Thursday, August 24, 2006


I am a photographer and since I have more time & photos than money I give a lot of my work free to organizations I like to support. The donated work is copyrighted with a release for the organization to use it in their own publications/publicity but reserving all other rights. Yesterday I got a copy of a local weekly paper in the mail and discovered one of my photos on the cover of a supplement that was enclosed. The photo (above) had been submitted with a press release some months before, the paper had evidently retained it in their files and reused it.

When I contacted the paper, the editor claimed that he was unaware that the photo was copyrighted and that most people "are glad if we run their photo a second time". Well, the photo did have the copyright information in the EXIF data and I probably would have been happy to allow them to reuse it IF they had asked and IF they had given me credit. They did neither. Nor did they reference it to the organization I had granted use of the photo. They just used it for their own purposes. I suppose I should be flattered that they chose it as a cover shot but I'd like their respect too. At least enough to ask and give me credit if not pay me for it.

Follow-up: It was a case of sloppy, unprofessional work by the paper's editors. They tried to pass it off as "well, we had no reason to think it was copyrighted" and a plea of how tough it is to be an editor "we have to go over 300-400 photos per week". Yeah, right. I feel so sorry for you getting paid a regular salary to publish other people's work while paying them nothing.

Anyway they have agreed to print an "Opps!' and give me credit for the photo. I'll drop it there. Newspapers don't pay worth crap anyway. I did newspaper photography in college and quit when I figured out I was making 40 cents/hour by the time I took out my expenses.

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