Controversial French Ad Campaign for Photographers’ Rights

French photographers organization Union des Photographes Professionnels (UPP) launched a controversial new advertising campaign this week, speaking out against the use of photographs without proper permission and/or payment. The ad reads: “Each day, a photographer’s work is used without his consent”. A spokesperson for UPP states,

It’s obvious that professional photographers are not being listened to. So, for the first time, we’re speaking to the photographic community with an image. We hope to raise awareness among the public, as well as the media and the government, about photographers’ problems. Each day, photographers are faced with decreasing rates. They are forced to compete against image libraries that are offering vile prices. These practices are infringing on photographers’ moral rights.

In a blog post, the organization adds, “Each day, photographers risk their lives to allow us to stay informed. And each day, photographers continue to be dealt with as if they weren’t producing anything. […] With this image, we want to show the violent and disrespectful economic reality that photographers have to deal with.”

(via UPP via BJP via The Click )

  • Bob

    Interesting timing…I just found a bunch of my images used on the Peerless Guitars site. But that picture is just crass.

  • TAPman

    Crass, but right “up” to the point.

  • Seriesrover2

    I would defer my opinion to someone thats got raped to say whether its the same thing as having a picture used without their authorization.

  • Shizam

    Moral rights, really?  This argument sounds just like the media industry’s when it found its old business model failing…

  • Cynthia Cortina

    Agreed, Shizam

  • Addison

    Shizam & Cynthia, I am not a corporation. I am the smallest of small businesses trying to support a family with my images. Do not confuse me and tens thousands of other sole proprietors with large corporations. 

  • Jeremy

    Yeah, I guess competition in the digital age is good and bad.  Overall I think it’s good if people are actually paying for stuff even if prices are getting driven down a bit.  What’s really bad is when pictures are simply stolen.

  • donuts222

    great follow up to your post about the calendar…and good timing i might add

  • Mike Smith

    Even at my hoplessly amateur end it happens. Imagine my surprise when a French magazine used photo of mine. Not a call, nor email, nothing. I contacted them and their reply was “so?’.

  • A4D

    Getty solved this problem for their photographers by sending 1000’s of settlement demand letters to people. Scared people to no extent

  • alvintoro

    Hat off to them for taking a “hard” stance on the issue and “driving it” all the way home. The ad is offensive and rude. Just like all those who commercially use images without consent.

  • Klulessmedia

    Obviously not, but it is simply a comparison. Don’t “take it” to be so literal.

  • Xondra Gálvez

    It’d be more effective if the photograppher were covering a violent event, such as a riot, imo.

  • Xondra Gálvez

     sounds like someone who’s never stood at the other end of the camera. You know, the one were you don’t have to smile like an idiot, because that’s the only kind of photography I figure you taking.

  • neilkoven

    This kind of problem is endemic in our industry; I have seen my images used where they should not have been, which is why I watermark all images on my company website and on my Flickr website.

    More to the point of the strong ad, these days everyone is pushing the envelope, and the only way to get noticed is to do/be something completely different (with apologies to Monty Python). The ad grabs your attention and makes you read the small headline, and hopefully, makes you think about it. I think it’s very well done, and frankly, I wish I had thought of it.

  • Vrillco

    Yes and no.  As a MAFIAA-hating indie musician and promoter, what sets photography apart from big music is the business model.  Sure, you’re creating something that is trivially duplicated and expecting people not to do that, but my gripes with music and film have never been about the artist, rather the massive distribution cartels that manage them: borderline fraudulent record contracts, payola, underreported sales figures, frivolous lawsuits and a sheer ignorance of what people truly want.

    With photography, there is very little of that crooked business structure and the process is far more democratic.  Many are independent, and there are so many clearinghouse-type photo agencies that the market remains competitive.  They’re not selling their wares at Wal-mart via five levels of middlemen and two dozen lawyers each taking a piece of the pie… 

    When you duplicate music or movies, you’re primarily hurting the big corporation – at least before those fraudulent contracts start passing the buck down.  With photography, any infringement hits much closer to home.

  • Davemac00

    “old business model failing” Trans: “why should I have to pay for it?”

  • John Cooper

    do it for the art not for the money 

  • jdm8

    It’s one thing to complain about copyright infringement, which is very understandable. It’s something else to complain about alleged moral rights being violated, I’m not seeing it. It seems unfair, but claiming something immoral about it just sounds petty to me.

  • Dean Phipps

    Images should never be re-used or used without the photographers consent.
    It comes down to just stealing.
    Hats off to the French.

  • Nick

    The law and copyright are rules applied by many to most without consideration of individual circumstances, that is why we need moral conscience. Also because copyright isn’t always right

  • Pitboy

    I fully agree that consent must be asked for and received, prior to using an image for any reason, thats just common courtesy for any artist.

