Business & Legal

The power of going viral to “kickstart” your project

“Wow” seems to be the only word that entrepreneur Peter Dering can say about the response he’s received for his first product, which has the twitterverse buzzing and the photography world salivating.

Dering, a former civil engineer and amateur photographer, quit his engineering job last April to develop an idea he’d had for two years. He spent the better part of last year developing the Capture Camera Clip System, which is a small device that allows you to clip your SLR securely to any strap (belt, backpack, etc.)


Dering was hoping to solve the problem that many SLR users face: where can you keep your camera so that it’s easily accessible but out of your way to use your hands, yet still well protected? Wearing a camera strap around your neck is great for access, but a heavy camera dangling around your neck is both uncomfortable and dangerous for the camera and lens. A camera bag offers great protection, but you may miss some great shots without your camera readily at hand.

Dering’s Capture System solves this problem with a small, lightweight device that has two components: one clips onto your strap and the other clips into your tripod mount on your camera. When the two components are secured, you have a quick and easy way of mounting your camera on your belt strap or backpack strap - or in the future your bicycle or the roof-rack of your car. There’s a quick-release button for easy access, but there’s also a redundant twist lock you can use for times when the quick-release might be accidentally triggered.

It’s a clever little piece of kit, and it was bound to be well received by the photography community - however the speed at which this is happening is what’s truly remarkable about this story.


Dering decided to use Kickstarter to try to fund the first production run of his device. His Kickstarter project went live on May 2, and by the powers of the viral qualities of the internet, he had reached (and quickly surpassed) his $10,000 funding goal by May 4.

At the time of writing this article, the project has 3,859 backers who have funded the project to $251,746 - a far cry from the $10,000 initial goal. So, how did this happen? How did a device go from no one hearing of it to being the next must-have photography gadget seemingly overnight?

The news of the gadget traveled far and wide through the type of viral speed and growth we’ve come to expect only from funny youtube videos. News was spreading fast via Twitter, Facebook, and tons of blogs. Loads of tech & photo websites, such as Gizmodo, Peta Pixel, Digital Trends and Photo Weekly Online all did articles about the Capture clip. It didn’t take long for this rush to “capture” the imaginations (and wallets) of the internet photographers.

Get involved!

The project will be funding until July 16 - so if you want to be one of the first to get your hands on the device you can pledge at least $50 on Kickstarter . Once the first run is done, the normal retail price is expected to be $70 plus shipping.

Perhaps Kickstarter is going to the next great tool for creating buzz around your photography ideas and gadgets - certainly many of the most successful projects on the site have come from the photography universe. Peter Dering seems to agree, and his gratitude is palpable: “This is absolutely mind blowing.  Backers, bloggers, facebook status updaters...thank you, thank you, thank you.  Thank you!!!”

My own Kickstarter project

So, independently of Dering's project, I have started a Kickstarter project of my own. It's photography related, it's awesome, and it's here.

This article was written by Ziah Fogel, who is part of Team Awesome: The gang working on my Kickstarter project.

Watermarking your images

I very occasionally use a small watermark on my images - but only for my travel blog, oddly.

I recently received an e-mail from Danielle, a reader who was confused that I seemed to post most of my photos online without watermarking them. We had an interesting e-mail discussion, and I received her permission to re-write the discussion into a blog post.

The case for watermarking

Photography seems to be an ever evolving art movement. As quickly as it began, it has undergone many advancements. This relatively new art practice has gone from the camera obscura to cameras built-in to our tweet-enabled, facebooking phones. Anyone has the ability to snap a photo and have it uploaded onto the web within seconds. Mind blowing? Sure. Good for business? Definitely not.

Just as quickly as advancements in technology giveth, they taketh away. Technology has made stealing photos, your sweat, blood and hard work as easy as holding down two buttons. If you don’t properly identify your photographs as your own copyrighted pieces of work with watermarks, you may find yourself hiring ip lawyers to get your intellectual property taken down and back into the rightful owner’s hands. Not watermarking your photographs with some form of logo or even simply a name is putting your work at risk.

Many photographers don’t find watermarking extremely important. In thinking that, you are putting your work out to the world to use as it pleases. Without a proper watermark, you will never know who will copy and use your photograph somewhere else. More importantly, you never know where these photographs will end up.

As a photographer, you should be aware that watermarks are there for your protection and to protect those clients who agree to be photographed. If a client should happen onto an inappropriate webpage or print that includes their picture, they will come to you looking for answers. Will you be prepared to explain the situation? As an artist, shouldn’t you take enough pride in any work you publish to include your name on it?

Some artists misconstrue watermarks as bulky and at times unprofessional looking. What they are not considering is how many different types of software and options there are to create these copyrighting texts for your photographs. Researching just a few watermarking software programs will show you that watermarks can be as simple and elegant or as bulky and obnoxious as you’d like. Of course not many artists would want a bulky addition to their work, but the point is artists have that option.

When photographs are taken out of context or away from the artist’s original concept, the integrity of the work is compromised. As photographers, we should be concerned with maintaining the utmost relevancy and honor in our work. Watermarking photographs might not be the end all to protection, but it is definitely a step in the right direction. All artists should consider taking these steps while they can because it is only a matter of time before the next boom of technology will flip the art of photography upside down once again.

What do you think?

I don't think I agree all that much with Danielle above - I do think that watermarks detract from my images, and I doubt whether watermarking is as much of a deterrent as she thinks. 

What do you think?

Your pictures; your rights, redux


In the immediate aftermath of the TwitPic photo-selling furore it became clear that there can be a great deal of confusion regarding terms and conditions (T&C), terms of service (ToS), terms of use (ToU), or any other terms that you have to agree to when you sign up to any kind of photo-sharing oojimaflip.

When it comes to ToS, the devil is most definitely in the detail, and at one of our reader’s request, I’ve put together a guide to what to look for. As ever, I have to state that I’m not a lawyer; all I have to go on here is my own experience of using photo-sharing sites and, heaven help me, previous experience of drafting ToS.

Copyright and licensing rights

The first thing to get straight is that there’s a difference between copyright and licensing rights. If you take a photo (or compose a song, or write a story… you get the picture) you own the copyright to it. That means you have the right to have that photo attributed to you and you can say how, where, and when you want it reproduced, if at all.

On very rare occasions, you can sign away your copyright to your creation – and in fact I did this quite recently when the copyright of a project that I wrote was attributed to the company for whom I completed the contract, not to me as an individual – but it’s usually in very specific circumstances.

Licensing rights, on the other hand, are what you, as the copyright holder, use to allow people to use your images (or your words or your music &c). If someone wants to publish your photo, you provide them with a licence to do so. There are a plethora of different types of licence out there, which serve different purposes, allow different things, and have different implications for you as a copyright holder. Hence the confusion.

Why you need a licence, part I

You’ve been away on holiday to Mauritius and you have a selection of the most incredible photos showing the places that you visited, the food that you ate, and the sights that you saw. You want to share them with your family, your friends, and to be honest, anyone who wants to take a look because you’re really proud of a few of them. So you sign up to the photo-sharing website SooperPix that’ll let the world at large marvel at your artistic genius.

You have to sign a licence. You own the copyright to these pictures, which means that you have to grant SooperPix the right to display them on your behalf. If you didn’t, it wouldn’t be able to host them on the website and let the world look on awestruck at your awesomeness.

The issue of course is what type of licence SooperPix asks you to sign.

Licences of Awesome

If SooperPix is actually SooperDooperPix, it’ll use a licence that’s similar to Flickr’s (who recently reconfirmed their users’ rights), or Mobypicture’s, or Focussion’s, or 500px’s, or in fact a lot of other cool photo-sharing places out there. It’ll say that you grant it a licence for the purpose of displaying them on the website. The licence might even specifically state that it won’t sell your images. Here are the examples of the licences from those four websites I mentioned:


With respect to Content you elect to post for inclusion in publicly accessible areas of Yahoo! Groups or that consists of photos or other graphics you elect to post to any other publicly accessible area of the Services, you grant Yahoo! a world-wide, royalty free and non-exclusive licence to reproduce, modify, adapt and publish such Content on the Services solely for the purpose of displaying, distributing and promoting the specific Yahoo! Group to which such Content was submitted, or, in the case of photos or graphics, solely for the purpose for which such photo or graphic was submitted to the Services. This licence exists only for as long as you elect to continue to include such Content on the Services and shall be terminated at the time you delete such Content from the Services.

Amongst all the legalese, the key phrase here is ‘solely for the purpose for which such photo or graphic was submitted to the Services.’ You submitted the photo to share it publicly. That’s all that Flickr will do with it. (When it mentions modifying or adapting, that concerns how the image is encoded, and being able to see it in different sized versions.) It’s not going to sell on your photo.


All rights of uploaded content by our users remain the property of our users and those rights can in no means be sold or used in a commercial way by Mobypicture or affiliated third party partners without consent from the user.


Your photographs are (and should be) your own, you keep all your rights on them. By using our site, you give Focussion a license to use your work for the functioning of this site (e.g. to display the pictures to our visitors, and to enable comments on them).


By submitting photographic or graphic works to 500px at Upload page to your profile you agree that this content fully or partially may be used on 500px web-site for promotional reasons (such as photos at home page). By doing so, 500px will comply with the Canadian Copyright Act, which means your work will be properly attributed or quoted. No photographic content, emails, and other private information will be sold for any reasons by 500px.

Those last three sets of ToS are pretty clear I think.

