I’m a professional photographer who has written about and photographed Indonesia for ten years – and have been published in The Financial Times Magazine, Le Monde, Geographical, Ag, etc.
I made the unfortunate mistake of signing up with JP Douma’s syndication outfit ‘The Cover Story’ during the festival at Perpignan in 2007. I supplied him with about fifteen stories – pictures and words – that he syndicated worldwide. After a couple of years I had made about 2,500 euros in sales – my 50%. At least these are the sales he told me about.
In 2011 I decided to cash in, and asked how I was to be paid. The answers were perplexing, or usernames and passwords didn’t work, or links didn’t work, or the accountant was on holiday.
Meanwhile ‘TCS’ – ‘The Cover Story’ – migrated to a new domain, www.storee.se – and he emigrated to Bangalore, India. Its business model changed. I continued to ask for my money. I was bounced from one member of staff to another; my e-mails to JP Douma were more often than not ignored.
A long, and very frustrating story cut short. In December 2012 I sent Douma this:
‘For the last time please: could you check your accounts of what is owed to me, and send me an e-mail stating the total owed. I’m afraid that if I don’t hear from you in the next seven days I will go public on Lightstalkers, and will also use the Bureau of Freelance Photographers to recover my money. I don’t like the way I am being treated.’
To which he replied:
’I’m trying to prevent bankruptcy. Going online will speed up the bankruptcy process which is not in your interest.’
Which I took as blackmail. I let it lie for another 3 months. Then I wrote:
‘Are you on for paying me, or not? Just be frank, and honest, please. Your previous estimate was way out. You don’t need an accountant to check this: you are the boss of your own company, and I am sure you are able to access your debts. You also live in a Hindu country: you are fully aware of your karma.’
To which he replied:
‘I have no obligation neither do I have any intention to pay you from my own pocket and increase my loss. I don’t owe you money. A private limited company owes you money. A company I funded with other shareholders. That’s how it is. This is a simple business problem. I’m taking my loss and move on. Another industry, another business, another job. Those are the harsh realities when a company fails. I hope this is clear enough?’
My last reply to him is absolutely unprintable.
So he moved from Bangalore, took my money with him, and appears now to be living in Bangkok. Check him out at http://www.meetup.com/Bangkok-Entrepreneurs/members/13477768/.
He describes himself like this:
‘I am a serial entrepreneur. My specialty: start-ups, reboots. My philosophy: inbound marketing+new ideas+business insights.’
At http://jpdouma.brandyourself.com, he describes his interests and activities as ‘golf, fitness, mountain-biking, photography, fine-dining and socializing.’ Expensive lifestyle for a bankrupt man.
Have a look at him at AboutMe.com (http://about.me/jpdouma) sitting in what looks like his new office – he has a rather nice Nikon strapped round his neck – I paid for that – and a neat pair of sunglasses which I also paid for. Somebody else paid for his t-shirt and pants.
Try photographer Stuart Forster’s experience (http://stuartforster.tumblr.com/post/36755746045/the-cover-story-jp-douma-and-the-ongoing-saga-of-an) with Douma after TCS sold his story to the Malaysian edition of ‘Esquire’.
‘In May 2011 The Cover Story syndicated a feature I wrote and photographed for publication in the September 2011 of Esquire magazine in Malaysia. I was not informed of the sale. I’d dearly like to be paid for my work and hope that I eventually do see my money from Mr Douma and The Cover Story. However, I think the reality of that is slim. So what has happened to the fee my work earned? Who has received that and where has it gone? How was the money used? Who enjoyed spending it? Why was it not passed on to me? Frankly I regret ever having made contact with The Cover Story and JP Douma. Still, I hope to be paid, however unlikely that might be.’
I don’t hope anymore. And why I decided to finally post this at Lightstalkers – it’s still really annoying me. He is a common thief, and a conman, pure and simple. Call me a cynic if you like. But if any photographers are in Bangkok at the moment, and come across a Dutchman called JP Douma in a downtown bar, please give him a very physical message from me.
Oh, one last thing. He also has my – and dozens of others’ – bank account details, sort codes, home addresses, etc, etc. Perhaps he slung them in his suitcase before he fled his debtors in India, and is keeping them dry for a rainy day. But how often does it rain in Thailand?
2014-06-07 10:07:21 UTC