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The Art of Intellectual Property

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the who-owns-what dept.

The Almighty Buck 434

dpilgrim writes "When digital technology meets intellectual property, most of the attention focuses on the movie industry or the music business. I was surprised to discover how much of an impact there is in smaller areas like professional photography, and put together some reflections on my experience." This is why when I get married I want to make sure I contract only for the photographer's labor.

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434 comments

Oooty Oooty! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4258009)

Shake ya damn booty!

The art of intellectual property (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4258029)

is similar to the art by that guy who makes paintings using elephant shit.

I could've been the 1st poster (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4258039)

....but I had to go to the bathroom first, biotches.

Echoes of the RIAA? (2, Insightful)

Teknogeek (542311) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258042)

The problem is this: she is still living in a world of 20 years ago where the primary means for viewing and distributing photographs was as a print on paper.

The problem is this: they are still living in a world of 20 years ago where the primary means for listening to and distributing music was as a casette tape.

Our photographer thinks she is in the business of providing high quality printed photographs. In fact she is in the image-capturing business, and as the business shifts from printed to digital format, she will either adapt or fail.

The RIAA thinks they are in the business of providing high quality music CDs. In fact they are in the audio-distribution business, and as the business shifts from CD to pure digital format, they will either adapt or fail.

Re:Echoes of the RIAA? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4258081)

FUCK OFF

thanks to jesus, allah, and buddha

First Post !!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4258044)

Very interesting write-up, nice to see some fresh ideas.

photographer vs. artist (1)

NixterAg (198468) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258045)

Whenever you commission a photographer to photograph an event, he or she usually retains all rights to the photographs taken. However, when you commission an artist to do a painting, all rights to that painting belong to you. For example, if someone wants to include the painting in an art book, getting permission from the artist typically does no good. You must get permission from the person who owns the painting. Photographs cannot be reprinted without permission of the photographer since the photographer typically retains all rights to his or her pictures.

I agree, it's time for photographers to get with the times.

Re:photographer vs. artist (1)

cenonce (597067) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258095)

Actually, no you don't, it is the same thing. The artist retains all of the bundle of rights associated with the work. You simply own the canvas its on, thus you can sell it, you can even (maybe) destroy it, or hang it upside down. You cannot, under the normal law of copyright, reproduce, display publicly, make derivative works or any other right that the artist retains.

-A

Re:photographer vs. artist (5, Informative)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258126)

However, when you commission an artist to do a painting, all rights to that painting belong to you.

eh? I would recommend you review your law books -- when i paint a portrait I'm certainly not selling the copyright to the sitter. If he wants to print it on the cover of his autobiography, or an art book, the publisher had better call me and write a check. You sell the painting, not the copyright. Frequently artists will even retain the right to borrow the painting for purposes such as exhibition.

I can reprint all of my paintings without anyone's permission (except of course ones for which I have sold reprint rights). The owner of the canvas certainly cannot do it without mine.

Re:photographer vs. artist (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4258155)

1)You are a work for hire
2)The sitter owns his image
Your copywrong is nixed.
"Frequently artists will even retain the right to borrow the painting for purposes such as exhibition"
Not if you don't get past my shotgun.

I hope you don't use BSD or Linux with your attitude on the "IP".

when new technology != more freedom (2)

cygnus (17101) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258046)

the scary thing about the advent of technology in media is that while we expect that it would enable more "use" out of our media in various ways -- take for example the CD-ROM of this guy's photo album -- in fact, so many companies are endevoring to turn this tech revolution into a way to either provide less to the consumer or charge more for what they already have.

for instance, divx, god rest it's soul, was basically an effort to remove our ability to purchase and watch our favorite movies again and again, by luring us with better image quality and sound. there are plenty more examples of this, and plans for even more.

it's up to people like us, who realize when people are being ripped off by technology because they don't know better, to get them riled up over the issue. send more people to the EFF et. al.

Re:when new technology != more freedom (1)

Blue Stone (582566) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258102)

I just bought a DVD Player for the first time.
I'm incensed that I'm forced to sit through a 10 second copyright notice AND the distributor's splash, before I can watch my movie.

EVERY SINGLE TIME!

I sit through them, cursing them, swearing at them, and telling them that I hope they rot in hell.