Licences of Evil

However, if SooperPix is just a masquerade for SooperEvilPix that really wants to be able to sell your images and not let you profit from that sale, the licence will read slightly differently. It’ll probably say that you’ve granted SooperEvilPix, and maybe its devil-spawn affiliates and its unwashed friends as well, a licence to reproduce your images. There won’t be a caveat about ‘for the functioning of the site’, ‘the purposes for which you uploaded them’, or explicitly state that it won’t sell on your pictures. TwitPic’s ToS is a great example of this:

You retain all ownership rights to Content uploaded to Twitpic. However, by submitting Content to Twitpic, you hereby grant Twitpic a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content in connection with the Service and Twitpic’s (and its successors’ and affiliates’) business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the Service (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels.

Yes, you keep your copyright, but you’ve lost out on your licensing rights. It, and pretty much anyone else it chooses, can sell your image to anyone it likes and take the proceeds from it. You’ll be acknowledged as the copyright holder, but you won’t see a penny for your creativity. As far as I am concerned, this takes advantage of people and their creative pursuits. It’s most uncool.

An example of a website that we all know, but perhaps don’t all love, which has a ToS that’s open to interpretation is FaceBook:

For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (“IP content”), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (“IP License”). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.

I’m not keen on that statement, which is why I don’t have any images on my practically-never-updated and very-infrequently-visited FaceBook page. The chances of one of my images landing itself on a billboard as part of a nation-wide campaign advertising probiotic yoghurt are virtually nil, but dammit, if it does, I’d quite like to profit from it, thankyouverymuch.

Why you need a licence, part II

After reading the ToS, you signed up to SooperDooperPix and gave them the licence to show off your photos to the world. Life is great: your memories are there to relive and for your loved-ones to enjoy. Things get even better when WorldsAway Luxury Holidays spots one of your idyllic holiday sunset photos, and wants to use it to headline its campaign encouraging everyone to visit Mauritius. (Aren’t you pleased that you went before the ad campaign?) They contact you and ask if they can use the photo.

You agree to terms that lets them use your photo. What you’ve done is grant them a licence. It’s a different licence to the one you granted to SooperDooperPix. This licence can take lots of different forms (how they can use the image, for how long, those sorts of things) – and you might want to get a lawyer to take a look at it – but what you’re doing here is giving WorldsAway Luxury Holidays permission to use the photo in return for payment. If you didn’t grant them a licence they’d have to look elsewhere for a picture.

If you’d actually signed-up to SooperEvilPix, the situation would be a bit different because you’ve given SooperEvilPix a different licence. WorldsAway Luxury Holidays wouldn’t approach you for a licence to use the picture; they’d approach SooperEvilPix. You wouldn’t be involved at all. You wouldn’t agree the terms and you wouldn’t see any money out of it. Yes, you hold the copyright, but in this instance not the licensing rights.

It’s all a bit biblical, because licences beget licences, but hopefully you get the picture. (Ahem.)


The key thing here is to read ToS carefully and give away as little as possible. You want to hold on to as much authority governing your creations as you can. If you’re not sure of how the terms can be interpreted, don’t sign up to them. There are plenty of good guys out there who do want you to profit from your own creativity, so you’ll find a site that meets your needs.

Please note: all of the information and quotations here were correct when I published this. Things change, just like TwitPic’s ToS did. And I’ve not gone into Creative Commons. That’s a whole other essay and this one is epic enough.

No TwitPic, licensing grabs are not okay

Screen shot 2011-05-11 at 21.38.06

If I had a TwitPic account, which I don’t, I’d be feeling somewhat on the angry side right about now. Following a sly amendment to its terms of service and a deal it has just done with WENN news agency, if you upload an image to TwitPic, you also grant it a licence to sell your images. Charming. Oh, TwitPic is very keen to point out that you get to keep your copyright, which is all fine and dandy. But selling your work and taking all the proceeds from it is not.

In case you want some clarification on that, here’s the relevant guff from the terms of service:

However, by submitting Content to Twitpic, you hereby grant Twitpic a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content in connection with the Service and Twitpic’s (and its successors’ and affiliates’) business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the Service (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels.

No, that’s very, very not good.

There is, however, some hope.

A much more user-friendly Mobypicture

Have you heard of MobyPicture? No? Well you have now. It does pretty much the same thing as TwitPic – in fact it probably does more as it lets you upload pictures to FaceBook, Flickr, and a few more sites besides, in addition to Twitter – but it has a much more user-friendly terms of service:

All rights of uploaded content by our users remain the property of our users and those rights can in no means be sold or used in a commercial way by Mobypicture or affiliated third party partners without consent from the user.

Move over TwitPic, Mobypicture is heading your way.

What is copyright, and how do infringements harm you?

Part 1 of 2. At the bottom of this article, there's a link to an article detailing how you can defend yourself against copyright infringements. If you're looking for practical advice, that might be the best call.

Hi. I’m Haje. I’m a writer and a photographer. I am probably not the best writer in the world, and I’m certainly not the best photographer in the world. And yet, I make my living as a writer, which means that I’m good enough that quite a few editors and publishers out there think that it is worth paying me money to write.

A lot of my writing goes into magazines and books, but I also do a lot of writing for free, especially here on Pixiq. Why? Well, I have a lot of words in me which are pining to escape, and I rather like having an outlet where I am my own editor: I decide what gets published, what gets said etc. And I take a perverse pleasure from looking at the statistics. Put together, my top 3 most-read articles (smoke photography, macro photography and top 50 websites) have been read more than a million times. That’s a lot of people reading what I have to say about photography.

Of course, whilst the content on Pixiq is ‘free as in beer’ for my end users, I do enjoy some benefits from running a moderately successful blog. My books are selling quite well, which is at least in part because people become aware of me and my blog. I make enough money via Google AdSense to pay for my hosting costs and to buy a bottle of beer every few weeks… And, well, I enjoy the fact that people are reading and commenting on my stuff: Without my blog, I wouldn’t have nearly as big an audience, and I enjoy the feeling of being ‘on the pulse’ of the photography community across the internet.

When people steal my content on the internet, I get very angry. At some point, I decided to fight back. This post explains why and how. 

You’re not just going to rant, aren’t you?

Well yeah, pretty much. Sorry. But I’ve learned a lot from fighting copyright theft throughout the years, so if you want the actually useful advice, check out part 2 of this article, that's where I'm actually trying to help you.

What is copyright?

I know that there are a lot of people who are fiercely against copyright – who feel that music should be freely available, that all software should be downloadable, and that people protecting their copyright are devils. If you are among those people, you’re probably not going to like this post much, but stick with me – or at least read ‘How copyright infringement harms me’, below.

Copyright is really quite simple: Whenever you create something, copyright is also created. This happens completely automatically: you don’t have to register your copyright, you don’t have to stick the silly little © symbol on your work, and you don’t have to stand next to the master copy of your copyrighted work with a katana and a grim look on your face to make people understand that something is copyrighted. In fact, it’s usually more correct to assume that something is copyrighted.

Whilst most of the words I’m typing now are in the dictionary (unless I mispell them, in which case they wouldn’t be in the dictionary, but that’s a different point altogether), the order I choose to put them in is my ‘creation’. This creation is something that belongs to me: I have the right to decide who gets to use these words, for what, and under which conditions. I can decide that everyone who reads it would have to give me a cookie or a copy of Wired magazine, for example. Nobody would, of course, but that’s not the point: I get to decide.

I am creating something that is my property, and if someone decides to copy this and upload it elsewhere, my property is being ‘stolen’.

There are ways of losing your copyright, but (in the UK, at least) all of them involve signing a piece of paper. Your work contract, if you are a journalist, might assign the work you produce to the copyright. Wiley Publishing published my first book, but I have a contract which stipulates what they are allowed and not allowed to do with the words I have written, and how much money they owe me if someone decides to make ‘Macro Photography: The Movie’. (No, seriously. Movie rights is part of my contract.)

If my good friend Maxwell Lander (link not always safe for work) asked me nicely if he could use one of my articles on his site, I can grant him permission (in effect, I would be extending a licence to his site), or deny his request. The copyright would still be mine, so if someone found my article on his site, and wanted to re-use it elsewhere, they would have to come back to the copyright holder (myself) to ask for permission before re-using it.

Copyright vs. other types of theft

The problem with copyright ‘theft’ is that it isn’t analogous to other types of thieving. If you were to steal my laptop, it is easy to understand why I would be upset: I don’t have a laptop anymore, and you have my laptop: You have clearly deprived me of something that used to be ‘mine’. Short of going all Proudhonesque, I think most people can agree that it’s ‘wrong’ to take something which belongs to somebody else. Copyright is often more difficult to understand for people.

If I have bought a copy of Mark Helprin’s Refiners Fire, and I’ve finished reading it, you might ask me to borrow it. I’ll lend it to you, of course, because I think everybody should read Refiners Fire. As far as Helprin is concerned, nothing bad has happened: I have bought the copy of the book, and I’m allowed to do whatever I want with it. I can set it on fire. I can read it every week for the next 15 years. I can give it away via BookMooch, sell it on eBay, or lend it to my friends, if I want. No problem here.

If I have bought a copy of The Decemberists’ Castaways and Cutaways, I could do much of the same: I can lend it to my housemate, sell it to a friend, or throw it away when I’m tired of it. I can even transfer it to another medium: At the moment, I’m listening to that very album on my laptop, where it lives in glorious, high-quality M4A format. The ‘loophole’ here is that I still have the CD: I can see it from here. If I were to sell the CD, however, I’d be in trouble: The CD is the ‘licence’ for me to listen to the music.

