Luminous Landscape Forum

The Art of Photography => The Coffee Corner => Topic started by: feppe on January 23, 2011, 06:03:50 AM

Title: Photographers and copyright of music
Post by: feppe on January 23, 2011, 06:03:50 AM
I've kept my mouth shut for a while regarding this, but this is getting more common: some photographers are as much to blame for erosion of copyright as the unwashed masses - and we should know better.

There are numerous lively, frustrated and even angry discussions about random people on the internet using our photographs without permission. The copyright infringment cases range from individuals to multi-national corporations, and many photographers are understandably miffed, especially in latter cases.

On the other hand, some LL members post videos with well-known popular music, and I'm quite sure they have not acquired permission to use it. Granted, I've seen only two people: one of them posts these videos regularly, another is a new member. Both appear to be professionals and the videos are for promotional use, so there is little excuse to claim fair use. If one browses Vimeo or Youtube, it's clear that the behavior is common even among pro photographers.

I wouldn't go as far as saying this is hypocritical in the case of the two LL members, as I haven't seen these individuals complain about others using their photographs without permission (not that I've been following it). Nevertheless, the point remains: if we expect others to respect the copyright of our photography, we should at least respect the copyright of other content creators.
Title: Re: Photographers and copyright of music
Post by: Steve Weldon on January 23, 2011, 08:39:13 AM
An interesting perspective.

A few years back I had occasion to chat at length with a photographer whose work I really respected.  We discussed this, I think at the time we were both a bit chuffed from others using our work without permission.  In any case, it became a topic of discussion over dinner.

He said in todays world there is little we can do about copyright infringement, and what was considered "infringement" was a rapidly evolving subject anyway.  He cautioned against being too rigid with our opinions, lest we not be able to keep up with the evolution.

Further, he said to help him do this, and to avoid the associated stress, he simply charges his clients enough for the work to mitigate future infringements and then to not worry about it.  Any future sales of the same images would be more like a bonus and we'd feel better about the situation that way.   I took his advice and it's worked for me.

Ironically, a few days later I'm at the local Kinko's (not really Kinko's, but you wouldn't know the Thai name) and one of my customers who I just delivered her wedding album.. pulled me over all excited and explained to me how easy it was to make color copies from my prints with a 'good enough' quality to send to friends and relatives.  Her enthusiasm was only equaled by her total lack of awareness of copyright.  She was actually trying to help me by showing me the magic of a color copier..   Talk about self control.  I remembered my conversation with my friend above, smiled, and was quickly able to put it behind me.  It didn't even ruin lunch, much less my day.

Later that week I made color copies and included them in my future consultations with clients where I was able to show them the differences between copies and quality prints.. and then let them choose.  I think it increases my print sales.
Title: Re: Photographers and copyright of music
Post by: feppe on January 23, 2011, 09:20:38 AM
An interesting perspective.

A few years back I had occasion to chat at length with a photographer whose work I really respected.  We discussed this, I think at the time we were both a bit chuffed from others using our work without permission.  In any case, it became a topic of discussion over dinner.

He said in todays world there is little we can do about copyright infringement, and what was considered "infringement" was a rapidly evolving subject anyway.  He cautioned against being too rigid with our opinions, lest we not be able to keep up with the evolution.

Further, he said to help him do this, and to avoid the associated stress, he simply charges his clients enough for the work to mitigate future infringements and then to not worry about it.  Any future sales of the same images would be more like a bonus and we'd feel better about the situation that way.   I took his advice and it's worked for me.

Ironically, a few days later I'm at the local Kinko's (not really Kinko's, but you wouldn't know the Thai name) and one of my customers who I just delivered her wedding album.. pulled me over all excited and explained to me how easy it was to make color copies from my prints with a 'good enough' quality to send to friends and relatives.  Her enthusiasm was only equaled by her total lack of awareness of copyright.  She was actually trying to help me by showing me the magic of a color copier..   Talk about self control.  I remembered my conversation with my friend above, smiled, and was quickly able to put it behind me.  It didn't even ruin lunch, much less my day.

Later that week I made color copies and included them in my future consultations with clients where I was able to show them the differences between copies and quality prints.. and then let them choose.  I think it increases my print sales.

Your anecdotal post is tangential and largely irrelevant to my point. You might feel it's ok for others to use your content without your permission, while many don't, and certainly most pros don't. Also, as implied, I'm not referring to fair use, even when used loosely (for example, somebody putting copyrighted background music to their vacation photo slideshow posted on youtube, which I'm sure would get pulled).

