Archive for March, 2009

Reduce distractions

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

I LOVE this. Someone has invented an app (OSX only…sorry PCers) that blocks email and other internet distractions (you set which ones) for a specific period of time (again, that you set). You can’t get out of it without restarting your Mac.

If you are like so many people, this will be a godsend. Start in small increments to wean your way off obsessive email & Facebook checking. Watch how much more productive you become!

Copyright Registry fixes

Monday, March 30th, 2009

After hearing the hue and cry of the photographer community, the Copyright Registry has made significant changes to their copy and contract terms. I think we, as a community should applaud these changes and the spirit in which they were made.

Are things perfect? No, of course not. But I don’t expect or demand perfection and, frankly, neither should you. I see too many photographers (and other creatives) dig their heels in unreasonably about some issues that, well, aren’t really issues. This is cutting off your nose to spite your face, as the old saw goes. What has been fixed is important and, though I still think the URL choice was poor on their part (for example), that just isn’t important in the big picture. What they fixed was important.

What is most important is that they listened to the community and tried to make things better for everyone involved. They had their position, but they were willing to listen to others and reframe that position. That is a good way to handle challenges and, frankly, mistakes.

Unfortunately, the community doesn’t seem willing to act in the same way. That is, there are some people who are still calling for this company to stop its business or something. They aren’t giving the Registry folks any space to be human and to have simply screwed up. Maybe they took steps to get input from the photo community before they launched but still ended up not presenting in the best way they could have–would that make a difference in your mind? It should.

Wishing them to fail is acting just like those people who are hoping for Obama to fail. Even if you don’t like everything about something, that doesn’t mean you can’t take the good and wish them the best, because maybe their success is really a good thing for you in the long run.

Maybe this is some of my Buddhist readings and maybe some of it is my law school training, but I just do not see where constantly attacking and being negative will get us anywhere. We talked, they listened, they made significant changes–why not just celebrate that and move on? In the long run, services like the Copyright Registry have the potential to be extremely helpful for creatives. Let’s try to keep on the path to make that goal a reality and not get sidetracked by some obsessive need to be 100% right and, worse, to win just for the sake of winning.

Anger

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

This may seem a bit of an odd topic for this blog, but really, it’s not. Anger is something we all face, but I’ve found that it doesn’t generally do much good. Seems the science backs my attitude on this.

I used to be much angrier. I took things very personally and suffered often from what could be called “righteous anger.” That’s a big family trait on my mother’s side. Seething, bitching…”It’s not fair!” and “It shouldn’t be like that!” are popular exclamations. Lots of “passion” but, really, nothing ever felt better or got accomplished–I mean, afterwards, I would just feel tired…and still angry.

My father, however, has always been very level-headed and even when things seemed overwhelmingly “wrong” he would always try to see both sides. I started studying Buddhism, learned to let go of my seething, etc., and in the process have become very much like my dad. It turns out that my barely Protestant father is, in some ways, a natural-born Buddhist. Go fig. Treat everyone with respect at all times, even when you disagree with them completely–that seems to be Dad’s way, and I think it’s a good way.

My point is, these days it is very, very easy to get angry. Venting and writing nasty blog posts (which, yes, I still do sometimes–I’m not perfect!!!) and digging in your heels won’t do much good. Instead, I think looking for solutions is much more productive.

For example, the C-Registry.us problems I posted about a couple of days ago. Since that post, I have spoken with several people, including Randy from that site, and things are changing. I’m not sure where this will end, but by being polite and open to discussion, I think ALL sides on the issue have a very good chance at reaching a good place.

I could have just decided that no matter what he was a bad guy and the company was bad and railed and railed against it, or I could look at what was good and what was bad, and then help try to get things fixed.

In business, being open to seeing the problems and trying to find solutions and/or ways of mitigating those problems makes more sense than just getting angry and complaining about it. Righteous anger is still anger, and it doesn’t help–it ends up being “cutting off your nose to spite your face.” Instead remember that your “enemy” is only an imperfect human, just like you, and try to find a way through it. You’ll find you can then talk with them and, when you let go of the anger, hear them when they talk too. Your business will be the better for it.

Just go read this

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

What do art buyers look for? Caitlin knows.

What does this do…

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

What does this (the photographic dictionary) do to the old maxim of a picture being worth a thousand words? 😉

Seriously, though, I love creative thinking and projects like this. Anyone can do something like this now, so what is your excuse? Get your creative friends together and figure out some fun project to do! Make a party out of the show if you do it with mostly locals! Enjoy and celebrate being a creative!

(Doing creative play is particularly a good thing to do if work has been slow…)

Not so fast

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

APA has posted about a new “registry” for copyrighted works. This seems to be a precursor to a potentially eventual searchable database to prevent one’s work from being labeled “orphan” for the purposes of an orphan works law.

First, there is no such law or even bill at this time, so don’t be getting your knickers in a twist. We don’t need this kind of registry yet and may, in fact, never need it.

