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John Harrington's Takedown of the USPresswire/Gannett Contract

City Pages Refuses Foo Fighters Agreement

PR Agency Wants To Pay Photographer With Pies

We Have No Budget For Photos

NPPA Independent Photographers Toolkit

Advertising Photographers of America Business Manual

Common Cents Column On The Cost of Doing Business

Small Business Administration

NPPA Online Discussion Group Instructions

Portions of this column were originally written for the October 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.

November 2011, Volume 107
By Mark Loundy

"I have a new philosophy. I'm only going to dread one day at a time."

— Charlie Brown (Charles M. Schulz)

The US Presswire/Gannett contract finally dropped and it's worse than I had feared. Essentially it takes anti-photographer contract clauses to new depths by locking-up rights around the world, and prevents photographers from doing essentially anything with their images outside of USPW/G's business.

New DepthsThe contract even requires shooters to notify USPW/G of any potential licensing by the photographer's own clients. This gives them the opportunity to undercut the photographer that they are supposed to be "representing" and then pay them a fraction of what they would have otherwise gotten.

It's actually difficult to see any situation in which a photographer who signed the agreement could license an image under any circumstances. The contract is like being wrapped in a legal wet sheet. It even specifically forbids putting images on sites like Photoshelter — which it mentions by name.

I could go on and on, but my doctor told me not to get too excited. Luckily, photographer John Harrington took the contract apart in detail on his blog and lays out clause after execrable clause with his detailed commentary.

I hope that this contract will be the limit beyond which photographers will not be pushed. But there's always somebody...

The Good
Bullet City Pages for running a stick figure drawing rather than sign a rights-grabbing agreement to shoot the Foo Fighters St. Paul, MN tour stop.
Bullet Climbing Magazine for making paying photographers a priority as the publication tries to recover from financial hard times.

The Bad
Bullet Time Magazine's The Next Generation photo contest, for its rights-grabbing agreement. How can there even be a "next generation" of photographers if they've starved to death?

The Ugly
Bullet The 90th Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial in Gallup, NM for requiring news media to hand over all images along with all rights in exchange for access. The commercial photographer who manages the event's media access is named Daryl Custer. It would be just too easy to draw a humorously ironic connection based on the guy's name. So I won't do it.
Bullet Photography network "Turn Here" for their all-rights agreement.
Bullet Diamond Magazine for offering a maximum of $10 "per usable photo."
Bullet The Bounce Agency (formerly Leslie Advertising) for not only requesting free images, but for stating up-front that they didn't even offer a photo credit.

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.

  • Andrew Smith, a Scottish newspaper photographer reports in his blog about the PR agency breaking the news that the client didn't have a photography budget. "'There is no payment but petrol will be paid for, it could lead to freelance work with ****** in the future and they'll get free pies too!'"
    What? In the face?
  • UK snapper Tony Sleep gets so many requests for free photography that he now simply directs the inquires to the same boilerplate text in which he explains why photographers have to charge for the work they perform. He end it by saying, "If all this means you can't source the images you want, that is just tough. I can't source free cameras, computers, software, food, housing, fuel, either. If it's all so damn easy and cheap, go and make your own photos."