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January 28th, 2016

Why Muslim Woman’s Suit Against AP for Hijab Photo Will Probably Fail

Fifi Youssef is suing photographer Mark Lennihan and AP for distributing this photograph, shot at a New York City Starbucks,  without her permission. ©Mark Lennihan/AP

Fifi Youssef is suing photographer Mark Lennihan and AP for distributing this photograph of her without her permission. ©Mark Lennihan/AP

A Muslim woman has sued Associated Press (AP) and photographer Mark Lennihan for unspecified damages over the unauthorized use her likeness, claiming violation of her civil rights. The case is a legal long shot, but if she wins, wire services and freelance photojournalists—at least in New York state—would have to get the consent of everyone in the photographs they offer for licensing to publishers.

Fifi Youssef filed suit in a New York State court last week, claiming AP and Lennihan violated her rights of publicity under a state law that prohibits the use of anyone’s name, likeness or voice “for advertising purposes or the purposes of trade.”

According to the claim, Youssef was having coffee in a Starbucks coffee shop on December 16, 2015, wearing a hijab, when she was photographed without her knowledge by Lennihan. The picture shows Youssef staring downward at her cell phone.

Two days later, the image appeared for license on AP’s website, listed “as part of AP’s commerce trade,” according to the suit. Then, on December 21, The Washington Post published the photo as an illustration for an op-ed piece titled “As Muslim women, we actually ask you not to wear the hijab in the name of interfaith solidarity.”

“Clearly, the article attacks [Youssef’s] fundamental beliefs,” Youssef’s lawsuit says.

Youssef says in her claim that AP’s “sale” [ie, licensing for fees] of images—including the image of her—amounts to commercial use, in violation of the state law. But she faces an uphill battle.

The focus of New York’s right of publicity law “on advertising and trade means that a use designed to solicit sales of products or services is forbidden,” says Harvard University’s Digital Media Law Project on its website. “But this category of advertising uses is somewhat narrow [and] contains a long list of exceptions, which include protections for professional photographers against suits by their subjects.”

Nancy Wolff, an intellectual property attorney in New York, says the ruling in the case of Foster v. Svenson established “that the First Amendment trumps privacy and that a license or sale does not make a use commercial.” In that case, New York courts rejected arguments that art photographer Arne Svenson was violating New York’s right of publicity law by offering unauthorized photographs of the plaintiffs for sale in an art gallery.

“I have argued many times that the aggregation, display and offering for sale of images is a right under copyright [law] and outside any state right of publicity law,” says Wolff, who is not involved with the Youssef case, though she has done work for AP in the past. “You only look at the end use to determine if the right of publicity is invoked. Any other position would interfere with the distribution and licensing of images [and] with first amendment uses…No book , magazine or art print could ever be sold without the subjects’ consent.”

Such a result, she notes, “would be absurd.”

Significantly, Youssef did not name the end user–The Washington Post–as a defendant in her lawsuit, because a mountain of case law has given news organizations wide berth to publish images of individuals without permission under a “newsworthiness” exception to New York’s right of publicity law.

Related:
Arne Svenson Exonerated on Appeal in Privacy Invasion Case (subscription required)

What Photographers Need to Know about Model Releases

January 20th, 2016

Nat Geo Seminar: Photographers Explain How they Reach New Audiences to Effect Change

One of the images of endangered species, curated by Louis Psihoyos, projected onto the Empire State Building. Courtesy Racing Extinction.

One of the images of endangered species, curated by Louis Psihoyos, projected onto the Empire State Building. Courtesy Racing Extinction.

In his talk during the National Geographic Seminar on January 14, Louis Psihoyos, the photographer, filmmaker and conservation advocate, urged photojournalists and nature photographers in the audience to reach beyond magazine readers and look for new, ambitious ways to get their message in front of a wider audience. Psihoyos’s film Racing Extinction has been shown in theaters, online and on the Discovery Network in more than 200 countries, and a light show he curated—featuring images of endangered species by several wildlife photographers—that has been projected onto the Empire State Building and the Vatican has been seen by billions in person and online, he said. By spreading a message through a variety of media, “you can continue the conversation,” he explained. Attitudes and behavior change, he said, when you persuade “10 to 15 percent” of the population: “To me, it’s about reaching a tipping point.”

Psihoyos echoed themes that were raised throughout the day-long National Geographic Seminar, about the need to find ways to reach new audiences as magazine readership shrinks. Speakers included emerging photographers who are building online audiences or are exploring new styles of documentary storytelling.

