The silent drama of photograph
Yes, you did read that correctly. I’m in a state of disbelief and utter disgust with our Government. Appalling behaviour. Before I continue, it’s imperative to understand that my post not only applies to professional photographers whose livelihood just got taken away by this Act, but also amateur photographers too. Also, this applies to photographs worldwide; any photographer, from anywhere can be affected by this.
Firstly, by taking a picture (any picture, be it a family snap or an amazing news picture, wedding picture, landscape etc) you create it and have copyright and ownership of that image. This is the law and a human right.
In a nutshell, the new Act (Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act, which received Royal Assent) that got voted through by government allows all work considered to be an orphan work to get used for free. Orphan works are those works whose creator cannot be found. One could immediately jump to the conclusion that this means purely photographers (this applies to more than photography, and to creatives as a whole) who have died and are uncontactable. It does not just mean this. It means any work. Consider for a moment that the billions of images that get uploaded to various websites, on the whole, have their metadata stripped out. IPTC and metadata is something most enthusiast photographers bother with (you should!) but the majority of photographers, especially those in the editorial markets, always fill in full IPTC which show’s the author of the image, copyright, contact details and so on. Well, the majority of websites, social networks and so on strip out ALL of this data. Your work, even something you shot a minute ago and uploaded, just became an orphan work. As such, it can now be used for free and for whatever purpose the thief of the image wants to use if for.
The corporation or individual stealing your work has to show that they diligently searched for you, the author, before just taking your work and using it for their purpose, often commercially, so making them money from your work, for which you will not see a penny. Well, I guess it’s easy to say I looked but the billions of images online meant I couldn’t find the author. Also the wording is so loose and legally ambiguous that it’s left to interpretations.
Although this Act still has to get made into actual legislation, no Act has been voted down since 1979, so it’s considered a formality. This is happening. The first steps have been taken and the wording is paving way for the legislation to follow. This is extremely worrying and nobody who uploads photographs to the internet can afford to be complacent.
For those who don’t know, a professional photographer’s income also comes from licensing of images. For some, this is the majority of their income. It is our livelihood. The government just took that away. For some, this could well mean bankruptcy and unemployment. Why would a government elected to serve it’s people take away their right to work and make a living? This is beyond me. How can this be considered serving the people? The photographer get’s abused, their rights to their own creations taken away, just so corporations (multi billion pound behemoths in most cases) can save a very small fraction of their costs by getting their photography, for commercial use, for free. Also keep in mind the rights of your subjects being abused.
I’m utterly disgusted.
I suggest anyone (amateur or professional) who uploads pictures to the internet (Facebook, Twitter and so on) immediately learns how to watermark their pictures. Watermarking means putting text and / or a logo onto your pictures to say who they belong to, before uploading the images. It’s easy to do and only takes seconds. For my main photography I use Aperture (and have presets with my logos made up – very simple) and for my iPhone photography I use Marksta (very simple to use and an excellent piece of software). Lightroom, Photoshop and so on can be used for watermarking. There are also apps for Android phones and so on. Spend a few minutes and Google how to do this. Safeguard your work.
Watermarks should be placed on the image itself. You should also have a creation year, so the central text reads “©Edmond Terakopian 2013″. You can also, like in this case, be subtle but still brand your work. If you look at previous posts on this blog, you will notice that I have a specific blog watermark on the images. Also, by looking through my Flickr, you can see watermarking there too. Facebook friends will also notice how I watermark all images there too. Protect yourself, your work and your subjects too. Take action.
Following on from this, we need to try and get this Act killed off. Lobby your MPs and speak to any photography associations and organisations (BPPA, NUJ, MPA, SWPP etc) you belong to and ask them to campaign against this (some are already doing this, but all the social/wedding associations need to act too).
I also feel, and have done for years, that metadata should not be editable by anyone else but the photographer (or their picture desk). IPTC should have a password protect feature, much like locked PDF files. It should also be illegal and technically impossible for metadata to be changed or erased from an image by websites it is being uploaded to. Perhaps this is an avenue worth exploring?
