Tuesday 7 January 2014

Copyright laws protect content creators (UPDATE)

Hi everyone,

I just thought I'd make a final update so I have a record of what's happened with regards to the Telegraph's unauthorised use of my photograph.

As of right now, the image is still on the article. I have not formally requested it to be taken down, but I have heard of cases where rightsholders have attempted to deal with unauthorised use of an image and the image was simply removed, as if this solves the issue of it having been used in the first place. So, the image is still up and I still haven't been paid.

I've sent a final email to Louisa:

Hi Louisa,

To clarify, I expect the invoice of £180 to be paid in full by 04/02/2014, 30 days after I originally sent the invoice to you.

Should the amount still be unpaid after this date, I will make a court claim in Bristol to recover the money.

If there are any issues, I would like to correspond with your picture editor.



So now I'll just sit tight and wait until February. If they haven't paid up by then, I will make a claim for the outstanding money. The Telegraph may say they do not owe me anything as they got permission from the Feminist Society, but I maintain that this permission was not authorised. I won't be updating in the meantime if I do begin negotiations with the picture editor, or anyone else at the Telegraph, unless something really ridiculous happens...but I'll let you all know how it goes if I am successful in asserting that I have the right to be paid a reasonable amount for the use of my work.

The real issue that I would like to see solved is the apparent complacency of editors when sourcing images for articles. There are other tales of publications not acquiring permission to use someone's work prior to publishing it. This is wrong.

It is also wrong that the Telegraph assumed a third party was licensed to distribute my content, without any proof whatsoever. They were given my name and a link to my Flickr page, but did not think it appropriate to get proof that I licensed the Feminist Society to distribute my work, or contact me before using it.

While the Telegraph eventually offered me £25 on discovering that this third party had no rights to the content, as the photographer, I was never given the opportunity to negotiate with the Telegraph on equal footing at the beginning of the process. I had my right to decide whether I wanted to license the use of my photograph taken away from me. I used these guidelines to come up with a price for the photo. As the notes on negotiating rates say:

The suggested rates are minima from which freelances negotiate upward according to the value of the work

I also used the figure for a 300x400px photo being used online for one month. In reality, this picture would probably have stayed online for longer than that.

I'll conclude this post by saying rightsholders need to be respected. A photograph is a piece of work governed by copyright laws - these imply that the work has intrinsic value and also prevent content creators from being exploited. Always contact the photographer before using an image that is all rights reserved. If you find your content has been used without your permission, get in touch with the infringer and let them know they should have contacted you first.

As an example, I personally wouldn't dream of charging a non-profit student society for using my work on their website, provided it was attributed to me and linked back to my Flickr page. However, when a national newspaper publishes my work without paying for it, I will complain, and I will get this sorted out.

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