Category Archives: Photographers' rights

ABC and Organic Gardener, trying it on…

This week I received a “deed of copyright” from the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s Organic Gardener, a publication I have on a few occasions contributed to. I was at first puzzled as it is nearly two years since I’ve had anything published in that fine magazine. Now, I’m all for contracts when it comes to publishing, but this particular deed I was being asked to sign, wanted me to grant them a fixed re-use price for my photographs of $20 per use, plus the use of my work “on any website owned or controlled by the ABC…for an unlimited time gratis”.

The specific clauses in the ABC Copyright Licence Deed

Normally I would just ignore a rights grab like that, but in this case I felt compelled to respond. I wrote to the ABC as follows:

Thursday, 22 September 2011

 Dear Ms White,

 I am puzzled by the request to sign a deed of copyright related to my material previously published in Organic Gardener.

 While I respect the need for contracts within publishing, I will not sign overarching deeds of copyright related to material already published, that gives the ABC retrospective re-use rights at rates so low.

 Organic Gardener is entirely free to re-use my material whenever they choose, at a rate negotiated with me at the time. I am sure your experience is the same as mine, but I have yet to encounter any supplier of goods or services that will allow me to decide what I want to pay. As the author and licensee of my photographs, it is my prerogative to decide the rates they are offered at. If you disagree with what I ask, it is your right to say negotiate or say no.

 I have forwarded copies of your deed of copyright to the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance and the Australian Commercial and Media Photographers.

 Yours sincerely,

I’ll let you know if there is any follow-up….

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Filed under Australia, Australian, Digital photography, News, Opinion, Photographer, Photographers' rights, Rob Walls, Stock photography

Documenting disaster and distress…

The argument whether photographers should photograph people’s suffering in disasters or war ebbs and flows. The subject raises its head each time there is a major event. Inevitably there will those who argue that the photographic coverage is an invasion of privacy, or an exploitation of people’s misery. But, to my mind they arguments is never just black and white. I believe that at the very least, photographs of human misery have the ability to stir empathy and at best, move the viewer to take action in some way to try to relievc that misery.

This subject is covered in a very thoughtful article by Suzy Freeman-Green (Drawing a line in the morality of watching disasters unfold) in the Melbourne, Age today (March 26). I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts on this issue…

 

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Filed under Australia, Australian, Digital photography, documentary photography, Photographers' rights, Photography, Photojournalism

Words fail me…

When it comes to the subject of children and photography, the perverted views of those who would “protect” our children leaves me aghast. Yes, their stance towards the subject of children in art and photography is nothing more than perverse.

You can read Robert Nelson’s piece in the Sydney Morning Herald (Knee-jerk fear seems the rule in matters of children and art SMH Jan 6 2011) about the Sydney Childrens Hospital’s craven response to fear of criticism of this photo by artist, Del Kathryn Barton, by the new puritans here:

Nick O’Malley: Why this photo cost hospital a charity bonanza


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Filed under art, Australia, Australian, News, Opinion, Photographer, Photographers' rights, Photography

A return to photographic innocence?

Rosemary Neill writing in The Australian has highlighted the idiotic restrictions that are being imposed on photographers in Australia.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/arts/not-a-good-look/story-e6frg8n6-1225930635070

I think it an interesting point she makes, that as television co-opts and commercialises their versions of “reality”, photographers are being restricted in their ability to document the world.

She writes: ”

It is ironic that photographers feel under siege when voyeurism has been turned into a national pastime. Witness the enduring popularity of reality television, the celebrities who tweet compulsively about the most mundane details of their lives and ordinary individuals who post dozens of photographs of themselves on Facebook. Our multimedia society is arguably the most narcissistic and (superficially) self-revealing in history.

Yet, paradoxically, the rise of online and mobile media has also bred mistrust of professional photography and has entrenched ideas about the need to control images — and who makes money from them — whether the subject be a private citizen or a well-known landmark.”

Will there ever be a return to the days of photographic innocence? One can hope…but I doubt it.

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Filed under Australian, documentary photography, Opinion, Photographers' rights, Photography, Photojournalism

How I became an outlaw…

Once upon a time, I used to be a photographer who confidently recorded the world around me to generate a reasonable living. Then, all and sundry decided they would either prevent me from taking pictures by imposing regulations, or if they couldn’t do that, they would dip into my wallet to take a piece of the action by imposing permits and fees. They conveniently chose to ignore the fact that my pictures were part of an established symbiotic relationship that enhanced their profitability. Where photo fees are now imposed they are inevitably at a level which, in any sane society, would be equated with banditry.

This year again, because of these regulations, I have become an outlaw. As recently as yesterday, I committed the crime of publishing this photo of the Darling Harbour precinct in Sydney in a Russian consumer magazine.

Sydney's Darling Harbour by night. © Rob Walls

The magazine paid $38US for the privilege of using my photo. The former USSR is notorious for its low publication fees, but this was quite generous by their standards. My share: $22US. Not only did I break the law by marketing this photo, I had at the time of taking it, compounded my crime by shooting from a tripod!