I'm sure my shouting at the screen will die down over time, but my anger at their act of compelling me to do something like this, giving me less controll than over a video I purchased, will not go away.
How they thought they could do this without causing resentment, is beyond me. Maybe they just don't care.
(Big mistake.)

Re:when new technology != more freedom (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4258131)

A city boy, Kenny, moved to the country and bought a donkey from an old farmer for $100.00. The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the next day. The next day the farmer drove up and said, "Sorry son, but I have some bad news, the donkey died."
Kenny replied, "Well then, just give me my money back."
The farmer said, "Can't do that. I went and spent it already."
Kenny said, "OK then, at least give me the donkey."
The farmer asked, "What ya gonna do with him?"
Kenny, "I'm going to raffle him off."
Farmer, " You can't raffle off a dead donkey!"
Kenny, "Sure I can. Watch me. I just won't tell anybody he is dead."

A month later the farmer met up with Kenny and asked, "What happened with that dead donkey?"
Kenny, "I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at two dollars a piece and made a profit of $898.00."
Farmer, "Didn't anyone complain?"
Kenny, " Just the guy who won. So I gave him his two dollars back."

Kenny grew up and eventually became the chairman of Enron.

Intellectual Property? (2, Offtopic)

cscx (541332) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258047)

According to RMS, that's not even a valid phrase in the English language.

Re:Intellectual Property? (3, Insightful)

JabberWokky (19442) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258183)

He says it's not a specific enough phrase to discuss. And I agree with him - when you talk about "Intellectual Property", what are you discussing? Copyright? Patents? Trademarks? EULAs? Right of purchace? Fair use rights such as excerpts? Parody? NDAs? Clean room reverse engineering? Trade secrets?

If you ask him his opinion on "Intellectual property", he'll simply ask you to be specific. It's a bit like my asking you your opinion on "Computers". Or what is your opinion of "Politics". You can randomly choose one aspects of these things, I suppose, but you can't really answer the question correctly.

Incidently, to show how absurd the term "Intellectual Property" has become, a bottle of Soy Sauce I bought recently has a big warning on the back: "Intellectual Property Rights Reserved". What the hell does that mean? Legally, it's nonsensical, as IP doesn't realy mean anything, but refers to a wide class of legal constructs. And how it could apply to a bottle of Soy Sauce is beyond me - the title and logo might be Trademarked, but there's no reason to have this odd disclaimer on the bottle to support that.

--
Evan

Re:Intellectual Property? (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258233)

According to RMS, that's not even a valid phrase in the English language.

Then why does he apply a strict copyright and license on every bit of code coming out of the FSF?

Re:Intellectual Property? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4258242)

As an attempt to combat copywrong. If there was no (C) there would be no need for the gpl etc.

Copyright is Copyright (5, Insightful)

phliar (87116) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258051)

You have to respect the photographer's copyright.

Just like with source code -- it is up to to the producer of the source/photograph to decide what copyright terms to attach to the product. You don't like the terms, go elsewhere. Once this gets off the ground there will be photographers (or artists in general) making "Open Art", and there will be the ones making "Closed Art." You can't get on a high-horse and say that "Art Wants To Be Free" or anything like that.

Re:Copyright is Copyright (Exemptions) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4258080)

According to US law you own your image. In a wedding ceremony your image is usually captured with your SO. Can a case be made with this so you own your wedding photos? Oh if Copyright didn't exist we wouldent need all the Free/OpenSource licences. Personally I hope the pro-photo trade fails because of their IP shenanagans. Yes I do write software libre, I wish IP didn't exist as it is a fallicy.

--mikeeusa--

Re:Copyright is Copyright (Exemptions) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4258099)

This arguement kinda falls through the floor when you hire the Photographer. There is an assumption of alowance to capture your "image". Besides any photo contract will have a clause covering thier ass on this regard.

Re:Copyright is Copyright (Exemptions) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4258177)

They are still a work for hire :)
Also there is an assumption that I can do what I want with my wedding photos.

Re:Copyright is Copyright (5, Insightful)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258117)

The problem isn't as much as the idea that the photographer has a copyright on the images, but rather that they are performing a work for hire.

The truth today is that there isn't as much value in the duplicate prints of keepsake photographs. There is more value in the ubiquitous distribution of the composed images, via the internet or sending someone a CD.

