A big win for photographers in Canada: as of today, you now officially own the copyright to all your photographs regardless of whether they were commissioned. The development comes as a result of Canada major copyright reform bill (Bill C-11) taking effect this morning. One of the stated goals of the new copyright law is to, “give photographers the same rights as other creators.”
As you make your way to polling places today to cast your votes, you might want to look into your state’s laws before pulling out your camera and snapping photographs inside your voting booth. Certain states have pretty strict laws with regard to snapping and sharing photographs of ballots. Earlier this year, Wisconsin election officials specifically warned voters that sharing photos of ballots on Facebook or Twitter is a Class I felony, punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a $10K fine.
Yesterday we reported that Nikon Photo Contest is no longer accepting film photos starting this year. Turns out it’s not the only prestigious photo contest with rules that are causing some discussion. Check out what National Geographic Photo Contest 2012 says under the rules section “Who May Enter”:
Contest is open only to individuals who have reached the age of majority in their jurisdiction of residence at the time of entry and who do NOT reside in Cuba, Iran, New Jersey, North Korea, the Province of Quebec, Sudan, Syria or Vermont. Employees of National Geographic Society, and its subsidiaries and affiliates [...] CONTEST IS VOID IN CUBA, IRAN, NEW JERSEY, NORTH KOREA, THE PROVINCE OF QUEBEC, SUDAN, SYRIA, VERMONT AND WHERE PROHIBITED.
Iran and North Korea? Those are understandable… but New Jersey and Vermont? Turns out there’s a pretty simple answer for those states as well: state laws.
The National Press Photographers Association announced this week that it will be joining a major lawsuit filed against NYC and the NYPD for civil rights violations during the Occupy Wall Street protests.
Donalee Moulton over at The Lawyers Weekly has an article describing how EXIF data is beginning to be accepted as valuable evidence in courtrooms — at least in Canada:
Traditionally, a photograph was a picture of one point in time. It could only tell what someone was doing, or not doing, at a particular moment on a particular day. What came before or after was unknown. This uncertainty meant that even what appeared to be a damning image had little value as a piece of evidence because there was no context [...]
Digital photography does not pose the same problem. In some cases, the metadata are enough to counter the snapshot argument by demonstrating that an activity was performed repeatedly or for a lengthy period [...]
Apparently judges are considering EXIF data to be relevant in personal injury lawsuits, in which photos could “prove” that the plaintiff isn’t too injured or depressed to function properly. Hopefully the courts are aware of how easily EXIF data can be faked.
Smile, You’re on Metadata [The Lawyers Weekly]
Thanks for sending in the tip, Phil!
Image credit: More Exif Info configuration by mortimer?, Courtroom One Gavel by Joe Gratz
Apple is constantly engaged in its fair share of courtroom battles, but its latest one hits a little closer to home for photographers. Swiss photographer Sabine Liewald has filed a lawsuit against Apple for using her “Eye Closeup” photograph to promote the 15-inch MacBook Pro’s Retina Display.
Here’s an interesting piece of photo trivia for today: did you know that Apple’s similarities with Kodak don’t end with Steve Jobs modeling his career and his company after Polaroid? The ongoing dispute between Apple and Samsung is strikingly similar to the battle Polaroid had with Kodak many decades ago.
Did you know that in California, “rights of publicity” are transfered to a celebrity’s heirs after the celebrity dies? This means that photos of the famous individual may continue to be subject to the heir’s licensing fees when the photo owners want to license them out for use in commercial products. A court ruling issued last week provides an interesting case study into how this California law can affect photography rights. PDN writes,
Owners of Marilyn Monroe photographs have won a decisive legal victory [...] which has affirmed that Marilyn Monroe heirs have inherited no rights of publicity to the actress’s likeness.
The decision means that Monroe’s heirs cannot control how images of the actress are used commercially, and cannot demand fees whenever those images are licensed for use on calendars, posters, memorabilia, or other products.
[...] The appeals court affirmed a lower court decision that said Monroe was a New York resident because her heirs had insisted upon that for 40 years in order to avoid paying California taxes. The courts said the heirs cannot now claim Monroe was a California resident in order to take financial advantage of California’s posthumous right of publicity laws.
So basically, if Monroe had been a California resident, using photos of her for commercial purposes would still require hefty fees. Since she wasn’t, photo owners can tap into the lucrative Monroe memorabilia industry — which generated $27 million in 2011 — without paying a dime.
Owners of Marilyn Monroe Photos Win Big Legal Victory Over Actor’s Heirs [PDNPulse]
One of the reasons photographers raise a fuss when their rights are infringed upon is to create awareness in the general public and among law enforcement. A recent lawsuit between a photojournalist and the Washington DC police department has done just that. The Washington Post reports:
District police cannot interfere with citizens as they photograph or videotape officers performing their jobs in public, according to a new directive issued by Chief Cathy L. Lanier as part of settlement in a civil lawsuit.
The six-page general order, similar to one published by police in Baltimore in November, warns officers that “a bystander has the right under the First Amendment to observe and record members in the public discharge of their duties.”
[...] “It tells police to leave people alone,” Spitzer said. “It makes it clear that if a person is in a place that interferes with police operations, the officer can ask or tell them to move to another location, but they can’t tell them to stop taking pictures.”
D.C. officers are directed to leave citizen photographers alone [The Washington Post]
Image credit: Fortress Scotus (Washington, DC) by takomabibelot
ASMP Releases is a free model and property release app for iOS by the American Society of Media Photographers. Quite useful for if you’d like to use your street photographs commercially.
Photographer can customize a Model or Property release using the ASMP standard releases. The app allows you to create templates, take a photograph of the subject, specify the uses for the images, including any sensitive or digital manipulation issues, and images of minors, the models can then sign the release and a PDF is emailed to the photographer, agent, model and client as needed. [#]
The app also includes generic stock photography releases by Getty Images. Photography release apps are nothing new, but you certainly can’t beat the price of free.
ASMP Releases (via SLR Lounge)