Turns out that the copyright issues surrounding photography in the Bubble video are still not resolved. Now other photographers are getting involved and asking for their images to be taken out of the video and are hoping for compensation. TechCrunch has an excellent article about the issues involved. I’ve taken a few images of Mike Arrington. You’re welcome to use them for free. You don’t even need to give me attribution, although that’d be nice.
The problem is that Flickr is part of the problem.
It’s hard to find the license on this photo. Even if I wanted to say “STOP, DON’T REUSE THIS IMAGE” it’s very hard in Flickr’s interface to make it that clear — instead you get a little tiny piece of text that says “all rights reserved.” Most human beings skip over that kind of text because it’s legaleze (tell me, what’s the last time you read the legal stuff that comes up when you install some software?)
I really wish Flickr would make it clearer. It’s SO easy to make a mistake and when you do photographers can hold you hostage for payment (an employee, not me, at PodTech once made this mistake — we used an image taken at our own party on a sign without getting the photographer’s approval. That photographer made us pay thousands of dollars for that image and if we had known it would have been so expensive we would never have used his images).
It’s also not possible for me to put this image into public domain, which is what I really want to do. I want to turn over all rights to my images to YOU so YOU can do whatever you want with them. I can’t do that in Flickr.
I wish Flickr made it a LOT clearer on the photographer’s wishes.
I also really like SmugMug a lot better because as a photographer it’s very easy to put a watermark across the image. For instance, here’s a photo where I added the word “proof” on top of the image. That makes it very hard to use without giving attribution.
If we’re going to have a world where photographers want to get paid, then they need to be a LOT clearer about how they would like those images used. If I were Lane, I’d make sure every image of mine had a watermark. If hers did, they never would have been used in the video.
In the meantime, I know that at PodTech we changed our approach to using images. We don’t use anything unless we have signed approval from photographers or other media developers. It sucks, but that’s the best way to protect your business against being sued (and, if you make a mistake the photographer can set any price he/she wants after the fact. It’s very hard to prove that an image is only worth $100 after the fact, and even if you could, the standard is that you’ll pay 3x the photographers’ rate if he/she has to go after you to get payment. In PodTech’s case negotiations started at $3,000 for an image that should have cost only $100 according to professionals I contacted).
Good luck out there. If you’re ever concerned about using my images, I’ll be happy to give you any legal approvals you need. If, for some reason (if I were commissioned to do a specific assignment, for instance), I don’t want you to use the images I’ll watermark them and put them over on SmugMug. But, generally, when I do assignments like that the copyright holder is no longer me and the copyright holder usually doesn’t appreciate their images being placed up on Flickr or other public photo sharing sites.