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Content Company Doesn’t Understand Copyright (Oops!)

A Canadian copywriting firm has gotten into trouble for using copyrighted images.

In fact, until a vigilant photographer noticed his photo had appeared on one of WebCopyPlus’s client’s sites, WebCopyPlus was just sucking photos off Google willy-nilly.

The photographer, speaking through a lawyer to the client, requested the image be removed immediately and a payment of $4,000 be remitted to his account. (The photographer was based in the U.S., and under the DMCA, apparently you can seek up to $30,000 in damages per infringement.)

The company says:

“While we considered the lawyer’s demands abusive, the fact remained that our client was trapped in the ordeal, and it was costing him time and causing him grief. Plus, he’d be the one to get subpoenaed. So we opted to settle for $4,000….It’s an expensive lesson on copyright laws that we wish to share with other marketers, so you don’t make the same mistake.”

The mistake, WebCopyPlus says, was this:

“Our web copywriters were under the impression that images on the Web without any copyright notices were “public domain” and therefore free to use. Naive? Yes. A notion limited to our copywriting firm? Definitely not. It likely has to do with the fact that works no longer need a copyright notice to have copyright protection.” That’s because of the Berne Convention, which the U.S. adopted in 1988. But Canada….adopted the Berne Convention in the 1920s.


Photogs, Art Directors Join Together To Ask You To Stop Kvetching About The State of The Industry

An anonymous photog asked A Photo Editor laments the state of the industry in a whine cleverly disguised as a question.

The question:

Can you write an article about the true reality of the photo industry across the board in LA, NYC, Dallas, and Chicago, or wherever? It seems most ad agencies don’t view books in person, only online. Art Buyers are looking for work, photography jobs are being over run by secretaries, moms, dads, facebook friends, interns, and college kids out of school who just decide one day to pick up a camera.

A Photo Editor, who is actually Rob Haggart, the former Director of Photography for Men’s Journal and Outside Magazine, got a number of photogs and other industry pros to weigh in. Almost unanimously, they all said the industry is not dead.

A print producer:
“I know that photography as content will always be needed, regardless of the the constantly changing medium to which it is applied. ”

An agent:
“We can freeze up, get pissed about all this or we can jump in and look towards the wonderful new possibilities.”

A designer:
“No matter how much people complain, I have a lot of busy clients, they are just really good photographers. Yes, hustling a little more due to the economy, but still working and doing great work.”

A photog:
“I’ve personally chosen to embrace these changes and focus on what is rather than what once was. To be honest I only see opportunity.”

There’s ever ever so much more at the original post but meanwhile we wonder how much of this would still ring true if you replaced “photographer” with “journalist” or “PR pro” or “copywriter” or any of our titles? Probably a lot.

Alan Taylor Jumps To The Atlantic

Alan Taylor, who founded The Boston Globe’s The Big Picture blog two and a half years ago, is moving to The Atlantic.

There, he will start a new photo blog called In Focus.

The Globe will keep The Big Picture and find someone else to run it.

“Simply stated, I want to do more with the format,” Taylor wrote on his own blog. “I see many opportunities ahead, and have wanted to do more with the blog for a long time, but have often been constrained by time. As anyone who knows me can tell you, working on the blog was always a passion, but was never my fulltime job. I was hired by the Globe over five years ago as a Web Developer, and part of the agreement to let me run the Big Picture was that I kept doing the other web development that needed to be done. I agreed to that arrangement, and tried my best to make it work, but in the end, it was often unworkable – one or the other job would suffer when there were crunch times.

“I wanted the opportunity to do this – telling news photo stories – as a fulltime job, and the Atlantic has offered that to me, for which I am grateful.” comments: “Smart move by The Atlantic, which is increasingly looking like one of the media properties that may make a smooth-ish transistion from print to online/app media. As for The Globe, well, I don’t think they quite knew what they had there. Eight million page views per month out of nothing with a less-than-maximal effort…that’s the kind of thing you want to encourage if you’re in the media business.”

CMY-Killah, The Most Entertaining Photoshop Tutorial Ever

This CollegeHumor video of a rap Photoshop tutorial somehow manages to impart some actually useful information while being hilarious. Keep these tips in mind next time you have to design a flyer for your department or ‘shop a blog photo.

How To Become GQ’s Photo Editor

I came to GQ over ten years ago for a week’s work experience. I knew that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity so I grabbed every task with both fists and made it so they couldn’t not offer me a job. A few months of unpaid work, then I was offered a junior picture researching job. Within a year of that I was Photo Editor.

Work experience is a genuine opportunity, yet people do not treat it as such. This is a very difficult industry to get into, so if you don’t give it 1000% every second of the day, then it won’t be enough. I arrived early and left late every day, I never took a day off. Much to the chagrin of my parents, I even missed my own graduation ceremony because I didn’t want to ask for the day off. — James Mullinger, photo editor, GQ magazine, interviewed by Wonderful Machine

If your heart’s not set on stealing Mullinger’s job (and it sounds like he’s indispensable, so good luck) but you want to have your work in GQ, he adds: “Post me something that I want to stick up on the wall. Then the art department will all see it and you are five times more likely to be commissioned.”

It Just Got Harder To Be A Stock Photographer

It’s never been easy shooting stock for the likes of iStockPhoto, but once upon a time the highly ambitious could make a career out of microstock.

