Pro-photographers are not having an easy job nowadays. On the one hand, the price for licenses is in free fall thanks to diverse stock-photography platforms. Big newspaper companies increasingly bank on reader reporters instead of genuine photographers, while more and more musicians and bands prohibit taking pictures during their concerts, or wish to get paid for this “privilege”. On the other hand, the “everything’s free on the internet”- attitude spreading like an illness can be observed. As a person who long dreamed of becoming a professional photographer, I am always glad when photographers work up the courage to fight for their rights and triumph in the process, in gloomy times like this.
One of the latest news of that kind involve British photographer Jason Sheldon, who perpetuated Ke$ha and the rap duo LMFAO on his backstage photo at a party. Along the lines of “a photo on Tumblr must be public domain”, the advertising company Daybrook House Promotions snatched the photo and used it, without permission let alone payment, for a client’s PR-campaign. Sheldon thus sent the company an invoice in the amount of €1.613, but only received a counter-offer of €180 on the ground that the photo wouldn’t have been used anyhow were it not public domain. Instead of putting up with the ridiculous sum of money, Sheldon went to court, won the trial first and second instance, and thus forced DHP to agree upon €24.000 compensation for damages.
While it is a good thing the photographer got paid for his work in the end, it would be even better if he didn’t have to bring it up in court in the first place. It should go without saying that intellectual work, just as physical work, is not for free. I have little hope that things will change for the better in this matter.