When he shot for National Geographic in the 1980s, Psihoyos said, “It had circulation of 11 million and we said four people saw each issues passed along.” National Geographic’s current rate base for 2016, according to its media kit, is based on a readership of 3.1 million.

He has long been an optimist about photography’s ability to stir action. The first newspaper that hired him required its photographers to shoot a weekly column that showcased an animal at the local shelter that would be euthanized if it was not adopted. “I loved doing pet of the week because all my cats and dogs got saved. I loved doing it because I could see the power of an image to save the life of another creature.”

(more…)

January 6th, 2016

Documentary Photographers: Contest Deadlines Approaching Fast

Marzell Williamson plays the tuba, by Jerry Wolford, winner of Photojournalist of the Year honors at last year's Best of Photojournalism competition. ©News & Record/Jerry Wolford Photojournalism 2015 Ph

Marzell Williamson plays the tuba, Greensboro, NC. Jerry Wolford won Photojournalist of the Year honors for a portfolio including this image, at last year’s Best of Photojournalism competition. ©News & Record/Jerry Wolford

Winter is the height of the photojournalism contest season, and entry deadlines are fast approaching for a number of international competitions. Among them are:

The World Press Photo entry deadline is January 13, although entrants must register by January 7. (Multimedia entries are due by  January 20.) There is no entry fee, but participants must provide proof of their professional status.  This year’s contest is subject to a new code of ethics and strict new rules about photo manipulation, as well as other rule changes. See the contest website for details. Photo contest winners will be announced February 18. The winner of the World Press Photo of the Year 2015 will receive a cash prize of 10,000 EUR, and winners in all categories will be invited to travel to Amersterdam for an awards ceremony in April at the expense of World Press Photo organizers.

Entries for the 73rd POYi competition are due by January 15. The competition includes multiple categories in photojournalism, multimedia, and visual editing divisions. The entry fee is $50. Prizes are primarily bragging rights and exposure, but winners of several premier categories also receive modest cash awards–$1,000 for Photographer of the Year and $500 for Newspaper Photographer of the Year, for instance. Judging takes place from February 8-25 at the Missouri School of Journalism, which sponsors the contest. Details and rules are on the POYi website.

Photo entries for the Eyes of History competition are due January 15. The competition is sponsored by the White News Photographers Association. The entry fee is $67. The competition has other divisions with different entry due dates: video entries are due January 29, multimedia entries are due January 31, and student entries are due February 1. The entry fees for those divisions also vary. All divisions except the student division are open to WHNP members only. See the WHNP website for complete details.

Best of Photojournalism entries are due by January 29. The contest, which is sponsored by National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), is open to NPPA members and non-members alike. There is no entry fee, and there are no monetary prizes (just bragging rights and plaques). Like POYi, BOP includes still photo, multimedia and editing divisions, plus a video division. Contest details and rules are available on the NPPA website. No date has been set for announcing winners, but winners for past competitions have been announced in March or April.

The deadline for entering PDN’s Photo Annual competition is February 3. In addition to photojournalism/documentary and video/multimedia categories, the competition categories include: advertising, editorial, photo books, sports, self-promotion, stock photography, personal work and student work. The entry fee is $50 for single images, and $60 for each series of images. Cash awards total more than $20,000. Contest information and rules are available at the PDN Photo Annual website.

The Piclet.org International Prize for Contemporary African Photography  (POPCAP) is accepting entries until February 7. The prize is for work about Africa or the diaspora of an African country. Entrants must submit a single series or story consisting of 10 to 25 images. There is no entry fee. The prizes include an artists’ residency. Finalists will be announced February 29, and five winners will be announced March 7. Past winners include Zed Nelson, Léonard Pongo, Anoek Steketee, Patrick Willocq, and Cristina de Middel. Full details and rules are available at the POPCAP website.

Entries for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, sponsored by Natural History Museum in London, are due by February 25. “Judges are looking for outstanding images that raise awareness of nature’s beauty and fragility, while also championing the highest ethical standards in wildlife photography,” according to the contest website. Entrants may submit up to 25 images. The entry fee is £30.00 ($44). Top prize is £10,000 ($14,675) for Best Single Image, but the competition awards monetary prizes in a number of categories. Winners will be notified May 13. Past winners include Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols, Greg du Toit, and Paul Nicklen. Full contest details are available at the WPY website.