Second, this registry has at least one sneaky clause in its contract. Here it is:

COLLECTIVE REPRESENTATION

YOU authorize The COPYRIGHT REGISTRY to represent INFORMATION, YOU and your CONTENT in collective bargaining for use of CONTENT by third parties and to execute licenses on your behalf for collective uses of CONTENT on terms to be determined by The COPYRIGHT REGISTRY at its sole discretion.

Now, I am not a lawyer yet, not even one-third of the way there yet (so I could definitely be wrong!!), but this clause looks like it’s saying that the site’s owners get to do your fee negotiating with any users of your content that you put on the site. They get to sell your work, in other words.

Hell no.

Actually, the more I read on the site, not just its contract terms, the more I do NOT like this site. It refers repeatedly to “The Orphan Works Act” like it’s a law. It’s not. In fact, there is no bill on it now even, as far as I know. Look at this quote from the site:

For many years, U.S. Copyright law has essentially said that anything you create is copyrighted by default at the moment of creation. You did not need to have your name on it. The Orphan Works Act modifies that. Under some circumstances, The Orphan Works Act lets anyone use your copyrighted work for free if they cannot find it”s owner (an “orphaned work”) and until you find their use and invoice them.

That’s nothing but scare tactics!!! Again, there IS NO ORPHAN WORKS ACT. You do not need to register anything (except your original copyright). This site does NOTHING for you in protecting your work as things stand today and for the foreseeable future.

So, stay away from c-registry.us (yes, I am NOT linking to them…I don’t want to help them get traffic).

Connecting

Friday, March 20th, 2009

Last evening I went to a joint APA/ASMP event here in San Diego.

First off, how great is that?! APA and ASMP working together. We do that sometimes here–have meetings that are sponsored by both organizations–and I encourage other locations to follow the example. The groups may not always agree on everything, but the shared fundamental are there.

Anyway, I went even though I am swamped with school stuff. I was, quite literally, eating a wrap while reading Torts in my car before the event (having finished my classes at 5pm and the event started at 6:30) just so that I could get everything done and still attend. I made the effort because I miss seeing people from the photo community and thought this meeting would be good.

I knew that I was missing the contact, but didn’t realize just how much until I started talking with folks there. At first I was almost manic, then I was just very happy to be a part of the crowd. Mark Robert Halper, the guest for the event, spoke about intent and vision (and mentioned the crappy contracts issue and the importance of not lowering your fees now!!!) and shared many good ideas, but for me the real highlight (no slight to Mr. Halper!!!!) was just being around people I knew were creative and compelling–people who are my “constituency.”

I love law school. I’m lucky with that. But it’s hard, hard work. Last night helped reinforce the fundamental reason why I am here (at school, that is). I think connecting with the people you seek to serve is a great way to revitalize your attitude about your work. Right now, I am heading into exam-prep hell, but meeting with people yesterday has served to inspire me to get through that hell.

Maybe if you take the time to connect with your constituency–the people you work with like ADs or PEs, etc.–you can re-find that inspiration to get through this hard time in your career. Go to a local AdClub meeting or AIGA event (or AIA if you do architecture, or whatever group fits your clients). Get involved with the group (I’m going to be doing something with APA here soon). Remind yourself how great it is to know these people and, even if only sometimes lately, to work with them.

Crappy contracts

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Okay folks, times are tough and the smart businesspeople are sending out icky contracts to the creatives of the world, to try and scare them into signing away more than they ought. Please do NOT fall into this trap! This is just a manipulation by the smart, calm business heads to get more for less.

Here are some things to remember:

  1. Insist on advances. 50% is a good place to start.
  2. Do not agree to payment when the agency/mid-client gets paid. You get paid when you say, not when they say.
  3. If not 50% up front, try 1/3 in advance, 1/3 at delivery, 1/3 in 30 days. If you do this, do NOT hand over the images w/o getting the check!
  4. Offer a “discount” for paying on delivery or 15 days net or similar. Say 5%, but behind the scenes, add that into your estimate so that you are still getting what you should even when they take advantage of the discount. For example, if the project normally would cost $1000, bill $1050 and if they pay fast they only pay $1000.
  5. READ your contracts, especially POs, carefully! I expect to see clients trying to get additional rights by trying to sneak stuff in there. Btw, this isn’t really legitimate under contract law in many cases, but if you don’t make a stink about it before you sign, you might waive your rights to complain later.

Most of all, don’t bother getting angry about this. This is a smart business move from the buyer’s perspective. They know they have the upper hand in some ways and they are legitimately trying to exploit that advantage. That doesn’t mean you have to roll over for them, though.

God I love these

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

I’ve posted before about great business cards. Well, here are some more. I want to work with (almost) all of these people…I don’t care what they do, they have got to be cool, creative folks. We’ll figure out something to do.

For St. Patrick’s Day

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Just some goofy fun for a fun day…how to open a beer….

with a pen
with your forearm
with a piece of paper
…and using just about every other thing that won’t involve warnings about nudity.

🙂