Archive for April, 2010

AFP and Twitter and the Photographer

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

APhotoEditor has posted about the tribulations of Daniel Morel, a Haitian photographer who posted images on Twitter which were then used by AFP without permission of the photographer, etc. The photog is upset and sent his lawyer after the “infringers.”

Sadly, here, it doesn’t look like there were any infringers, legally-speaking.

I know this is going to piss off many of you, but the photographer screwed up. He posted his images without taking steps to make sure he wasn’t giving away too many rights in the doing. As professionals, every photographer must take those steps. It’s a (big) part of your job.

Here, the results suck for the photographer. It didn’t have to be that way because Twitter has incredibly clear TOS which include the following:

By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).

After that, they even go further, explaining the rights:

You agree that this license includes the right for Twitter to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals who partner with Twitter for the syndication, broadcast, distribution or publication of such Content on other media and services, subject to our terms and conditions for such Content use.

Such additional uses by Twitter, or other companies, organizations or individuals who partner with Twitter, may be made with no compensation paid to you with respect to the Content that you submit, post, transmit or otherwise make available through the Services.

One read would have been enough to say “no, this won’t work.” But he didn’t bother. Morel’s own attorney has been quoted as saying “Mr. Morel had no prior experience with Twitter, the social networking site and did not read the Terms of Service.”

Well, there you have it.

Moreover, you can’t have it both ways. I’m sure that any photographer who submits T&Cs with his/her estimate and invoice expects those terms to be respected. Why shouldn’t Twitter expect the same?  Everything else that happened (AFP’s involvement, etc.) evolved out of that one mistake.

The point of all this? READ THE TOS FOR EVERYTHING YOU USE. Sure, it’s hard and boring and not what you may want to do, but it is your responsibility to protect your rights. You can’t claim ignorance. Certainly you can’t claim ignorance and then get upset when your own clients (and others) do the same when they violate your terms.

Do the right thing for your work and your business. Read TOS and T&Cs and do not use services that grab too many rights. Yes, many of those services are easier than finding alternatives, but the price for that ease is too high. In this case, in the rush to get his images out to the world, Mr. Morel appears to have (essentially) given them away.

(remember, I am not a lawyer, just a law student, so none of this should be taken as legal advice–it’s just my own opinion and musings)

Assignment No. 3 Results

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Well this one was a puzzlement, to quote the King of Siam. Was it just too weird? I dunno, but I did not get many submissions. Lots of talk, but few actual submissions. As the kids say WTH?

But for those who did, I think they reflect what I was hoping to show: that given any particular stimulation, the results are individual.

Wait, that sounds too scientific… what I mean is that we each get input from the world around us and what one makes of that is a reflection of the artist’s individual vision. It is that difference that make you the artist you are and not the artist your friend Bob is. And that is really, really important these days.

More and more we are seeing how technology had not only lowered the bar, but rather deleted the bar. Anyone can (technically) be a photographer today, and many people are trying it (see all the “i-reporter” kinds of submissions!). So, if you want to make a business of this business, it is ALL about bringing something else to the party. That is your vision, your creativity.

So these artists who did submit, they all listened to the piece and got something out of it that inspired them to make these images below. Each got their own vision from the input. There is a lot of variation in these images, and I’m glad for it. I love the different directions people took. I’m fascinated by the druid-y-looking dude who, if you look closely, is wearing a dress-shirt and tie and the Floatopia image is a great PJ-related solution. Overall, there is a mix of sensuality and sensuousness (look them up, they are different things though most people don’t know that) in all the images that reflect the spirit of the music.

Bravo to all of you. And thank you for sharing!

One thing: the first 3 images are (obviously, I hope) a series. The rules for these assignments have been pretty flexible so I decided that it wasn’t a problem–they are clearly a collective “whole” so, there you go. After that each image is an individual submission; and all of the thumbnails are linked to larger versions, so click to see them.

Assignment No. 3–extension

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

Okay, I’m swamped and I’m hearing that some photogs are having issues getting their assignments in so I am EXTENDING the due date for Assignment No. 3. It is now due by 11:59pm (PT) on Monday, April 12.

Get ’em in, people!!!


Shift your tone

Friday, April 9th, 2010

Seth Godin’s post today got me to thinking. In it he writes:

More and more, businesses and businesspeople talk about their rights.

It seems, though, that organizations and individuals that focus more on their responsibilities and less on their rights tend to outperform. [emphasis in original]

You’re responsible to your community, to your customers, to your employees and to your art. Serve them and the rights thing tends to take care of itself.

I know a lot of people are going to disagree with me about this, but I think that in many ways, he’s right.

Now, I’m not saying you should ignore your rights–not at all. You need to register your images and go after infringers, absolutely.

No, what I am saying is that I’ve noticed that those people who talk about their rights all the time, especially to their clients, are really rather off-putting. No one wants to get a lecture from a vendor. People want to hear good things from their vendors. They want to hear how you are going to solve their problems. They don’t want to hear what your problems are.

This goes hand in hand with being positive, especially when it comes to any interactions with your targets/clients. Don’t put yourself down, don’t talk about how you “lucked out” and got a shot. Don’t talk about how hard things have been or even how your kids have been sick. Basically, don’t talk about you.

Talk about them.

When you focus on your targets and their needs and wants, sure, you are going to talk about you a bit, but in the context of helping them.

The other side of Seth’s post, about responsibilities, is equally important. When I hear photographers having fits over indemnification clauses, my first thought is “why are you afraid to guarantee your work?” A well written indemnification clause in a contract is essentially saying “I am willing to back up my promise that this is my work, that I’m not infringing on anyone else’s rights, with a promise to pay for the legal costs if I screw up.” Giving a promise, a guarantee of your work, shouldn’t be a big issue and it does a lot to comfort your clients.

Rather than fight these clauses I’d suggest getting your lawyer to write a good one for you and then pointing it out to your clients! “In paragraph 4 I’m guaranteeing that my images will not infringe on anyone else’s rights, so you’re covered.”

By the way, if some third party did bring suit claiming you infringed on their work somehow with your images, well, that is why you carry E&O insurance.

My point is, no one like a whiner, and when you put your energy into reminding your clients about your rights you can come off sounding pretty whiny. But if you focus your energy instead on their needs and how you can solve their problems, you become a positive hero to them. That gets you projects and builds your reputation, in a very good way.

Go get ’em!

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

ASMP, along with other visual artist groups, is going after Google for its massive copyright infringement. Huzzah! This is great news for artists.

It’s a class action and is a very, very large undertaking. This won’t be cheap or easy, but it needs to be done and is being done for the benefit of all artists who are getting ripped off by Google, and similar organizations (“sharing” b.s.). Support your creative professional groups in this and let’s root for the home team here!

Go artists!