Related:
After Staged-Photo Debacle, World Press Changes Rules

Daniel Berehulak Wins Reportage Photographer of the Year Honors at 2015 POYi Competition

Brad Vest Named Newspaper Photographer of the Year at 2015 POYi Competition

Mads Nissen Wins World Press Photo of the Year 2014 Prize (PDN subscription required)

December 31st, 2015

Great Photo and Filmmaking Reads for Your First 2016 Weekend

Michael Beckwith | Flickr

Michael Beckwith | Flickr

 

As we look forward to the new year, we’ve gathered up several good reads from around the web that caught our eye this week. Happy New Year!

The Best Photojournalism of 2015: How the Images Were MadeThe Guardian

What the Revenant Producer Tells First Time FilmmakersIndieWire

The Future of Computational PhotographyLens

An Honest Look at Rejection for FilmmakersShoHawk

How Photography and Science Grow Hand-in-HandFinancial Times

The Tech That Will Shape How You Work in 2016Rangefinder

See past Weekend Reads here.

 

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)

December 2nd, 2015

Police Intimidation Watch: Chicago to Pay $100,000 to Photographer Beaten by Cops

A photographer who says he was beaten by Chicago police officers after photographing those same officers beating another man will receive a $100,000 settlement from the city, WBEZ has reported.

The Chicago-based public radio station says Chicago freelance photographer Joshua Lott was covering the May 2012 NATO summit meeting for Getty Images when he came across two police officers beating a young man with batons on a Chicago street. The man was identified in court papers as a protester.

“The officers that were beating him just weren’t happy that I was taking pictures and told me I needed to leave,” Lott told WBEZ.

Lott says he showed the officers his press credentials, and continued to take pictures as the officers kept beating the protester. The officers then approached Lott a second time, threw him to the ground, and began beating him with batons and stomping on him “the same way they were beating the kid I was photographing,” he told WBEZ.

According to court papers, police also destroyed Lott’s cameras by throwing them on the ground, and one officer took Lott’s prescription eyeglasses and stomped on them.

The police then charged Lott with reckless conduct–a misdemeanor charge that was dismissed six weeks later when the officers failed to appear in court, according to the WBEZ report.

In May 2013, Lott filed a lawsuit in federal court in Chicago against the city and several officers, including those who beat him and participated in his arrest. Lott claimed use of excessive force, unlawful detention, unreasonable search and seizure, and retaliation, in violation of his First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. He also claimed assault and battery, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution, which are violations under Illinois state law.

He was seeking compensatory and punitive damages for the rights violations, as well as for bodily injury and medical expenses.

Lott reached a settlement agreement with the city in mid-November. The city and one of the defendants, Commander Glenn Evans, denied any wrongdoing or liability in the settlement agreement, according to WBEZ.

Evans has been the subject of several other excessive force claims, for which the city has so far paid a total of $324,999 to settle, WBEZ reports. The radio station also says Evans is scheduled for trial next week on criminal charged “for putting the barrel of his gun in a suspects mouth and a Taser in his groin while threading his life during a 2014 incident.”

The Chicago police have had a history of excessive force and police misconduct, and yesterday, the mayor of Chicago fired Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy in the wake of public outrage over the death of a black teen who was shot 16 times by a white officer. The officer has been charged with first-degree murder.

Related:
Police Intimidation Watch: Photographer Wins $1.1 Million for Malicious Prosecution
Police Intimidation Watch: University of California to Pay $162,500 for Wrongful Arrest
Police Intimidation Watch: Boston to Pay $170K for Wrongful Arrest of Videographer
Baltimore to Pay $250K for Videos Deleted by Police
PDN Video: A Photographer’s Guide to the First Amendment

November 25th, 2015

After Staged-Photo Debacle, World Press Changes Rules

The 2016 World Press Photo contest will be carried out with new rules, guidelines and procedures, organizers announced today in Amsterdam. The changes include a new code of ethics, backed by more specific rules against photo manipulation, as well as other changes.

The new code of ethics reflects the World Press Photo Foundation’s efforts at reform and transparency, undertaken in the wake of a photo manipulation scandal last year that led to the disqualification of 20 percent of the final round entries, and the revocation of a first-place prize in the Contemporary Issues category.

“We want the audience to have trust in the accuracy of the pictures that win awards and are shown in our exhibition, so, for the first time, the contest has a code of ethics that sets out what we expect from entrants,” World Press Photo managing director Lars Boering said in a prepared statement.