I'm talking about professionals appropriating other professionals' content without permission, and often without credit. It is hypocritical to lament how photographs are used without permission when we don't extend the same consideration to music. How are the laypeople supposed to honor copyright when even pros don't?
Title: Re: Photographers and copyright of music
Post by: Steve Weldon on January 23, 2011, 09:44:07 AM
Your anecdotal post is tangential and largely irrelevant to my point.
Well, maybe it is if you're so set on making a point that you don't leave yourself open for alternative opinions.

You sound angry..
Title: Re: Photographers and copyright of music
Post by: Steve Weldon on January 23, 2011, 09:48:51 AM
You might feel it's ok for others to use your content without your permission, while many don't, and certainly most pros don't.
You don't think it's interesting that you point out that what "I" feel isn't really important, but then you claim to speak for "many" others and "most pros.."   Interesting.  Seriously, you don't find that just a bit narcistic? 

If you're not open for discussion (including alternative viewpoints), why not just write and post an editorial essay?
Title: Re: Photographers and copyright of music
Post by: feppe on January 23, 2011, 10:06:13 AM
You don't think it's interesting that you point out that what "I" feel isn't really important, but then you claim to speak for "many" others and "most pros.."   Interesting.  Seriously, you don't find that just a bit narcistic? 

If you're not open for discussion (including alternative viewpoints), why not just write and post an editorial essay?

What's it with every single copyright discussion derailing to ad hominems?

I don't want to talk about "alternative" viewpoints because I (again) don't want to rehash those conversations which have been had here before, and would like to discuss a narrower topic which has not been discussed before.

I've written extensively here and elsewhere about the benefits of Creative Commons, and have put forth "alternative" views in many cases where someone feels slighted about copyright infringment. As much as you'd like it to be, this is not about me (or you).
Title: Re: Photographers and copyright of music
Post by: Steve Weldon on January 23, 2011, 10:26:35 AM
"What's it with every single copyright discussion derailing to ad hominems?"

I've not been part of these discussions, but I'm guessing you were part of 'every single discussion'?

"I don't want to talk about "alternative" viewpoints because I (again) don't want to rehash those conversations which have been had here before, and would like to discuss a narrower topic which has not been discussed before."

Well, rest assured your desire to have a very narrow viewpoint is coming across loud and clear.  Really, editorial essays are perfect for this.. I write them all the time.

"I've written extensively here and elsewhere about the benefits of Creative Commons, and have put forth "alternative" views in many cases where someone feels slighted about copyright infringment. As much as you'd like it to be, this is not about me (or you)."

It's also clear this is about (in your mind) "two" other forum members?  Don't know them, don't want to know them.

Still, despite your reluctance to embrace real discussion in this thread I'm reminded of something my recently and dearly departed ol' grandma once told me..  "It is far better to worry about what you're doing, rather than what others are doing."  I suspect she meant we can expect to change ourselves, but its a bit pretentious to think we can change others.  Probably more so to expect others to feel the same.
Title: Re: Photographers and copyright of music
Post by: Justinr on January 23, 2011, 10:30:41 AM
I must put my hand up and confess that there is one Youtube presentation of mine that does breach the protocol, it's a situation I am not happy with and I keep meaning to find a usable piece of music that fits just as well but as yet that hasn't happened. In the meantime the title and composer is clearly credited which, along with the fact that I posted it as a private individual with no business name or logo perhaps goes some way to ameliorating the situation.

I have been asked on several occasions to use other peoples work on websites that I am building and so far have managed to avoid having to do so except once and that was on the clear proviso that I would not stand as the owner or publisher of the site. The trouble is that there is a general assumption amongst the public that if it's on the web then its free to use, a belief that permeates throughout the strata of users including the professions. I should point out that my policy on this front has in fact cost me work but at least I can sleep a little better at night.

Conversely I work on the principle that anything I put on the web is open to abuse so I simply don't put it up in a convenient form, low res, watermarked etc. Not infallible I know but it discourages casual misuse.

So yes I'd agree that using others work without permission is wrong but it is a genie that I fear is now well and truly out of the bottle and we have to develop new strategies in dealing with it. No idea what they may be though.

Title: Re: Photographers and copyright of music
Post by: Rob C on January 23, 2011, 11:36:55 AM
It would help focus the mind to the 'problem' if there was an example or link to it.