In both the above situations, I have made a physical purchase. If I were to photocopy the book for a friend (never mind that it would probably be more expensive to copy the book than to just order another copy from Amazon or something), I’ve made a transgression. If I were to give a copy of the CD, I’m in the wrong. It’s pretty easy to understand, too: When I make a copy of a CD or a book, I’m depriving the artist/writer of royalties. As a (struggling) writer myself, I can see how that is upsetting.

Where it gets more complicated, is how I routinely give away my content for free (you’re reading my blog now, aren’t you? Did you pay? Of course not, and I don’t expect you to), but still be upset when someone steals it? You can’t steal something that’s free, can you?

How copyright infringement harms me

I'm the guy on the left. That is my angry face. I don't make my angry face too often, but people nicking my content might see it...

There are many ways you could be in infringement of my copyrighted content: Turn it into a book and sell it under your own name, and chances of me finding out are very slim. Print out copies of an article for your photography club, and there’s no way I would ever know. And still, I wager that most people would agree that the former is worse than the latter. Why? Because now someone is making money off the back of my hard work. If it turns out that what I am writing here is worth money, then I should be the one benefiting from it, right?

Most of the time, infringements happen when someone takes one of my articles and posts it to their own website, either manually (by copying and pasting the text from my site) or automatically (by taking the RSS feed and showing it on their site in its entirety). This means that my articles show up on another site, which harms me in several different ways:

SEO – I have spent a fair bit of time (and some money) ensuring that my sites are designed and developed to best practice Search engine optimisation (SEO) rules, which, in turn means that I rank better in the search engines. There’s no big secret to how to do this – I wrote a separate article about making google love your photography site, in fact.

One of the things that influences your rankings is content duplication. In theory, when people take my content and put it elsewhere, it dilutes my chances of people finding my site. This means that I get less traffic to my site, which in turn reduces the benefits I get from posting my articles for free. The other sites probably don’t promote my book, they don’t give me their advertising money, and they don’t make me feel like a super-hero.

Cold hard cash – I don’t make a lot of money off this site. Most months, I only barely manage to pay for my hosting costs for my server, domain, etc.

Control and reputation – If it turns out that I write something that is incorrect, I am relatively likely to correct it. Imagine if I wrote something that was completely wrong, and might actually damage your camera – if that were to happen, I would immediately post a retraction, a correction, and make people aware of it over Twitter etc.

However, if someone has copied the article to elsewhere, those articles would remain out there – some times, with my name attached… and if someone follows that advice and breaks their camera, what would happen then? I would feel terrible, which is bad enough, but it also puts my reputation at risk.

Cross-marketing – There’s a picture of my books in the sidebar of my site. Every time you see my site, you see a picture of my book. You may not buy it. You may never even notice it. But the next time you’re in a book shop, you might spot it. You might remember it. You might buy it. And for every book I sell, I’m likely to be contacted by a publisher to be able to write another book.

Principle – Many of the people who steal my content don’t do it out of malice. Often, they just get really excited by something I have written, and want all their friends to see it, too. It’s flattering, in fact, but in the process they break the law and upset me. Often, a quick e-mail is enough to help them realise why it upsets me, and the content vanishes quickly. I even had someone send me a lovely box of chocolates and a post-card by way of apology once.

There is a second group of people who nick my content though: The ones who do it to make money. People who systematically steal other people’s content in order to try to get a little bit of traffic from search engines, which they then monetise in one way or another. Affiliate sites selling photo equipment, for example, or sites that simply want to run advertising on my content. Or even unscrupulous photographers who want extra traffic to their site to try and sell their photographic services.

This hurts me in two ways: not only am I competing against my own content in the search engines, but if someone clicks on their adverts instead of mine, this hurts me in the wallet, too: The $0.0001 per click that I would have gotten goes to someone who willfully breaks the law. It’s not about the money (I’m not poor enough to start a fight every time someone steals a fraction of a penny out of my pocket), but about the audacity of doing that, and thinking you can get away with it.

But you have an RSS feed! Isn’t that just begging for it?

Actually, never mind the previous picture. This is my real angry face.

For the longest time, I was running a truncated RSS feed: Basically, you see the first 100 words or so, and nothing else, you’d have to click on the link to come read the full article. Then, a while ago, I had a few people e-mailing me, asking me very nicely if I couldn’t please change it to the full RSS feed, because they preferred reading my site in the feed.

I looked into it, and decided to go for it, for several reasons: I could add advertising to the RSS feed, so in theory I wouldn’t be out of pocket (in addition, fewer readers on the site means, in theory, less bandwidth costs – but that’s moot: I’d rather pay the costs and have more people on my site). In addition, I’m a bit of a geek, and I love Google Reader – I want to be able to catch up with things that way, without incessantly loading up more pages.

A few people immediately started using my RSS feed, piping them into other sites, and essentially creating a clone of my site. They mistakenly thought ‘Hey! He’s got an RSS feed, so it’s okay to syndicate his content’. As we discussed above, in ‘what is copyright’, that’s not the case at all: I might leave a copy of my book on a photo copier machine, but that doesn’t mean I’ve agreed that people can copy it at will.

Think about the examples from the beginning of this article: Making a copy of a 500-page book is a lot of effort and costs a fair whack of money, so people are unlikely to do it. Making a copy of a CD is a lot easier. Scraping my site is even easier, and using my RSS feed to nick my content is easier still: but just because it is easy, doesn’t mean it’s legal.

My RSS feed has a copyright notice in it which currently reads:

Please note that all Photocritic content is © 2001-2010 Kamps Consulting Ltd. This RSS feed is provided for personal, non-commercial use only.

If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator or RSS reader, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement. If you spot this anywhere, please contact so we can take legal action immediately.

As we said: As the copyright owner, I’m fully within my right to create all sorts of outlandish conditions of use of my own content. In this case, the only conditions are ‘personal use’ (so, don’t distribute it on- or off-line) and ‘non-commercial’, (so, don’t try to make money off my content).

From my perspective, I’m not all that fussed if people e-mail each other copies of my articles: As long as I am not competing against myself in Google et al, it’s not a fight I’m likely to find worth fighting. The great thing about most RSS readers is that they are ‘closed communities’ – Unless you are logged into Google Reader, you can’t see any feeds. This means that search engines don’t index RSS readers – as such, they are not in competition against me for search engine traffic. If someone re-publishes my content on their site, that’s a different matter altogether.


I have rudimentary legal training in UK media law, but my training is several years old, and you’d be insane to take legal advice from some random bloke off the internet anyway. Nothing in this post is meant as actual legal advice – talk to your solicitor, that’s what they are there for!

Further Reading

Further Reading

This is part of a 4-story series:

  1. What is copyright, and how do infringements harm you?
  2. Protecting your copyright in a Digital World
  3. Just because it's in my RSS feed, doesn't mean you get to steal it
  4. Ignorance is no excuse

In addition, you might enjoy Police Fail: Copyright, what is that? and Even Schools Don't Care About Copyright...

Small Victories


You’ve probably noticed that the Small Aperture crew is pretty passionate about photographers’ rights. Whether we’re promoting your ability to be able to photographs in public places, ranting about peculiar photographic restrictions, or explaining what sort of authority you can exert over your own images, we’re pretty vocal about things. That’s hardly surprising: we love to take photos. And I doubt we’ll keep quiet until other people, from the police to shopping mall security guards to the general public, really begin to grasp what photographers can and can’t do.

The good news is, though, that over the past week two separate incidents have occurred, albeit over 3,000 miles apart, which have helped to promote photographers’ rights that little bit more.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Last week, in Edinburgh, photographer Stefan Karpa was harassed by security officers while taking photos at the Multrees Walk shopping district. Security had been beefed up recently as a result of several “ram-raiding” robberies. And while Multrees Walk is a privately-owned street, Karpa was photographing from the public highway, which is completely within his rights to do.

Karpa then posted a video of the confrontation to YouTube, and after making its rounds on Twitter, the response was huge.  A few days later, a small group of photographers decided to organise a flashmob at Multrees Walk to protest the incident. Police arrived and watched carefully, but the protest carried on peacefully.

Here’s the video to show you:

Photo Flash Mob on Edinburgh’s Multrees Walk from Tom Allan on Vimeo.

Later, Multrees Walk spokesman Stephen Spray stated that their blanket ban on photography would be reviewed. While not necessarily a legally-successful story, the fact that twenty photographers showed up to protest and photographed the store fronts on private property without being harassed by police and security shows that management is listening and perhaps willing to compromise with photographers.

New York City, USA

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, photographer Antonio Musumeci reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in regards to a lawsuit filed on his behalf. In 2009, Musumeci was arrested while filming another arrest of a protestor outside a New York City federal courthouse. The settlement states that members of the public have the “general right to photograph the exterior of federal courthouses from publicly accessible spaces.”

His primary camera had been confiscated at the time of his arrest, but a secondary camera captured the entire incident. Unlike many protesting photographers, Musumeci kept his cool the whole time, which I’m sure didn’t hurt his case.

While this is a more significant win for photographers than the Edinburgh case, both are equally important during this on-going clash for the right to shoot in public places. As more and more of these types of incidents end with favourable results, it’s only a matter of time before a compromise can be reached and photographers can continue to comfortably do what they do best… shoot pictures.

