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Photographer writes excellent letter to the band Garbage about unpaid photo use

Discussion in 'photography, graphics & art' started by editor, Apr 2, 2015.

  1. laptop

    laptop Freudenschade

    But it's a right (unless any of the above-noted caveats apply). So "offering" it isn't politeness, any more than "offering" not to burgle your house is.
     
  2. Kid_Eternity

    Kid_Eternity "You might be a lord but here comes the king."

    No surprise about Garbage' reply they've always been shallow commercial crap.
     
    Mr Moose likes this.
  3. laptop

    laptop Freudenschade

    My recollection of the accounts of colleagues who were present at the debates on the 1988 Act, as it became, is that Associated Newspapers (Rothermere) lobbied furiously to make the rights to be identified and to defend the integrity of works toothless - through the medium of Michael Heseltine (prop. Haymarket magazine group) and (in the early stages) Harold Macmillan (prop. Macmillan books). AFAIK this was solely on the basis that they weren't going to be told how to exploit their writers and snappers.
     
  4. Diamond

    Diamond The Red Baron

    That makes sense then...

    Still, it was a pretty weak concession for them to gain; apparently requiring the most rudimentary legal advice to circumvent.

    Would be interesting to know if there have been any significant cases on that point.
     
  5. laptop

    laptop Freudenschade

    Those that I am aware of are (a) £50 add-ons to damages for use without a licence in the lower courts; or (b) settled out of court for five or six figures.

    So, 27 years on, we still don't know for sure what the law means, because there are no judgements from higher courts.
     
  6. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    It's politeness.

    Whenever I've written this kind of letter, I have always said something like 'You will of course be fully credited, but I'm afraid I cannot offer payment'.

    And I'll continue to do that where I genuinely can't offer payment. Out of politeness.
     
  7. laptop

    laptop Freudenschade

    Ah, so you're asserting what you would like to think your own motivation is, without regard to the rest of the world. There's no arguing with that. Nor sense in it.
     
  8. Orang Utan

    Orang Utan Sub-Sub-Librarian

    In what sort of situation would you not offer someone payment for their work? Charity? School?
     
  9. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    No, I'm guessing that this is also what the person who wrote this letter was doing. Not that they thought they were offering a favour by saying it, which is what Diamond implied.
     
  10. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    Where there isn't a picture budget. Very often it will be commercial organisations I'm asking. When it's an individual, I offer to send them a copy of the book. If I can, I will offer a small payment of, say, £30, but even that's not always possible. Generally these are low-circulation school and library books. Most people are surprised when I tell them how small our budgets are to make them.

    It's either that or the book doesn't get made. It's very well being high and mighty about this, but I'm not the one slashing budgets. I'm just trying to deal with the result of the slashed budget.
     
  11. Orang Utan

    Orang Utan Sub-Sub-Librarian

    But all too often it is organisations such as News International who are claiming there is no budget.
     
    muscovyduck, editor and laptop like this.
  12. Diamond

    Diamond The Red Baron

    Yeah, always seemed pretty bare bones when I studied it many years ago.

    Still, it's difficult to see what kind of dispute might arise on infringement of the right - the only one I can really think of is if a person purchased the copyright and then failed to credit the originator, which seems to blend with the tort of "passing off"...

    Perhaps we haven't seen any cases because the originators are not in a position to make their case for financial reasons?
     
  13. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    It's legally required to credit the artist. It's nowt to do with being polite, it's an attempt to bag something for nothing while stating "we'll fulfill our legal obligation to credit you as the author of your work, and because we're such good eggs for fulfilling that obligation, you should let us have limited free usage rights".
    This isn't complex stuff, it's basic.
     
    equationgirl, muscovyduck and ddraig like this.
  14. laptop

    laptop Freudenschade

    'Fraid that's it.

    "You are now entering the British legal system. Please deposit £200,000."
     
  15. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    They're asking for a favour, not offering one. Nothing wrong with being polite when asking for a favour and reassuring the requestee that you're going to credit them properly.

    That is basic stuff, too.

    If you don't do it, you know what will happen? They'll write back and ask if they will be getting a credit.
     
  16. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    The photographer David Hoffman was mentioned on another thread last week. Hoffman has several decades of form for pursuing unofficial and/or uncredited use of his pictures.
    I was looking through a book of pictures focusing on (pardon the pun) the miners' strike of '84-85, and where they'd used pictures taken by people who weren't professional photographers or photo-journalists, they still credited the original photographer wherever they'd been able to trace them, because it made legal sense to do so.
     
  17. Diamond

    Diamond The Red Baron

    I don't think you get it.

    You can ask for a favour but trying to sugar the deal by acknowledging that you will respect basic rights "in exchange" is cynical in the extreme.
     
  18. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    I don't think you get it. It isn't an attempt to sugar any deal. It's a reassurance to head off a question that will otherwise be coming back at you. And the 'of course' bit when I do it is an indication that I don't think I should be doing anything else.
     
  19. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    And what would happen if you didn't of course "fully credit" the artist, if the artist decided to be litigious? Obviously you, being a moral creature, wouldn't use their work without their permission, but if you forgot to credit, then they'd have a right to take you to court, because you'd have resiled from a legal obligation, accidental or not.
     
  20. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    They're doing both. Don't make the mistake of assuming that your own behaviour/position is necessarily shared by others who do your job.
     
  21. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    Don't make the mistake of assuming it isn't. :confused:
     
  22. Diamond

    Diamond The Red Baron

    OK, we haven't seen the exact correspondence but the offer seems to be (i) let me use your intellectual property and (ii) in exchange I'll acknowledge that you own the underlying rights.

    How is limb (ii) not an attempt to make limb (i) more attractive?
     
  23. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    Diamond, I'm guessing that if you were drafting these letters, you'd perhaps not have much success.

    I would advise being friendly and open and giving as much info as possible.
     
  24. Diamond

    Diamond The Red Baron

    The bottom line is that they're trying to get something which they don't own for free.

    I could try and draft such a letter but I certainly wouldn't use such chancer tactics and would most likely advise the client to consider their position.

    You generally don't get much by offering nothing in exchange.

    And broadly speaking, I think that's a good thing. Even more so in the creative industries, which are often highly vulnerable.
     
  25. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus one of Maxwell's demons

    This isn't true.

    Also, let's be more realistic here. Generally, there will be no contract for such free usage. The email itself becomes the basis of the agreement. If I were a photographer, I would want the person requesting to say they will credit me so that I didn't have to ask them. That is why it is a polite thing to say it upfront.

    Some here are assuming Machiavellian motives that really are not likely to be present.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2015
  26. belboid

    belboid TUC Off Your Knees

    Quartz and editor like this.
  27. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

    Or (from personal recent experience): the BBC, the Evening Standard and the Independent. And it fucks me off because you can bet the person sat at the comfy desk doing the asking isn't doing it for free.
     
  28. belboid

    belboid TUC Off Your Knees

    tbh, i wouldn't bet on that at the papers - always ask the 'intern' to do the shitty jobs
     
  29. editor

    editor Taffus Maximus

    And another one today:
    Oooh! A photo credit! Too kind!

    I've sent them my licensing fee. I don't think I'll be hearing back from them.
     
    Greebo, Quartz and muscovyduck like this.
  30. Pickman's model

    Pickman's model Starry Wisdom

    when i worked in an archive and people got in touch about using photos they all too often went quiet upon hearing the fees we charged: which were in all honesty very modest.
     
    Greebo, Quartz and muscovyduck like this.

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