Category Archives: Photography Business

Copyright: Sion Touhig article

Have a look at photojournalist Sion Touhig’s fascinating article on The Register: How the anti-copyright lobby makes big business richer.

We’re continually being told the Internet empowers the individual. But speaking as an individual creative worker myself, I’d argue that all this Utopian revolution has achieved so far in my sector is to disempower individuals, strengthen the hand of multinational businesses, and decrease the pool of information available to audiences. All things that the technology utopians say they wanted to avoid.

Sion’s article covers a wide range of hot topics including: citizen journalism, crowdsourcing, stock photography, and Creative Commons. There are extensive comments on Sion’s blog entry about this article. And if you’re tired of reading about copyright, have a look at the great photographs on Sion’s website.

Copyright: Preparing your images

Because many of my images are 6-8 minutes long, I don’t shoot a huge volume of photos every year. In 2006 I shot about 6000 digital images. Last year I also started converting my RAW files to DNG. In addition to the huge benefit of accurate previews, the DNG workflow can also save time when preparing images for copyright registration.

A DNG file contains a large JPEG preview that reflects your RAW adjustments and is fast to extract

I register images as 400×600 jpegs. With a RAW workflow in Photoshop, this would mean using the Image Processor to resize each RAW file into a web sized JPEG. This takes about 8 seconds per file. Let’s say I register my images quarterly, and I have 1,500 images to send in. At 8 seconds per file, that’s 200 minutes (3 1/2 hours) of jpeg conversions in Photoshop. Ouch. That’s a deterrent to registering your work.

Using the Convert Image command in iView Media Pro to extract web sized jpegs is incredibly fast compared to Photoshop. With the DNG workflow, I can use iView Media Pro to extract the embedded jpeg inside the DNG in under 1 second per file — about 10 times faster than Photoshop — 20 minutes.

I made an interesting discovery yesterday when preparing my final 2006 registration. Running iView’s Convert Image on Canon CR2 files is way faster than on DNGs — a folder of 150 CR2s takes about 15 seconds total to churn through on my Mac. Let’s review: 8 seconds per file with CR2s in Photoshop, 0.8 seconds per file with DNGs in iView, or 0.1 seconds per file with CR2s in iView.

By using Convert Image on CR2s, I could convert the 1500 images for the registration in a few minutes, fill out the registration form, and prepare my Fedex envelope — all in under one hour. Once you’ve got the registration form setup as a PDF template and the US Copyright Office’s address in your Fedex settings, this could be done in half an hour.

Here’s another important discovery I made yesterday for iView users converting CR2 files on a Mac:

When using Convert Image on a Mac, iView uses Quicktime to make the conversion. Depending on what version of iView you’re using, you may get an error when trying to convert. If you uncheck the Preserve EXIF box it will work fine. According to iView, this is a Quicktime bug.

I am considering adding a step to my workflow where CR2 files are converted into a copyright folder on a shoot by shoot basis — it only takes a few seconds.

I hope this information is helpful. More information about copyright coming up later this week. Stay tuned.

Copyright: The most important $45 you can spend

The article last week about using the Olympus 21/3.5 on the 5D generated an amazing amount of traffic to my humble little blog. Today I want to talk about something exponentially more important than wide angle lens performance. I want to talk about the most important $45 you can spend this month.

Disclaimer: Before we proceed, remember I’m a photographer, not a lawyer. This isn’t legal advice – I’m just trying to help other photographers understand this important issue.

OK. Here’s some background reading for this important assignment:

Unless you have signed a contract that says otherwise, your work is copyrighted the moment you press the button on your camera. But unless you are registering your work with the US Copyright Office, you don’t have much protection.

Photographer A: shoots some images of an event and posts them online. A magazine grabs an image and publishes it without contacting the photographer. Photographer A’s friends scream: “Get a lawyer!” But if the image is not registered, Photographer A can only sue for actual damages (i.e., the fee the magazine would have paid for the usage). The cost of the lawsuit will most likely be way more than the amount of actual damages. With what magazines are paying these days, one hour of a lawyer’s time might be more than the actual damages.

Photographer B: registers their images with the US Copyright Office. If an infringement occurs, Photographer B can sue for actual damages, statutory damages, and legal fees. Photographer B has a much bigger stick to fight infringements because the image is registered.

Well that sounds great, you say. I want to be like Photographer B and protect my images. But this whole registration thing seems complicated.

Once you’ve done it the first time it’s easy. Here is some motivation:

  • Copyright registration only costs $45
  • Register a CD/DVD of web sized jpegs of all your unpublished images from 2006 all at once, for $45
  • The form is easy to fill out, it’s 2 short pages — see a example PDFs on Peter Krogh’s site
  • Tip: Use a trackable shipping method like Fedex to send in your registration

Depending on the volume of images you shoot in a year and what you do with your images, you may want to register monthly, quarterly, or twice a year. Even if an image has already been published, you can register published images within 90 days of publication and the copyright is retroactive to the published date. Again, the links above to Michael Grecco’s primer and Peter Krogh’s how-to pages are a huge help.

I’ll discuss the process of creating web sized jpegs for copyright registration in the next few days. Stay tuned.

Contracts: Worst case scenario with a twist

I’ve been following a discussion on the Editorial Photographers member boards about the new photography contract from VNU Business Media. The contract is a rights grab that gives VNU worldwide perpetual license to your work in all forms of media, and then adds insult to injury by making the photographer legally responsible for all usage “any infringement or violation by the WORK of any copyright or intellectual property right.”

Here’s the big ironic kick in the teeth: VNU publishes PDN (Photo District News), a well known magazine for professional photographers. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place. If you are a PDN subscriber, or just a concerned editorial photographer, I encourage you to make your feelings known to both VNU and the editors of PDN.

Dan Heller article on book publishing

Dan Heller, author of the highly recommended Profitable Photography in Digital Age, posted an article on his blog yesterday about book publishing. The article offers some interesting insights into the publishing business, and is definitely worth a read. Dan has a no-nonsense writing style that I really appreciate. His website is a great resource for photography business information. The website also features Dan’s stock photography, including a straightforward licensing system. If that wasn’t enough to merit a visit, he’s also a talented night photographer.