Spending money to make money


A couple of days ago, I did an article on making money via stock photography, and one of my eagle-eyed readers pointed out that you had to pay for the service I recommended.

I had a bit of a think, and was trying to make up my mind if I should write something more about the topic, ‘if it is worth investing money into trying to make money off photography’. Obviously, in most business, you are dependent on making an investment in order to start earning anything, but can the same be said to be true for photography?

Before I had time to formulate my thoughts, one of my regular readers who is also an old friend dropped me an e-mail which pretty much sums up my opinions on the matter – I’m sure he doesn’t mind if I reproduce it here:

Yeah, you do have to pay, but the thing is, if you manage to sell a couple of images, you can make that money back easily. They seem to have one of the best systems out there, and it’s all about having faith in your product.

If you don’t think your photos are good enough that you will be able to sell them, then paying for the service is not for you. If you believe your pictures are good enough to compete, then you’ve got yourself a winner.

I’ve been able to make a profit from this website over the past 3 months, and I’ve had my account for about 7 months. In total, I’m running at a loss, but if the last 3 months are anything to go by, I’ll be running a profit overall from next month onwards.

I’m really excited, actually, it’s the first time I’m making money off my photos. Even if I end up not making much from this, I can say I’m making money of photography, which has been a life-long dream for me.

YMMV, of course, but I’ll stick with Photostockplus for as long as they’ll have me.

Thanks a lot for that, Tim.

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Making money with your photos

To most photographers, Photography is – and always will be – a keen hobby. Some of us, however, are burning to take the hobby to the next level, and want to start making some cash from it. Perhaps not enough to buy a Ferrari, or even enough to pay the electricity bill, but at least enough to be able to buy a couple of photography toys along the way.

I worked as a photographer full-time for a couple of years, and ended up deciding that the lifestyle wasn’t for me. Even though I jacked in my career as a photographer, I’m still making money off my photos.

How? Well…

Over the years of working as a photographer, I built up a pretty sizable library of photographs. Some of them are covered by some sort of restriction (model release, contract, or otherwise), meaning that I cannot publish them further, and that means they are of no value to me further.

Where I do still make quite a bit of money, however, is by selling stock photos.

A stock photo is an image that someone could conceivably want to use for something. Imagine if you’ve taken a photo of a pretty girl holding a mobile phone to her shoulder, and typing on her laptop at the same time. If you have a model release for the picture (i.e if the model doesn’t mind her photo being used, and you’ve got a piece of paper confirming that), there are a thousand and one uses for the picture. A newspaper may be doing an article about stress. A magazine may need an image to illustrate the dangers of mobile phone use. An job advert might need to appeal to a female audience. The possibilities are endless, but key to all of this is your photo.

Now, think wider. Fabulous landscapes. Extreme macro photos. Portraits of people doing things. Photos you’ve taken of events, actions taken by police, and stuff like that. Let me give you a piece of advice right now: As someone who works in the automotive trade, I can never find enough photos of police making arrests of motorists, of speed cameras, and of speed humps. You’d think it was obvious, but I guess it’s not. Point being? Take pictures of everything around you – it costs very little to keep the pictures on-line, and you never know what people are going to need.

There are people out there making fortunes off photos they have taken of different types of boats, certain plants, and who have libraries of photos of different types of food. You’d be amazed.

Selling your pictures

So what do you need to do to get in on the action? Well, first of all you need to be a pretty good photographer, but that bit is easy – you’re reading the right blog, at least :) From there on, you need to find a way to sell your photos. At first, I used to sell my photos via my own website, being naive enough to think that there would be people out there who would find my photos. In reality, picture editors in newspapers, magazines, and books are two things: a) extremely busy and b) extremely lazy. If they spend 10 minutes to find a photo on a website, why should they trawl the web to find a different photo?

So essentially you need to find someone who can sell your photos for you. It’s slightly counter-intuitive, but think about it: The bigger a website is, the bigger the chances are that a picture editor can find an image right there and then. And more importantly, the bigger the chance is that they will end up buying from you.

I’ve tried a variety of different sites out there, but ultimately I ended up settling on Photo Stock Plus. For one thing, the website has a lot of functionality that others don’t, but most importantly, they took care of me right from the beginning.

You can sell stock photos, which is a big bonus to begin with, but you can also sell prints and gifts featuring your photos to friends and family via a slick eCommerce interface.

Bulk upload tools make uploading your photos easier, and if you decide to go with a pro account, you’ll get all sorts of fancy-arse possibilities, including your own URL, possibilities to pick from a stack of designs, getting special assignments from commissioning editors, good deals on business cards and flyers, and even a press pass (which, personally, I doubt will be worth jack, but then I’ve got a ‘real’ one, so I’ve never tried it).

No reason to be worried about your photos either – The site will watermark them all for you, and Photo Stock Pro keep full track of all of your photos for you. You can set your own prices too, which is exciting in itself – charge too high, and nobody buys, charge too low, and it won’t be worth your time – but I’ll be writing more about that in a future article.

And the really clever bit? They only take a 15% commission, which is next to nothing, compared to some of the other sites out there, and you can try it all for free before you decide if you like it or not. Give it a shot!

Banning photographers from photography events


If you’ve ever been to the UK (or, indeed, anywhere in Europe), you know that football (as we like to call soccer over here, since it’s played with your feet and all that) is a pretty big deal. The sports sections thrive on covering the sport, it’s all over the news, and the fans lap it all up.

One football club decided they wanted to let only a single photography company take photos at their matches (presumably in return for a lot of money), effectively banning all other media outlets from sending their own photographers. Needless to say, it caused a bit of a stink.

The Plymouth Herald (relevant because the game was Plymouth versus Southampton – the latter being the photography-banning jokesters) resorted to reporting on the story using hand-drawn cartoons instead of actual photographs.

The Sun newspaper, which I normally despise on principle for being a load of mind-numbing populist hogwash, ran the rather witty “Opposition 0, Plymouth 1″ headline, and then proceeded to report on the game without mentioning the ‘opposition’ team name once.

I have a feeling Southampton FC will overturn their daft move pretty soon…

Pictures at an exhibition


You’re going to think that I’m obsessed with photographers’ rights and am heading up a mission—with a camera in one hand, a light sabre in the other, and Flickr as my shield—to defend the average photographer and prove that cameras won’t irreparably damage anyone’s souls. But please, indulge me this post and then I’ll return to the scheduled programme of camera releases and software updates. (For a while, anyway.)

I follow A Don’s Life, the blog written by Cambridge classicist Mary Beard. Yes, she can be rabidly controversial, but she’s also amusing and thought-provoking and I recommend her musings for your weekly edification. And earlier this week she raised the issue of taking photos in museums. Obviously my ears pricked up.

The book that started it all

Specifically, Beard was ranting about the fee she was charged to include a photograph taken at the Acropolis Museum in Athens in the reprint of her book, Parthenon. Her husband had taken the photo, the museum wanted €400, and the print run for the book is only 7,500. But that wasn’t what really caught my attention. It was that shortly after her husband had visited, the museum had imposed a complete ban on photography, whether you were professional, amateur, or seven years old.

What was that all about? It’s not as if anyone needs to contact the spirit of Pheidias to ask his permission; the dude died around 430 BCE. What’s left of the Parthenon has survived nearly 2,500 years, numerous invasions, use as a munitions store, an explosion, being dismantled and shipped to London, and a current tug-of-war between the British Museum and the Acropolis Museum. A few photos are not going to hurt it now.

Intrigued, I wondered about the photography policies of some of the other big museums across the globe. And when I say big museums, I mean those housing artefacts that are regarded as national treasures, whose original makers are generally long dead, and sometimes have slightly dodgy provenances to boot. These are institutions ostensibly run for the cultural betterment of society. Letting visitors take a few snaps shouldn’t be a big deal.

Not in a museum, but old enough to be

So off I toddled and checked out what the British Museum in London, the Met in New York, the Louvre in Paris, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Uffizi in Florence, the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, the Hermitage in St Petersburg, and the National Museum of Australia in Canberra had to say.

I was pleasantly surprised: one banned photography outright (the Rijksmuseum), one demanded a permit (the Hermitage), two didn’t make it obvious from their websites (the Uffizi and the Israel Museum) and the rest had a fairly standard approach. No flashes, no tripods, not in the special exhibitions, and personal use only. If you want to use them commercially, speak with them first and they’ll see what they can do.

What’s so hard about that?

I suppose that we just have to hope that they don’t make the arbitrary distinction that anyone using a dSLR is a professional.

Your pictures; your rights

I've turned this one into a card. Pretty, no?

I have to admit, I’ve been giggling to myself at some of the comments that are popping up on the sites that have covered the Vampire Weekend image controversy. There seems to be confusion in monumental proportions regarding who owns the rights to a picture, to people’s images in a picture, and what you can—or can’t—do with a picture that you own. Confused much? We’ve put together the Small Aperture Quick and Dirty Guide to Photographs, People’s Images, and Rights. Just remember that we’re not lawyers.


This one's mine!

If you shoot a picture, you own the copyright to it*. No one can reproduce it or otherwise make use of it without your permission.

*) The only exception is if you have explicitly signed away your rights. This might be part of your job contract at work – for example if you are taking photos for work, during work hours. In the UK at least, you can only sign away your copyright in writing, and you have to sign the document where you do so. Ticking a box on a website wouldn’t be sufficient.

