4 August 2011
So you think you're OK if your image is watermarked? It's big, bold, in uppercase letters and hits you right between the eyes as soon as you clamp your beedies on it. No-one will steal your images and use them for free if there is a whopping great watermark, surely? Well, even if someone does use an image with a watermark, they will at least know that it belongs to someone else and that they should have paid for the use, or got permission? Think again.
I have just had a bizzare email conversation with the "founder" of aella.org, or "The Alliance for Earth, Life, Liberty and Advocation"; (I had to look up that last, baffling word, which has something to do with Scots Law and, it appears, naff all to do with the site's campaign message. It means; the action of a superior court in calling before itself or reviewing an action originally brought before an inferior court). I had cause to contact aella.org to request that an image of mine (see above) which was being used be taken down or a small fee paid. If there was any chance of the latter happening, then I would have gladly supplied an unwatermarked image. I had a polite reply from the "founder" apologising (sort of). He said, "We were unaware that the image belonged to you...". Well, it certainly did not belong to them! Such peremptory responses calls for a response in kind and so I pointed out that the image had a clear watermark. The reply back; "I did not see, or notice a watermark"!!! Admittedly the colour of the watermark against the beach makes it subtle, but unless you think the random action of waves on a storm beach has miraculously ordered the pebbles so as to advertise the site from where the picture was lifted, it is still pretty hard to miss. The biscuit has been firmly taken.
29 September 2010
Once upon a time…
I went round to a stranger’s house and stole some of his property. But it wasn’t just any type of property. This stranger’s property was something he had created using his knowledge, skill, time, effort and money. He makes his living selling this type of property. It wasn’t much really; just property worth about £50-£100 on the open market. I was hoping for a happy ending and that I wouldn't get caught. And all was sweet for a while, and I was happily using the stranger’s property. Well today the stranger discovered that I had trousered his hard earned property, but suggested that I pay him for having used his property and nothing more would be said about the matter. Yes, you heard me (and I know you will find this as ridiculous as I do) he actually asked me to PAY for the use of his property! Unbelievable! But in these situations I always have a few cast iron get-out clauses to deploy.
I said, “sorry mate, I didn’t realise it was your property. Here, you can have it back because I don’t want it any more” (luckily he didn’t realise I’d been using his property for ages-tee hee). I thought that would be OK but he insisted on calling the rozzers to have me arrested and charged with theft. I thought this was totally out of order. After all he had his property back and I wouldn’t be using it anymore. To be honest, and purely as part of my strategy, I had been a bit rude to the stranger, calling him a “shit kicker” and a “troll”. For some reason he got a bit annoyed at this. Time, I thought, to deploy excuse number 2.
I said, “actually this property was given to me by a friend and I thought it belonged to him. He said he’d got it off the internet. It didn’t have your name on it so how was I supposed to know it belonged to you? It’s your fault that I am using your property because it didn’t have your name on it”.
Using such irreproachable logic, I thought, was sure to sort out this little misunderstanding. Oh no. Unbelievably, and beyond my comprehension, the stranger called me a thief and still insisted on getting Mr Plod involved. Time for phase three; the classic Charitable Status Ploy:
I said, “I’m using your property for a ‘not-for-profit’ project. Surely you can’t want payment for that. What, you think it’s a commercial project? Well as you can see from my website I am only ‘promoting’ something, I’m not making any money from it, not even from all the referral links and advertising other people’s (commercial) businesses”. I am afraid to say this stranger was a stickler and kept referring to something called “the law”. Well pardon me, why would he think I am subject to “the law”?
Time for phase four; the Inversion of Guilt Ploy.
This ploy is often used by men who are caught by a passer-by with their dicks out urinating against a lamp post. The correct Inversion of Guilt Ploy response in this example is, “what you lookin’ at” (pause to look the passer-by up and down with an expression of disgust)…”pervert”.
I said to the stranger, “actually, your attitude is very threatening to me, especially as I stopped using your property immediately I had been caught…eh...I mean you found out that I had been using your property, even though…eh…I didn’t know it was your property and it was really someone else who gave it to me after he got it off the …eh…internet”. That last bit didn’t go too well, but, hey, what the hell, by making the stranger look like the aggressor, rather than the aggrieved, I knew he would back down.
So there we are. I’m sitting pretty. I’ve been using the stranger’s property for quite some time for free, and he’s now feeling pretty bad because I’ve accused him of using aggressive behaviour by threatening to get the law involved. Admittedly my accusation is totally without merit, but I am in a bit of a tight spot here, and I’m going to do my damnedest to get away Scot free on this one. And I think I will…..unless the stranger picks up the phone and reports my crime…….
And they all lived happily ever after. The End.
