Monday, March 16, 2009

Copyright and Amateur Photography

Image: "Tough Guys" by smif Some Rights Reserved

In our user-generated content (UGC) world, there is more content than ever available to marketers. Traditional stock photography houses like Corbus and Getty Images are threatened by marketers reaching out to sources like Flickr.

However, marketers and the corporations they belong to must be very careful. Unauthorized use of the image or images and not compensating the creator as well as any individuals ("models") in the images can lead to big legal headaches and possible financial repercussions.

Copyright is still copyright. It does not matter if you source your image from a large clearing house or from the guy on the street. I almost wonder if marketing's use of professional image repositories like Getty has made them not realize what has already been done for them--namely setting up a pricing matrix that covers all fees in various types of uses.

While marketers gain "authenticity" from sites that host amateur photography, they loose the safety net that stock photography houses create. This is fine if they understand the net needs to be constructed and disastrous if they don't.

Earlier this year, the Washington Post posted and article entitled, "Hey, Isn't That...." The article deals directly with the issues that I bring up above, and it's worth a quick glance. (Note: it features James Griffioen, the photographer that I used to illustrate the last post [without authorization--another post on copyright and blogging to come])

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