You've Gotta Fight For Your Right To COPYRIGHT!

How serendipitous. A day ago I post about Copyright (here) and now I find this via FStoppers. Take a look and keep reading:

Some people are really put off by what this guy did. Personally, I don't see anything wrong with his actions. He was professional and cordial. The bottom line is this, the paper STOLE something. Professions that don't produce a physical product (photographers, writers, programmers, etc.) have become devalued to the point where we think it is ok to take without regard of payment. Just because it's on the internet doesn't mean it's free. If I go into a clothing store and steal a bar of candy, do they send me a letter asking for payment? Do they request I give it back? No. They call the cops and I go to jail.

I would feel totally different about this if the blogger was rude and combative. He wasn't. In fact, the paper was rude and combative. Some people say, "Well why didn't he just send them a letter asking for payment?" Do you think sending a letter to this guy 15 times would have done a thing? When he does nothing with the letters you've got to call a lawyer. You have lawyer fees. This drags on for months. Finally he gets his check. How many hours of work has he put into pursuing this guy for payment when that time could have been spent writing more articles?

What are your thoughts?

Photographers Breaking Copyright

If you've been reading my blog regularly you know I'm a big proponent of copyright (see here for past musings). If you head over to YouTube or Vimeo you'll see the abundance of copyright violations as it pertains to music. There is a part of me that understands some of these violations. I think a lot of people are uneducated on copyright and don't know what they are doing, though that doesn't excuse the violation. Surly we need to do a better job of educating people on copyright.

That being said there are certain people who should know about copyright and their infringement shouldn't be excused. I'm specifically talking about photographers. I've seen countless photographers using copyrighted music in their videos lately. Not only is this a dangerous practice (you could get sued, like this guy) but it's also hurts the creative industry.

How is a creative person supposed to get paid for their work if they keep perpetuating the thing that keeps them from getting paid? It's a damaging practice. In all my videos I use music that is fair use or I buy a license.

Want to stop stealing music for your videos? Excellent! Don't know how to stop? Don't fear. There are plenty of sites out there that provide fair use music or music that can be licensed for a small fee. Here are 4 that come to mind:

Vimeo Music Store - This one has a ton of great music. A lot is free and they offer a personal use license for $2. Don't know which license you need? Click here for a quick rundown.

Free Music Archive - A great resource for music. Everything on here is free (at least to the best of my knowledge). Make sure you check the Creative Commons license terms before you use the song though. I really love their Music for Video curated section. It features some great music that would work well for the indie film maker.

Incompetech - I haven't perused through this site very much but it seems to have some decent stuff on it. Some of it feels a little synthy but I think there are some gems to be found. Anyone can use the music for free under the proper attribution Creative Commons license. If you don't want to or can't attribute the work you can buy a license for fairly cheap. Details are here.

Friendly Music - These guys have partnered with YouTube and offer some great music. Personally, I think their new redesigned site is hard to navigate. If you agree you can still visit their old layout here. Take caution with this though, if you gain revenue from your video via ads (like the ones YouTube runs at the beginning or during a video) you need to negotiate for another license (this is probably true for all the above sites too).

There are plenty of other resources for music that I haven't mentioned here. If you have any I'd love to hear them in the comments. On a final note, I am not a lawyer so don't read what I said above as the letter of the law. Make sure you do your homework when buying a license and you fully understand what you are agreeing to. It's not easy but it's worth it.

My Opinion On Copyright


If you are an artist and you're trying to make money you have to at least understand copyright. You don't necessarily have to do anything about it but you should know it.

I'm a photographer so I'm only going to say my opinions on copyright as it pertains to photography and social media. I could go on for days about this subject as it's a complicated one but I'll try to keep it to one post (albiet a long one). Pull up a chair, grab a glass of water, and be prepared for my opinion.

First off, we live in different times. The internet has changed everything. Before it exploded, the internet was thought to be a flash in the pan. I remember listening to Andrew Rosenthal, editorial page editor for The New York Times, state that when the Times first published its paper online in 1996 (for free, mind you) everyone thought it would be over and fail fairly quickly. In everyones eyes the interwebs (as my dad calls it) wasn't supposed to last so why charge for anything. This set a president. Since everything in the beginning was free people thought it should be free forever (wether you like it or not isn't the point, this is just how it is). In my opinion, this is what brought on Napster, bit torent, and many other "sharing" sites. Keep this in mind as you continue reading.

Nowadays there is a lot of commotion regarding copyright with sites like Facebook, Google+, Twitpic, Pinterest, Tumblr, and yadda yadda yadda. The biggest thing I don't like, and many artists would agree with me, is the rights grab you agree to when you sign up for these services. What do I mean by "rights grab?" When you sign up many of them they say in the fine print that you agree to give them the full rights to use your content (in this case photos) for any reason they desire (like making money) till the end of time throughout the known universe...seriously. So anything you upload to Facebook can be used by them in any way they see fit and you won't make a dime. Not cool, right?

So how do you get around this? You can either join and not post anything (which is pointless) or take the risk and hope they don't use your content, relying on good faith. I have posted many of my professional photos to my Facebook fan page (or whatever they call it now). I do this because the likelihood of Facebook taking my photos is slim and the reward of being on Facebook is high. This goes for all of the social media sites. If I was a big time photographer and didn't need these services to market myself I probably wouldn't be on them.

Now that we have lightly covered copyright & social media let's move onto the idea of sharing. My mother always taught me to share and hopefully your mother did too. (My dad did as well but it just sounds better when you say your mom taught you, sorry dad). Before the internet people used to sit around the dining room table with their family photo albums spread open, sharing those beautifully toned prints made from negatives shot inside cameras suffering from light leaks (no kids, not Instagram). I remember when people would go to the store to get 4x6 prints made and they'd order duplicates to give to all the family. This is sharing and it should bring a warm and fuzzy feeling to your heart. Today, this is done through social media. It's a lot more convenient (if you know how to operate a computer...ZING at you old people! I kid.) and wastes a lot less. The downfall is stated in the above paragraph. I like to share my work. It's one of the biggest reasons I do it. If people want to share my work I am all for it (especially when they give me credit). In my opinion it only benefits me. The more eyes that see my work the more work I get. The more work I get the less I am at home yelling to my wife, "WHERE DID I PUT MY KEYS!" which makes her happy. It's a win win for everyone.

Now my mother also taught me not to steal (my dad actually taught me to steal so I can't co-credit him for this one). For me stealing is when you take my image and intend to make money off it (like putting it on a products packaging, using it to sell an item, etc.). Thankfully we live in a place where I can track you down and serve you some papers (so watch yo back fool!). Some people would say, "Well smarty pants, if someone runs a blog and makes money off their blog through advertising isn't that stealing?" To that I would say, "First off I prefer Mr. Smarty Pants, and no, I don't believe it is stealing. The job of many blogs is to spread information. If you have enough readers that you have paid advertisers then I see it as a good thing. There are more eyes on my images, thus driving more work to me." I say this with the assumption that the blogger has clearly credited me and asked for my permission. I could see how someone could argue against my opinion and I get their point but I just see it differently (which is fine, we can disagree, let's not get all crazy rabid about this stuff. Who knows, I may change my opinion in the future).

Going back to what I said earlier (because I am running out of stuff to say), we live in different times. If you don't want to change with the times and see that things are different you'll probably end up like the dinosaurs (no, not the cool TV show from the mid 90s). Remember, back when the printing press was coming around people were freaking out about that too.

Thoughts, opinions, comments? I'd love to hear them.