    I have a bit of a problem that this article moves from “Each day, a photographer’s work is used without his consent” a permission standpoint, to a commercial one “Each day, photographers are faced with decreasing rates …” in the next breath.
    You cant work both arguments together, we non professional photographers, dont want it..

    You either support an artist right to their work, or you support a professionals right to be paid.  Can you or should you, do both in the same breath? 

    This type of message (not the image, thats just funny) suggest that all photographers are ‘income derived from images only’ professionals.  A vast majority of us who have earned the right to call ourselves photographers and artists, are not.  The approach from this article makes us ALL look like whinny, bitching about the value of the image going down because there is a camera in every pocket, old school, can’t handle change, stick in the muds.  News organizations are firing photographers because … they dont need them, the crowd sourced work does the job fine (even at the crappy quality provided).  Deal with it, and get another job, or take up weddings, kids or portraits.  The world has changed, accept it, and get on with life.

    I shoot because I simply love it, I love capturing the image my minds eye saw.  I dont want to be paid for my work, its available to anyone for the asking … but ya gotta ask first.  It’s like stealing my car, cause you needed a ride.

  • Geoff Cavanagh

    Excellent, I fully aggree with their views.

  • Aaro Keipi

     It’s called a metaphor, bro.

  • Graham

    Noticed your comment about Peerless Guitars using your pictures. If you can let me know which ones I will ensure you get a credit or have them removed if you prefer. 

  • ChrisB

    Graham, do you work for Peerless Guitars? I am guessing so, and I am guessing you had a search set up to notify you whenever Peerless Guitars is mentioned on the web.

    Your statement: 

    “I will ensure you get a credit or have them removed if you prefer.”

    is outrageous! You have absolutely no right to steal a photographer’s work, which is exactly what this article is about. To think that you are putting it right by offering a credit, or to remove the images “if you prefer” just makes it worse. 

    Remove the images, and apologise. And how about paying the photographer?

  • Graham

    Hi Chris, I do work for Peerless but actually just stumbled across this site when googling for something else.

    I am very curious as to what images have been used without authorization. I built the .eu site and as far as I am aware, all the images on it either came from HQ own product photographer, by consent from endorsee’s or I was present at the shoot. 

    Having worked in the music industry for a long time I absolutely appreciate copyright and that the artist should be rewarded for work done. No one should benefit from the artists work without consent, recognition and remuneration as agreed. 

    I can assure you that I did not steal anything.

    If someone can enlighten me to what image is being referred.

  • Daniel Aubry

    Not quite clear to me whether the ” suit ” is going through the photographer’s
    pockets, or performing anal sex. No that, metaphorically, they’re that different !

  • New1

    Hahah what planet do you live on?

    “With photography, there is very little of that crooked business structure and the process is far more democratic.  Many are independent, and there are so many clearinghouse-type photo agencies that the market remains competitive.  They’re not selling their wares at Wal-mart via five levels of middlemen and two dozen lawyers each taking a piece of the pie…”

    There are many cases of photo agencies not paying their photographers for sales. London Features is one, and a photog I know is owed over $10K in royalties from them. Fact.

    And when certain agencies sell their photos for $0.25 a shot, how is that not like Wal-mart?

  • Prophoto

    You simply do not understand what it is like to be a professional photographer. With overhead of thousands a year to produce professional quality photos (not iPhone crapolla)when people use your photos illegally and you end up not getting paid, it is called stealing. Life is full of companies who have been sued for damages and end up paying far more than what they would have if they had been honest.

    You shoot because you love it, guess what, most professionals shoot because they love it also. The job is too hard and generally doesn’t pay enough to shoot for the money.

    You really shouldn’t even be commentating as this French ad is talking about people who make $ with their work. I would love to see you one day get a great shot of something, and, while you are struggling as an artist to pay your rent, the image is used as the centerpiece of a national ad campaign by a big-box retailer who has sales in the billions. Of course, you won’t go for the money that you rightly deserve to be paid as an artist and creator of the image, because ” I dont want to be paid for my work, its available to anyone for the asking”

  • Brian

    I whole heartedly applaud the French stance on image theft et al, although I was victim of image theft by someone living in Toulouse last month where they decided it was ok to use one of my images commercially and wouldn’t enter into discussion but instead closed the site down.

  • Rhorn2

    Absurd to believe this will engender any photography sympathy or support; indeed, it will eventually inure against their effort – their effort was not well thought out.

  • Pitboy

     You obviously didnt actually read my post, or allow what I said, to sink in.  You jumped on the same bandwagon as this article did. Your first paragraph is all over the pro not getting paid for work used, and I NEVER said that they should not.  I just didn’t go there at all.