Entries for the 2016 World Press Photo competition are due by January 13, 2016, at noon Central European Time.

The new code of ethics calls on photographers entering the contest not to stage events, and to avoid being misled into photographing events staged by others; to make no “material” changes to the content of their images; to provide accurate caption information; to edit stories in a manner that is accurate and fair; and to be open and transparent about how they made the photos they enter in the World Press Photo contest.

In support of that code, the new rules define illegal manipulation as “staging or re-enacting events” and “adding or removing content from the image.”

For example, World Press Photo says it is not acceptable to remove physical marks on the body, small objects in the pictures, reflected light spots, shadows, or extraneous items on a picture’s border that could not be removed by cropping. It is also unacceptable to add elements by cloning  highlights, painting in object details, photo montage, or replicating material on the border of a picture to make a neat crop possible.

But “cropping that removes extraneous details is permitted” and “sensor dust or scratches on scans of negatives can be removed,” the 2016 rules say. They also say that “processing by itself” does not constitution manipulation. Specifically, “adjustments of color of conversion to grayscale that do not alter content are permitted,” the new rules say.

(more…)

November 23rd, 2015

Reuters Rules Out RAW, Experts Respond

reuters

Reuters will no longer permit its photographers and freelancers to submit RAW images for publication.

As first reported by Michael Zhang, Reuters instituted the ban on RAW images in the name of both speed and ethics. Photographers will be required to submit original JPEGs instead.

“As photojournalists working for the world’s largest international multimedia news provider, Reuters Pictures photographers work in line with our Photographer’s Handbook and the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles,” a Reuters spokesperson told us via email. 

“As eyewitness accounts of events covered by dedicated and responsible journalists, Reuters Pictures must reflect reality,” the spokesperson stated. “While we aim for photography of the highest aesthetic quality, our goal is not to artistically interpret the news. Speed is also very important to us. We have therefore asked our photographers to skip labour and time consuming processes to get our pictures to our clients faster.”

While RAW images provide far more latitude for post-process manipulation, those edits are also harder to disguise. Edits to JPEG images, however, are easier to mask and most pro cameras have JPEG profiles which can boost contrast and saturation without ever needing post process manipulation–which was one of the reasons World Press Photo changed its submission rules in 2015 to require only RAW image submissions for most categories. “The techniques used to reveal JPEG forgeries are not very reliable,” Jessica Fridrich, a professor at the T.J. Watson School of Applied Science and Engineering at the University of Binghamton, told us in the spring for our story on catching image manipulators.

Reuters has in the past used software developed by image forensics experts Hany Farid and Kevin Conner (elements of which are available at izitrue) to verify the authenticity and integrity of JPEG images. Connor told us he wasn’t sure if the software was currently being used by Reuters. When asked how Reuters would ensure the integrity of JPEG images, the spokesperson declined further comment.

“It sounds like a knee-jerk reaction attempting to create a solution to a problem that isn’t really a solution,” said Sean Elliot, chair of the Ethics Committee of the National Press Photographers Association. “If the problem is photographers who don’t understand basic ethical standards of not altering images, then eliminating the use of RAW files will not actually solve the problem….The ease of post-processing with RAW files as compared to JPEGs is certainly real, but I don’t see this as addressing the deeper issues any better than applying a code of ethics.”

The move by Reuters, while abrupt, is not surprising. The manipulation of photojournalistic images has been a hot topic since World Press Photo disqualified 22 percent of images submitted to its 2015 contest–more than double the number of images that were disqualified in 2014. In a recent panel discussion hosted by Adobe during PhotoPlus Expo, New York Times photojournalist Lynsey Addario said she was shocked by how fellow photographers shooting the same scene would turn in heavily processed images that took liberties with the reality she saw before her eyes.

November 18th, 2015

DJI Drones Are About to Get Safer But at What Price? [Updated]

Phantom-3

DJI is about to make flying their drones safer thanks to a new “geo-fencing” system that will feed its flying cameras with continually updated airspace information and block them from taking off in or flying into unsafe zones.

The information, provided by AirMaps, will alert DJI drone users with up-to-date guidance on locations where flight may be restricted by regulations or safety concerns. Fliers will have info on temporary flight restrictions due to fires, stadium events, VIP travel and other events. According to DJI, the geo-fencing system will also “include for the first time restrictions around locations such as prisons, power plants and other sensitive areas where drone operations raise non-aviation security concerns.”

