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A Safe HavenA hidden advantage of working as an independent editorial stock photographer: you not only work within a community of photobuyers who match your special interest area, but you're part of an honest and hard-working group of people.
We’ve all heard about copyright infringement on the Internet. Commercial art directors who pilfer images at will; designers who “borrow” images for tests. Consumers who steal web images indiscriminately.
But you never hear of an individual professional photobuyer at a reputable magazine or book publishing house, involved in a copyright infringement case.
Since our business is the business of editorial stock photography, we each work with a select and limited number of buyers who match our specialized photo collection. We are on a first name basis with our buyers. Many editorial photographers phone their clients “collect” from distant countries.
There’s no advantage for us to stray out into the area of commercial enterprise, to deal with ad agencies, corporate businesses and graphic companies where you're more likely to run into instances of "conspiracy."
It would be unheard of for an editor at a publishing house to “steal” an image and not pay for it. Publishing companies operate within a strong ethic. Another plain fact is that there's no monetary incentive for the photobuyer, who is on salary, to inappropriately "filch" a photo. The consequences of the use of an unpaid photo would embarrass the company and could result in loss of a job for the editor.
Next time a fellow photographer complains about the theft of one of his/her photos, you can be sure you are talking to a photographer who deals outside the fraternity of photobuyers at book and magazine publishers.
However, thievery in the commercial stock photo industry cannot be denied. In our digital age, attorneys and software companies will someday begin to benefit when programs such as Digimarc, PicScout, and others balance the thievery. But has thievery in the real world ever been eradicated? My advice, stay within your safe haven of editorial photobuyers.
Rohn Engh is director of PhotoSource International and publisher of PhotoStockNotes. Pine Lake Farm, 1910 35th Road, Osceola, WI 54020 USA. E-mail: email@example.com . Fax: 1 715 248 7394. Web site: www.photosource.com .