23 Dec Copyright, Copywrong, Copyrat’s Nest
I used to think I had it down pat. If I took a picture I owned the copyright to it until I licensed it, sold it, or gave it away. I could make pictures for people and they could own the pictures but they couldn’t make copies of them without my permission.
Seemed to work well in the film era as most of my stuff was on big format and no-one else had the copying equipment to muscle in on it. Then I started to learn digital work and put the images out on CD ‘s. And then posted a few on the net. Then, boy, did it get complicated.
All of a sudden my work was open to copying, re-editing, and general footling about. People could plaster my images on Facebook, make coffee mugs, and have it tattooed onto semi-clad exotic dancers*. It could be traded on the New York Stock Exchange like pork bellies or Eskimo futures.
I was told that 10% of my work could be changed…then 20%…then the whole damn thing and I would be lucky if the pirate who did it did not charge me a fee for the extra photoshopping. All of a sudden the standard copyright statement at the front of my discs was pretty much useless. A new era had begun and a new regulatory statement reflecting the unbridled times was needed. So I have consulted some of the finest legal minds to be found…under the East Fremantle traffic bridge trowing account books into the harbour…and have decided upon the following:
1. I still claim copyright on all the images I make, save for those made to direct contract. This includes studio portraiture, advertising, and weddings. These images I am paid for and am quite happy to hand them over for the fee agreed. I think this complies with current Australian law.
2. Dance, costume, and event photos are also still in my copyright, but as these are taken upon the basis of friendship they may well be supplied to the subjects for free. All I ask is that they be treated respectfully – that other people in the pictures not be harmed – and that any commercial use or printed publication be flagged to me beforehand. I will not be prissy about pictures in print, but if they make money I would like a drink out of it.
3. Anyone stealing images, defacing them, claiming them as their own, using them in a vile manner, etc. will be perfectly safe from legal action…as the action I take will not be legal. Fun, but not legal…
4. If you let me into your show, ball, party, or event for free, I shall consider that payment enough. If you charge me I shall still take pictures but they in their turn will be available upon payment of a modest fee. Fair do’s for all…
5. “Come to my wedding and take some pictures” is a lovely thought…if I am just a guest, I’ll drink and eat and shoot a few good candids. If I am to cover it in detail, expect a bill for field work and post processing, and please feed myself and my assistant.
* Hell of a place to put a picture of a ’36 Dodge, even with the headlights on high beam…