This obviously raises some questions about using DJI drones for investigative journalism. National Geographic photographer George Steinmetz, for instance, was arrested for taking aerial photographs of cattle farms. Would cattle farmers and other corporate interests be able to request and activate no-fly zones over their facilities? (We’ve reached out to DJI for clarification on this and will update this post when they respond.) Update: DJI tells us that they’ll provide more specific information about which sites would be deemed security considerations when the software launches in December. “We will generally follow guidance issued by national aviation safety and national security agencies,” a spokesperson told us.

DJI is providing some means of over-riding this geo-fencing too. By default, a DJI drone won’t fly into or take off in locations “that raise safety or security concerns” the company said, but registered users with verified DJI accounts will be able to over ride these settings in “some” locations that aren’t national security-related.

Over-riding a no-fly zone will require a DJI user account verified with a credit card, debit card or mobile phone number. DJI says the verification service “provides a measure of accountability in the event that the flight is later investigated by authorities.” Verification is free and DJI says it won’t collect or store credit card and mobile phone information.

The new geo-fencing system will initially be available in North America and Europe in December by updating drone firmware and the DJI Go app.

Read More:

Would You Get Arrested for a Nat Geo Cover Shot?

Meet the Uber for Photo Drones

Here’s the First Footage from GoPro’s Drone

The Best Drone Movies of the Year

November 16th, 2015

The Do’s and Don’ts of Collaborating with NGOs

Jane Huber, creative director of Oxfam America, says she’s inundated with requests from photographers wanting to work for the non-governmental organization. The photographers she rehires understand its mission and values—which includes respecting the individuals and communities it serves. “When you work in the field with an NGO, for all distinct purposes, you are the NGO,” says Huber. “You’re representing us and you want to embrace our values: human first.”

Huber was a participant on two panels during a one-day workshop titled “Photography: Agent for Change,”  hosted by the Alexia Foundation at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York City on November 8. It was designed for documentary photographers and filmmakers who go beyond raising awareness and move into advocacy. Many photographers seek work from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the hopes that their images will be used in awareness campaigns, fund-raising and advocacy; some seek the access to communities or areas where the NGOs work, and want help with production and translation.

Huber spoke with PDN following the event to offer practical advice for photographers taking the initial steps to work with NGOs and how to behave in the field once they’ve been hired.

First of all, “do your homework,” Huber says. “As a prospective photographer you want to understand the objectives of Oxfam and what I’m seeking.” Huber continues, “I get a lot of emails that say, ‘I’d love to work for Oxfam because I love to travel and I’m interested in other cultures and I’m a photographer…’ And I think you haven’t done your homework. Photographers interested in doing work for international NGOs are a dime a dozen.”

To distinguish yourself, show that you know the organization and its programs well, Huber says; she recommends referencing specific campaigns that the NGO is conducting. Continue the email along the lines of “I’m particularly interested in labor issues and am always available for domestic work.” says Huber.  “Everybody likes to feel their time is valuable,” says Huber, “so you could say, ‘Dear X, I’m going to be in your area on Tuesday and I would love to take you out for coffee. It could be as short at 30 minutes.’” She adds, “Anyone who has a good portfolio, I’ll always try to give them a shot.”

Second, Huber expects photographers to put the people Oxfam serves before pictures. “You’d be surprised by what some people do in the field,” she says. “If you’re going to be a photographer working with people living in communities that are suffering because of poverty or violence and it’s for an organization that has a rights-based approach to development, then you have to mirror those values.” The photographers she rehires consider how they interact with the population they’re photographing. For example, she says: “If someone is weeping, it might be a really beautiful shot, but you may have to lose the great shot for the greater human interaction.”

Reciprocity with subjects is crucial, she says. At times that means missing the best light of the day to meet a contact person, an elder or local dignitary. It could also mean sitting down for tea. “I had a photographer who Oxfam worked with some years ago who I don’t choose to work with anymore,” Huber recalls. “It was reported back to me that when the family invited him to sit down for a cup of tea, he chose to sit in the corner and look at his camera. He may have thought he was using his time effectively, but when the team said it was important he sit with the family, he said, ‘I’m beat.’”

Huber sums it up by saying, “You may not be able to drink the tea because the water isn’t boiled, but you damn well sit there and show respect, because that’s reciprocity.”

—Sarah Stacke

Related Articles

How To Work Profitably with NGOs

Can Photography Affect Change?