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June 24th, 2015

Uber for Drones: Fly4Me Connects Pilots with Clients

A photo posted by fly4.me (@fly4.me) on

For all the popularity of drones, they’re far from a mass market product. Many users, even many photographers, may be leery of sending a flying robot into the air, lest it wind up on the White House lawn or on someone’s face.

That’s where Fly4Me comes in. It’s a new service that promises to link trained drone operators with paying clients–kind of like Uber for drones.

Drone owners use Fly4Me to create personalized profiles and bid on drone-related job offers, including aerial mapping, disaster surveillance but also photography and videography. Operators bring their own drone and get to keep 80 percent of any money earned. Any drone owner that wants to create a profile on Fly4Me has to undergo a safety certification process by the company first.

Fly4Me’s co-founder Adam Kersnoski told PDN that the company had obtained its 333 exemption from the FAA allowing commercial drone operations and that drone pilots using the service would be covered under that exemption.

The current exemption restricts the service to only using drone operators that fly a DJI Phantom 2, however Kersnoski told us the company’s lawyers were “already in the process of modifying [the FAA exemption] to exclude this restriction and add additional platforms.”

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Fly4Me is based in Boston and is signing up drone operators throughout the country.

The company is planning to offer some interesting technology to customers who hire operators through the platform, including the ability to view flight results uploaded by the pilot, live-streaming from a drone’s camera, private communication between pilot and customer during flight and the ability for customers to select flight locations by pointing a pin on Google Maps.

(Lead image from left to right: Adam Kersnowski, co-founder; David Amatuni, designer; Dmitry Sharshunskiy, co-founder; Karina Dodor, attorney.)

June 22nd, 2015

Photographer Calls Out Taylor Swift for Apple Hypocrisy [Updated]

Taylor Swift is rapidly making a name for herself as the scourge of streaming music services, first lambasting Spotify and now, Apple Music, for giving musicians short financial shrift. In an open letter to Apple, Swift complains that the company won’t be paying musicians during a user’s three month free trial period with the service, calling it “shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.”

But Swift’s ride atop the high horse may not last very long, and not simply because Apple appears to have done an abrupt about-face on the issue.

Photographer Jason Seldon read the fine print in the contract provided by Firefly Entertainment, Inc. (Swift’s management company) to freelance concert photographers and deemed it “a complete rights grab.”

Specifically, Seldon objected to two clauses:

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Writes Seldon:

How are you any different to Apple?  If you don’t like being exploited, that’s great..  make a huge statement about it, and you’ll have my support.  But how about making sure you’re not guilty of the very same tactic before you have a pop at someone else?

Photographers need to earn a living as well. Like Apple, you can afford to pay for photographs so please stop forcing us to hand them over to you while you prevent us from publishing them more than once, ever.

Seldon wasn’t the only photographer to cry foul.

 

Update: The BBC got a hold of Swift’s management, who defended their policy thusly:

“The standard photography agreement has been misrepresented in that it clearly states that any photographer shooting The 1989 World Tour has the opportunity for further use of said photographs with management’s approval.

“Another distinct misrepresentation is the claim that the copyright of the photographs will be with anyone other than the photographer – this agreement does not transfer copyright away from the photographer.

“Every artist has the right to, and should, protect the use of their name and likeness.”

June 2nd, 2015

Steve McCurry Employee Arrested, Charged With Stealing $650K From Photographer

An employee of Magnum photographer Steve McCurry has been arrested and accused of stealing and selling prints, books and other items worth more than $654,358. The District Attorney’s Office of Chester County, PA, where McCurry’s studio is located, made the announcement this afternoon.

The employee, Bree DeStephano, age 32, who was McCurry’s print sales manager, “casually abused her position of trust to make some easy money, without a thought to the damage to Mr. McCurry,” said Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan in a statement.

DeStephano allegedly stole 50 prints worth $628,000 between May 2012 and November 2013, and worked with a co-conspirator, Brandon Donahue, to sell the stolen prints. Donohue was the manager of Durango, Colorado gallery Open Shutter. DeStephano falsified McCurry’s print inventory records to cover up the illicit sales.

DeStephano is also accused of selling 233 of McCurry’s books and other items online, the value of which is more than $23,000.

Bail for DeStephano was set at $250,000. Donahue will be charged in Colorado, the statement said.

April 28th, 2015

U.S. Copyright Office (Once Again) Studying Copyright Struggles of Photographers

The U.S. Copyright Office has published a call for comments from photographers and visual artists about how their works are “monetized, enforced and registered” and about “obstacles” artists face protecting their copyrights “when navigating the digital landscape.” The U.S. Copyright Office announced the research initiative April 24 in the Federal Register. The written comments are due by July 23.

