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January 28th, 2016

Update: Obama Administration Calls for Copyright Small Claims Courts, Embraces “Vibrant Fair Use”

copyright copy_350An Obama administration task force has come out in support of “a vibrant fair use space” that allows  “the broad range of remixes to thrive.” At the same time, the task force supports “effective licensing structures” and is calling for the “creation of a streamlined procedure for adjudicating small claims of copyright infringement.”

The recommendations are from the US Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force, and  appeared in a publication released today called “White Paper on Remixes, First Sale, and Statutory Damages.” The purpose of the task force is to ensure that copyright policy continues to provide incentive for creativity as the digital economy changes how people communicate, create, innovate and conduct business.

The task force defines “remixes” as “works created through changing and combining existing works to produce something new and creative” and notes that remixes are part of a trend of user-generated content “that has become a hallmark of the internet.”

The task force asserts that “remixes make valuable contributions to society in providing expressive, political, and entertainment content.” But it says it is not calling calling for amendments to copyright law that would create a specific exception or a compulsory license for remix uses. Instead, the task force offers recommendations “that would make it easier for remixers to understand when a use is fair and to obtain licenses when they wish to do so.” (more…)

January 4th, 2016

Photographer Sues Richard Prince Over Instagram Rip-offs… At Last

"Rastafarian Smoking a Joint" ©Donald Graham

“Rastafarian Smoking a Joint” ©Donald Graham

Photographer Donald Graham has sued appropriation artist Richard Prince and his gallerist Lawrence Gagosian for copyright infringement of a photo that appeared without Graham’s authorization on Instagram, and then in a gallery exhibition of Prince’s appropriation work.

Prince drew public complaints and vitriol last year for unauthorized reproduction, display and sale of a series of 67 x 55-inch inkjet prints of Instagram “screen saves” of images by other artists and photographers. But Graham is the first to sue.

The Los Angeles-based photographer filed suit in federal court in New York on December 30, alleging unauthorized use of a 1996 photograph (shown here) of a Rastafarian man lighting a joint. Graham alleges in his claim that a third party posted his photograph on Instagram without permission, and that Prince copied and enlarged that unauthorized photo and displayed it as part of his 2014 “New Portraits” exhibition.

Graham’s complaint calls Prince out for “his blatant disregard for copyright law” and goes on to say that “Mr. Prince consistently and repeatedly has incorporated others’ works” into his own works, without permission, credit or compensation. (more…)

December 22nd, 2015

PDN Pulse: Top Photo News Stories of 2015

From photographer contract restrictions to instagram apps, and from copyright infringements to a changing code of ethics, this year’s list of the most-read articles on PDNPulse capture some of the highs and lows of the photography business this year.

A photo posted by SuicideGirls ? (@suicidegirls) on

1“SuicideGirls” Deliver Cleverest Response to Richard Prince’s Instagram Appropriation 

The band was cheered for their response to artist Richard Price’s appropriation of their images from Instagram. The brand’s founder, Missy Suicide (also known as Selena Mooney) announced the band would sell for $90 the same images Price and his gallery, Gagosian, are alleged to have copied and then sold for $90,000. Price sold the images at the Frieze Art Fair in New York and at Gagosian’s Beverly Hills gallery.

2 & 3– Photographer Calls Out Taylor Swift for Apple Hypocrisy and Swift Agrees to Change Contract 

Taylor Swift headlines raked in clicks all across the internet this year, but it was the fine print in her contract with freelance concert photographers that drew readers to PDN. In late June, the singer’s management company, Firefly Entertainment, Inc., released a contract that limited photographers from running their photographs more than once, even for news purposes. In July, the management company revised the contract, removing and revising some of elements that photographers had found objectionable.

4– Controversial World Press Photo Winner Under New Scrutiny Today

In March, questions about the authenticity of photographer Giovanni Trolio’s series, “The Dark Heart of the Europe,” winner of a 1st prize in the 2015 World Press Photo competition, generated buzz when another photographer claimed that the images may have been staged. Ultimately, World Press Photo withdrew the award on the grounds that the story was not captioned in compliance with the entry rules. In November, World Press announced that the 2016 World Press Photo contest will be carried out with a new code of ethics to reflect an effort at reform and transparency in the wake of the scandal.

5– How to Kill Restrictive Concert Photography Contracts

In the wake of the backlash against Taylor Swift’s management company for its contract restricting photographers’ image usage (see 2 & 3), Norwegian photographer Jarle Moe wrote a blog post posing a solution: Photographers could end restrictive contracts if they identified themselves  “journalists,” not “concert photographers.”

