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Author Topic: Ethics of calling a photo my own  (Read 7188 times)
flowerbells
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« on: April 23, 2007, 03:56:39 AM »
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Hello to everyone!  This is my second? post.  Maybe my first, not actally sure.

Since I could not find a forum or thread dedicated to Ethics, I guessed.  Maybe the Coffee Klatch is a good place for my question.

I've got a really cool photo, that I thought up, designed, and set up.  (I don't know yet how to post photos here....)  I call it "self portrait."

It is a panorama of beautiful trees, surrounding a large pond, with ducks.  And I am standing on the bank, taking pictures.

Since there was really no way I could have set up my small Minolta point-n-shoot camera, and known how to pose "me" in the picture I wanted, I took a friend with me.  She is the same height and build I am.

So I posed HER.  I looked through the lens, got the edges of the picture so I knew what to leave in, and avoid on the edges.

Then, I went over to her, put a twig where her right toe was, and where her left heel was, so I knew exactly where ***I*** would stand.

Then, I told her how to set up the camera.  I said, for instance, "Leave out the concrete "pad" under the bench.  I don't want that to show up on the Right.  And be sure to get the very tip of the distant cedar tree, straight ahead.  Stand so that you are in the shade from the bushes on the left...etc etc

I had her take three or four shots.

Well, only ONE of the several she took turned out.  The rest, she didn't follow my directions!

The ONE turned out splendidly.

Now:  Is this really my self portrait or not? Can I take full credit, that this is an original shot, or not?  If not, how do I say what it **is**?  I would like to exhibit it, and sell it.

Do I need to get a permission slip signed by my friend to exhibit it and sell it?  Should I give her a cut in what I make from any sale?

flo
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larryg
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« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2007, 08:45:17 AM »
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Not a lawyer but if it was me I wouldn't give it a second thought.  You set it all up.
Why would this be any different than a wedding pro who hires assistants/apprentices  to follow them around shooting along side (backing up the main photographer)  I can assure you that the pro will claim all of the shots and will retain ownership of the images.

Also if you are the person in the photo just sign the release for yourself (just kidding)
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howiesmith
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« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2007, 09:57:31 AM »
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I see the major difference between your friend and a pro's assistannts is pay.  The assistants are being paid (essentially selling their rights to the photos).  Without pay (consideration), there is no contract.

The bottom line may be the commercial value.  I don't see much commercial value in the example photo (my opinion).  So, if the photo does belong to your friend and you claim it, what is the harm (money value of damages)?  There doesn't seem to be a "good name" issue here.

I think the bulk of wedding photos have a market value that is severely limited to the folks buying the photos.  Not much market beyond the bride and groom.  I could see a potential problem if the groom claimed Maty Zucker's photos for his own, but then I would also guess that Mr. Zucker has a good contract for his work.  (The wedding photographer may sell the photos and all rights to the bride and groom, and even he doesn't own the photos then.  He may retain the right to use the images for his portfolio and advertising.)
« Last Edit: April 23, 2007, 09:58:15 AM by howiesmith » Logged
LoisWakeman
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« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2007, 10:18:34 AM »
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You should have reminded your friend to make sure the water was level, too - but you can fix that by rotating it and cropping a bit.
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flowerbells
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« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2007, 09:10:18 PM »
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Hello to everyone!  This is my second? post.  Maybe my first, not actally sure.

Since I could not find a forum or thread dedicated to Ethics, I guessed.  Maybe the Coffee Klatch is a good place for my question.

I've got a really cool photo, that I thought up, designed, and set up.  (I don't know yet how to post photos here....)  I call it "self portrait."

It is a panorama of beautiful trees, surrounding a large pond, with ducks.  And I am standing on the bank, taking pictures.

Since there was really no way I could have set up my small Minolta point-n-shoot camera, and known how to pose "me" in the picture I wanted, I took a friend with me.  She is the same height and build I am.

So I posed HER.  I looked through the lens, got the edges of the picture so I knew what to leave in, and avoid on the edges.

Then, I went over to her, put a twig where her right toe was, and where her left heel was, so I knew exactly where ***I*** would stand.

Then, I told her how to set up the camera.  I said, for instance, "Leave out the concrete "pad" under the bench.  I don't want that to show up on the Right.  And be sure to get the very tip of the distant cedar tree, straight ahead.  Stand so that you are in the shade from the bushes on the left...etc etc

I had her take three or four shots.

Well, only ONE of the several she took turned out.  The rest, she didn't follow my directions!

The ONE turned out splendidly.

Now:  Is this really my self portrait or not? Can I take full credit, that this is an original shot, or not?  If not, how do I say what it **is**?  I would like to exhibit it, and sell it.

