Making Not Taking Photographs

Backstage views on making photographs professionally

Licensing Photographs

Why we License Photos…

Here is a lesson in licensing use for photographs and why you are supposed to pay attention to what you bought or rented.

Case  in point… See the photo:electronics

As of today it is the source of untold grief and anger between maybe a dozen people, two magazines (at least), and maybe three to five companies.

And, I am sure it’s not over yet.

Question: Why?

Answer: The client did not pay any attention to his license agreement.

In violation of the agreement, he distributed the photo to numerous entities without telling the photographers.

The client had purchased limited use rights. He thought it would be great to send a copy of the photo to everyone he knew and dang, the inevitable happened. Two competing magazines ran the photo on the cover the same month. One magazine had the legitimate right to use the photo and paid for it. The other didn’t.

We have not yet heard the end of the story, I think… depending upon how many other companies this image was sent to.

This is why we do licensing agreements… so people don’t hate each other after the photo is made and distributed. Never mind how much this is going to cost the people who used it without permission.

We charge triple the going rate for use without permission. If it’s repeated we go for the limit in federal copyright court which is jail time and close to $100,000 per image, per use, in fines, plus court costs. Try explaining that expense account item to your publisher.

How to prevent this:

1) Due Diligence... If you get a photo of this quality from someone to publish, print, or put on the web, and they are not a professional photographer you must insist on talking to the photographer to make sure it is licensed for the use to which you want to put it. No matter what the supplier says about who owns the photo. Most of my clients really could not tell you what permissions they have regarding photos… They just don’t read the fine print.

2) Your art director has the photo open and there is a © on the bottom of the border in Photoshop’s primary window. Due Diligence and common sense requires that you to open the “file info” and see what’s going on. My photos all carry info on how to find me and state that unless you have a license to use the photo from me, directly… you can’t use it.

3) If your photo supplier won’t tell you the photographer’s name have them sign an indemnification agreement. This basically means that if and when you get sued for using the photo they will step in between and cover the costs… If you don’t think they can cover a $100,000 court judgment you better go back to common sense and due diligence. Don’t use the photo.

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