Moral rights

You also own the moral rights to pictures that you take. In short, that means that your pictures should be attributed to you, and you can ‘protect their integrity’, or stop people from manipulating and distorting them.

Images of people: commercial, editorial, and personal use

If the picture features a person or people who are easily identifiable, you will require a model release, which is essentially that person’s or people’s consent, to use the picture for commercial purposes. If the picture of a yak farmer leading his herd down the mountain is just going to sit on your Flickr stream as part of your holiday snaps from Outer Mongolia, you don’t have to worry. Sell the picture to the publishers of the Encyclopaedic Guide to Mountain Yak Rearing, you’ll need a model release.

But, there are some exceptions to this. Inevitably.

Caveat number 1: Crowd scenes and itty-bitty people on the horizon whom you can’t make out properly (or similar)

You’re standing amongst the crowd at the London Marathon and you manage to snap the perfect shot of hundreds of spectators standing at Canary Wharf, cheering on the runners. It’s so perfect that Nike wants to use it in a commercial campaign. Do you need model releases from everyone in it? Not if they aren’t recognisable individually (even if someone says ‘But I knew I stood right next to that lamp-post all day’), in this instance it wouldn’t be reasonable.

These guys manning a laminating stand (in the middle of the street in Fez, at about 10pm) are probably obscure enough for me to get away with this shot. Probably.

Caveat number 2: Famous people doing famous-people things

It’s pretty much a given that famous people’s pictures taken when they are doing famous-people things, such as tripping the light fantastic up the red carpet at film premieres, opening yet another megalithic shopping centre with a false smile affixed to their faces, or taking an amazing catch at a cricket match, are fair game. But that’s only for personal (i.e. Flickr or your portfolio site) or editorial (i.e. news reporting or reviewing related to the picture) use.

You couldn’t use a photo of Tom Cruise attending a movie premiere to advertise toothpaste—no matter how shiny his teeth are—without a specific model release. And as far as Tom Cruise is concerned – good luck getting one of those.

Caveat number 3: Famous people doing stupid-people things

You’re out having a quiet meal with your best friend when you spot Cruella Manningly-Kneesup, Secretary of State for Juggling, Air Guitar, and Space Cadets locked in a passionate embrace with someone definitely not her husband. In fact, it’s Marco Poloco, whose company was recently awarded the government contract to supply rocket launchers and hover cars to the Space Cadet programme. Hmm. Is something fishy going on? Maybe! Obviously neither of these two is going to give you a model release for the picture that you snap with your ever-handy compact camera, but publishing it would be in the national interest – so you wouldn’t have to worry about privacy or libel too much.

Still the same applies as above: you couldn’t use the same picture of Manningly-Kneesup and Poloco in an advert for birth control. As much as you would like to.

Ownership of rights vs ownership of an artefact

I've turned this one into a card. Pretty, no?

Selling a copy of a picture is different to selling the rights to a picture. I use some of the photos that I take to make greetings cards. Mostly, I make them to send to my friends and family, but every now and then a misguided soul will ask me if they can buy one to send to their great aunt Marjory. I might’ve sold this person a copy of one of my pictures, but that’s it. All they own is the physical artefact, nothing else. They can’t reproduce it or make derivative works from it. Come to think of it, the same goes for the people to whom I give these cards.

Selling rights

Selling the rights to a picture means selling the rights to use a picture. There are different ways of selling the rights to use your pictures, because the number of times it can be used, and how, and where, will be dependent on the contract you agree, and that’s not really for this post. But the simple explanation is that if anyone wants to use a picture that you took, they have to at the very least ask your permission first. Then you can ask them for some money to do so. Okay?

And finally

Remember that you’re allowed to take pictures in UK public places without let or hindrance, and that we’re not solicitors, so all of this is for general guidance only, mkay?

When is a camera a professional camera?

Concert shot

I’ve just come home from a great weekend of music, poetry, and theatre at the Latitude music festival. There were heaps of cameras floating around Henham Park, from 8 year olds with disposable ones that you can buy in Boots for a few pounds to Nikon D3Ss toted by the press, via mobile phones and all shades of compact camera. But if you were an ordinary paying member of the public, you weren’t allowed to bring in a dSLR.

You see the powers-that-be at Festival Republic—organisers of Latitude and several other big name festivals—had deemed dSLRs as ‘professional’, and that makes them forbidden. If you want the exact text from the website, it’s this: ‘Cameras are normally permitted for personal use. Cameras with detachable telephoto lenses will not be allowed through the three arena entrances. Professional cameras and video/audio equipment are strictly prohibited. Live video/audio recordings made without the permission of the artiste/promoter are prohibited.’

It got me thinking: what exactly is Festival Republic’s logic here?

It seems as if Festival Republic want to protect their professional interests by preventing the commercial sale of images from the festival. In order to do that, they’ve felt that they’ve had to draw a line in the sand regarding what constitutes ‘professional’ equipment. Their distinction is a dSLR camera. I can understand that, to a certain degree: their security personnel can’t be expected to know a zoom from a prime lens or a Canon 1D from a Nikon D3000, so it’s easiest to say dSLRs aren’t allowed. But in many respects, they are doing themselves a huge disservice.

For a start, have they checked out the zoom capabilities on a high-end compact camera? Or even on a lower-end camera, for that matter. Yeah, they have pretty impressive specs.

So this camera would be allowed.

Have they considered that using a dSLR is going to cause less disturbance to performers than common-or-garden variety cameras because the flash doesn’t need to fire to produce an image in low-light settings?

Plenty of compact cameras are able to shoot videos. In fact, I saw a good number of people doing that over the weekend, despite it being prohibited.

This one takes video, but that's still okay.

There are plenty of people out there using dSLR cameras because that’s what they prefer to use. They’re not professional and they don’t even hope to become professional. Their cameras are for personal use. Find a better distinction; realise that a dSLR camera doesn’t make someone a professional, and a professional doesn’t always use a dSLR.

I wonder what would happen if someone tried to use a manual SLR?

Protecting your copyright in a digital world

Part 2 of 2. You may be interested in reading part 1, "What is copyright, and how do infringements harm you?", first.

I've spoken at great length about why I have such a problem with people stealing my content in part 1 of this article... But what can you do about it?

Finding infringing content

Unique strings of text – It turns out that most people who nick my content with malicious intent are doing so via the RSS feed. Probably because, in addition to being immoral, they are lazy. I decided to turn this to my advantage: I inserted a unique string and a date-stamp into my RSS feeds.

In theory, because this unique string only exists in my RSS feed, it should never show up in Bing, Yahoo, Google or, well, anywhere on the internet, really. If/when it does, I know someone is doing something they aren’t supposed to. Searching for this unique string should ideally result in zero search results. Invariably, however, it never does.

Copyright web services

Apart from inserting a unique string, you can use a service like Copyscape to scan for infringing content. Their Copyscape Premium service is fantastic: Point it at your site map, and for only $0.05 per page, it will take all your pages and compare them to the internet. They score your content against other content. High-scoring content obviously is likely to be plagiarised or infringing in one way or another, so you can take action.

Of course, Copyscape only works for textual content. For photographers wanting to track whether their images have been ‘borrowed’, there is Tineye, and their more hard-core PixID service.

Dealing with infringing sites: Start easy!

If you think that someone has used your content by accident, or out of ignorance, there’s no point in chucking the book of the law at them. A friendly e-mail (cc’d to yourself so you remember to follow it up in a week or so) is usually more than enough to get them to take the content down.

I have found that the number 1 reason for the ‘friendly e-mail’ approach failing is that there isn’t an easy way of contacting the owner of the site… I’m not being difficult, but if it takes me more than about 10 seconds to find the contact e-mail address (check the header, sidebar and footer for anything that reads ‘about us’, ‘contact us’, or similar) or a feedback form, they’ve already wasted enough of my time. On to step 2:

Finding contact details

One of the big problems with many websites is that it is difficult to find out how to contact people. If their ‘About Me’ page or ‘contact us’ pages are absent, broken, or just hopelessly convoluted to use, you have to get clever. I tend to use a site called Domain Whitepages, which will give you 3 pieces of information: Who registered the domain, Who is the domain registrar, and who hosts the domain.

The person who registered the domain is usually the person you want – but many people have made this information private, or it might be out of date.

Your next point of call is the web host. These are the people who own and run the physical server on which the website is running. Look up the host’s website, and do a search for ‘copyright’ and ‘dmca’. If you can’t find either, look for ‘abuse’ or ‘report an issue’. Most web hosts have a mechanism for contacting them with abuse-related e-mails. If you sent a DMCA notice (more about that below) to the host, they will generally respond extremely quickly – I often had responses within an hour – anything longer than 12 hours is quite rare.

If you really can’t figure out who is hosting the server, your last option is to go for the domain registrar: This is the people who have registered the internet domain (like ‘’ or ‘’). If you have to serve a DMCA notice to them, things will take a little bit longer, but if they can’t contact the owner, they’ll pull the plug on the whole domain, which tends to get the owner’s attention really quickly.

Fighting back with the DMCA

After your e-mail, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act – or DMCA – is going to be your second response to any issue of copyright. The DMCA is an US piece of legislation which doesn’t apply in any country except the USA, but I’ve sent DMCA notices to all sorts of countries (including, interestingly the UK, although the appropriate document in this country would be a ‘Notice and Take Down, or a NTD document), and while the legalese on the DMCA notice might be incorrect for, say, Germany, copyright law tends to be similar in most countries, and they’re not going to split hairs over receiving the wrong form: The important thing is that someone is breaking a law, somewhere.