I often add links to youtube music/video here - is that the sort of thing being discussed? I hope not, as I see no difficulty in passing on information that's freely available on the web. Passing something on is not the same thing as using it to a further end, where one might well be expected to pay for the usage, just as with any other form of stock material.

On a personal level, I hate it when I open a photographer's site and music hits me between the eyes (ears?), and worse yet are those sites where you fail to find the OFF button for the sound, if there is one at all!

Rob C
Title: Re: Photographers and copyright of music
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on January 23, 2011, 12:00:35 PM
What's it with every single ... discussion derailing to ad hominems?…

Do not know about "every single" but those with Steve surely do. ;)
Title: Re: Photographers and copyright of music
Post by: Chris_Brown on January 23, 2011, 12:11:26 PM
I tell all free-lance assistants that I won't hire them a second time if they have stolen/unpaid music in their libraries. It sounds harsh, but when I tell them to give me their ten favorite photos for me to use as I wish, for free, they get a better idea of the ethics involved.

It's a no-brainer.
Title: Re: Photographers and copyright of music
Post by: feppe on January 23, 2011, 12:29:47 PM
The trouble is that there is a general assumption amongst the public that if it's on the web then its free to use, a belief that permeates throughout the strata of users including the professions.
...
Conversely I work on the principle that anything I put on the web is open to abuse so I simply don't put it up in a convenient form, low res, watermarked etc. Not infallible I know but it discourages casual misuse.

So yes I'd agree that using others work without permission is wrong but it is a genie that I fear is now well and truly out of the bottle and we have to develop new strategies in dealing with it. No idea what they may be though.

Good point about watermarks and low res, those are the most widely used methods to discourage copyright infringment, or at least get you credited when it happens. But music can't be manipulated in that manner easily, so crediting is even more important.

As to entirely new strategies, there are many, Creative Commons perhaps the best known. Several well-known artists, including authors  (http://craphound.com/?cat=5)and musicians (http://www.nin.com/), have released work for varying definitions of "free" online, and some have seen their revenues increase because their art reaches more eyes and ears, thus generating more sales of books and MP3s. I've yet to see any medium-long term economic analysis about its viability, and whether an unestablished artist can get recognition and paid going that route is highly questionable. I'm not aware of any such examples in any art form.

There are old strategies, though. In times well before popular art and culture many artists had patrons who paid for the artists to create more art, sometimes without strings attached. A modern twist would be Kickstarter  (http://www.kickstarter.com/)and similar sites.

It would help focus the mind to the 'problem' if there was an example or link to it.

I'd rather not, as I don't want to point fingers and would prefer to keep this about the wider implications rather than individual cases. I'm not referring to random youtube videos, but of videos posted here and elsewhere by professionals or businesses to promote their photography or videography, which use copyrighted music (apparently) without permission or even credit.
Title: Re: Photographers and copyright of music
Post by: Joe Behar on January 23, 2011, 01:08:22 PM
Nevertheless, the point remains: if we expect others to respect the copyright of our photography, we should at least respect the copyright of other content creators.

Of course, you have a very valid point here, but the fact remains that there will always be a certain number of people that will knowingly break rules and laws.

There will also be a certain number of people that have no idea that they are doing something wrong and finally, there will always be a certain number of people that honestly believe they have some sort of "right" to use others work as they please.

The question of copyright and fair usage is complex to say the least and I doubt that any laws will ever make the majority of people happy. In the end its left up to the individual to "do the right thing"

Allow me to play devil's advocate for a moment;

Lets face it, in the world of commerce, just giving credit when you use someone's work does not help them one little bit. Respecting copyright means either paying for usage or getting permission from the creator to use their work for free. Is there really a difference if you're making money from it or not? You're still using someone else's property.

Is it OK if I use a popular song as background for a slideshow at a small family function but not OK if I do it for a camera club or professional organization seminar?  What if I did the seminar for free at the camera club or professional association meeting?

I know I have not given any solutions here, but maybe we can have a dialogue? (in a civil manner please)

I'd like to finish off with a witty one liner, but I can't decide between two...

1.  You can't legislate common sense.

2.  You can't fix stupid.

The second statement is not directed at any of the participants in this discussion.
Title: Re: Photographers and copyright of music
Post by: Justinr on January 23, 2011, 06:01:20 PM
I don't think you are not playing Devils advocate at all Joe, just stating how things should be and rightly so. Unfortunately we are now living in a world where the reproduction and dissemination of art has become ridiculously easy and virtually costless and it it is this inescapable practicality of the situation that demolishes what fond yearnings there may still exist for a more civilised recognition and financial appreciation of each other's work.