Perhaps that time is over. IStockPhoto, one of the largest microstock sites out there, recently announced that it was cutting payments to photographers to as low as 15 percent.

The biggest issue: IStockPhoto COO Kelly Thompson‘s justification for the pay cuts seems wrong to many contributors.

Last week, Thompson posted this in the iStockphoto forums:

“Since roughly 2005 we’ve been aware of a basic problem with how our business works. As the company grows, the overall percentage we pay out to contributing artists increases. In the most basic terms that means that iStock becomes less profitable with increased success. As a business model, it’s simply unsustainable: businesses should get more profitable as they grow. This is a long-term problem that needs to be addressed.”

Yet in 2008, iStock told contributors this: “That our revenue and payouts have eclipsed those of many traditional stock photography companies confirms that microstock is a viable and profitable business model for contributors and clients.”

You can see why some photographers are upset.

One forum poster, though, indicated (as A Photo Editor blogger Rob Haggart said “the bit of schadenfreude pro photographers must be feeling about the whole deal:”

“All of you have been so happy to undercut traditional stock photography, copying the best selling images, shooting every hamburger you ever ate, and now that the traditional photographers (often derided as ‘trads’ by you) have come in to beat you at your own game, you’re shocked- yes, shocked!- to find out that this is a business, not a little happy family giving each other muffins and logrolling in the forums. Well, welcome to the real world- the one that you made for yourselves.

More importantly, if one of the biggest players in microstock is saying the business model is unsustainable, what does that mean for everyone who’s ever uploaded a photo or drawn a cute whale being lifted by birds out of the ocean?


Photographers Want Money For iPad Pics

People magazine’s upcoming iPad application has hit a major hurdle. Photograph companies that supply paparazzi pics to the magazine are withholding the snapshots, unless People agrees to give more money for the iPad application version of the magazine, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

“I do think it’s an important moment as far as the photo-agency business model,” said New York bureau chief for World Entertainment News Network Jill Stempel to THR. “We need to take a stand.”

According to THR’s report, Stempel’s agency is considering joining the alliance. It’s a battle over what the industry is calling “the future,” and assuring that the photo agencies get what they can from the new products.

But with only $3 billion coming from the entire tablet sector by 2014, and $1.3 billion in incremental revenue, I can’t imagine the photo industry can demand that much more money, even if magazines, like People, rely so much on those glossy photos.

But, no doubt, the other star-centered mags are watching closely.

RIP Photojournalism

Has photojournalism died? According to former photojournalist Neil Burgess, the profession officially passed away at 7:12 ET Sunday evening or morning (he doesn’t really specify).

It’s an interesting thought though. Has the profession that used to tell in-depth stories via the photograph officially ended?
Burgess writes:

“Magazines and newspapers are no longer putting any money into photojournalism. They will commission a portrait or two. They might send a photographer off with a writer to illustrate the writer’s story, but they no longer fund photojournalism. They no longer fund photo-reportage. They only fund photo illustration.”

But it’s a little far-fetched to say an entire profession is officially ended, isn’t it? Well Burgess, who runs a picture agency, goes to the numbers.

Read more

Amateurs Are Killing Photography Just Like They Killed Everything Else That Is Good

We’re only half joking, of course.

The New York Times ran a trend piece in yesterday’s paper about how tough it is to make a living as a pro photographer. Why? Because all the hobbyists are selling out for a couple bucks here, some exposure there.

“People that don’t have to make a living from photography and do it as a hobby don’t feel the need to charge a reasonable rate,” Matt Eich, a photojournalist, told the NYT.

It’s true, but is there any notion of “you get what you pay for” anymore? A colleague of ours says that he’ll look through IStockPhoto and other microstock sites populated with the shoots of amateurs, but when he needs something good, he still has to go to Getty’s professional division.

The bigger threat to photogs, we’d imagine (and the NYT mentions), is the lack of outlets out there. Glossy magazines are shutting down, and with each goes another place where a photographer might have scored some money.

But with Demand Studios’ army of low-paid writers cranking out content for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Travel section, we’re not sure this problem is limited to just visual folk. And of course, just as how Demand Studios is absorbing a lot of laid-off professionals, these “amateurs” grabbing low rates for photos aren’t necessarily all amateurs, just desperate.

Getty Images Shuts Down Its In-House Stock Operation, Some Layoffs

The wholly-owned creative stock program at Getty Images may be gone, according to reports on a couple photo blogs. Greg Ceo wrote on his blog that “the entire…program has been shut down.” PDN Pulse says that Ceo’s a Getty photographer, “so he’s in a position to know”—they also spoke to Getty spokesperson Molly McWhinnie who confirmed that a reorg is taking place.

“As a private company, we are not able to share any specifics as to the number of employees,” she told PDN Pulse. “However, suffice to say, the roles are global in nature and that it is a very small number of people. Overall, an extremely small percentage.”

The number may be as small as two people, but we’re also hearing that the entire Seattle creative team (unsure how many people that consists of) may have been notified that their jobs were cut effective Dec. 31.

Wholly-owned stock is when a photographer on an agency’s payroll creates the image, rather than a freelancer funding his/her own shoots and then selling the images to a stock agency.

In more photo agency news, Corbis is letting some of its London and Paris employees go.