There’s a petition, kindly drawn up by Will Nicholls. Whilst the initiative is great, it is missing some key elements. Regardless, as it’s the only petition out there, I have signed it and would suggest everyone does too:
Hopefully one of the associations will draft up a more comprehensive petition covering all aspects. As soon as this is available, I would urge all to join me in signing that one as well. The more pressure we can bring, the more chance we have of safeguarding our industry. We must stand up for our rights as no one else will.
Regardless of if you’re a proud parent taking pictures of your children or a professional photographer photographing news, weddings, portraits, landscapes and so on, all photographs uploaded to the internet will soon be in danger of getting stolen and used without your permission. Not only are you losing control of your images, but your subjects’ rights are also being violated. All legally. All thanks to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill (ERRB) which received Royal Assent and is now an Act. This paves way for legislation. The fact that no Act has been stopped from becoming legislation since 1979 makes this extremely dangerous for anyone who takes pictures and puts them on the internet; FaceBook, Twitter and so on.
This will effect EVERYONE so act NOW.
Photographer David Bailey’s letter to George Osborne in full:
I am writing because I am appalled at what the government is doing to our rights in the ERRB (Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill). Why the ERRB by the way? Why can’t copyright be dealt with properly in a proper Copyright Bill? I’m told everyone will be able to get their hands on our so-called “orphans” so libraries and museums can publish old photographs whose authors have long been forgotten. But never mind what’s lying around on dusty old shelves, what about the millions of “orphans” that are being created now every day!
Why? Because social media, and everyone else for that matter routinely strip our names and contact details from our digital files. They simply should not be allowed to get away with this. They can because our government refuses to give us the right to our names by our pictures (Moral rights). So now commercial organisations will be allowed to make money from our “orphans”, but not us, the creators.
This legislation should never have been even considered without first giving us our moral rights, and is contrary to our rights under the Berne Convention. Why the rush? A scheme, the Copyright Hub – a scheme backed by the government – is being developed to ensure that those who wish to find our pictures can not only do so quickly online, but also find the contact details of the pictures’ owners. You are about to put the cart before the horse.
I’m told the real reason for speed is that “releasing” orphans will create growth. We all understand the need for growth. But where’s the evidence? The seemingly impressive financial figures presented originally in the Hargreaves Review have mysteriously had to be revised – down by 97%! Which now apparently amount to no more than 80p per taxpayer per year. Given the damage this legislation will now cause to taxpaying creators, damage no-one has so far taken into account, the effect of this legislation on economic growth will in fact be negative.
It’s not too late to think again!
I always enjoy meeting photographers’ whose work I’ve admired for decades; whose images I’ve grown up with and have helped form my interest in photography and further my understanding of it. It’s even a bigger joy when the person in question turns out to be a wonderful person. I’m thankful to say René Burri certainly fits the bill (as did Sebastião Salgado recently).
I attended a book signing of René Burri’s new book, Impossible Reminiscences at the Photographers’ Gallery book shop. I must admit, at first look, it was not what I was expecting. I hadn’t seen this side of the work and it’s absolutely fascinating. A combination of great reportage, street photography, social commentary in a quirky way (well before Martin Parr made it trendy), in colour, all published in one beautiful book. It’s well worth checking out. Whilst there I also took advantage and got a copy of René Burri Photographs which is just wonderful; filled with the images he is perhaps best known for. A title worth having for any photographer.
The evening concluded with a fascinating talk about various images and assignments, focusing mainly on the new book and the imagery within. Very enjoyable and interesting indeed!
Fleet Street is synonymous with British Newspapers – the “press”. Even though the last newspaper left the street over 20 years ago, the industry is still referred to as “Fleet Street” and as such, the street has a special symbolism for press photographers and journalists alike.
The exhibition is a collection of work from press photographers working for the national papers, international wire agencies and local papers around the country. It’s an insight into the world of press photography, covering wars, politics, features, portraits, disasters, press conferences and sports.