Feppe has mentioned some ideas that may help counter blatant theft but they are not immediately applicable to an image or tune that has just been created and needs chaperoning in the wilds of the web. An embedded code that could not be erased without destruction of the piece would be a sort of magic bullet but I've no doubt that this idea has already been explored and discarded for some reason. Such a code would allow the tracing of an image on the web if nowhere else.

If I may be allowed a little anecdote to illustrate the scale of the problem. In Waterford I came across a large builders suppliers who were using thumbnails downloaded from the web on large signs hanging on their wall. Not only was the picture quality awful but the Istock watermark was still clearly visible with no attempt at removing it! This was done by a large company with several depots throughout Ireland and if they see no wrong then what hope is there for the rest of the population? I did in fact contact Istock and a month or two later the signs came down.
Title: Re: Photographers and copyright of music
Post by: Steve Weldon on January 24, 2011, 04:16:14 AM
Do not know about "every single" but those with Steve surely do. ;)
Hehe..  some fun must be allowed..  ;D
Title: Re: Photographers and copyright of music
Post by: Steve Weldon on January 24, 2011, 04:39:28 AM
Conversely I work on the principle that anything I put on the web is open to abuse

So yes I'd agree that using others work without permission is wrong

1.  Exactly.  Anything you put on any type of media which can be copied, scanned, or made into a paper airplane and sailed across the classroom (I'd never do that) is open to abuse.  It always has been and always will be.  Every type of draconian enforcement going on out there from the RIAA on down almost always only succeeds in making matters worse.  In the RIAA's case it does it by poor public perception and the resulting anger.. and it's cost them.  Enough to discontinue their practices, send their lawyers back into the woodwork they crawled out of, and wish they never did it.  You can't control it, but you can control your initial release.  Make sure you charge a fair value for this and don't waste time, or worse create poor public perception, by getting angry over it.  More than anything, don't lose sleep over it, and don't let it hurt your business by adopting policies or creating attitudes which will turn off your customer base.

2.  I'm not arguing its 'wrong', but I don't think we stop and think about why we think it's wrong as often as we should.  Many would say you can't own art whatever form in which it may be.  I personally think we've been conditioned (for various reasons) to think it's wrong and haven't stopped often enough to consider if it still should be wrong.. and this prevents us from implementing changes which 'might' benefit us at the right time.  With this subject, we usually learn after shooting ourselves in the foot. (see RIAA example above)

I think copyright is most often misunderstood, almost as much as 'Ad hominem'..  You can't bully people into agreeing with you by getting angry at alternative viewpoints or misapplying/abusing definitions.  I also think the people making real money in this industry (media) are the ones thinking out of the box about copyright and finding ways to redefine the concept/industry.  Think about micro-stock agencies, Itunes, Kindle, and many more.  These are all evolutions..

Title: Re: Photographers and copyright of music
Post by: Steve Weldon on January 24, 2011, 04:45:06 AM
I tell all free-lance assistants that I won't hire them a second time if they have stolen/unpaid music in their libraries. It sounds harsh, but when I tell them to give me their ten favorite photos for me to use as I wish, for free, they get a better idea of the ethics involved.

It's a no-brainer.
Do you feel this helps your business grow?  Do you have so many qualified free-lance assistants available where this doesn't actually hurt you?  How do you determine if they have stolen/unpaid music?  Principle must be admired, but it's not always conducive to the bottom line.
Title: Re: Photographers and copyright of music
Post by: Rob C on January 24, 2011, 10:55:33 AM
I think that the basic fact is simple to understand: copyright is a concept virtually unthought of by the non-creative person.

When you realise that, you realise why it exists as it does - the concept of possible theft seldom enters the non-creative person's head.

As far as I understand it regarding music, the problem has always been price. In my teen years, spending a pound (probably two dollars fifty, then) on an LP represented a lot of pocket money. Singles were seldom of interest for me, and so music was ever thought of as expensive. Later, after buying so many LPs and learning the hard way that most of them had a max. of maybe three great numbers on them, the price became even more absurd in my mental values-juggling act. So, eventually, when the cost no longer meant squat, I had already distanced myself from the buying of music and settled for listening to the radio. If bought music was available at 'reasonable' cost - whatever that is - to teenagers, then I expect that many more acts would make money from selling their stuff.

