That Copyright Is Yours
When Randolph Hearst, the famed newspaper conglomerate king back
in the 1920’s, first introduced the concept of cartoon syndicates, he
made the cartoonist sign a contract that stated the syndicate would promote
the cartoon if the artist followed a certain cartoon theme and style,
and kept to it. The contract
also stated that the syndicate would own the copyright to the cartoon.
Not the cartoonist.
How’s that again? The syndicate owned the copyright? Yes.
If the artist decided to leave the syndicate, he or she could not continue
the cartoon as a freelancer. The syndicate appoints a new cartoonist to
continue it. Cartoonists are commodities.
Will the new-on-the-scene large corporate market-driven stock photo houses
soon treat photographers and their photos as commodities? History tells
us the answer could very well be yes.
United Feature Syndicate Inc/ABC
Believe it or not, the late Charles Schultz, of Minneapolis,
did not own the copyright to his cartoon strip, Peanuts. The syndicate
owned the copyright. Schultz received royalties, yes, and also promotion
and endorsement monies, but he did not own the copyright on his own creation!
Here's an all-inclusive copyright statement you can write in on any contract, concerning reproduction of your website photos.
Note that this statement also prohibits "use of any image as part of another photographic concept."
"All photographs, text and code appearing on the ______________________ site are the exclusive property of the individual photographers and are protected under United States and international Copyright Laws. Photographs, text and code may not be reproduced, copied, stored, or manipulated in any form without the written permission of the respective photographers or webmaster. This includes use of any image as part of another photographic concept or illustration. No image or any part of this site is within public domain.”
Can corporate stock photo agencies institute a system something like this?
They certainly could. Vulnerable photographers, trying to make a living,
could conceivably be open to signing over their copyright privilege in
return for a paycheck, royalties, or other monetary return.
LESSON : Read the fine print. Stock agencies are starting to treat
stock photos as commodities, that are "popular today, and gone tomorrow."
The agencies may want to commandeer an extra benefit for themselves by
arranging to secure the copyright of your short-lived generic stock photos.
Perhaps their enticement will be to pay you a higher percent royalty (70%
instead of 40%) if you sign over your copyright. And don't forget, if
an agency owns the copyright, they are now free to digitally "enhance"
your photo in any way they wish -- such as changing the color of a flag
or removing an object. If you are new to the stock photography field and
you submit your images to a major stock photo agency, carefully check
over the contract they send you, to be sure you don’t inadvertently sign
over your copyright to the agency.
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As an editorial stock photographer you are going to find much more enjoyment when you are photographing subject matter that you like to take. Learn more about how to sell those pictures at PhotoSource International and the PhotoSourceBANK, Pine Lake Farm, 1910 35th Road, Osceola, WI 54020 USA. Rohn Engh is director of and publisher of PhotoStockNotes. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Fax: 1 715 248 3800; www.photosource.com