Student Photographers Getting Ripped Off

Most people in this world do not understand the concept of a copyright and/or licensing your work, whether it be photography, music, graphic design, film, art, stories, computer code etc…. hence the whole Napster/Metallica suit back in the early 2000 years for copyright infringement.

Basically, if you create a photo, I own the copyright to that image, as it is intellectual property.  And to further solidify my ownership of the image I can register it with the copyright office.  Should a commercial outlet want to use the image for some purpose, I would  license that image to that commercial company for a fee b/c they see a value in the image.  That image becomes an investment for that company to make a greater return when it gets published for the purposes of their product/service.    Now if there is a person in that image, I must obtain a model release from that person.  And if there’s a building in the image, I need to have a property release signed.

Here is where many (student) photographers have been scammed and ripped off.  Many have been approached for the “privilege” of being published and have their work go out into the world as royalty-free stock photography.  The “author” and publisher reap all the money that is made from this book while the photographers that contributed are left with nothing.  The students are even held liable.  Many photo contests work in the same fashion.  The following is an blog-post by John Harrington, a well known Washington DC photographer and advocate for educating young photographers/artists on the business side of photography.

Bottom line…. Aspiring artists, protect your work and read the fine print before submitting your work to anything.


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