I may be mistaken: for all I know, the juke box culture of the 50s may be something out of the Ark today; maybe cafés are as passé as I probably am myself -  but who knows? Do kids gather together and have naďve fun anymore? Do young people still drink Coke and enjoy coffee and fall in love? Or is it all wham, bang, thank you mam, and have a good snort?

Hell knows. But theft, knowing or innocent, will never disappear.

Rob C
Title: Re: Photographers and copyright of music
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on January 24, 2011, 11:46:40 AM
Do you feel this helps your business grow?  Do you have so many qualified free-lance assistants available where this doesn't actually hurt you?… Principle must be admired, but it's not always conducive to the bottom line.

Hey, Steve, looks like you tend to turn for a moral and spiritual guidance to your… accountant? ;)

Is your "doing the right thing" based on a profit calculation?

Are you honest only when it contributes to your bottom line?

And when your bottom line is in red, I guess it would be o.k. to cheat and steal?

Title: Re: Photographers and copyright of music
Post by: Justinr on January 24, 2011, 12:32:27 PM
Quote
copyright is a concept virtually unthought of by the non-creative person.

Distilled into a single line the very essence of the problem. Such wisdom will never be passé.

J.
Title: Re: Photographers and copyright of music
Post by: Rob C on January 24, 2011, 02:31:50 PM
Hey, Steve, looks like you tend to turn for a moral and spiritual guidance to your… accountant? ;)

Is your "doing the right thing" based on a profit calculation?

Are you honest only when it contributes to your bottom line?

And when your bottom line is in red, I guess it would be o.k. to cheat and steal?





Slobodan, that used to be called situation ethics.

Rob C
Title: Re: Photographers and copyright of music
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on January 24, 2011, 02:55:42 PM
… that used to be called situation ethics.

I doubt that Joseph Fletcher had in mind saving your bottom (line, that is) as the lofty end, worth sacrificing ethical principles for ;)
Title: Re: Photographers and copyright of music
Post by: feppe on January 24, 2011, 03:12:16 PM
Principle must be admired, but it's not always conducive to the bottom line.

Principles aren't truly tested until there's money involved.
Title: Re: Photographers and copyright of music
Post by: Rob C on January 24, 2011, 04:06:06 PM
Principles aren't truly tested until there's money involved.


Hence, Indecent Proposal.

Rob C
Title: Re: Photographers and copyright of music
Post by: feppe on January 24, 2011, 04:08:05 PM
Hence, Indecent Proposal.

Sorry, Rob, I prefer women :D
Title: Re: Photographers and copyright of music
Post by: Joe Behar on January 24, 2011, 04:39:20 PM
Sorry, Rob, I prefer women :D

Harri,

With the way some readers of this forum talk about camera lust, that might just put you in the minority :)

Title: Re: Photographers and copyright of music
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on January 24, 2011, 05:48:00 PM
Harri,

With the way some readers of this forum talk about camera lust, that might just put you in the minority :)

Ahhh… how quickly this thread has degenerated… from copyright to ad hominem, from ethics to accountants, only to end up where all human interest usually ends up: sex! And not just any sex, but the kinky one :D
Title: Re: Photographers and copyright of music
Post by: Joe Behar on January 24, 2011, 08:18:00 PM
Only kinky if you consider the camera envy folks. For the rest of us, perfectly normal.

The real question though might be, if I have sex with an accountant to apologise for an ad hominem attack and we sing along to the music playing on the radio while someone videotapes it, have we breached any ethics or copyright? And who owns the rights to the video?

Seriously though, debates like this will always exist and as I said earlier, its really up to the individual to do the right thing.

We've heard from at least two opposing positions that have run the gamut from refusing to hire anyone that does not completely adhere to copyright all the way to, "leave it be, we're not hurting anyone and if it comes to making money, I'm fully prepared to leave my principles at the door"

Just for the record, I"m mostly with feppe on this point. The very least we should do is remind people that copyright exists and educate them. After that, I believe my role as a missionary is over.
Title: Re: Photographers and copyright of music
Post by: Rob C on January 25, 2011, 05:10:55 AM
Joe, after your roll with the accountant, who'd be a missionary?

Rob C
Title: Re: Photographers and copyright of music
Post by: Joe Behar on January 25, 2011, 10:01:19 AM
Now there you go, complicating things again...

See what I mean?