Images that are hard hitting, thought provoking or quirky; you’ll find the full gamut. We are not the paparazzi and as such, you won’t find any of that genre of image here. We are where the news is; we find the truth, we witness history and we are the eyes of the British public who rely on us to bring the news.
On a personal level, it’s with great pleasure that I share the news that two of my images have been selected to be exhibited in the Fleet Street Photo Exhibition:
The exhibition will be open to the public from Monday, April 22nd, 2013 and is going to be a long term, evolving exhibition of work by press photographers. The images on display will be for sale. Each of the 50 photos is 40cmx30cm (A3′ish, including border) and printed on fibre based Baryta paper. Each sale will be printed to order and posted to the buyer within 7-10 working days. Each image is £150 and will be embossed with the Fleet Street Photograph logo. It’s a great opportunity to buy some great images at a great price.
“The Fleet Street Press” Coffee and Tea House, 3 Fleet Street, EC4Y 1AU, London. Opening times are 6.30am to 6.30pm, Monday to Friday. 10am to 5pm on Saturdays and 10am to 4pm on Sundays. You can follow The Fleet Street Press on Twitter and on their FaceBook page.
In 2004, Sebastião began the Genesis project, aimed at presenting the unblemished face of nature and humanity. Genesis consists of a series of landscape and wildlife photographs, as well as photographs of human communities that continue to live in accordance with their ancestral traditions and cultures, shot across 32 countries, over an eight year period. This body of work was conceived as a potential path to humanity’s rediscovery of itself in nature.
Sebastião Salgado’s photographic exhibition Genesis is unveiled for its world premiere at the Natural History Museum on Thursday 11 April (and will run until September 8th, 2013). Edited, designed and curated by Lélia Wanick Salgado, the exhibition includes 200 epic black-and-white photographs that celebrate the majesty of nature and examine the balance of human relationships with our fragile planet.
Speaking about the exhibition, Sebastião Salgado commented, ‘Genesis is about beginnings. It is about the unspoiled planet, the most pristine parts, and a way of life that is traditional and in harmony with nature. I wanted to present places that were untouched and remain so to this day.
I want people to see our planet in another way, to feel moved and be brought closer to it. I want them to become more conscious of the environment, to feel respect for nature because this is something that is relevant to everyone.’
Sebastião Salgado was a driving force behind me taking up photography as a career. When I first saw his image, often referred to as “the crucifix” from the open gold mine in Brazil, I was totally stunned; my mind and eyes were opened like never before, as I discovered a new way of seeing and an epic way of using a camera to convey a story. Personally I have never looked back. They say, one should never meet one’s heroes as disappointment is guaranteed. I’m thankful to say that when I met Sebastião Salgado and his wife, curator and editor Lélia Wanick Salgado at their book signing in Taschen’s London store, it was a special moment. Genuinely lovely, passionate and talented with absolute modesty and elegance. My career has always been inspired by the work and now I’m glad to say that it continues to be inspired by the person too.
As a press launch (just like a private view) is never the best time to see an exhibition; one’s always busy working. From the parts of the exhibition I did manage to see, I cannot recommend this exhibition highly enough. I foresee that I’ll be visiting it several times over the coming weeks and months. It should be on everyone’s “to do” list. It is quite literally awesome. I also cannot recommend the book highly enough either. It’s an amazing body of work, with an extremely important message. Go see it.
Addendum: I went to see the exhibition and spent several hours wondering around the various rooms, exploring various aspects of the project. It is magnificent. Amazing imagery, amazing prints and very well curated too. One gets really drawn into the images, discovering amazing details and subtleties. Equally, stepping back from some of the images, brings the graphic elements of the composition to play. I cannot recommend this exhibition highly enough. Book your ticket and time slot and visit; it is quite literally awesome.
A beautifully intimate film on the legendary Magnum photojournalist Philip Jones Griffiths, featuring a lot of his amazing work and also very interesting interviews with his Magnum Photos colleagues.