To use a DMCA notice, you need the following: Your details, the details of the original and infringing content, and two particular snippets of legalese which swears on pain of death (ok, not quite – but nearly) that you’re convinced that you are in the right and they are in the wrong. Below is an example of the form letter I have been using.

Example DMCA notice

I have been using the following format for my DMCA notices to great effect:

[your address]
[today's date]

DMCA Notice of Copyright Infringement

Dear Sir or Madam: Upon a routine copyright check, I discovered that the site infringes on my copyright.

The copyrighted work at issue is the text and images appearing on my site here:

The URLs infringing on our copyrighted material include:

Please ensure that the infringing content is taken down within 48 hours.

You can reach me at [e-mail address] if you require further information or clarification.

I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above as allegedly infringing is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.

I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

[my signature]

Mr [my name]

If the person you are sending the notice to demands the notice to be sent in by fax (surprisingly many do, actually), check out Interfax – they let you e-mail them a PDF document, and they fax it on for you. Fantastic, because, well, who even has a fax these days?

In the above, it is important to add your full mailing address near the top of the document. Create a list of all the article originals, and then the corresponding list of the articles on the infringing site.

First off, send this to the contact e-mail for the site. If that fails to get the content removed, send the same thing to the web host’s copyright or abuse team a week later. If that fails again, send the same thing to the domain registrar after another week. Do add a note to the letter stating whom and when you sent the notices to before, because the host might want to know before they decide to shut down a server.

But… Does it work?

Here, have a random photo I took this week-end. I'm quite proud of it. And this post is nearly 4,500 words long or so, so I figured you needed a break for a few seconds. Enjoy.

The DMCA form is incredibly effective. In the past year, I have sent out around 50 formal notices to people infringing on my copyrighted content, and all but two of these infringements have been taken down. One of them is in Vietnam (which doesn’t have any meaningful copyright legislation, so I’m out of luck, basically) and India (which does have legislation, but is notoriously lack at enforcing it, and the site owner is simply ignoring me. Particularly annoying because it looks like it might be a pretty high-profile site). I am still looking into how I might convince them to take the articles down, but I fear it might take more time than it is worth to me.

Out of the fifty or so, the hosts deleted the articles most of the time. Some times they placed a block on the pages (so the pages would result in a 403 forbidden page), some times they deleted it from the database (causing a 500 internal server error when trying to access the page), some times they shut down the whole site (showing a ‘if you own this site, please contact the host immediately’ message), and other times they found more elegant solutions.

In at least three cases, the site owner never contacted the host, and the whole site was taken down. In one case, the domain registrar decided to take the domain name offline, which means that while the domain itself is still available via its IP address, most of its users were unable to get to it.

What if the DMCA notification doesn’t work?

Excellent question. You could seek further legal help, but be warned: things often get complicated really quickly: The person infringing might be based in Romania, using a server in Russia on a Chinese domain name. If that happens, you’ve drawn the short straw: Where do you begin?

The best approach: If there is any aspect of the business which is operated out of the US (Say, they use Google Adsense, in which case, fill the AdSense DMCA complaint – the content will continue to exist, but at least you can send a message). Especially check the domain registrar – you’ll often find that even ‘foreign’ domains can be registered via an US registrar, and they should be susceptible to a sternly written DMCA notice.

From personal experience, I’d say that the DMCA approach is effective in well over 90% of cases, and I decided I didn’t have enough energy (or hours in the day!) to try to go beyond that.

What if there is a particularly rampant infringement?

In theory, you could start a lawsuit whenever someone steals a single piece of content from you. In practice, you’d me mad to do so, and honestly, it is a lot of hassle to go to court. Sometimes, however, you come across a case where you can’t see any other option.

I’ve had a couple of cases where the site in question wasn’t just copying my content, but went very, very far beyond that as well. One of them had ‘borrowed’ around 50 of my articles, the other one had systematically ‘borrowed’ every single one of my articles, all the way back to the start of Photocritic – yes, nearly 400 articles.

Let’s just say that I thought they were taking the proverbial piss. So, in addition to my standard DMCA letters, I included invoices for unauthorised use (number of articles multiplied by how much I would have charged to write those articles as a freelancer) with the letter and started talking to a solicitor. I can’t go into details about either of the cases, but suffice to say that both companies ended up paying significant amounts of money for their infringements.

Dragging people to court is not necessarily an approach I would recommend: litigation can be very expensive, but when things get just a little bit too silly, getting the legal system involved early on can ensure that people sit up and pay attention.


I have rudimentary legal training in UK media law, but my training is several years old, and you’d be insane to take legal advice from some random bloke off the internet anyway. Nothing in this post is meant as actual legal advice – talk to your solicitor, that’s what they are there for!

Further Reading

This is part of a 4-story series:

  1. What is copyright, and how do infringements harm you?
  2. Protecting your copyright in a Digital World (this article)
  3. Just because it's in my RSS feed, doesn't mean you get to steal it
  4. Ignorance is no excuse

In addition, you might enjoy Police Fail: Copyright, what is that? and Even Schools Don't Care About Copyright...

When the media steals your photos


The story of a photographer whose photos went astray – and got re-published by one of the UK’s biggest newspapers without permission

There’s something really difficult about looking after your copyright on the internet. Every single word I’ve ever typed in this blog, for example, is duplicated at least a couple of times around the web. The problem is that words are easy to find. Pictures, on the other hand, are a different tumbler of guppies… As Maciej Dakowicz found out, when his photographs suddenly surfaced on the Telegraph’s online edition… 


Photos going astray…

What had happened in this case is that someone found his rather awesome Flickr set called Cardiff at Night. Go look at it. Maciej is a brave, brave man for taking a Canon 5D out on the streets of Cardiff. It’s not the roughest city in the world, but, well, look at the photos; I did a photo project like this in Liverpool once, and people tried to mug me on several occasions. As for Maciej’s set, see Be Blessed, Night Calling, Cold Night and Police Car. In fact, look at the whole set, it’s a rather fine collection of night-time photography.

I’m digressing like a drunken prostitute in a snowstorm. Let me try to start that sentence again. What happened in this case is that someone found his rather awesome Flickr set, and posted it on an Hungarian site, probably with a title along the lines of ‘lol look at thz drnk english twats’, which would be largely incorrect, because the spelling hurts my eyes, and Cardiff is, in fact in Wales, so it’d be more fair to assume that the bulk of people in the photos are Welsh. I digress again.

Facsimile of Maciej’s Cardiff at Night Flickr set. (screenshot used under Fair Dealing)

After suffering the injustice of having his photos nicked once, someone at the Telegraph came across the photos, hashed them into a photo gallery, and published them. A lot of people – myself included - were impressed by the photo gallery, and ended up linking to it via blogs, Twitter, etc.

I shan’t speculate as to what sort of procedures the Telegraph have for checking copyright and reimbursing the photographers involved, but it’s pretty safe to say that whoever they got permission from didn’t have authority to give such permission. Someone subsequently recognised some of Maciej’s photos, and notified him. Understandably, he was pretty damn pissed off, grabbed a screen-shot, and e-mailed the Telegraph.

The Telegraph apologised and took the gallery down, offered their ‘usual fee they pay for online galleries’, says Maciej, which comes to £125. Nice of them, and I guess they’re making some sort of effort to solve the situation. My personal opinion is that offering up £125 for having stolen a gallery of photos is an insult, and that Maciej should get in touch with a solicitor to get suitable compensation, but that’s not the point of this article.

The point is, however, that this could have happened to just about anybody – .

So, what do you do when this happens to you?

First off, calm down.

No, really. Calm down. Flying off the handle is not going to do anyone any good – lot of people (yours truly very much included) get very indignant and angry about things like this, but naming and shaming (or ranting and raving, for that matter) is generally not the right thing to do – there are systems in place for dealing with copyright infringement, so use them…

If the people using your photos are a professional outfit (like a company, as opposed to, say, some random blog), your steps should be as follows: First off, immediately send a NTD – Notice and Take Down. This is a legal request in which you’re demanding the website in question removes your images immediately. In effect, they’ll have to remove them as quickly as possible, which normally means within 24 hours. For a publication (websites, newspapers etc), send the request to the photo editor – if the photo editor’s contact details aren’t on the website, give them a bell and ask for their details. CC the editor of the publication.

Now, hopefully, they’ve taken down your copyrighted material (if they haven’t, contact a solicitor, because they are now knowingly infringing on your copyright, which raises the stakes all around), and it’s up to you what you want to do. Personally, I’ve on occasion guilt-tripped the photo editor in buying other photography work from me in the future (with the idea that if my work is good enough to steal, it must be good enough to pay for), and in effect, I still supply photographs to one publication which stole my images by accident.

Alternatively, you can send them a bill (see how much shoudl I charge for a photo for an indication of how big that bill shoudl be) for unauthorised used. If they don’t pay, then file a small claims court judgement (this normally costs £25). What normally happens when you do that is that they’ll get in touch with you and settle well before it ends up in court. If you billed them £1,000 for a set of photos, and they offer you £600, I’d go for it, it’s more money than nothing, and it saves you the hassle of going through the legal system.

What if you can’t get in touch with them?