6– If You’re Using This Instagram App, Delete It 

When the popular Instagram app InstaAgent was reported to be storing Instagram users’ passwords and usernames and sending them in plain text to a remote server, PDN encouraged readers using the app to delete it.

7– Ilford Offers Glimpse into the Mind of the 21st Century Film Photographer

Think film is dead? Black-and-white film supplier Ilford released findings from a study of of film-users showing that film is still a viable – and resurging – medium in the photography world. The company surveyed “thousands” of film users across 70 countries to understand who uses film and why. Notable in the findings was that 30 percent of respondents were under the age of 35, and that 60 percent of them said they had picked up film photography over the past five years.

8How Photographers With Huge Followings Grew Their Social Networks

October’s PhotoPlus Expo #Trending panel consisted of four photographers—Sue Bryce, Vincent Laforet, Jeremy Cowart and Chase Jarvis—with sizable social media followings. The panelists offered their advice, suggestions and experiences on how photographers can build and maintain their social network, such as making posts that are honest, positive, and have something of value to share with the world.

9NYT Mag Hires Male Photographer for Sexism in Hollywood Cover Story

In November, The New York Times Magazine ran a cover story discussing the challenges women face working in the male-dominated world of Hollywood. However, to shoot the cover, which featured portraits of 60 female actors, directors and executives, The New York Times Magazine hired a male photographer.  That irony inspired in an outpouring of social media posts from women photographers expressing their disappointment. Director of photography for The New York Times Magazine Kathy Ryan told PDN that women photographers shouldn’t “think that somehow there aren’t opportunities [at the magazine], because I feel very passionately that there are, and that’s important to us: To have women’s points of view, that diversity, that range in our pages is important.”

10 – Why TIME Chose an Amateur Photographer’s Image for Its Cover 

The May 11 issue of TIME Magazine had a cover bearing an image of protests in Baltimore taken by a 26-year-old amateur photographer, Devin Allen, who had only two years of experience under his belt. This marks the third time in the magazine’s history that it has used an amateur’s image on the cover. In explaining the decision to use Allen’s image, TIME deputy director of photography Paul Moakley noted that Allen is a Baltimore native, and, “He was being really thoughtful and was capturing both sides of what was happening.”

Related Articles
PDN Pulse: Top Gear Stories of 2015
PDN Pulse: Top Stories of 2014

The Best of 2014: PDN Photo of the Day

December 3rd, 2015

Fund Your Work: Photojournalist Yunghi Kim Offering Ten $1,000 Grants

Photojournalist Yunghi Kim is offering ten grants of $1,000 each “to emphasize the importance of copyright registration [and] to give back to the profession of photojournalism,” she recently announced on her website.

Kim explains that she is funding the one-time grants “from fees recovered from unauthorized use of my work.”  Only US-based freelance photojournalists who were members of the Photojouralists Cooperative group on Facebook as of November 25, 2015 are eligible for the grants. Interested photographers must email a 300-word essay to Kim by December 20, explaining why they want the grant.

“This money can be to start, further or finish a project, or to help alleviate a financial hardship,” she explains. “Make an honest, compelling case concisely and in 300 words.”

Kim will judge the applications and select the winners along with Jeffrey Smith, director of Contact Press Images, the agency that represents Kim. Winners will be announced December 25.

Additional details are available on Kim’s website.

Related:
Fund Your Work: Manuel Ortiz Foundation Seeking Project for $5,000 Documentary Grant
Fund Your Work: $3K Documentary Photo Essay Prize from CDS Seeking Submissions
How (And Why) to Make Copyright Registration Part of Your Workflow (for PDN subscribers)

November 19th, 2015

You’re Being Ripped Off: PPA Survey Finds Widespread Copyright Infringement

Mike Seyfang | Flickr

Mike Seyfang | Flickr

Results from a recent Professional Photographers of America (PPA) survey likely won’t surprise many photographers.

In short, two thirds (67 percent) of the 2,000 photographers questioned by PPA reported having their images used without their permission. Of those who had their images ripped off, more than half had multiple instances of unauthorized image use.

“These victims of infringement are mom and pop businesses,” said PPA CEO David Trust in a statement announcing the findings. “The income they lose from just one infringement can determine whether or not a hard-working photographer gets to take her first family vacation in five years, sign her child up for little league or piano lessons, or pay the mortgage. These may not be huge amounts of money to some, but they make a big difference to a small business owner.”

According to PPA, over 96 percent of pro photographers surveyed don’t regularly register their copyrights with the U.S. Copyright Office despite nearly unanimous (99 percent) agreement with the statement that copyright protection is an important aspect of their careers.

