Episode 6 of Filter outlines how rampant unauthorised use of your photos actually is. What can you do to protect your work? What is a reasonable course of action? Part 2 will step through a practical process for trying to receive appropriate value in return for your photos use in situations where it was not approved by you.

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Episode 6 – Finding and protecting your work from copyright infringement (Part 1)

Welcome to episode 6! Been a busy week! Did my first work with Hockey Dad which was very fun. talked a lot about Reno and the cost of movie tickets but there are no staff working. This episode I want to talk about photography on social media

Its going to be a two parter. Firstly about why its important, and the second part, how to protect your work. This topic is a tough one. people have many different opinions. so i want to stress that this is just my opinion. you probably heard a few episodes back. that i work in digital marketing. this means my day is mostly about optimising digital channels

including social media. in lucky enough to be able to work with clients to improve their social media presence. even more fortunately, I’m lucky enough to work with companies that get millions of views on their content a week. and its my job to amplify that even further. or find new technologies to leverage whatever their goals might be

now you might think that this is getting off topic here, but it isn’t. let me tell you why. im constantly using tools that make it easy to do certain things

and simplify business processes and that often leads me to finding new ways to apply that to my photography and we’ll talk about that in part two of this topic. but these tools and techniques have helped me really see one thing in particular. many online publications or influencers think that they can get away with just taking what is someone else’s online. now i won’t mention names, and much respect to those working to do the right thing, but I’ve had many instances going back and forth with those who steal my content. sometimes its a simple misunderstanding, so I’ve learnt over the years to go slow and steady with it. to hear out their side of things. here are some excuses people have given me over time:

“Oh, I didn’t know it was your photo. I just got it from Facebook” even though the artist has written my name in the caption in the same place they took the photo from. “Your name wasn’t on the press release” – but I got a copy of the press release and it did have my name on it.

“The article was written by one of our volunteers” – even though it doesn’t matter who wrote it and if you leverage or exploit (whatever you want to call it) them, it mattered that it was used in the first place.

You know what? If they had just asked, like many other awesome people do, I would have just said “yeah no worries dude!” A few painters and sketch artists contact me every now and then and ask if they can sketch a photo of mine. hell yeah, do it! it’s so nice to just be asked even though they’re not publishing my photo per sey. See, that’s the thing, I think 90% of photographers are just like me.

They don’t mind that their photos are used by news outlets as a one off. even used for free. It’s a respect thing that takes two seconds to do. If you’re not spending the two seconds on it, you’re probably not being fair.

What does it mean for you as a photographer and what should you do?

Firstly, it means your work is valuable. you probably know that and I hope you do. I guess theres two types of outcome you might want

either attribution or money. everyone likes money. but if youre looking to build a profile then you might want to get your name out there

whether you want money or attribution, its ok to expect some kind of return in value. its up to you to decide what that value is

Secondly you have to decide how proactive you want to be about protecting your work. Some people like to watermark and others don’t

It’s the most common way of proactively protecting your work

It’s not foolproof. But I’ve heard of multiple people successfully having sued people for up to 8 times more because the unauthorised use cropped out their watermark intentionally. I used to have a watermark

It was so big and then I reduced it. Then I thought It detracted from the image at all. So I decided to ditch it but made a promise to myself to make a bigger effort to proactively protect it and reactively take appropriate action to have value given to me for its use. Next episode I’ll talk about how I reactively work to get value from unauthorised use of my photos including a step by step process I use that gets results.

What does it mean for you as an entity who uses others photos and what should you do?

Technically you should be licensing the images from the photographer

And that price depends on the use of the photo, but the minimum to offer is around $500 a photo for a campaign of less than 2 weeks. Personally, I’ve licensed images for $150 if there is another offer made that goes hand in hand with that. It’s not just about money for us photographers, and I know budgets are tight and things need to work off rice and bread sometimes.

It’s the effort that counts. So don’t be afraid to make an offer for using the photo for what your intended use is. The offer in itself is absolutely great and much appreciated.

I can also imagine that timeframes are super tight and you don’t have time to find out who took an image or not. so if you’re not sure who took the image or can’t find the name. just use the first one you can find the name of and use that one with the credit. using one you really like is great because it gets more clicks on your story (and therefore ad impressions) is great but it also highlights that theres value in the photographer’s work and that’s case and point why it should be credited or paid for.

That’s my opinion anyway. Others probably have a different one. But me and my friends have that opinion. I used to be really unforgiving with copyright infringement and laziness on attribution or attempts to offer payment, but I’ve wound it back slightly and made amends with those I pursued too harshly. I’d encourage you to do the same. Most people understand your photography is important and of value

but the chains are very long and things can get lost in the process. it doesnt mean you shouldn’t police your work. just be fluid about it, but aware. next episode we’ll go through how I police my work and what kind of decisions I make on how to progress and then we’ll talk about how to contact them and what to ask

Until then have a great week!

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