Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Copyright & Newspaper Photography Clubs

 A recent trend with news orientated web sites are "photography clubs" where a news paper for instance will share some tips from their staff photographers and members (readers) post images to their web site. News programs on television have been requesting viewers to send in still images and videos of events that they've witnessed for years. Leveraging the large audience of a news paper to promote your work can be good, however there is usually a hidden cost which comes with the free promotion, copyright ownership.

  All of these sites have a "Terms and Conditions" area that describes the responsibilities of you as the submitter of content and the site itself. They must ensure that you own the copyright of the images you're posting and they need your permission to display the content on their site or printed issue. It's essentially a "cover their ass" statement that dissolves them of any legal issues if an image is published or appears on their web site. It spells out in detail what they can and can not do with the content you have submitted. Some of the terms are very simple and limited to the site's ability to display your images. Others however are complicated and force you to hand over all rights to the images you're submitting and give them permission to edit, sell, license and reproduce your images any way they want.

Here is one paragraph from a local news paper's "Terms and Conditions" statement for their photography club:

You grant the Toronto Star, a division of Toronto Star Newspapers Limited (the “Toronto Star”) and its affiliates, an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive worldwide license to use, reproduce, distribute, print, alter, edit, syndicate, license, and otherwise exploit the materials you submit, or any portion of them, in any manner and in any media or forum, whether or not currently known, without making payment to you or any third party. You authorize the Toronto Star and its affiliates to use your name in connection with the photos. You also waive any moral rights that you may have in the photos.

Do you really want to submit content here? Is the free publicity to promote your work worth giving up these rights? For me any term or condition that uses the word "exploit" cant be a good thing. It's something you need to be aware of and you must read the fine print before submitting images to any web site.

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