Do I need to get a permission slip signed by my friend to exhibit it and sell it?  Should I give her a cut in what I make from any sale?

flo
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flowerbells
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« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2007, 09:21:47 PM »
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Thank you, Lois, Larry, and Howie.

Lois, you have a sharper eye than I do...I will have to take a good look at the water level!

The photo was done with my camera.  She knew she was doing it for me, not for herself.  Helping me that day actually turned out pretty hard on her, because she has arthritis.  She asked me not to bring her along on photo shoots again.  I had not realized she had as much trouble walking distances as she does.  We had to walk about the equivalent of three or four city blocks.   Maybe six.  Three is her absolute maximum, but at the time I had not known that.

I like the analogy to the wedding photographer's assistants.

So I won't have any compunction about putting this photo in an exhibit of my work, which I may be setting up in May.  I'm having some things juried, so we'll see.  It also depends on what sort of space the place has available.  There are about 100 artists there.  The owner charges a fee, but I figure it's great advertising b/c of the upscale location.  I had ads in 3 directories last year and it cost me a small fortune, and I got zilch; nada, zero response.   Before I plunk down my money this time, I will determine what the longevity of the other artists is.  If they stay, I figure they are selling.  If there is high turnover, they aren't.

I won't even call it "self portrait" -- I'll just call it "Nature with Photographer" or something like that.

Right now, I'm collecting some photos, a couple of drawings, and some water colors to take over tomorrow.

flo
« Last Edit: April 23, 2007, 10:19:45 PM by flowerbells » Logged
flowerbells
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« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2007, 10:24:41 PM »
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Lois, et al,

Here is the level water.  Does it look level to you?

If I put this on a disc, can it be made into a regular photographic print?

I have printed it on my excellent Xerrox Phaser 6120 printer, and it looks very blocky.  Can't get any detail.  But that's because I took it off my website.  If I do it again, from scanning the original photo, then would I be able to put it on a disc and get a good photographic print from that disc?

flo
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mikeguil
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« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2007, 07:04:23 AM »
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Even Karsh sometimes had an assistant press the button yet his name is what appears on the bottom of the print.  I see no problem with calling this your own.
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Tim Gray
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« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2007, 07:53:05 AM »
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Well, I don't necessarily disagree with the concensus presented so far, but why should still digital be any different from moving pictures.  In the example of the OP, she was the director.  There are so many different roles in making a movie - one of which is the "cameraman" or "director of photography" - they are the ones that push the button, and would certainly object if the director claimed credit for the photography.

Regardless - it was her picture - no issue, but was she the photographer?
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LoisWakeman
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« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2007, 07:54:34 AM »
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I think you need to understand more about photo resolution and compression! If you save a file as a JPEG to print, you must save it at the largest physical size and least amount of compression. A file saved for web will be blocky as it doesn't contain nearly enough information for print.

So, go back to the original scan, make a copy of that and work on it, yes. The final result depends on how you did the scan of course.

Many print labs allow you to upload a file online, so you don't always need to burn it onto a disc.

The water level looks a lot better, but you can easily check by finding a horizontal and scrolling it up to align with the edge of a window in your photo editor.
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Gordon Buck
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« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2007, 10:21:30 AM »
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I am under the impression that the person who pushes the shutter button on the camera can copyright the resulting image.  That is, very specifically, if I hand someone my camera and ask them to take my picture, then they could copyright that picture.

Look at this the other way around and forget about copyright.  Suppose someone hands THEIR camera to YOU and asks YOU to take THEIR picture.  Could you enter that picture in a photo contest as YOUR product?  I think you could.

Granted, there are business arrangements about copyrights (and patents) that may come into consideration but those arrangements are made because the concept is that the picture was "taken" by the button pusher.

I'm not a lawyer and all the above may be incorrect; if so, I'd like to know.

(Seems that I got this impression from a discussion on LL but I can't find the original posting.)
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Tim Gray
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« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2007, 10:53:35 AM »
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I am under the impression that the person who pushes the shutter button on the camera can copyright the resulting image.  That is, very specifically, if I hand someone my camera and ask them to take my picture, then they could copyright that picture.

Look at this the other way around and forget about copyright.  Suppose someone hands THEIR camera to YOU and asks YOU to take THEIR picture.  Could you enter that picture in a photo contest as YOUR product?  I think you could.

Granted, there are business arrangements about copyrights (and patents) that may come into consideration but those arrangements are made because the concept is that the picture was "taken" by the button pusher.

I'm not a lawyer and all the above may be incorrect; if so, I'd like to know.