Looking back through my picture sales, this year, I realise I am, so  far, a three-strikes habitual criminal. In January, I licenced for publication (through Alamy), this photo taken on Bondi Beach (no permit/no fee). It appeared in an Italian consumer magazine with a print run of 150,000. I wonder if the number of Italian visitors to Bondi increased this year?

Bondi Beach, late afternoon © Rob Walls

This picture of the Sydney Opera House was used once in a text book in January, and also in a consumer magazine in Taiwan, last March.

Sydney Opera House at sunrise © Rob Walls

Now, these organisations are content to take the profits generated by the tourists attracted to Australia by my photographs and those of other photographers, but they want it both ways. I have absolutely no argument with the authorities about ownership of the space or property. I don’t question the need to impose sensible rules that regulate the work of commercial photographers or film units in these spaces. That’s only common sense. But in every one of these instances, my photography imposed no more interference or obstruction than would any tourist.

What I do question, is the right of government to inhibit my freedom of expression…and their assumption that they own and can charge me for using the light reflected from these objects.

Footnote: These publications earned $US276.82. My share after commission: $US167.29. This is less than the Waverley Council would charge for one hour of photography on Bondi Beach ($150 application fee, $75 an hour).

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Filed under Australian, Digital photography, documentary photography, Photographer, Photographers' rights, Photography, Photojournalism, Rob Walls, Stock photography

Arts Freedom Australia protest rally, Sunday, August 29th

I live in Tasmania, and am grateful that the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service takes the liberal approach that it does in recognising the symbiotic relationship between photographers and landscape, by giving professional photographers the freedom to photograph in our national parks. This state was blessed with two of the best wilderness photographers in Olegas Truchanas who in turn was a mentor to Peter Dombrovskis. Coincidentally, both died pursuing their craft in the wilderness they loved.

On Sunday, 29th August at Campbells Cove in Sydney there will be a demonstration against Parks Australia’s  iniquitous laws that restrict professional photography at sites such as Uluru and Kakadu. The demonstration is organised by Arts Freedom Australia.

More information here: http://www.artsfreedomaustralia.com/blog/?p=194

More coverage on Google News: http://tinyurl.com/37x9cf8

Coverage of the protest in the Sydney Morning Herald: http://tinyurl.com/23mxcno

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Filed under art, Australian, documentary photography, News, Photographer, Photographers' rights, Photography, Stock photography, travel

The “p” word. Photography? No! Paranoia…

Received this email from my West Australian colleague, Tony McDonough of RAW Images, last week. Yet another example of the rampant and unreasonable paranoia infecting society.

“I have just finished a shoot in Perth’s northern suburbs. Nothing fancy, a pic of a shopping centre and some surrounding streets. Job booked and shot at 10:30 am.

For those of you who are not in Perth or have not seen the news lately, there was an alleged child abduction in the “northern suburbs” a few days ago. Now the scene is set.

While walking down a street with my camera over my shoulder and the person who briefed the shoot ( a lovely lady ). I happened to walk past a school. I didn’t look at the school, just a glance, I judged that there was no picture to be had using the school so we continued walking ( we did not stop ) I did not at any time, touch my camera while passing the school except to adjust the strap which was slipping off my shoulder as they sometimes do when a 200 mm lens is attached. I did not put the camera to my eye.

I was even unaware that my companion was not alongside me anymore when I reached an intersection. I stopped and looked around, she was chatting to someone, so I walked back to join in. The stranger was wearing a school name tag, and was enquiring just what we where doing walking past the school. Unfortunately the conversation was over by the time I got there, and all I heard was “…. you can’t be too careful ….” as the busy-body returned  100 meters to her rightful spot.

I only wish she had stopped me :). I could have asked her if she had indeed asked the two other men over the road, they had motorbikes, perhaps the vanguard of a criminal gang scoping out the area to sell drugs. Or I could have asked her if she would so willingly have stopped a plumber carrying a wrench, or perhaps a muslim, because they may have been planning a bombing raid, but sadly I missed my opportunity to chat to this guardian as she scurried back to her vantage point within the school fence.

She obviously  has a keen eye for  for dodgy characters , her first clue would have been the camera, because it is a well know fact  amongst our protectors that people who want to do mischief, often carry cameras worth upwards of $12,000.

What is wrong with our society that people feel a need to question people going about their lawful business? Why didn’t she at least ask me? Why do people immediately feel threatened by people with big cameras, or indeed anyone who carries a camera in public, when almost everybody today carries a smaller camera or a phone camera ? Why should I feel guilty just for carrying a camera?

What have we become? I was and still am really disappointed and upset that I was singled out for his treatment. Do I drive a white van (there was one mentioned in an alert) or was there one parked nearby? No. Did I fit the description of the alleged offender? No. Did I carry a camera past a school? Yes.”….

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Filed under Australian, documentary photography, Opinion, Photographer, Photographers' rights, Photojournalism