Now just for a bit of fun substitute the word “property” in the above tale with the word “photograph”, or better still the words “intellectual property”. This particular fairy tale is based on a true story, and I have reversed my role for dramatic effect as a means of analysing the strange mentality of those who believe anything on the internet, if not entirely everything is “free”. I am the “stranger”, or more accurately the Photographer. The “law” is the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. The person who stole…eh…I mean “used” my photographs on his website shall be nameless to protect the “innocent” because he says his website is “not for profit”. My hand is poised over the telephone. Now where’s my lawyers number…..?
18 February 2010
It is pretty difficult making a living from photography at the best of times. Most of the time I feel like the petrol guage. It is made more difficult by the actions of publishers who seem hell bent on making it impossible. Chris Barton at Photographers Direct has just highlighted a rights grab by Archant, the publishers called Great British Life. It's a classic play to vanity; Archant will (of course) credit the photographer, but will not be paying a bean for the content. It also says; "there's even a chance that your photograph could become a magazine front cover". Whoopy doo!
If this is an attempt at saving money, frankly this does not make sense. In order to process, review and edit the hundreds of photos uploaded there will be a need for people who need to be paid. The more photos the more effort it will take to manage. The extensive website needs to be managed and bandwidth paid for. Having members of the public upload images means increased vigilence on the editorial staff - the last thing Archant would want is a libellous/offensive image getting through the net. And what does this save them? What is the cost of a quality stock image for the front cover of a 25,000 circulation magazine? £100, £150 at a push? And the chances are that the editorial staff will have to wade through a mountain of dross before finding that diamond which is of sufficient quality and composition to feature on the front of their glossies (check the Archant website to get a flavour of the quality of images submitted).
It did not come as a surprise to me that Readers Digest (UK) went into administration yesterday. Last time I picked up a RD book in Waterstones it was packed with $5 microstock photos. It was clear to me that RD was trying to cut costs; in vain it now appears. If that meant undermining the livelihoods of photographers, so be it. The trouble is there is no way back. Once on the road to nearly free content it is hard, if not impossible to go back to paying for premium content. Those who provided the premium content will have packed away their cameras and got nine to five jobs and there will be a general decline towards the mediocre. Ah well, it was good while it lasted.
14 July 2009
I later read the words on the inside front cover of my passport. It read,
"Her Britannic Majesty's Secretary of State Requests and requires in the name of Her Majesty, all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance, and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary".
How ironic then that the only "hindrance" I discovered on my trip was when I wanted to re-enter my own country! Perhaps the Secretary of State should read his own blurb.
It took over 30 minutes to get through immigration at East Midlands Airport simply because there are not enough desks to process people quickly and efficiently. Perhaps if the government, who seem to be proud of their record on border security (see here) need to spend a bit more money on the infrastructure.
3 July 2009
21 June 2009
Re: Tax Credits – Annual Review for year ending 05/04/2009
You wrote to us on 6th June 2009 (with 30 page notes pack-in duplicate) regarding the annual review for year ended 5 Apr 09. You have correctly stated in Step A that we are not responsible for any qualifying children or young people.
You wrote to us on 6th August 2007 correctly stating that the tax credit award for period to 5th April 08 was zero.
You wrote to us on 11 October 2007 correctly stating that the tax credit award for period to 5th April 08 was zero.
Thank you. We get the message.
Should our situation change we will notify you. However, you may assume, with certainty nearing 100% that our situation is unlikely to change for the foreseeable future. You may therefore safely stop telling us we are no longer eligible for tax credits and save the tax payer a bit of money.
I live in hope….
4 June 2009
However, there are plenty of opportunities for stock photographers serving the secondary editorial market to supply topical news images but this requires a bit of creative thinking. There are some stories which come around every so often; history does repeat itself and not just over a generational time scale, but every year or every few months. These are the slow news stories which lend themselves to a more relaxed approach from the illustrative photographer, and I find all it takes is a little anticipation or identification of the repetitive events. In the current recession the economy, business and personal finance is particularly high on my agenda. As a stock photographer one could do worse than having one good image of every FTSE 100 company logo; sooner or later every company will hit the headlines for good or bad reasons and newspapers and periodicals will need an image to illustrate their news story.
Recently I read a story on the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) web site about pub closures. This isn't a new story, it's ongoing; in May 2008 the British Beer and Pub Association reported in a news release that pub closures had increased to 27 per week, seven times faster than in 2006. CAMRA's story reported in Jan 2009 that pub closures were at a record of 39 per week. This is one of those slow news stories ripe for stock photography.
So when I saw a local pub which had been boarded up and with a large "for sale" sign on the old sign post, all I needed was a sunny day, a blue sky and a bit of imaginative composition. The result (left) taken in January 2009 says it all, was used last month in a national newspaper.