What action, if any, the U.S. Copyright Office takes as a result of its research remains to be seen. “We just want to get an overview of the landscape,” says spokesperson Catie Rowland. “We’re just researching it, to see where it leads. There are a lot of concerns. We want to see if we can address them.” (more…)

April 8th, 2015

Pat Pope Says He Regrets Open Letter to Band, Urges Creators To “Stop Working for Free”

In what he says will be his final word on the matter, photographer Pat Pope says he regrets his public criticism of the alt rock band Garbage, but is sticking to his position that photographers shouldn’t give their work away.

Pope wrote an open letter to the band last week criticizing their management company for asking to use one of his images for free in a book project the band are working on. Garbage responded with an open letter of their own, telling Pope that the cost of self-publishing the book led them to ask photographers for free images. They also criticized Pope for making their request public.

In Pope’s “final word,” which he published on Facebook, he calls the open letter he wrote a “mistake.” He implies that “the negative comments and abuse hurled at me on the internet” make him regret the move. However, Pope doesn’t back down from the principles that inspired the letter, and he replies to some of the statements the band made in their response to his letter.

“I receive hundreds of these request a year [for free images],” Pope writes, explaining his reasoning, “as does every other photographer I know. This is the new normal, writing down a budget in which you’ll get the photographic content for free by making the photographer give it to you.”

He criticized Garbage again for their abuse of “the power relationship.” The band “paid someone at their management company to send me a pro-forma request for free usage of my work. When you receive a request like that, the power relationship is that a gigantic branded entity with huge reach and backing is asking a lone freelancer to accept that the value of their work is zero.”

Pope later claims that he’s “no ‘internet warrior,'” before urging that “all of us in the creative community have to Stop Working For Free [Pope’s emphasis].” Despite saying he regrets writing his own open letter, he urges others to do the same. “Let’s get this practice [of asking for free content] out in the open.”

Related: Photographer Openly Ridicules Band’s Request For Free Images
Band Defends Their Decision to Ask Photographer for Free Images

April 7th, 2015

Revenues for Thomas Franklin’s 9/11 Image Top $1 Million

Thomas Franklin’s iconic 9/11 photograph has generated $1 million in revenues to date, according to court papers recently filed in connection with a copyright infringement claim over the photograph. It is unclear whether Franklin has benefited financially from the famous photo.

The picture shows three firefighters raising the American flag over the site of World Trade Center after it was destroyed in a terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. Franklin shot the image as an employee of The Bergen Record, making the photograph a work for hire. As a result, the copyright owner is North Jersey Media Group (NJMG), which owns The Bergen Record.

The revenue information was disclosed in the case of NJMG v. Jeanine Pirro and Fox News Network. NJMG had sued for copyright infringement in US District Court in New York over Fox News’s unauthorized use of the photo on a blog promoting a TV program hosted by Pirro. Fox argued unsuccessfully that its use of the image didn’t cut into NJMG’s revenues from licensing the image.

The court papers say that licensing of the photograph peaked in the period between 2002 and 2004, but has continued over time. Between January 2013 and June 2014–an 18-month period–licensing revenues totaled $10,221.71 for editorial uses of the image, and $4,698.91 for commercial uses. That averages out to revenues of less than $1,000 per month for the period. (more…)

April 6th, 2015

Band Defends Their Decision to Ask Photographer for Free Images

Alternative rock band Garbage published an open letter to portrait photographer Pat Pope on April 3, defending their decision to ask for free use of an image for their book and suggesting Pope was out of line for calling them out publicly.

On April 2, Pope published an open letter addressed to the band, criticizing their management company’s attempt to get free license to publish one of his images in a book the band plans to self-publish to celebrate their 20th anniversary.

In his letter, which was published on Facebook and picked up by websites Louder Than War and Huffington Post UK, Pope wrote: “I’m a firm believer that musicians and artists deserve to be paid for their work,” and asked the band, “When you think about artists being paid, does that include photographers?”

The band responded a day later with an open letter of their own, pointing out that they paid Pope for the shoot in 1995 (though presumably it was not a work for hire agreement), that books are expensive to publish, and that many other photographers “were happy for their images to be seen in conjunction with the telling of our story.” The band also did a little public shaming of their own, writing that they “would never publicly admonish or begrudge a fellow artist for merely asking [for them to provide services for free].” (more…)

April 3rd, 2015

Photographer Openly Ridicules Band’s Request For Free Images

Portrait photographer Pat Pope, who has worked with many top musicians during his 20-year career, has published a snarky open letter to alternative rock band Garbage criticizing their attempt to gain free use of his images for their book.