Ultimately it is an issue with contracts. The problem is that the photographer historically provides artistic service in composing the shot, and in printing the image. The wedding photographer's competition isn't digital copyright infringement, it is the throw-away cameras that are put up on all the tables.

All industries must continually evaluate where they add value. Duplicate prints aren't where a photographer should make their money today.

Re:Copyright is Copyright (2)

phliar (87116) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258221)

The problem isn't as much as the idea that the photographer has a copyright on the images, but rather that they are performing a work for hire.
This is what a contract is for. When you decide to hire the photographer, you sign a contract. It is up to you and the photographer to negotiate on who owns the copyright etc. Why is there any issue here? It's just contract law.
Duplicate prints aren't where a photographer should make their money today.
Where is this written? There is no should -- a person can make money in any manner as long as it is legal.

Re:Copyright is Copyright (3, Insightful)

Hairy1 (180056) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258118)

When you contract someone to do something - whether its writing software or taking a photograph, you own the copyright. The only exception is when you sign a contract giving the copyright to the contractor.

So in effect it is up to the client who contracts the work to decide on the license, as they are the owner, not the contractor. This does not depend on any "Art WantsTo Be Free" argument - it is simply a fact of law.

Re:Copyright is Copyright (2)

phliar (87116) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258231)

I agree completely. This is just a matter of contract law. It may be that there is a social expectation that in contracting with a photographer you assign the copyright to him/her. But this is totally up to the client -- just make sure the contract does not say that the photographer will own the copyrights.

Re:Copyright is Copyright (1)

Blue Stone (582566) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258136)

I have to say I'm not sure I agree with copyright on photography.

Fact is, whilst the professional photographer in the article, said that she considered it her property because of the lighting she created, the pose she directed etc. the same copyright law applies to a photograph of a field in bight sunshine.

If I go and stand in the same spot, with the same make of camera/film, a second after the initial photographer, chances are that I'll make an indistinguishable copy, to all intents and purposes.

So what in the photograph is of the photographer? Not the sun, the field, the angle, the light: all are free; communal.

What is it that the photographer really made, that merits protection in law, for the resulting image printed on a piece of paper? Both the photograph of the natural setting and of the artificial one get the same protection.

I think the law regarding photography, needs to emulate that regarding paintings.

Re:Copyright is Copyright (2)

phliar (87116) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258241)

I have to say I'm not sure I agree with copyright on photography.
I think we actually do agree. My statement was about the copyright on the photographs, not on any kind of "ownership" of the scene by the photographer. I don't believe that a person can own a view.

Re:Copyright is Copyright (1)

sdb6247 (532003) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258287)

There was no high horse. You have just re-stated the author's point. Obviously, he's now forced to respect the photographer's copyright- he wasn't allowed the CD of pictures. His point was just that this particular photographer will not stay in business for much longer.

Re:Copyright is Copyright (0)

jago25_98 (566531) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258305)

"You have to respect the photographer's copyright"

> I don't respect copyright and this is why it's changing

Ownership and possession. I own your mind

that's why... (0)

shnarez (541132) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258061)

you should require all the products (source, ie negatives, digital hi-res images, etc) in addition to high-quality prints from the start. negotiation that into your contract once you've agreed to the basic service ain't gonna work.

Just ignore them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4258063)

I suppose it is all in just how far you want to go. The photographer at my wedding claimed to hold the copyright to my photographs. I simply ignored him and scanned them and posted my 'derivitive' works on my web page.

I don't think the photographer knew (before or after) that I had a personal web page, nor a page for my wedding. He had a stock answer for me the one time I asked him if he minded (and he said he did mind; he "owned" the copyright on the images.)

What I didn't understand at the time (and still don't - any lawyers out there?) is whether or not this automatically is considered a "work for hire?" It's not like the photographer is paying you to get married, and paying for everything involved in making the event worthy of photographing. If the photographer were paying for all the catering, and all the photographic subjects ($500/hr?) then it might be reasonable to claim that he "made" the picture.

Any way, unless things have changed dramatically in the last three years (which they have not) then the photographer won't be able to find your web site (even if you gave hin the URL!)

