03 April 2013
those who know me long enough would probably know how vociferous I had been against violation of photographers’ rights… though this is a global problem, I would like to focus more on local terms…. a local campaign in each market is more likely to yield global benefits… each market needs to be educated individually before something substantial can be gained…. and its true that a lot of things have been achieved since the really bad days… a lot more people are now thinking twice before using images straight off the web without credit…. yet, we have a long way to go…
who’s responsibility is this?
who is to be responsible for fixing this problem?…. well, this is a problem that involves many, which is why many should be made responsible for this…. and when we talk about the responsibility to solve this, it touches every single stakeholder… from the copyright holders to ultimate beneficiaries, everyone has some kind of role to play…. today we will talk more in terms of commercial usage of photos… not all kinds of photos though… photos taken on an assignment paid by the client is obviously something different… but stock photos used commercially have a much bigger issue regarding copyright; at least, in the context of Bangladesh, as there are lots of photographers involved in this kind of a trade… lets go a little deeper into this issue and try find out some remedies….
if you live in a jungle, use at least some protection!
the first responsibility comes from the photographer… if the photographer doesn’t know whether his/her property has some value or not, there’s no point arguing…. remember that we’re not talking about photos that were donated by photographers for some charity or something similar…. we’re talking about photos, whose copyright specifically belongs to the photographer and the photographer chooses to keep that copyright to him/herself…. now, what can the photographer do to claim his/her copyright?…. if a photo is in cyberspace, there are innumerable ways the photo can be used by the viewer…. when you know that you live in a jungle, its better to take at least some precaution… though there isn’t a perfect solution for anything, yet, a minimum protection should be taken….don’t let others get corrupt so easily… let them work hard…. sometimes, that hard work would force them to give up stealing!
the dirty, but effective work!
now, what can be the protection?…. forbidding download, if possible…. some websites allow this option… yet, you can’t prevent screenshot…. what I do, is not supported by everyone, but its what I do and I’ve seen some benefits of it…. watermarking!…. its true that its that dirty work and it taints the photo, but that what its required sometimes to protect its soul… I use a watermarking as subtly as possible…. I faced a lotta criticism after applying my first watermarks, but I learned my lesson the hard way…. and now, after starting watermarking, photo-theft has gone down quite a bit…. at least, illegal commercial usages have stopped… I haven’t seen violations like Ekushey TV (2007) or The Daily Ittefaq (2008) since I’ve started watermarking…. although one of the photos was used by The Daily Ittefaq and printed ‘with’ the watermark… I kept the watermark very light to keep the beauty of the photos…. I guess that was a mistake… anyway, lesson learned…. and though watermarks can be removed, its a warning that puts off a lotta people… its dirty, but effective!
illegal corporate use of photos is the most worrying…. they’re making businesses from your photo without sharing anything with you… this is criminal practice…. yet, when application of copyright law is as vague as it is in Bangladesh, there’s hardly any strong stance the photographer can take against the violator(s)…. so, should the photographer give up?…. definitely not… main strength lies in organising capability… its always great to be part of a strong community…first of all, it facilitates neighbourhood watch… whenever someone notices something fishy, it gets circulated within the community…. this helps to spot violations much more quickly…
unity is strength!
a community of photographers doesn’t necessarily need to consist of professional photographers only… in fact, there are benefits to having non-professional photographers in the group…. these people are likely to be involved in another job…. and there’s always a likelihood that they can play an important role in that organisation raising awareness among his/her colleagues or raising voice when injustice is being done against photographers… they can act as pressure groups within business establishments…. amateur photographers in purchase departments can push for policy changes…. people working in the marketing side can calculate campaign budgets with budget assigned for photos (not for free photos off the web)… the same thing goes for people working in the advertising and promotion media…. people with good networks can access violators’ policymakers and put pressure on them to resort to legal ways…. I’ve seen all these methods succeed and also, fail…. those which failed, they failed because of insincerity on the part of the responsible people…. business interests sometimes take priority over photographer community issues…. as I said at the start, the responsibility lies with all stakeholders…. people capable of changing things have a bigger role to play…. if they fail to live up to the principle, they fail the unity…. because in the end, its the unity in principle that can reduce or stop copyright violations…. unity is strength!
I know there are many more things to talk about here… perhaps some other time… please don’t forget to leave your feedback… your feedback keeps us going…. 🙂