Maintaining your Copyright

Maintaining your Copyright


Got a real nice surprise in the mail. Signed copy of John Lydon’s — aka Johnny Rotten — biography. With couple of my pics in it.

I shot those images twenty some years ago. Last summer I got a phone call from the publisher in London asking if they could use some shots. They were real profes­sional about it — where, what, how widely they would be used…

It is always such a pleasure to work with true professionals.

Then just last week I was giving a guest lecture in a university. A student asked me: “But is it possible to work without signing away your copyright?”

Yes it is. As a freelancer, that is the only sensible way of doing it.

And it all boils down not so much to money but to respect — or the lack of it.

If you are routinely expected give away all the rights to your own work, it shows total lack of respect to what you do. And I can only speak for myself, but I can’t live with that. Yes, I understand if the price for — whatever — is wrong and has to be negotiated… but that you are bluntly told before you even enter the conver­sation: btw, you and your work are worth nothing.

So back to the book I got because this is not a rant. This is a thank you note. A BIG thank you.

I did not ask for a signed copy, but they took the trouble of making one and sending it over. That’s showing respect to your work — and really good manners. Made me feel appreciated.

If you are young, aspiring photo­grapher… think twice before you sign those copyright deals .

It’s nice to get mail like this.

And not to have it sent to the corpo­ration whose rip off deal you once signed.

3 Replies to “Maintaining your Copyright”

  1. Kari: As you might know, I always kept my copyright and sold the editorial stuff with “single use rights”. Some of my (scarce) Adver­tising work, I sold with “all rights”, but then there was usually one zero more in the final bill. It didn‘t mean so much then. I did it just for the purpose as you outline in your writing here… It is different now: The celebrity stuff I have at Yhtyneet ( now Otava) sells constantly, with images that are over twenty years old. What I am most pleased with is the fact that when their photo department decided to end their association with freelance photo­graphers, they after a few months contacted me with the wish that I should retain my images in their files. They are still selling and worth a nice money. Rgds JV

  2. Nice to hear good news for a change! :)
    With those initials I have to respond with something too. ;D

    Respect really is the keynote here.
    Whenever I encounter those scavengers, I don’t even bother replying.
    Some of my friends who are not in the business sometimes call me rude because of that,
    but if someone has no money for me while demanding a nice salary for him/herself, I have no time to even dignify their request with a response.
    Once, on a very bad day of an extremely bad month, I had typed a quick reply among the lines of “Sorry, I don’t do business with a*******”, but decided they weren’t even worth that much.

    In most cases I’m quite liberal regarding licencing, but never with the copyright.

    Regards JV ;))

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