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Portions of this column were originally written for the August 2011 edition of News Photographer Magazine.

Mark Loundy is a media producer and consultant based in San Jose, California. Full bio.

The opinions in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Press Photographers Association.

August 2011, Volume 104
By Mark Loundy

"A man will fight harder for his interests than for his rights."

— Napoleon

Online bill of rightsWhen Thomas Jefferson penned the words, "...unalienable rights..." in the Declaration of Independence, he was talking about rights that are inviolable, absolute, and inherent. Although re-using my photo of Britney Spears without my permission is not comparable to violating my right to a fair trial, companies such as Facebook are basing their business models on obtaining content from their users for free. Perhaps it's time to craft a set of online rights that should be the basis for all online business relationships.

Online Bill of Rights

Article the first
No entity may realize revenue from content created by another unless the creator opts-in to such an arrangement through mutually agreed terms.

Article the second
No entity may distribute content created by another, outside of the scope or context into which it was originally placed, unless the creator opts-in to such an arrangement through mutually agreed terms.

Article the third
Users will always be able to download and entirely delete their original content from an online service.

Can you think of any more? What do you think the chances are of Congress adopting such a bill?

I'm only partly kidding.

The Good
Bullet From Doug Pizac (reporting on himself in the third person): "Photographer Doug Pizac reports an out-of-the-blue phone call from Major League Baseball in May wanting to return a Kodachrome slide to him that he shot 34 years ago and had totally forgotten about. MLB tracked him down to verify his current address and less than a week later an envelope arrived with the original transparency. The only identification on the slide's cardboard mount was Doug's name stamped on it."
Bullet Climbing Magazine for agreeing to modify the onerous contract put in place by its previous ownership.

The Bad
Bullet The marketing company for blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa for requiring all rights to all submitted images before they even select one for collectible lithographs.
Bullet The United States Sprint Boat Association for requiring that journalists agree beforehand to turn over all images of potential crashes.

The Ugly
Bullet The Lingerie Football League for soliciting a photographer to do studio headshots in exchange for placement on the team's website. That's it. Oh yeah, they want all rights too.
Bullet Major League Baseball Advanced Media, which operates the websites for Minor League Baseball (MiLB.com,) for reconsidering its Work For Hire contract and replacing it with (wait for it) another Work For Hire contract.
Bullet Ad agency Leo Burnett USA, its client Procter & Gamble and its Always brand for its Through The Eyes of Girls contest in which it requires entrants to sign a contract that permits the agency to use all entries in any way they see fit, regardless if they were "selected" for payment. In effect, they're assembling a library of images of women — for free.

Please let me know of any particularly good, bad or ugly dealings that you have had with clients recently. I will use the client's name, but I won't use your name if you don't want me to. Anonymous submissions will not be considered. Please include contact information for yourself and for the client.

Leftovers
  • A well-known image of the pioneering rap group RUN DMC was at the center of a copyright infringement suit that was decided in favor of photographer Glen E. Friedman. According to a story in Photo District News, French artist Theirry Guetta illegally used the image as a basis for several artworks.