The UK government issued an updated copyright policy statement today that’s intended to modernize copyright law in a digital era. But here’s where those traditionally protected under copyright — authors, poets, artists, photographers and so forth — begin to cringe: sweeping definitions of “orphan works” and Extended Collective Licensing could allow companies to buy chunks of content without compensating original authors.
Someone finds your work on Flickr. They contact Getty Images to buy it. Getty Images contacts you for permission to sell it to their buyer. Do you do it?
So, from time to time, I receive requests to use my images for various purposes — like on a blog or a pamphlet or a calendar or the side of a zeppelin or for a urinal cake. Typically, if they are nice and they’re not going to be making a load of cash off where they’d like to use my image then I’ll let them use it as long as they give me credit. I’m especially generous with environmental interests and non-profits and ice cream manufacturers offering vouchers for all-you-can-eat tours.
But then there are the chumps (and chumpettes) who will be making a substantial amount of money off of the use of my image and I send them packing unless they pony up a fair amount of money. The latest version of this repetitive saga really got caught all up in my craw and so I felt the need to write a bit about it.
Here’s a lawsuit you might want to keep an eye on: in late 2010, photographer Richard Reinsdorf sued shoe company Skechers for violating the licensing agreement for a number of images he made for the company between 2006 and 2009. While the lawsuit itself isn’t anything unusual, the price demanded by Reinsdorf is: he wants $250 million.
Yesterday we wrote that Steve Jobs had been interested in Lytro‘s novel camera technology during the final years of his life. PC World did an interview with Lytro executive chairman Charles Chi, who seems to indicate that Lytro is very open to the idea of partnering with cell phone makers and licensing light field technology to them:
If we were to apply the technology in smartphones, that ecosystem is, of course, very complex, with some very large players there. It’s an industry that’s very different and driven based on operational excellence. For us to compete in there, we’d have to be a very different kind of company. So if we were to enter that space, it would definitely be through a partnership and a codevelopment of the technology, and ultimately some kind of licensing with the appropriate partner.
He also states that Lytro has “the capital to do that, the capability in the company to do that, and… the vision to execute.” If Apple were to form an exclusive partnership with Lytro for its iPhone cameras, light field photography would instantly be adopted by the millions of people who purchase the phones every year. That’d definitely be a huge shift in the way people take pictures.
Q&A: Lytro Exec Charles Chi Talks Light Field, Battery Life, and Licensing (via Engadget)
Two years ago, Flickr partnered up with Getty to allow Flickr users to sell photographs, and today Getty announced that its “Flickr Collection” has grown to over 250,000 images. Getty also revealed that the above image titled “Rock Concert” by Flickr user Michael Bodge is their best seller. No word on how many copies it has sold, though.
(via AllThingsD via Geeky Gadgets)
P.S. Brownie points to anyone who can find the original Flickr page for this photo.
Update: Michael Bodge himself wins the brownie points. Here’s the original Flickr photo.
Microstock did a lot of damage by turning traditional stock photography on its head, but now a company called Stipple is trying to give microstock a taste of its own medicine. The company, which offers technology for tagging people and objects in photos, has launched its new Image Marketplace website for publishers who want to use photographs without having to pay for them. Instead of publishers paying the photographers or agencies for licenses, brands step into the equation by paying money to advertise through the photos. The photographer then collects money based on the number of clicks and hovers their photographs receive.
Stipple Marketplace (via TechCrunch)
Could allowing the use of your photos for free actually be a way to increase income? Portrait photographer Jonathan Worth — the man behind Coventry University’s free photo courses — used to send take-down notices to any website that shared his work without permission. Then he met author Cory Doctorow, a proponent of Creative Commons licensing, who suggested that he try giving away his work for free. Worth then made a high-res photo freely available online and quickly sold 111 signed prints, netting him £800 (~$1,270).
The Daily Mail is no stranger to copyright infringement accusations, but this time they’ve taken it even further — publishing a photo after the owner denied them permission to do so. Alice Taylor of Wonderland recently snapped a photo of a “dangerously emaciated” mannequin promoting GAP’s “Always Skinny” line of clothes. As the photo started spreading on the web, The Daily Mail emailed Taylor to ask for permission to use the image, which she agreed to — on the condition that the newspaper donate £250 to a charity of her choice. When they balked at the price, she gave them a flat out “no”.
That same day, they published an article (
which has since been taken down [Update: It's back up]) using both the photo and quotes lifted from The Washington Post without include any linkbacks. Taylor is now demanding that they cough up a £2000 donation for the unauthorized use.
(via Wonderland via Reddit)
Update: The Daily Mail has apologized for publishing the photos, which was apparently due to a breakdown in communications. They’re planning to settle with the Taylor.
A little update to the recent brouhaha over Google+’s Terms of Service: Tom W of Getty Images posted the above message to fellow Getty members on Flickr informing them that Getty’s lawyers have no problems with the ToS. He writes,
The important thing to watch out for in Terms of Service, and it’s the same as we’ve talked about for contests, is that whatever they do (or allow third parties to do) with the images should be in the context of the service itself, not to re-license or otherwise commercialize the images to other parties (or even the main company itself) outside of the context they’re posted for.
Certain people have argued that uploading your photos to Google+ may hurt your ability in the future to sell exclusive licenses to images. If that’s what you’re worried about, it’s probably safer to keep your photographs off the Internet completely, since every content sharing service on the Internet requires at least a license to display your photos using their service.