I did, however, find some other really interesting articles, like this one about photography usage, and blog posts which gave me pause. How many times have I heard a magazine, or even a (brainwashed?) photographer say: "It's good publicity" as they excuse themselves from paying for/being paid for their images? A LOT. And I am still hearing it.
Ten years ago, Vera Wang was writing a book on Weddings. We, the photographers were expected to contribute our images for free. ("It was good publicity".) They didn't have the money to pay usage fees, they said. I stood up and said no. ( I was in the middle of a divorce, so I wasn't in a very good mood at the time, and was tired of feeling taken advantage of). Then I asked my friends, most of the other contributors, to sign a letter and say no, and that we deserved at least standard usage fees for the use of our work. In the end, I was paid modestly. When they added up a my images, and the sizes of the images (I was one of the main contributors), I think my usage fees amounted to a couple thousand dollars, or less than the profit on a single VW gown. My colleagues who signed that letter were also paid.
|Image used for free here|
I like what Melcher says about fighting for your rights now, and not for some imaginary future where your "free images" are "good publicity" and will lead to some big future payoff. If not now, when? If no one thinks your images are worth paying for now; if people would pay more for a cup of coffee than an image you made as a professional who earns a living selling images, maybe we professional photographers should all open coffee shops. If a million people see your images for free, how is that a living?
I wish more photographers would stand up and say no, or at the very least, get something useful in return. I like how proactive a blog like Junebug Weddings is with their credits. They don't pay for the images they use, but they provide links to everything and say all kinds of nice thing about the work and the photographers. Maybe that is because the blog was started by at least one photographer.
|Screen shot with images used for free.|
Food for thought.
Photographers, you should bookmark the blog of Paul Melcher.
10 Ways to Fight for Your Digital Rights as a Photographer © Paul Melcher
Fighting for your digital rights would seem to be an uphill battle these days. Let’s face it; the rights of photographers have been badly battered.
First came Google, when it won the case to publish images in its search results without paying anything. Then came National Geographic and others, republishing entire issues on CD-ROM without paying additional fees. Even today, the magazine industry poor-mouths its way to paying pennies for images on Web sites that now have bigger circulations than the corresponding print editions.
And yet, many in the photo industry still view the Web as their savior. The question is, How so?
An image posted on the home page of a site that receives one million hits per week is not licensed at the same price as an image on the cover of a weekly magazine that has one million readers. Why is that?
What makes publishers believe that images online are worth less than those in print? What makes photographers and photo agencies agree?
Most of the discourse is about how a magazine’s online edition generates far less revenue than its print edition. Since when has that been the concern of photographers and agencies? Is this now one of our responsibilities — to guarantee revenue on top of licensing images?
It shouldn’t be.
Here are 10 ways we — all of us in the industry — can fight back.
1. Stop treating “digital rights” as an add-on to a license. Maybe we should make “print rights” as an additional right. We should treat Web usage as a full-blown license of its own.
2. Stop licensing images online as “one week on home page” or “one day inside, 1/4 page.” A Web site is not a magazine; it doesn’t work that way. We should also stop making a distinction between commercial and editorial usage. Most editorial sites have a hundred times more traffic than corporate sites. We should treat the Web as an entity. It has measurable traffic — much more so than a magazine. Charge a license based on traffic; that is how sites charge advertisers, isn’t it?
3. Don’t buy into the poverty talk. Many editorial sites today have a budget bigger than their print siblings. As publications close their print editions for online only, they shift their budgets. Some with the biggest traffic charge $400,000 for a one-day banner ad.
4. Don’t buy the “it’s good publicity” argument. How many images have you ever licensed because one of your images appeared online? Would you offer your images for pennies to a print magazine because it’s “good publicity”?
5. Stop believing that because the image is of a smaller size and only 72 dpi, it has less value. That is like saying that if an image is used in B/W, although it was shot in color, it has less value. Where does that come from? The value of an image has nothing to do with the numbers of pixels it has — nothing. Does a Cartier-Bresson or Leibovitz image lose value with fewer pixels?
6. Stop waiting for others to act. Stop expecting someone else to show you the way. Google is taking your rights away, yet you turn a blind eye. Call that association to which you pay a hefty membership fee, and tell them to act. Tell your agency to stop giving away your rights and your images. And if they don’t, leave them. This is your problem, now. Not someone else’s in the future. It’s not going to go away; it’s only going to get worse.
7. Focus less on what to shoot next — and more on licensing what you already have. Unless we start dealing with the issues at hand, those magical pictures you plan to shoot in the future will only generate a fraction of what your existing images can.
8. Stop being beggars. Your images are needed. In fact, they are the core value of many publications and Web sites. These publishers are not doing you a favor by using your work; you are bringing them the value they need in order to run their business. What you do is unique. Trust me, if they could do it themselves and shut you out, they would. But they can’t.
9. Stop being technophobes. It’s not cute anymore. All the information is at your fingertips. Read, learn. Saying you don’t understand is no excuse anymore. You shoot digital, don’t you? So stop the crap about how you do not understand RSS feeds or HTML, or anything Web-related. No one buys it — and if they do, it’s only so they can squeeze more out of you.
10. Stop being afraid. Stop being afraid of losing clients, afraid of tomorrow, afraid of big corporations, afraid of your own decisions. The images you shoot or that you license have the value you give them. Bargain if necessary, until you have no breath left. And leave the table if you have to.
Your images are like your children. Don’t let them be mistreated.