Truth in advertising

I’ll admit that “truth in advertising” is a bit of a contradiction in terms. But one of the great advantages, as well as responsiblities, of photography is that most people view photos as representations of reality. Or at least they do on a subconscious level. Those of us in the industry, and certainly anyone who’s spent 7 hours making a shrimp cocktail look just right, know that reality is flexible. Deciding how flexible is where you can get into trouble. (more…)

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Copyright part 3, Protect thyself

Anyone who’s been in this business long enough has a story about being ripped off. Whether it’s about unpaid invoices, clients who make unreasonable demands, or outright fraud, my experience has been there are two types of professional photographers. Those who have been cheated, and those who will. We’ll talk about invoicing, unreasonable clients and fraud later. Right now – stolen images. (more…)

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Copyright, part two

Part Two – Licensing usage

Now that we’ve determined that artists are entitled to profit from their creations, we’ve got to answer the question of who actually holds the copyright, ie who owns the work. US copyright law was originally codified in 1790 but for practical purposes, the Copyright act of 1976 and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) are the laws that currently affect us. (more…)

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Copyright, Part One

This is the first of several in a series on copyright, as it stands in the US, and how it affects photographers.

Part One – The basics.

Photography is copyrighted intellectual property, just like books, music and software. Like musicians, authors and filmmakers, photographers are paid a fee for creating the work and then residuals or royalties for the subsequent use of those works. An artist’s ability to profit from their creations is a Constitutional right, Article 1, Section 8:

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

Not to get too political here, but… The framers realized that a stable and prosperous society is aided by the ability of the innovative and inventive to profit from their innovations and inventions. This may all seem like political mumbo jumbo, but in the face of those who think copyright is a hindrance to free expression (if you liked Napster, this means you) it’s an important rebuttal. Without the profit motive to, well, motivate us, why create.

(more…)

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