For photographers looking for tips on how to prevent authorized use of images, the PPA suggested the following:

  • Have a conversation with clients to educate them on photographic copyright and what they can and cannot do with your photos.
  • Mark all work with a copyright notice (i.e. ©YEAR. Studio Name) where it will be displayed publicly, especially online.
  • Register all work with the U.S. Copyright Office (http://www.copyright.gov).
  • Stay up-to-date on copyright law and potential changes.
  • For more information on how to protect images, download PPA’s free Copyright Kit.

More on Copyright Protection:

New Plugin Brings Copyright Registration to Lightroom

How and Why to Make Copyright Registration Part of Your Workflow

5 Questions to Ask BEFORE You Sue a Copycat

September 23rd, 2015

Selfie Copyright Battle: Monkey See, Monkey Sue

©David Slater (unless a court rules otherwise)

©David Slater (unless a court rules otherwise)

An animal rights group has filed a copyright ownership claim in federal court in San Francisco on behalf of a monkey that used British photographer David Slater’s camera to shoot a selfie, according to an Agence-France Press report yesterday.

Naruto, the six-year-old macaque, grabbed Slater’s unattended camera in 2011 and took at least two selfies. The incident occurred in Indonesia. The photographs have circulated widely on the internet, and have been the subject of a previous ownership dispute.

On Tuesday, PETA filed suit on Naruto’s behalf, seeking a ruling from the court that the monkey is the “author and owner of his photograph,” the AFP report says. Slater, who has previously claimed copyright to the image, is named as the defendant in the case.

PETA asserts in its claim that U.S. copyright law doesn’t prohibit animals from owning copyright, and since Naruto took the selfie, “he owns copyright, as any human would.”

PETA filed the lawsuit as part of a strategy to establish through legal precedent that non-human animals can have property rights. PETA says that if it prevails, the case will establish for the first time that rights beyond basic survival needs are extended to a non-human animals.

The U.S. Copyright Office said last year that it would not register works produced by “nature, [non-human] animals, or plants,” suggesting that the office doesn’t consider those entities to be “authors” eligible for copyright ownership under U.S. law.

In any event, the case will be a test of the court’s willingness to hear monkey business.

Related:
Monkey Selfie Not Eligible for Copyright Registration Under New Rules
The Monkey Selfie: Who Owns Copyright to It?

July 22nd, 2015

The Photographer Who Rocked Taylor Swift: Open Letter Helped to Expose “Hideous Terms” Concert Photogs Face

sheldonheadshot

There’s a neat symmetry to the Taylor Swift photo contract saga. It all began with an open letter, penned by UK concert photographer Jason Sheldon on his Junction10 blog, lambasting Swift for exploitative contract terms for her 1989 World Tour.

Sheldon’s open letter was sparked by Swift’s own public scolding of Apple for not paying artists during the three month free trial period of Apple music. And while Swift’s letter provoked a quick (or is that swift?) mea-culpa and an about-face from Apple, Sheldon’s appeal drew force more gradually from repeated media mentions, protests from news organizations and criticism from the National Press Photographer’s Association.

Shortly after the news broke that Swift’s team had altered its contract to appease critics, PDN reached out to Sheldon via email for his thoughts on the affair. What follows is an edited transcript.

PDN:  I’m wondering if you had any comment regarding the changes [Swift’s] team has made – do they go some (or all) of the way toward addressing your complaints?

Jason Sheldon: I’ve not had chance to examine the revised contract in detail – had a quick look and it appears to be a very positive step in the right direction. I think there are some minor points which I’d be happier tightening up, but I’m happy they’ve shown willingness to appreciate our rights a bit more.

PDN:  Are you surprised that your open letter has had the reaction and impact that it did?

Sheldon: I’m certainly pleasantly surprised it went viral.. It was good to have the support of publications like the Irish Times as well, who picked up on it and refused to agree to the terms of the contract.  It’s helped expose the hideous terms music photographers are sometimes forced to agree to (under economic duress) in order to carry out their jobs, and that is what it is – a job.

PDN:  Have you experienced any negative reaction (loss of work) from concert promoters or management teams because of your open criticism? 

Sheldon: Generally the feedback has been extremely positive on the whole. With various PR [reps] and promoters saying publicly that they agree with me – a few saying it privately as well. Of course, there has been some negative feedback which is to be expected, but most of it seems to come from people who have not read and understood the point of the open letter. These are usually the people that think we’re getting free concert tickets and living a parasitic existence off the back of the artist talent, which is certainly not the case. I haven’t lost any work from my stance, yet. But then, I’ve yet to apply for the Foo Fighters shows later this year.
July 21st, 2015

Taylor Swift Changes Photo Contract in Response to Online Outrage. Will the Foo Follow?

