I received an email from a regional marketing company today asking for permission to use the above photograph that I'd taken of Colchester High Street with Christmas decorations which they'd spotted on Flickr. The purpose was for an email marketing piece and they asked if I would "permit us to use the following image rights free for this work only".
I'm not quite sure what you mean by 'rights free' - do you mean 'royalty free'? As this is a commercial activity I'm sure you'll understand that it's only fair that I ask what budget you may have available for the use of images. I'd be happy to consider use of this image but it would be helpful to know a bit more about the intended use.
I am more than happy to grant permission for any of my photos to be used for non-commercial use and have done so on a number of occasions. But I'm concerned about a growing trend for commercial users to try to get photos for nothing by flattering people into allowing use of their images for the sheer 'honour' of attribution. If there's money changing hands somewhere in the process then it's only just that an appropriate proportion, according to the budget, goes to the content providers.
The reply I received was as follows;
Unfortunately whilst this is commercial activity there is no additional budget for imagery. Our entire imagery budget is utilised... on developing a stock library and as a result we have access to more than 30,000 images for free usage. Whilst it would be nice to feature your image, given its quality and relevance to the content, in this instance we do not have a budget to do so.
For the record, I'm not bothered about the money. I don't call myself "Tim Abbott Photography" and put watermarks on my photos on Flickr in the hope that someone will think my photos are worth something. But neither am I that excited by the prospect of having my photographs used for free by people who get paid to make use of them, so for this request my answer is "no".
However, in the event that someone wants to use one of my images for non commercial or charitable use I'm quite OK about that which is why they have a Creative Commons licence. Ask and I'll likely say yes.
Diana and I went to a family party in Bath on Saturday. Apart from the company, the food, the brilliant speeches and the splendid surroundings, the high profile attraction of the day was a Groovybooth.
It's basically a photo booth which allows guests to take four photos of themselves, with or without any of the crazy selection of hats, shades or accessories provided, as a memento of the occasion. The thing even has a built in wind machine for that wind-blown hair look. Afterwards all the photos are uploaded to their website and can be downloaded for free.
At the party everyone chose a picture of themselves to stick in a scrapbook along with a message for the birthday boy.
Such a simple idea - so much fun!
It is, to me, one of life's little mysteries that this is my most viewed photo by far on Flickr. About 2500 views. By comparison, the next highest picture has about 700.
I know that compared to some giants of the Flickrverse 2500 views is peanuts. But for a picture of a wood panelled wall?
It was taken as part of a vague theme to record a wide range of textures that might be of use as backgrounds. The CC licensing is an acknowledgement that this picture might be of some use to others and it really doesn't harm me to let them download it. Which must surely account for the number of views. I mean, you wouldn't click on this image just to take a closer look would you? Not unless you're a student of 21st Century wood panelling. So I'm guessing there are people out there who have this bit of interior wall for their computer desktop, Powerpoint / Keynote slide background or perhaps something else.
I just never imagined it would be so popular.
It is, allegedly, a Ralph Lauren ad featuring a ridiculously photoshopped model, Fillippa Hamilton. (Here she is on the Ralph Lauren web site looking relatively normal) As the image started circulating Lauren started issuing DMCA takedown notices to offenders (will they be calling here I wonder?)
Boing Boing has a full rundown of events.
Going after companies who posted the image inevitably invokes the Streisand Effect whereby an attempt to censor stimulates the multiplication of the information across the internet. Lauren subsequently admitted that they were indeed responsible for the "poor imaging and retouching" and that they have "addressed the problem".
There are a whole lot of unanswered questions, like, Who did the
original artwork? and, Who signed off this image for publication? Surely no fashion house with the resources of RL would allow an image like this out by mistake. And no one seems to have been able to come up with the original ad in print or on the web. All of which makes me wonder what's really going on...
UPDATE, 15 Oct
Well, it seems the original of this ad was a display poster for a Japanese department store. But no matter, Fillippa Hamilton has now been sacked by Ralph Lauren "as a result of her inability to meet the obligations under her contract with us" which apparently means she was too fat. Hamilton is a UK size 8. More details from The Times
Some bold and fast acting photographic types have been sacrificing themselves before the all pervading Google Street View camera cars and have thereby achieved Street View immortality.
Street View snappers of the nation, we salute you.
Jonny Baker asks, do you give away or sell your flickr photos when asked? and cites a very helpful post about the issue by Thomas Hawk before writing about the Flickr/Getty tie up which I mentioned here in July.
I left a comment, but would like to repeat it here. If you want to join the conversation it would be worth checking Jonny's blog for the latest comments.
I've given permission for some of my photos to be used by others and wouldn't mind selling images to people who should be paying. However, I have some big concerns over the Getty / Flickr development.
I think the main one is that the aims of Flickr (basically creating a community of people who love photography and want to share it with others) seem to be completely at odds with the aims of Getty (to become the dominant leader in stock imagery). Flickr's own terms and conditions state that use should be non-commercial:
"Don’t use Flickr for commercial purposes. Flickr is for personal use only. If we find you selling products, services, or yourself through your photostream, we will terminate your account."
Flickr have allowed one company exclusive access to Flickr photographers on a commercial basis, which feels to me like an attempt to dominate a market. Of course, this is now a done deal between Flickr and Getty, but my suspicion is that Getty will be the clear winner. I'm sure that many photographers will gladly sign over commercial rights to their photos and, of course, it's very flattering to be invited to contribute to what is the acknowledged front runner in stock photography, but there are others operating in this field with different and often better terms.
When this was announced back in July I found this from the Photoshelter blog. Photoshelter is an alternative stock licensing company, so they obviously have an interest, but their article provides an alternative view from the other side of the Getty/Flickr tie-up.
Perhaps if Getty ask about any of my photos I'll take that as an endorsement and then offer them to a company I feel more comfortable with!