(Seems that I got this impression from a discussion on LL but I can't find the original posting.)
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=114188\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

This reminds me of a story Vincent Versace (if I recall) tells. He was shooting on the Presidio in San Francisco overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge when he was approached by a couple - tourists - who asked him to take their picture, using their camera, with the Bridge in the background.  He did, and commented after the fact something to the effect:  "I wonder if they know they have a pictures in their camera that's worth $2,000 (apparently his standard charge for a portrait shoot).  No doubt tongue in cheek, but still.....
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howiesmith
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« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2007, 11:45:01 AM »
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This reminds me of a story Vincent Versace (if I recall) tells. He was shooting on the Presidio in San Francisco overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge when he was approached by a couple - tourists - who asked him to take their picture, using their camera, with the Bridge in the background. He did, and commented after the fact something to the effect: "I wonder if they know they have a pictures in their camera that's worth $2,000 (apparently his standard charge for a portrait shoot). No doubt tongue in cheek, but still.....
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=114191\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Two things.  I seem to recall from my school days that some students would take photos for practice and the client would buy the film and processing to defray costs.  A faculty member (and commercial photographer) opined that the one that bought the film, own the film and the images.

Second, my wife asked if I would help her take a "self portrait."  I agredd.  I set the lights and pushed the button. She designed the photo; I helped implement her design.  Who's image is it?  Hers.  She asked if I would help and I agreed.  No contract involved, but I did agree to help with her.  Then again, the image has no market value (never has or will be offered for sale).  She uses it in her protfolio, which is for her personal use and enjoyment.

Bottom line.  I agreed and am bound by that agreement, even though not written.  I have not been harmed at all.  Even if the image were to make her very wealthy, I agreed.

++++++++++++

Added thought.

ANybody can sue almost anyone for almost anything.  But before doing that, there has to be a motive - usually the thought of lots of money.  This also goes to the issue of permission to photograph.  How much is it worth to the person doing the sueing (and their attorney)?  In most cases, not much so no one gets sued.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2007, 11:56:28 AM by howiesmith » Logged
l_bjornson
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« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2007, 10:19:40 PM »
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This might add a bit of help, or confuse people more.  It might help a bit with the other post you have going on the ferris wheel.  Similarily, I am not a lawyer, but copyright law protects the intellectual property of the author but there is an exception for photographs.  My understanding is that the copyright for photographs is with the person/organization that purchases the photographs.  A wedding photographer, even thought he is taking photos at a wedding does not have the rights of the photos.  However, as an amateur photographer I own the copyright on any photos I take (unless of course someone pays me to take any photos).  This is similar to what Howie said, it is kind of a matter of who bought the film, even if not directly.

The complication comes from taking photographs of trademarks or other peoples intellectual property.  As long as I am on public property, I can shoot away.  If I am on private property of course i have to follow their rules.  While you may consider it okay to take photos of buildings, intellectual property also covers building design which would be held by the architect.

In the case of self portraits, even though someone else tripped the shutter, you are the one that designed the photograph, so it is based on your design.

This information came from me recently writing my professional practise exam as a geologist.  Probably the most important thing I got out of it, hire a lawyer.  A simple book on copyright law may help but also remember trademarks can be a big part.

Hope this helps.
Leif
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Tim Gray
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« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2007, 08:44:10 AM »
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A wedding photographer, even thought he is taking photos at a wedding does not have the rights of the photos.  However, as an amateur photographer I own the copyright on any photos I take (unless of course someone pays me to take any photos).

(snip)

In the case of self portraits, even though someone else tripped the shutter, you are the one that designed the photograph, so it is based on your design.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=114479\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Tying "ownership" to pro or amateur isn't right.  It depends on the contractual relationship between the pro and their clients.  

Also the design test is a bit strange.  An architect designs a building, but how is that related to ownership?
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l_bjornson
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« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2007, 10:05:15 AM »
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Copyright protects the intellectual rights of the original author whether it is a painting, novel or photograph.  Even with this, everything can be modified by a contract and any client would normally want some kind of rights if they are paying for a product.

My examples may not have worked as I had hoped, this is where it comes down to the lawyers.  While people joke about lawyers, they can also be your friend.
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howiesmith
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« Reply #16 on: April 27, 2007, 02:48:21 PM »
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I've got a really cool photo, that I thought up, designed, and set up.  (I don't know yet how to post photos here....)  I call it "self portrait."

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=113749\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Are you sure that you "thought up [and] designed" the photo?  It might be possible that someone else could "prove" they had previously "thought up and designed" the photo and would therefore own the copyright.

I'm not sure the image has enough commercail value that even if you completely ripped off another's work, it would be worth anything.  I can steal something of real value, like a music CD, and still not worry about Sony suing me.  It jsut isn't worth their time and effort.  The same resources could possible bag a real felon (and $$$).

