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Saturday, 16 June 2012

Ad Agency Guide To Photography Usage Terms by Jerry Avenaim

Photography usage, controlling the use or misuse of your work.

Portrait of actress Halle Berry chosen as Picture of the Year by People Magazine, photo Jerry Avenaim web www.avenaim.com

From simple image syndication, to editorial and advertising, it’s important to review in detail the scope of photo usage permissions as stated in any contract. Last year,  American Greetings used my cover photograph of Halle Berry as a greeting card without permission.

While my attorney battles with my syndication agency for the rights to the case (yes, my syndication agency has the right to sue before I do) that’s another story. Be very careful what you sign, and don’t sign anything before you’ve read it in its entirety. Indeed, a photographer friend of mine was shooting a celebrity portrait just last week. During the photo shoot, he was presented a contract that attempted to grab all the rights and ownership of the images. My friend caught the offending paragraph, let the talent’s manager know that that’s a nonstarter, and struck it from the contract. Had they been inflexible on that one point, the shoot would have ended right then. So if necessary, never hesitate to have your own legal council review any contract presented to you.

Remember I said my issue with American Greetings took place exactly this time last year? Well guess what? I was notified by a friend that my image is out on every rack of every CVS and Wal-Mart at this very moment as part of the card company’s line celebrating Black History month. This is a blatant infringement of my intellectual property. One which could have been caused by any series of events ranging from Ebony to American Greetings. And adding insult to injury, they credited another photographer my image! This case (if handled properly) could result in some serious damages.

Halle card on display at Walmart photographed by who?

It has been a long time coming that all these terms be described and explained. I’ve been asked these questions over the years, and they were always situation specific. Recently Rob Haggert the author of aphotoeditor.com put the terminology together in one fantastic article.
“With the current US copyright laws as they are applied now, artists own all rights to their created images and sell/transfer rights to agencies and their clients. All questionable negotiations have historically defaulted in favor of the artist. Technically, even minor modification of the art requires the artists’ permission. You are RENTING, not buying an image unless explicitly stated on the contract.
Generally, think of usage costs reflecting the amount of exposure a particular image may receive. The more exposure, the higher the price. Exact terminology may differ, but the semantics remain the same if all of the information is included in each negotiation. You can phrase it any way you want, but be clear about the INTENT by including information from all categories outline below. Talent usage is similar, but there are differences in how each medium is priced out: talent usage tends to be much more specific. Again, it is based on exposure. European terminology will differ from US terminology, particularly in the “Print” category. In Europe, “Print” includes anything that is not broadcast.”
If you want to learn more about billing language and the business of photography, check out his article! Click here to read on.

Happy Shooting,
Jerry Avenaim

I posted this article originally from Jerrys own blog link http://blog.avenaim.com/

Has this happened to me? you bet it has, a national expo thought it was a great idea to use images taken from my site as publicity for that designer who was attending without any payment or consent to use, the exact version they used was only available as a grab off my site.

Similar to Jerry's story it was a friend hundreds of miles away contacted me giving me the heads up.

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