Some times, it’s nearly impossible to find out who is actually responsible for the copyright infringement – if someone posts your photos as their own on Flickr, you contact Flickr and they’ll deal with it for you. If it’s a hosted blog (like or blogger), you can report them to the host, and they’ll deal with it. If, however, it turns out that it’s someone running on a foreign domain, without any contact details (or, say, whenever you call the phone number on the domain registrar you get through to someone who only speaks Chinese – which happened to me once), you might find yourself in a spot of bother. This thread from 2004, for example, outlines what happened when someone nicked around 100 photos and placed them on a Russian site.

Lots more advice is available from the UK Copyright Service (like their Copyright Infringement Fact Sheet or the very useful 10 copyright myths). The Publishers Association Infringing Websites helps with some terminology which may come in useful.

Finally, it’s actually possible to go after the ISPs of the people hosting your content – which only helps if you can actually contact them, of course. If any part of the hosting business is based in the UK or USA, you have a case for going to them directly – they can then shut down the entire site if necessary – but only if they are co-operative, of course.

Finally, you can ensure that the enfringing site gets de-listed from Google by filing a Google Digital Millennium Copyright Act Infringement Notification, which takes a while, but might at least mean that the site hosting your copyrighted content gets less traffic than they normally would.

Further reading

I’ve done a lot of writing on this general topic recently – check, for example, Photo Licencing and the Law, Be careful what you sign, Can I use the photos I’ve taken? and how much should I charge for a photo?.

Finally, please note that I’m not a solicitor, and nothing posted in this blog may be construed as legal advice. Contact a solicitor for advice.

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The world through a lens: Photo etiquette


As all photographers know, travel photography can be about more than safeguarding memories. Holidays are the perfect time to discover new cultures and customs, be outside of one’s comfort zone, eat new food, and, of course, really get stuck into the different lenses and ISO numbers. Coming home with that perfect picture of something or someone that fascinated you makes the enjoyment of the getaway last that much longer.

The way the local population expects you as a photographer to behave with your camera may be very different in countries other than your own. This Photo Etiquette may, however, not be easy to understand or adhere to, especially when it comes to photographing people as a subject, so we decided to have a closer look at what you might encounter…

When travelling, I find that shots of sights, animals and nature are often rewarding, but not enough. Photographing people gives a richer texture to the cultures you have visited. In hindsight, I have often regretted foregoing on a large part of the experience, simply because I did not know whether it was okay to take photos of people.

Not wishing to be photographed

Many people do not wish to be photographed, for many different reasons. Native peoples, such as some Native Americans in the US, might refuse being photographed because they believe a mirror does not reflect reality, but a persons’ soul. A picture, taken by a device that relies heavily on mirrors, may therefore capture and enslave the soul. Sometimes, this restriction only counts for infants and children, as their souls are fragile, and can more easily leave the body.

Others, such as some Caribbean cultures, believe that a representation of a person may be used in ‘sympathetic magic’ to cast voodoo spells on the person in question. Others again, especially in tourist areas, do not want to be in photos because, frankly, they are sick of them. Try to imagine how you would feel if a constant stream of tourists would come by your office and photograph you.

In some countries, such as China, taking someone’s picture without their consent is simply extremely rude. Others might feel they are not photogenic, and do not want their face to be splashed all over Flickr. And you need to be wary that some locations (places of worship, official buildings and structures, museums and military bases) may prohibit photography for security reasons.

If all that was not enough, you also need to consider the implications of a photo. If you might land someone in trouble for taking the photo (if photographing individuals at a political rally etc.) you might want to reconsider taking the photo. In other words, there should be a lot of prudence and respect on your part as the photographer.

Permission is key

Figuring out when it is okay to take a photo and when it is not will help you bring home more than just pictures of puppies, buildings and your travelling partner. The best way of finding this out is simply by asking. I have been asked for money in exchange for a photo on several occasions in India, and you will have to consider whether that money is worth the photo. If you deem it is not, just smile, shake your head and move along. Alternatively, they might ask you to buy something off them. Again, by all means do, if it is something you wanted, and if you think the price is worth the photo, if not, just keep going.

But, in general, rule number one is, get permission. It is essential that your behaviour and attitude is not one of right, but one of friendly coexistence. When you smile and nod while pointing at your camera, it is pretty clear what you want. This might sometimes mean that your photo will not be as spontaneous as you might wish, but at least you will not end up in sticky situations where the subject feels their personal space, or religion is violated. Especially on the topic of photographing children, you need to be very cautious, make sure to ask the parents or guardians for permission, no matter where in the world you are.

Rule number two is respect people’s wishes. If a person refuses your request of a photo, just move along and find other subjects. This will sometimes mean you do not get a photo at all, but do not try to sneak one in if someone has already said no. Never forget that there will be other opportunities for photos elsewhere.

If they ask you to stop; stop…

Rule number three is that if someone asks you to stop taking photos, either verbally, by turning away, by looking uncomfortable, or by running for cover, as happened to me in Vietnam, stop. No matter the reason why someone might want you to stop, it is important that you keep in mind what Darren Rowse said on his blog: people are not tourist sites. They have feelings that must be respected. And you will only end up with photos of people with their backs turned to you, and minimal amounts of goodwill. It is just not worth it.

And finally, if you wish to finish a friendly exchange with a stranger whom you just took a photo of on a high note, you may wish to show them the photo afterwards if you have a digital display. It is not only courteous, but it has sometimes caused me to have a multitude of other subjects wanting to be photographed to see themselves on the little screen, including in Indonesia and Vietnam.

This article was written by Meke Kamps for Photocritic

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Do snappers have a responsibility?


For photographers who sell microstock, or who sell a photo every once in a blue moon, getting serious pay-outs for a single photo may sound as a dream. For those of us who deal in licenced photography, however, serious levels of payment aren’t unheard of. Personally, my best-selling set of photos have netted me a fair sum of cash: They’re very specific, and get sold again and again.

Today, I stumbled across the work of Thomas E. Witte, in a brilliant article over on Sports Shooter. Witte managed to snap a couple of photos that turned out to be pure gold dust: A high school football player who doesn’t have any feet. The photos netted him $12K.

What makes me wonder, though: Could it be argued that the photographers have an obligation to their subjects directly? Should Witte give the football player some of the money he earned in this case? Or does the opposite apply — like for photographers who cover conflict zones — that if you get involved, you are immediately unable to do your job properly? 


It could be argued, of course, that the photos of Bobby Martin – the football player in the photos – are exploitative. After all, the only thing he is doing is what he loves: To play Football. In the grand scheme of things, Martin is probably unlikely to make any money of his passion: The big bucks are in the NFL, but a legless NFL player is probably not going to happen in our time. The alternative is the Paralympics, which is at least partially sponsorship-driven, and has made stars of a few games (like Wheelchair Rugby, as shown in the highly recommended film Murderball).

So, as fellow photographers, how should we feel? Personally, I am torn. On one hand, I want to say “Good work, Witte, for creating a motivational icon of Bobby Martin”, I mean, hell – there aren’t a lot of people who would have the guts to face the big burly opponents on the football pitch if you’re half their size, and especially if you lack legs. Without Witte’s work, chances of anyone finding out about Martin are slim. By showing his strength to the world, Witte’s photos could be a motivation to a generation of less-abled people.

On the other hand, I’m tempted to say “jeez, Witte, this is just a bit harsh. You’ve made a lot more money out of these photos than you expected. How about you split the cash with Martin? Keep $6K for yourself, and give $6K to him. It’s only polite.”

And finally, the cynic and paparazzi photographer in me goes, “Sod it, it’s a white-hot photo, and you deserve every penny you can get. What happens to a photo after you’ve taken it isn’t your problem, congrats on making a nice pile of cash out of it”.

Do photographers have a responsibility to their subjects?

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How do you feel about these photos? Do photographers have a responsibility to their subject? Vote above, and let me know your opinions in the comments, below!

The photo in this article is a thumbnail taken from the Sports Shooter website, used under UK Fair Dealing law. The photograph is © Thomas E. Witte. To see the full version and more photos by the same photographer, please check out the source article

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Case study: Selling your photos on-line


A lot of people take photos. No, seriously. A lot of people. But the number of people who actually do something with their photographs are an absolute minority. I decided to catch up with a friend of mine – Jason – to see how he turned his hobby into a multi-million, global sales success.

Okay, so I’m full of it: he barely even breaks even. But still – he’s found a cool way of trying to do something with his photos. And that’s worth taking a closer look at, methinks! 


a-fotoviva-2.jpgI’ve stumbled across Jason’s site, fotoviva, several times before I even got to know him. It goes to show that this global village of ours isn’t always as big as we think, I guess.

Jason is a web designer who’s an old-timer in the world of photography: He’s been taking photos for about 15 years, but always on a hobby basis. He’s a Nikon fan (Boo! Okay, just kidding), and shoots most of his photos with a modest D50. The results certainly make it worth it, however!

Occasionally, he takes photos that are so good that they deserve to be shared – but how? There are so many venues where you can show off or sell your photos, but Jason decided they weren’t good enough for him: Either they were a bit lacking, or they weren’t quite what he was looking for.

There are some great pieces of on-line gallery software out there, but they are limiting in that you can’t sell your work. The sales galleries? Well, they’re a bit crap too. So, being the ever-creative soul he is, Jason decided to just go ahead and start from scratch.

a-fotoviva-3.jpg“Basically”, he says, “I launched it as a site to try and sell my own pictures as canvas and poster prints 5 months ago. Then I realised that there are so many really good photographers out there, completely unknown, yet they have no idea about the internet or how to create a website to sell their work and earn some extra cash.”