Jana Beamer | Flickr

Jana Beamer | Flickr

Evidently Taylor Swift doesn’t want there to be any bad blood between her 1989 World Tour and photographers. After an outpouring of internet outrage over her tour’s restrictive photo contract, Swift’s team has apparently relented.

Writing for Poytner, Benjamin Mullin notes that Swift’s team has removed elements that photographers had found objectionable:

According to a source who has seen the revised contract, Swift’s representatives are no longer empowered to forcibly remove images from the cameras of photojournalists. In addition, a stricture preventing photojournalists from using images taken at Swift’s concerts more than once has been loosened, allowing for some negotiation. And Swift’s representatives have agreed to credit photojournalists when the artist uses their photos.

Mashable has gotten a hold of the new contract and republished it here.

The changes were spurred by UK concert photographer Jason Sheldon and later by Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National  Press Photographer’s Association, who has been speaking out against Swift’s contract since Sheldon’s open letter to Swift went viral.

Swift is not the only high-profile musician under fire for restrictive contracts.

The Washington City Paper refused to send a photographer to the Foo Fighters’s concert after writing that the Foo’s contract “sucked.” Instead, they commissioned a cartoonist to draw the band during the show. A Quebec paper, Le Soleil, followed suit.

Related: One Simple Way to Kill Restrictive Concert Photography Contracts

July 9th, 2015

How to Kill Restrictive Concert Photography Contracts

Gabbo T | Flickr

Gabbo T | Flickr

It’s boom times for concert photographers who want to complain about the terms of their contract. Jason Seldon’s public letter to Taylor Swift drew huge interest from traditional media companies, followed by the public calling out of the Foo Fighters by the Washington City Paper.

But, like a lot of online griping, the spilling of rage pixels rarely results in change.

Writing in his blog, the Norwegian photographer Jarle Moe argues that concert photographers wouldn’t be on the receiving end of unfair or overly restrictive contracts if they stopped thinking of themselves as concert photographers:

“If more, if not all, concert photographers identified as journalists and with the ethics that follow in their work, photo contracts would be a thing of the past. Signing a photo contract should be unacceptable, not because it’s disrespecting you as an artist, but because it’s a violation of the ethics you follow as a journalist.

So stop thinking about yourself primarily as an artist. You are a [photo]journalist. You may create art, but it’s more to it than that. You are a part of the freepress. Encourage new photographers to identify as journalists. Make the journalism be as natural to our profession as the artistry, and heed to the obligations that come with that label.”

Sound naive? According to Moe, Norwegian concert photographers banded together under a similar ethos:

“The Norwegian press as a whole, has made a joint statement to never sign any contracts put forward by artists or their management pushed forward by concert photographers, as can be read here. In Norway, most concert photographers are, in essence, photojournalists and identify more or less as such. And because of that, we are part of the press. We are not 100 concert photographers, but 7000 journalists.

Together we have a powerful voice. We generally do not meet any photo contracts, and the few we do, never gets signed. And because of that, contracts get fewer and fewer. With the press associations and unions behind us, we actually have a powerful voice against such demands, and the contracts get dropped (though, it has to be said that the local promoters have done tremendous work as well in that regard, but without all of the press acting like a collective, they would have no incentive to waiver the contracts). The aforementioned Foo Fighters contract? Guess what: that was not presented to the photographers in Norway. I can’t even remember the last time I “had” to sign a contract. That’s what having some integrity gets you.”

Sounds like an interesting strategy, but is it workable in a market as large and competitive as the U.S.?

July 6th, 2015

Not Just Tay Tay: Foo Fighters Called Out by Washington City Paper Over Contract Terms

A photo posted by Foo Fighters (@foofighters) on

Taylor Swift isn’t the only big-time musician to be called out for a restrictive photo contract. On July 2, the Washington City Paper took the Foo Fighters to task over a contract that they said “sucks.”

They wrote:

If we signed it, we would have agreed to: the band approving the photos which run in the City Paper; only running the photos once and with only one article; and all copyrights would transfer to the band. Then, here’s the fun part, the band would have “the right to exploit all or a part of the Photos in any and all media, now known or hereafter devised, throughout the universe, in perpetuity, in all configurations” without any approval or payment or consideration for the photographer.

That is exploitation of photographers, pure and simple.

The paper’s editors say they protested the terms, only to be told by the Foo Fighters’ management that they were standard and that they “protect the band” — which is more or less the same response from the Taylor Swift camp after her contract came under fire.

Will publicly airing and criticizing the terms of a contract force a change? It’s too soon to tell, but we’re just one more story away from a bona-fide trend.