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Author Topic: Licensing  (Read 2402 times)
Bradley Proctor
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« on: August 06, 2010, 02:37:09 PM »
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I've been trying to understand licensing and the issue of copyright better and it seems most photographers license their work for a particular use while maintaining the copyright and charge based on what the photo is going to be used for.  Everything I've read seems to say that this is very important.  I'm having a hard time understanding the why.  I shoot a lot of homes and rental properties.  These photos usually get used on the web to show off their property and that is about it.

Forgive me for playing devils advocate here, but why would it be a bad idea for me to let them do whatever they want with the photos.  I retain the right to use them for my purposes, but if a client wants to use the photos on a brochure, why should I care?  Is it because I can suck more money out of them, that doesn't seem like an honest way of doing business.  It takes the same amount of work to create the images regardless, so shouldn't the client pay for the amount of work done?

Only licensing for a certain amount of time seems like a bad deal too.  Pictures don't expire like a carton of milk.  If the pictures are no longer relevant, than maybe they can get new ones, but having to pay again for the same pictures makes no sense.

They paid to have the pictures taken, why should they not be able to do what they want with them. I can, however, see how licensing might be more important for some types of photography than others.

Maybe someone can enlighten me here, cause I feel like I'm missing something and seem to be alone on this issue.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2010, 05:59:48 PM »
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Quote from: Bradley Proctor
... shouldn't the client pay for the amount of work done?...
Yes, absolutely... in a Marxist economy  
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Slobodan

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BobFisher
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« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2010, 06:09:23 PM »
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There are a variety of reasons but most do come down to money.  Every use for an image has a value.  If one use is intended today, there's a cost for that.  If a different use is developed or needed in the future, there's a value to that and a cost to the licensee.  

Does your contract state, specfically, that you retain copyright?  In the situation you describe, it may be regarded as a 'work for hire' situation in which case, absent a direct statement in favour of copyright being held by you, it may actually be in the name of the person/organisation that hired you.  You need to protect your interests.  

My commercial contract states both (a) what the images can be used for and ( who holds copyright.  If I retain copyright, the use limitation is to the client.  If I give up copyright, then I retain a right of use for promotion of my business in perpetuity.  For things like real estate or other commercial properties (I shoot B&Bs as well), I don't really care about retaining copyright.  But either way it's stated in my contract.

I'm actually working through this today.  I've got someone who wants to use a piece of timelapse video I created and we're trading emails back and forth about how it will be used, how long, how many people will see it, etc. so I can come up with a price for his intended purpose.  The purpose will be limited to that one situation.  Any other use he may want for the clip will have to be negotiated separately.  Why should I let him use it any way he wants after the fact when he's only paid for the current, stated use?  

Everything has value.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2010, 06:09:36 PM by BobFisher » Logged
Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2010, 06:34:13 AM »
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On a more serious note, take the example of the iconic Farrah Fawcett's poster: sold in more than 12 million copies worldwide (and still being sold today, including Amazon), one of the best selling posters in history (if not the best)... Obviously, a lot of money was made in the process... the question is who's to benefit from its popularity... the poster-printing company, the photographer, the budding actress, retailers, Amazon? I am sure all of them made some money for themselves, but if we adopt your view "...shouldn't the client pay [only] for the amount of work done?...", the photographer would have ended up with just the initial $1,000 he was paid for the assignment.
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Slobodan

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BobFisher
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« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2010, 07:34:41 AM »
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Quote from: Slobodan Blagojevic
On a more serious note, take the example of the iconic Farrah Fawcett's poster: sold in more than 12 million copies worldwide (and still being sold today, including Amazon), one of the best selling posters in history (if not the best)... Obviously, a lot of money was made in the process... the question is who's to benefit from its popularity... the poster-printing company, the photographer, the budding actress, retailers, Amazon? I am sure all of them made some money for themselves, but if we adopt your view "...shouldn't the client pay [only] for the amount of work done?...", the photographer would have ended up with just the initial $1,000 he was paid for the assignment.

And probably 'all' the photographer did get was the fee for the shoot.  It would be unusual to build residuals into a contract like that.
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Ronny Nilsen
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« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2010, 03:50:16 PM »
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Quote from: BobFisher
And probably 'all' the photographer did get was the fee for the shoot.  It would be unusual to build residuals into a contract like that.

Fawcett Photographer Recalls an Iconic Shoot

No mention of how much he made thou.

Ronny
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2010, 05:38:13 PM »
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Quote from: Ronny Nilsen
... No mention of how much he made thou...
If I remember correctly, he never revealed exactly how much, but instead used a phrase to the effect that he was "handsomely rewarded over the years" for the photo.
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Slobodan

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BobFisher
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« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2010, 07:56:05 PM »
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According to this, he was paid $1000.
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Bradley Proctor
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« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2010, 08:31:20 PM »
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Thanks for the insight, I think I'm starting to understand it better.
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k bennett
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« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2010, 03:02:17 PM »
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Bradley,

The issue of charging for use is a constant debate between photographers, and in many ways it comes down to the kind of work you do and the clients you have. Just "charging for the work you do" (an hourly or daily rate) sounds great in theory, but doesn't always work out well for the photographer in practice.

Let's look at two different assignments and see if that helps.

Assignment #1: A full day event shoot, covering a corporate meeting then a reception and dinner in the evening. The client is a mid-size regional company, and they will use the photos on their web site, and in an internal newsletter, and probably give prints to the attendees from the dinner. The photographer will spend 14 hours shooting, then another day (minimum) processing and delivering the photos.

Assignment #2: A photo of a child in a park for a national ad campaign. The client is a multinational chemical company, and they will use the photo in an ad in Parade Magazine to promote their brand identity. You meet the art director, the model, her mother, and the stylist at a local park and shoot for 20 minutes or so, until you have exactly what you need and the kid is getting tired. You'll spend another hour or two processing and dealing with the art director.

All told, assignment #1 will take at least two full days of your time, and assignment #2 might take a half day total. If you are charging an hourly rate, then of course the event photography will cost the client a lot more -- but the second assignment is *worth* a lot more to the client and the photographer, and should cost a lot more. (A LOT more.) And if the client from #2 comes back later and wants to run the ad in another national magazine, they should and will pay another usage rate for that additional use.

The key is that clients should pay for the use they get out of your photos. This protects BOTH you and the client -- they don't need to pay for usage that they don't want, and yet they do pay for making money from your photography. To use your own work as an example, if you are licensing your photos for the client to use on a web site, the client is paying a lower price for that usage. If you knew from the beginning that they would want a printed brochure as well, you would (I hope) have charged more. Not a lot more, maybe -- but something to indicate that the extra use has value.

That said, there are some markets where the clients simply won't pay for use. Any market where there is a glut of photographers, and/or the work is seen as "easy" (hah!) will end up with fairly low rates. In many places (not sure about your location), the local real estate market is like that -- with the exception of very high end properties. In that case, charging for use probably won't work at all.

Good luck.
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Bradley Proctor
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« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2010, 08:32:04 PM »
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That is a great example, makes a lot of sense.  I'm getting a better feel for how I need to be handling this with my own work.  Thank you.
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