So he opened up his website to other photographers as well. “When I find a photographer whose work I like”, Jason explains, “I ask them if they would like to try and sell some of their pictures using my site.”

It’s not exactly a new approach (it’s what I do over on for concert photography, for example), but it’s a win-win situation. As Jason sees it: “This helps build up my site, and offers the other photographers an outlet to sell their prints”

I think Jason’s Foto Viva website is one of the more elegant photo gallery / sales solutions I’ve seen, so I thought I’d share it with you guys.


So, he’s got a successful website and is a pretty accomplished photographer. Surely, that means he’s had all his dreams come true? Not quite… “One day I would like to spend at least half my time taking photos”, he admits, “not only
in England but around the world, whilst continuing website and graphic design on a much reduced scale.”

Spoken like a true photographer, that is.

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Oi! You! No pictures!


A few months ago, I ran a story on how the UK government was trying to restrict public photography. It seems as if they’re now playing the back-pedalling game in a big kind of way. Once the petition hit 60,000 signatures, the Prime Minister’s office issued a statement which can be summarised into ‘uh, no, we never intended these kinds of changes to be made’.

What I really want to know: Do you have any stories of instances where people tried to stop you from taking photos? Leave a comment!

Have you ever been stopped from taking a photo?

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It’s hard to tell if the guy who set up the petition was, in fact, petitioning the wrong people (the government wasn’t imposing restrictions, but private security firms might have been), or if the government have gone ‘whoopsie, a lot of people feel strongly about this, let’s try and save our skins’. Either way, the text of the statement is as follows:

Thank you for signing the petition on the Downing Street website calling for the Prime Minister to stop proposed restrictions on photography in public places.

This petition has already attracted over 60,000 signatures from people who obviously share your concern. Not surprisingly, the idea that the Government might be poised to restrict your ability to take photos has caused some puzzlement and even alarm.

We have therefore decided to respond to this petition before its closing date of August, in order to reassure people.

The Government appreciates that millions of people in this country enjoy photography. So we have checked carefully to see if any Government department was considering any proposal that might possibly lead to the sort of restrictions suggested by this petition. We have been assured this is not the case.

There may be cases where individual schools or other bodies believe it is necessary to have some restrictions on photography, for instance to protect children, but that would be a matter for local decisions.

So… Do you have any stories of when you were prevented from taking a photo by slightly over-zealous security personnel? What happened? What did they say? What did you say? Did you have to stop taking photos?

(Photo © iStockPhoto)

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Be careful what you sign!


We’ve talked about how photo licencing works before, but it seems as if people are just not learning their lessons. So, as the newest instalment in our Photography Business article series, an important reminder…

The newest horror story comes from a website called UK Expert. If you sign up to their website, and click ‘ok’ on the terms as conditions (Let’s face it – when did you last read the terms and conditions to anything), they are trying to get you to sign over the copyright to your photos. Yikes!

The lesson today?

Read the terms and conditions
before you upload any photos.

Today, Geir tipped me about the problem with UK Expert, a photo competition website. While they aren’t the only ones doing that out there, they are among the naughtiest I have come across. In their terms and conditions portion of their Registration process, they’ve got the following to say about copyright:


By submitting images and messages and other material to you warrant that you are the copyright owner and that you grant permanent copyright ownership equal to your own for all materials uploaded.

I can understand the reasoning for part 1 of this: If you don’t have the right to use a photo, you are committing breach of copyright if you upload the material. (However, there are situations where copyright owners are not allowed to use material — such as when the material is already under exclusive licence — and there are situations where it is perfectly fine to upload material, even if you don’t own the copyright)

It’s the second part that is scary though: “you grant permanent copyright ownership” is a sneaky, nasty way of trying to steal the copyright to an item from a photographer. They are a competition website, and it’s fair to think that people would upload their best photos, in order to try and win the competitions. Imagine losing the copyright to all your best photographs — how would you feel?

You’re in luck, though, because they also write the following in their terms and conditions: “ukexpert is based in England, and English law applies.” What they are doing is, in fact, unlawful under UK copyright law: It is impossible to re-assign the ownership of copyright without an explisit, written contract. Checking a box on a website doesn’t constitute such a contract, so you haven’t given away anything.

However, if you do have any photos uploaded on UK Expert, I’d remove them as soon as you can. Don’t let them get away with trying to steal your photos from you!

So — yet again — make sure you know what you are signing up for, know your rights, and if you believe the licensed use for the material you upload is too broad, just walk away. Guys like this don’t deserve your photos.

Getting your photos removed

So, what do you do when you’ve already uploaded your photos, and want to take them down?

Over on Pixalo, a poster is lamenting the fact that it’s nearly impossible to remove your own photos from the site. To check this out for myself, I set up an account and uploaded a photo, and was unable to figure out how to remove it. If there is a way, there’s no easy way, which sounds a little bit on the shady side to me.

The best tip I can give you, is to report your own photo for a violation, and write “I revoke the licence for the use of this photo, effective immediately. Please remove it within 24 hours”.

24 hours later, if the photos aren’t gone, write a NTD (Notice and Take Down). This is a legal request in which you are demanding a website to remove the copyrighted material from their site. The fact that you own the copyright means that you can revoke the license for the use of the photos. In fact, you already did (when you warned them 24 hours ago), so now, they are in breach of copyright!

If they still don’t take the photos down within a ‘reasonable time’ (which I would say is about 1 working day, but that’s a bit fluid), you are actually legally entitled to go after the ISP or hosting company of the website in question. Serve them the ‘notice and take down’, and the hosting company will pull the plug on the website.

A lot more information about how this all works is available on the Cambridge University website (scroll down to Copyright and other laws, but make sure to read the rest of the page as well). Examples of NTDs, and more information on how to write one, are available on-line.

Important notice: I not use any information on this web site as actual legal advice. If you do find yourself in a situation where you need to turn to the law to protect your intellectual property rights, get a solicitor involved. And make sure to file a claim against the company involved for any costs incurred (in the small claims court if you have to) — including the cost of your solicitor.

Respectless photographers?

I seem to be months behind on this item of “news”. I actually spotted it a couple of weeks ago, but didn’t think it was that interesting. It seems as if people didn’t agree, as the topic is getting some serious discussion. Basically – a picture of a photographer in the middle of a marathon race is pissing off a lot of people.

On one hand, I can kind of see what is going on here. As Robert Capa said: “If the picture isn’t good enough, you’re not close enough”, and getting in the middle of a race is one way to get closer, I suppose… 


On the other hand, you are guest on somebody else’s path, and getting in the way of runners who are at the limit of their tiredness, and only want to make it to the finish line, is at best rude.

Now, I don’t know the circumstances around this photo, but would like to talk about it a little bit anyway. My reaction is different, based on if she is a commissioned photographer or an amateur. If the latter, she’s in the wrong place, and someone should have told her to shove off. I’m not sure about the outraged calls of “getting ticketed… or worse” in the Flickr discussion, though – a bit harsh, I feel. If there were so many people who were outraged about this behaviour, why didn’t they just tell her to move out of the way?

One commenter mentions:

To all of you taht seem to think that she has the right to do somehting like this…… WAKE UP!!

I mean really now, I don’t recall having ever seen a race of ANY sort that is INTENDED for photographers. If there were, I’m sure that it would be around the block and not 24k (or whatever). If you had the right as a photographer to do this, the nice telephotos would be cheaper, the sporting events would be shorter, and a good photo would be a dime a dozen. It’s just not a good shot if you ruin the event that would in fact MAKE it a good shot.

I agree to a large degree, but if she was, in fact, a press photographer, things could have been slightly different: This was in New York City, and if this was a photographer for the New York Times, I believe she had a bigger ‘right’ to be in the way, than Joanna Q Random, amateur photographer. Why? Well, photographers should never be part of the story, so those two photos in the Flickr stream shows she’s in the wrong, but perhaps she was photographing the event all day long, and that was the only time she was in the way?

Or maybe not: This is what the original poster said:

The whole thing took around 3 – 4 minutes and around 30 runners were inconvenienced (or that is how I saw it).

Having said that, though, Magnum agency sent a photographer along as well, and their photos look as if their photographer was on the road as well…

Obviously, the Flickr comment stream turned into a random slagging-off match, as one of the commenters notes:

All of these message boards and websites for photographers…and it seems like there’s a direct correlation between the level of professionalism exhibited in the comments and the actual professional status of the “photographer” posting. The cattier the comments, the less likely the poster is really a professional photographer.

Ultimately, I believe it all boils down to why you are there. If you are shooting for an important newspaper or magazine, your job is to represent the publication honourably (because you are their face to the world. If she was wearing a huge National Geographic jacket, people would have been more careful with their comments, but that doesn’t mean what she is doing is any better, from the runner’s viewpoint), but also to get the best photos possible.

If a wartime photographer has to risk his life for the best photo, that’s what he has to do. If a sports photographer has to inconvenience a runner or two in the course of her job, well then so be it.

Personally, I hate pissing people off, but there have been situations where the only way I could get the best shot was to elbow another photographer, push a policeman out of the way (!), and block off a road with my car. Granted, that was a one-off, and I seriously angered about 30 people that day, but I was the one who came home with the best photo, and nobody else’s pictures got used. Some times, being rude is a business decision…

What do you guys think? Good behaviour or bad behaviour, on her part? Vote in the poll, and leave a comment here or in the Flickr stream.


The NYC marathon photographer... Is she in the wrong or not?

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