There were two stories that caught my attention yesterday and as the world would have it they both centred about a similar topic that I wrote about yesterday, protecting your images and copyright.
A judge ruled in a case involving copyright infringement by AFP and the Washington Post. The case was brought by AFP against Daniel Morel. Morel was making a lot of noise about his photographs of the Haiti earthquake; he shared on Twitter being used without his permission. The AFP wanted the court to rule that they had not infringed Daniel’s copyright and sought damages for defamation. Daniel Morel in turn made a counter claim against AFP, Getty Images and the Washington Post claiming that they had used his images without permission.
AFP was claiming that they had a right to use the images due to the Twitter ToS (Terms of Service) that granted them the right to use the image as one of Twitters other users.
The court has ruled;
“Based on the evidence presented to the Court the Twitter TOS do not provide AFP with an excuse for its conduct in this case……The Twitter [terms of service] provide that users retain their rights to the content they post — with the exception of the license granted to Twitter and its partners”
This means that the Twitter ToS does not allow organizations to take images from its site to be used royalty free. As a Twitter user you can retweet an image to share it further but not take it and post for your own gain.
Morrel had settled a counter claim with ABC, CNN and CBS in 2010
At the time the case was originally brought some people were quite outspoken about Daniel Morel and his actions. People were claiming that, it serves him right for sharing these images and not using proper publishing routes. One of these people was Jean Francious Leroy who said,
“a photographer should never put his images on a social networking site. If you put your image on Twitter or Flickr and find that it’s been stolen by someone else, well… tough.”
For me this story is one of hope and warning. It is important to read your terms of service carefully. You want to share your images and if you are a photojournalist or a photographer and a witness to a major event, then why can’t you publish your work to Twitter? For a person who has no deals news outlets how do I get my images out there? Social media is a great resource then.
I do think some people are looking at the world backwards maybe to protect themselves. The world is now a digitally interconnected place.
I read 90% of my news online and 50% of the time on the go. I write and create posts; at home, on the bus and walking down the street. Social media has made it easier (and harder) to be noticed as a photographer. Photography is more democratised, creating great images at low costs and pushing the medium forward at an ever quickening pace. The new generation of photographers are people, who are able to share their images through social media and then make quick agreements to news outlets by passing the likes of Getty, shakes up the way photography works.
This is the same as the shift from film to digital, and within the revolution people got left behind. This can be compared to high street in England. Companies had a safe position in the market and when the internet and digital products came they didn’t evolve with the products. Three big retailers have entered administration in the last 7days with one of them collapsing all together.
Is the same in store for image libraries, as the Social media is being molded by its users in the way that its services work and are used.
Getty has also made photographers furious with a recent deal with Google. Although the deal seems to have only come to light in the past week it was actually agreed in December last year.
Google docs now named Google drive made available 5000 royalty free images that can be used with documents created in the Google drive.
OK, where is the problem? The problem is that the metadata has been wiped from the files and they contain no copyright information and no link back to the photographer. Contributing photographers on Getty get paid usually an amount per image bought with the value depending on the size and license. Photographers whose work has been bundled in this deal have been paid $12 as a one of payment.
Getty who owns many online image libraries including IStockPhoto also has a deal with Flikr where photographers can have their images added to Getty and sold in return for a fee.
This certainly seems to be a strange deal considering there are around 425 million users of Gmail, with the possibility to have Google drive. With $12 an image sliced across the total number of possible users would make each image sold for around 1 cent per user.
Maybe we need to find a new direction to sell our images either for stock or to the media. Both these stories show that photographers need to keep an eye on the ever changing digital world of photography and look beyond the image towards the constantly shifting landscape of social media and image libraries.
Added 19/01/13 13.00 ECT
It appears to have come to light that it was Google who stripped the images of the metadata and copyright. This has obviously infuriated many photographers and has been the main area of conflict . On the IStock forum Getty has said “…not ideal from some perspectives…” and they are “refining the implementation of the deal”. It has also come to light that the $12 dollars paid to contributes was only for the initial images in the package. Images have later been added with a $6 payment to the photographer.
It is interesting that Getty has said they want to redefine the deal but with so much attention being drawn to this topic why has no one as yet come out with a statement are they oblivious to the anger of their contributors and users. I would hope to hear something soon from either Getty or Google.
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