuan allegedly destroyed my business and good reputation when I complained about their casino managers' unprofessional behavior.
THE DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE SUPPORTING MY COMPLAINT LETTERS IS CLEAR AND CONVINCING
Ironically it was my respectfully asking a Sycuan marketing manager 11 years ago to the date to explain his SECOND unauthorized 36-inch poster print run of my Kumeyaay map and the Sycuan Casino executive management's disrespectful reaction to my request that triggered my conflict with Sycuan's tribal leadership.
Sycuan employees' blatant plagiarism of my original map artwork was outrageous because they digitally erased my copyright legal notices, branding and consultant credits from both of their illegal print runs.
Further, they plagiarized their unauthorized reproductions of my original work by adding Sycuan's logo and distinct graphical branding to make it their own despite the Sycuan manager's personal written assurance in my licensing agreement that included only "one-time use" of my Map in a "Sycuan TV commercial."
THE ALLEGED RETALIATION & BLACKLISTING
Sycuan's tribal leadership's swift retaliation to my grievance in 2007, the untruths against my good name on the Sycuan Indian Reservation and unfair terminations from my Sycuan projects ultimately destroyed my good reputation in the tribal community, my career, and poisoned my massive professional legacy.
As news of my conflict with Sycuan's former leadership spread across Indian country, it effectively got me blacklisted that's why I quit working on Kumeyaay.info in 2010 and posted this Sponsor Letter to donate my website and massive historical archive and move on.
But the unresolved Sycuan conflict and stigma on my name is preventing me from even giving it away free and finding peace.
SYCUAN'S NEW SETTLEMENT OFFER JAN. 2016
It's true newly-elected Cody J. Martinez, Sycuan tribal chairman responded positively to my letter in 2015 requesting he take a "fair review of the facts and timely closure" of my 2007 complaint against Sycuan Casino and Resort managers.
The young chairman even invited me to a meeting on the Sycuan Indian Reservation with his entire tribal council in December 2015 that seemed positive and on track.
Most importantly to my attending and preparing for his meeting Cody reintroduced my original $250,000 price in his 10/21/2015 invitation letter.
Because of Chairman Martinez's positive actions and his invitation $250,000 price I was caught off guard by his subsequent lowball price and ambiguous terms to settle my ongoing copyright dispute against Sycuan Casino and Resort.
SYCUAN'S PRICE AND SYCUAN'S TERMS AGAIN!
Cody Martinez's Jan. 2016 written offer "to settle this matter," he wrote, was a "$125,000" payment for my "copyrights" and all "materials."
To understand what he meant in my 01/25/2016 response I asked Chairman Martinez to be specific about the "materials" he was requesting.
Cody's 04/26/2016 final letter specified his offer includes my "entire collection" of "images related" to his Kumeyaay "tribe and its members."
That absolutely floored me, inasmuch for his broken written promise to me to engage in "actual negotiations" with his tribal council.
Why is Sycuan's last-second inclusion of my massive Kumeyaay.info collection and website a deal breaker?
Chairman Martinez's one-sided deal required me to transfer my sole, exclusive rights, copyrights, to my personal unrelated Kumeyaay.info website, brands, multimedia, research and field notes, including its separate 250-gigabyte digital photographic collection, to Sycuan before he would settle the problems his employees created.
That's in addition to our original settlement deal -- Chairman Tucker's $125,000 written offer (12/16/2008) for non-exclusive "full rights" to my 30,000 Sycuan-related still photographs.
There are light-years between these two take-it-or-leave-it Sycuan offers.
BUT IN FACT:
My Kumeyaay.info project was NEVER included in Sycuan's 2008 or 2016 offer until Cody Martinez's last letter (04/26/2016) just before he clammed up AGAIN.
My Kumeyaay.info project and materials were specifically excluded from the deal in my written discussions with Sycuan's legal director.
Kumeyaay.info was to retain uncomplicated assignable rights to my Sycuan material so my Kumeyaay.info project remained intact and undamaged.
UNDER CODY MARTINEZ'S ONE-SIDED, NON-NEGOTIABLE, TAKE-IT-OR-LEAVE-IT SETTLEMENT OFFER:
Sycuan would be the EXCLUSIVE SOLE RECIPIENT of my Sycuan AND my Kumeyaay.info collections with ZERO contractual obligation to preserve or credit my work or make it available to students and researchers.
Under Sycuan's offer (01/04/16) and subsequent final response (04/26/16) I would retain ZERO rights to my Sycuan and Kumeyaay.info work even in my lifetime!
I didn't spend two decades working for the Sycuan people and invest 7,500-plus personal unbilled hours and tens of thousands of dollars of my own money creating, preserving and developing my mammoth Sycuan and Kumeyaay collections to take an unfair, non-negotiable RAW DEAL to settle Sycuan employees' documented patterns of gross negligence that ultimately destroyed my career and professional legacy.
SYCUAN'S NEGOTIATING STYLE
Cody Martinez's negotiating style proved to be one-sided, dysfunctional, unfair, protracted and downright shameful for having Sycuan's vast professional management resources available to format a functional proposal:
- He dictated both price and terms.
- He refused to negotiate his price or his terms.
- His terms were ambiguous, incomplete and thereby legally unenforceable.
- He refused to even discuss his terms beyond his last letter that he used to tack on his disclaimers and further confuse his terms to include Kumeyaay.info.
- He refused to supply me with a contract to review his offer in its detailed entirety, yet he required me to counter his price under his grossly ambiguous terms.
- In his last letter, he promised me "actual negotiations" with his council and even warned me he would "remain silent" if I didn't comply with his instructions.
- But even after I fully complied he broke his promise and clammed up AGAIN!
- And after his failure to close on Sycuan's settlement deal he and his fellow tribal council members refused to resolve (or even discuss) the pressing Outstanding Matters I outlined and mailed to them in my 03/25/2016 letter.
Unfortunately for all, the hard evidence and the Sycuan Tribal Council's silence left everyone with the burning question begging to be asked of the Sycuan people:
- Is Sycuan an organization of thieves operating under the colors of Tribal Sovereignty and Unfair Advantage?
I certainly have my opinion at this late date, but I am leaving the evidence in a breadcrumb trail for anyone to follow and draw their own conclusions:
Sycuan has protracted this for a decade now NOW is my time to finish my business with Sycuan. As a 60-year-old man looking to retire and enjoy life, I need to get my affairs in order and close this sad chapter of my life.
SPECIAL NOTE TO THE GOOD PEOPLE OF THE WORLD
would like to add a note of gratitude and appreciation to the millions of visitors who visited Kumeyaay.info and freely enjoyed the fruits of my labor including the millions of additional visitors who visited my other nonprofit and educational research websites.
It was my pleasure and honor to serve you and the communities around the world.
Very sincerely yours,
GARY G. BALLARD
Kumeyaay.info Founder and Webmaster
Disclaimer: sycuanbandofthieves.com, including the gballard.net and kumeyaay.info websites, are not affiliated with the Sycuan Band of Kumeyaay Nation, the Sycuan Tribal Government, the Sycuan Casino and Resort, the Sycuan Institute on Tribal Gaming, the Sycuan Fire Department, the Willow Glen and Sycuan Golf Resort in El Cajon, CA, or Sycuan's off-reservation U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego, or any other of countless Sycuan community and commercial enterprises that I may not know about or list. Nor do these websites have any affiliation with San Diego State University, or the San Diego Padres major-league baseball team. The commentaries above are the opinions and views of Gary Ballard and he is solely responsible for its content. If you or your organization have any clarifications, concerns or input on the information contained on these websites, please CONTACT GARY at the link below.