    I asked a question, posed to the creator of this article and ad campaign, which you did not answer.  Prophoto, Please calm down and consider the question as asked:

    “You either support an artist right to their work, or you support a
    professionals right to be paid.  Can you or should you, do both in the
    same breath?”

    Your final paragraph suggests I “should not be commenting as this French ad is talking about people who make $ with their work … ect, ect, ect.”    The first by-line in the article is and I quote “Each day, a photographer’s work is used without his consent”.  The simple point I am making is; where we all agree to the consent issue, a vast MAJORITY of photographers are not professional. 

    Are we non professionals not “allowed” to comment on the subject of consent?  By telling me I shouldnt be commenting at all, is the “professionals” old boys club of insulating itself from the outside world … yet again.  Are you not hiding yet again from the reality of the ‘democratization of photography’?  Is this just more of the pro world fighting back against those of us who have demystified and learned the craft as any pro has, and scrimped and saved to be able to have pro equipment?  Do you wish that we were still in the days of “only a pro knows how to shoot correctly”?  Your anger and single sided idealism suggests you live the pain of a profession that does not have the market it once did.  Why still do it?  Why live with this anger.  Just don’t do it anymore.  The world market seems fine with iPhone crapolla, why try to make a living … in that environment.

    Are you really different than I?  You look thru the viewfinder, compose a vision or a moment in time, and capture something special .  Where we differ is how our greed is satisfied.  You want the $ for the work to be seen,  I want my work to be seen, period.  If Im lucky, a little ‘photo by …’ at the bottom.

    – I dont struggle to pay rent, I have a real job, photography is a love and a lifestyle choice.  If it was my only job, I would be struggling in this world photo market … no thx.
    – Big box retailer? Sure, no issue, no cheque needed, just ask for permission, I will probably give it.  If they found a way to sell a product from the image, good on them.
    – My work has hung in National galleries.  I have enjoyed placement in National competitions.  I have donated my work to hospitals and schools.  I am not interested in being paid.  I believe a good picture should just be seen … with consent of course.

  • Frank

    I created a book called Mind Prints which was born as a direct reaction to viewing a Prince show . 

    Yes, of course what Prince does is criminal on every level – we all get that. Moreover shame on the art world for allowing him to sell  images for incredible sums of money and making him a star. Really bullshit. I find Prince’s work offensive to all photographers whom I represent and every person who see themselves as a creative. More to the point, anybody with a smidgin of imagination should be pissed.Please visit this site: – DO NOT BUY THE BOOK. Leave your addressand I’ll send it to you for free, just reference this blog. Mind Prints has had solo shows at the VII Gallery in Dumbo and The Art Directors Club in NYC. The book is a testament to all of us –  we create images in our mind and don’t need to steal others. Every word in the book will create an searing image.I applaud the ad. And for every photographer who’s not familiar with Prince’s work I encourage you to go see it . The ad doesn’t go far enough…

  • neilkoven

    One other comment should be made. Canada is the ONLY industrialized nation wherein copyright does not automatically reside with the photographer (or writer…or artist…or etc.). If someone hires me to take photos for them, THEY own the copyright unless they specifically sign that right away. Fortunately few clients realize that and assume that I own copyright…and I ain’t gonna change that assumption.

    We–the PPOC (Professional Photographers of Canada) and CAPIC (Canadian Association of Photographers and Illustrators in Commerce) have been lobbying for years to change the Canadian copyright laws. You can imagine the glacial speed at which that is moving.

  • Ppizzi1

    Pitboy… is you sir that seems very angry. If I had to guess Id say its because youre a shitty photog that could never make it as a pro, you have some kind of mommy/daddy issue that stripped you of the ability to accept that others are better than you and in that light you feel its your right to be a total asshole by talking about an industry you clearly dont understand as though you do….

  • Veronica Antonio Paulaitis Fot

    and how you pay the bills? some of us pay rent, have families and we are rich, did you now?

  • Pitboy

    I have to reply to Ppizzi1, who posts below here, as reply’s are not possible there, or he has turned them off.   I’m not angry in the slightest, I just find it laughable that now theres two probable ‘professionals’, who are more interested in slamming me personally than either calmly answering my question, or actually gaining the literacy skills to understand what I’m saying.  I’m sure (and I know there are) some REAL pro’s that may have some input, and are capable of more than “Duh … you suck”.
    I really dont care what either of you say about my photo work, the last paragraph of my previous post answers that.  What you have spoken volumes to is your own lack of legitimacy, and complete incapability to discuss an important issue to us all.  For these reasons, you are a discredit to the business or the art that is photography.
    I’m out.

  • Stephen

    You pay the bills by having a job. You stay sane by being an artist…after hours.