Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Photography Copyright Theft - Part II
The Plot Thickens
I got a telephone call at 8.40am, this morning, from the comedian whose photograph was appearing on her agent's website, without my permission, accreditation or payment (see here for back-story). I say was appearing, because it had been taken down by the company the day after I emailed them. I have had, to date, no contact from the management company themselves, no request to use the photograph in the first place, no apology for its illegal usage and no offer of payment.
What I got this morning was, at least to begin with, a fairly pleasant conversation in which the comedian told me that I had actually given her permission to give that image (and others) to her agent for free use on his website.
I told her that I did not remember that conversation at all. I only remembered a conversation where I agreed that she could have the photographs for private use - including in her own portfolio (if she had one - which she doesn't apparently). This did not include usage by a third party, who were using the image to make money for themselves (and her). I explained to her that I made a living, in part, by charging people for the secondary use of images that had been taken for another purpose. Editorial photographers, generally, get so little money for a job that third party use (and payment for that use) is a very important income stream.
While I was saying all of this to her, the thought "I'll drop this matter - reluctantly" was definitely in my head.
But the conversation suddenly became less pleasant. She started swearing and telling me (amongst other things) that I had "f***** up the relationship" between herself and her agent; that I had "frightened" her agent, that she didn't get anything from the magazine shoot for which the photos were originally taken and that she had to suffer 4 days working with certain people on that shoot; and that "this fri***** issue" was causing her all sorts of problems. I told her (not very calmly, I have to admit) that she had no rights to speak to me in that way and although I was just about to drop the whole matter, I was now giving it more thought. And then I hung up.
It never ceases to amaze me how tables that seem to be laden with all of the odds stacked in my favour can suddenly be turned over - making me the villain of the piece. I had genuinely been ready to let this matter drop, but now, I'm really not so sure. I have just telephoned the agent, and left a phone message telling him about the abuse I received from his client and seeking an apology from both of them.
More importantly, for me - at least right now - I'm wondering about my place in a business where people feel that not only do they have the right to take your work and use it for free, but then abuse you when you stand up for yourself against it.
stock photography photography freelance photography Life