You can get really excited about preventing theft of your intellectual property.  But do you ensure your camera for its market value?  An item much more likely to be stolen.
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ckimmerle
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« Reply #17 on: April 27, 2007, 04:13:35 PM »
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My understanding is that the copyright for photographs is with the person/organization that purchases the photographs

Sorry, but you're way off. Copyright is with the creator (pro or amateur) of an image unless one of two conditions are met. First, the creator is a paid employee of an organization at the time the image was created. Second, a work-for-hire agreement has been signed by both parties, transferring perpetual rights from the photographer to the client.

That being said, most commercial contracts give some sort of condition usage/reproduction right to the client, but in such cases the photographer usually keeps rights.

And yes, even a wedding photographer owns the rights to images shot for a bridal party. Unless he has releases signed, of course, the photographer cannot use them commercially, nor are the clients allowed to reproduce images without going through the photographer.

As for buildings and structures, they are not usually copyright protected if they can be seen and photographed from public places. However, it is possible that building owners can copyright a unique aspect of the structure that serves as an icon or signature. That was the gist of the court case between a photographer and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The RRHF sued the photographer when he created and sold posters of the city skyline that prominently featured the RRHF building. The photog initially lost, but was victorious on appeal when the courts deemed the RRHF owners did not trademark or copyright (not sure which is appropriate) that particular view.

Not sure of the timeline on that case, but it seems to me that 10-12 years ago is pretty close.

Respectfully,
Chuck
« Last Edit: April 27, 2007, 04:19:42 PM by ckimmerle » Logged

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flowerbells
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« Reply #18 on: April 28, 2007, 01:25:16 PM »
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Ahhhh.....Now, this is a post that really fits, in my situation.  My friend does not have the kind of disposition, nor the money to sue me.  And I also know from personal experience, that no lawyer would touch a case for taking this without being paid an hourly rate -- s/he would not take it on the basis of probability of winning lots of money in the suit, vs no money of there was no win.

Ergo, no lawsuit.

Plus, it was with my camera, on my film, and my friend came with me, to take a picture of me, with my camera, using my film!

Yes, there is a possiobility I may try to sell the picture someday.  But the chances of it every making a ton of money are so small...well, one never really knows, but still, tiny.

flo



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Two things.  I seem to recall from my school days that some students would take photos for practice and the client would buy the film and processing to defray costs.  A faculty member (and commercial photographer) opined that the one that bought the film, own the film and the images.

Second, my wife asked if I would help her take a "self portrait."  I agredd.  I set the lights and pushed the button. She designed the photo; I helped implement her design.  Who's image is it?  Hers.  She asked if I would help and I agreed.  No contract involved, but I did agree to help with her.  Then again, the image has no market value (never has or will be offered for sale).  She uses it in her protfolio, which is for her personal use and enjoyment.

Bottom line.  I agreed and am bound by that agreement, even though not written.  I have not been harmed at all.  Even if the image were to make her very wealthy, I agreed.

++++++++++++

Added thought.

ANybody can sue almost anyone for almost anything.  But before doing that, there has to be a motive - usually the thought of lots of money.  This also goes to the issue of permission to photograph.  How much is it worth to the person doing the sueing (and their attorney)?  In most cases, not much so no one gets sued.
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flowerbells
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« Reply #19 on: April 28, 2007, 03:00:40 PM »
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Hi, Lois,

I don't know what happened to the post I wrote to you on this topic, but I'll try again.

I always take 2-3 shots of the same image, then pick the one that turns out best.

Also, I realize that save-for-web is how to make images work best on the web.  It makes them smaller and therefore easier to upload for eeryone.  To upload the original w hich is generally quite large, causes long delays in uploding the entire page, or even long delays in email you are sending people (or they're sending you) if your URL is attached.

Anyway, so, I was u sing the origanl scan of myself in the park.

I am wondering if the original water IS level, but giving an optical illusion of being off-level.     The reason is that in the original scan, in  which the water line (small though it is) appears to be not on the level, the tall trees at he horizon are perfectly perpendicular to the water level at the back of the pond.  In the second shot, the one where I've scanned it and cropped to remove any tilt/unlevelness of the pond, I notice that ost of the other entries on your website have wider shorelines and it's easier to see when they are unlevel.

flo




Quote
I think you need to understand more about photo resolution and compression! If you save a file as a JPEG to print, you must save it at the largest physical size and least amount of compression. A file saved for web will be blocky as it doesn't contain nearly enough information for print.

So, go back to the original scan, make a copy of that and work on it, yes. The final result depends on how you did the scan of course.

Many print labs allow you to upload a file online, so you don't always need to burn it onto a disc.

The water level looks a lot better, but you can easily check by finding a horizontal and scrolling it up to align with the edge of a window in your photo editor.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=114171\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
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