Among Pope’s pointed questions: “Do you think ‘content providers,’ whatever the hell that means, deserve to be paid for their work, or is that a special category for musicians?”

Garbage was formed in 1993 and has sold more than 17 million records worldwide. (more…)

March 20th, 2015

On Showing Both Commercial & Fine-Art Work: Emily Shur’s Advice

Emily Shur's photograph of Kevin Hart for Men's Health. © Emily Shur

Emily Shur’s photograph of Kevin Hart for Men’s Health. © Emily Shur

"Hotel Pool, Osaka-fu," is part of Shur's ongoing project about Japan. © Emily Shur

“Hotel Pool, Osaka-fu,” is part of Shur’s ongoing project about Japan. © Emily Shur

Emily Shur recently posted on her Tumblr about two of her images (above) being selected for American Photography 31, each shot for very different purposes. One is a portrait of the comedian Kevin Hart commissioned by Men’s Health; the other, a photograph of a hotel pool in Osaka, Japan, that is part of a long-term personal project. While building her career as a commercial and editorial photographer, Shur has also made a point of showing and promoting her personal projects at portfolio reviews, on her site and to her social media audience. She also recently published a book of her work from Japan.

In her Tumblr post, Shur made some interesting observations about how, in a photographer’s career, the pursuits of commercial work and personal work seem, at times, to be in opposition to one another. She also addressed the concern that it might be detrimental or counterproductive for “commercial photographers” to show personal, fine-art photographs that may appear to differ completely from their commissioned images.

We asked Shur for permission to publish excerpts of her blog post here, because we though it might resonate with readers of PDNPulse who aspire to be successful both commercially and with their personal work. (more…)

January 15th, 2015

Under Pressure, FAA Issues Handful of Exemptions for Commercial Drone Use

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For as long as inexpensive camera-toting drones have been popular, their commercial use in the U.S. has been in a precarious proposition. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the division of the U.S. Department of Transportation that governs the use of our airspace, waited years after the proliferation of drones to issue any guidelines on their use in commerce. Until recently, if you were an architectural or real estate photographer looking for inexpensive ways to capture bird’s eye views, or a production company itching to take advantage of new perspectives in your video, the word from the FAA was clear: No, you can’t use drones for commercial purposes.

But that isn’t stopping businesses from using drones. DJI Global, the manufacturer of the wildly popular Phantom remote-controlled camera drone, skirted the FAA’s ban on commercial drone usage by donating the use of its DJI Inspire 1 during NBC’s broadcast of the 2015 Golden Globes for some free publicity. And under pressure from Congress—who included directives for the FAA to begin to develop the framework it will use to regulate commercial drone flights in a 2012 appropriations bill—the administration has begun to issue exemptions to its six-year-old ban.

In June 2014, it issued the first exemption to British Petroleum, who wanted to use drones to survey Alaska’s North Slope. In September, it issued six exemptions to film and television production companies, and in December, it issued four more exemptions, including one to a construction company. In the first week of 2015, Douglas Trudeau, a 61-year-old real estate agent in Tuscon, Arizona, received the first exemption to use drones for a real estate business. He had applied for the exemption back in July of 2014, after being informed that even though he was not selling his drone footage, using photos and clips shot from drones in his real estate listings constituted commercial use.

CNN—who wants to use drones for newsgathering purposes—has also appealed to the FAA. It recently entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the administration, working with the Georgia Tech Research Institute to collect data to help the FAA develop its framework for regulating drone usage in journalism.

While the FAA was called out by Congress more than two years ago and urged to get started on their regulatory framework, there is still no timetable for the process to be completed. For now, the FAA is issuing exemptions on a case-by-case basis, but if the red carpet at the Golden Globes and Amazon’s drone delivery plan are any indication, it will have to move quickly to keep up. As the FAA attempts to levy fines on drone pilots it feels are violating its vague guidelines, U.S. judges have already found in favor of at least one pilot: A federal judge tossed out a $10,000 fine on the grounds that the guidelines were not specific enough. The National Transportation Safety Board later overruled the judge and re-affirmed the FAA’s right to regulate, but it’s clear that the guidelines are doing little to stop commercial flights.

In the meantime, the administration has put together a website with safety tips for recreational, business, and public service users.

Related articles:

Commercial Drones are Legal, Federal Court Says

Court Refuses to Hear Challenge to FAA’s Drone Cease-and-Desist Orders

DJI One-Ups Phantom With More Powerful, 4K-Recording Inspire 1 Photo Drone

Drone Photographers Take To The Skies To Find New Perspectives