Re:Just ignore them (1)

neitzsche (520188) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258090)

Forgot to allow cookies. Parent message was from me - I did not intend for it to be anonymous.

Re:Just ignore them (1)

geekee (591277) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258143)

And you wonder why the RIAA and MPAA want encryption and DRM for their copyrighted work. Some people like this guy will break the law without any remorse. BTW, if you're a prof. photographer taking pictures for a news agency, you're not paying your subject either, so your arguement about the photographer not paying for the wedding doesn't stand up to srutiny.

Re:Just ignore them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4258186)

OMG breaking the law! Terrible! Shit laws are made to be broken, especially those of the "IP" variety. IP is not natrual and is a violation of human rights on many levels.

Re:Just ignore them (1)

geekee (591277) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258212)

In captialist systems, people's rights to own their work are protected. If you don't like it, Cuba and China might be places you'd rather spend your days.

Re:Just ignore them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4258254)

So you support the DMCA and the CBTPA? "IP" is not matter.

Will always be a need for wedding photographers (5, Insightful)

bartash (93498) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258064)

Guests at a wedding take lots of photographs, but they are all the same. You get a million shots of the couple cutting the cake, but not many of Aunt May together with Uncle Bruce. As the article says the wedding photographer also composes shots that other people copy.

The other thing is: never hire a friend to take your wedding photographs. Your friends are there to enjoy themselves. One of my friends hired another friend to take the wedding photos. Something went wrong and the photos were never delivered. Those old friends are still not talking. Don't be cheap, hire a pro!

Re:Will always be a need for wedding photographers (0)

Error-404NotFound (598574) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258082)

Will there always be a need? I dunno... maybe by the time they can predict earthquakes (see a few stories back) they can also generate a photorealistic 3D movie from outter space and then let you choose angles and moments to capture... So I say no, there will not always be a need :)

Incidentally.... (5, Informative)

phliar (87116) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258070)

I am in fact a photographer, and I'm also a hacker. The code I write on my time is free; just like the photographs I take of events etc. However, there is code I write for my employer, just like photographs I take on commission for someone else. For this "work for hire" it is up to the person paying to decide what the copyright on the work is. (I might try to convince them to go the free route, but ultimately it is their choice.

Art is like like source -- copyright is copyright, and you have to respect it.

How is it the photographers property? (1, Interesting)

Error-404NotFound (598574) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258072)

if i hire a photographer to capture an event, the person is doing nothing more than giving a good angle, lighting, etc. on MY actions. It's a capture of MY actions, MY position, it's a capture of ME! I belong to myself, and I say that if i hire somebody to capture that, it's my property.

Re:How is it the photographers property? (1)

geekee (591277) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258153)

It's his negative that captures his interpretation of an event. That makes it his copyrighted work.

Re:How is it the photographers property? (0, Redundant)

RebelTycoon (584591) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258174)

Well make sure that is what the contract says.. Otherwise you are out of luck...

The photographer is right (5, Interesting)

jokerghost (467848) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258076)

I have to agree with the professional photographer in this instance. This isn't a case of fighting an uber-huge corporation that has billions of dollars to spare. This guy is effectively cheating a good source of revenue out of a photographer who is trying to earn a living.

Let's face it, photographers are not millionares (for the most part! ;) As one who has tried to get his art featured in several galleries, I can attest to this! Let's face it- photographers earn a living off of one thing- the final proof. It's very difficult to set up a shot, get the lighting perfect, and have a harmony of composition just right- combine this with the fact that many people want their wedding pictures to be *perfect* and you can see the photographer's dilemma. That shot that you've worked so very hard on is being distributed to hundreds of people, who will never pay you a dime for your efforts. Even worse is the person who stands over your shoulder just to snap the same shot you do... Come on people! It's not like the photographer is being unreasonable! She's simply trying to recoup her losses and earn a living... Oh, and if you don't think that photography is an expesnive business, allow me to demonstrate. A medium format camera (5 x 7 negative, which most professionals use for weddings) runs in the range of $1000-$3000 for the body(!!) alone! The lens, on top of that, will run somewhere from $100-$900, depending on what you need. Then, the film itself can cost up to $15 for a single negative! Oh yeah, there's also darkroom costs- chemicals, the enlarger, the processing time.... Oh, and don't forget that photographer might just want to earn some money for the hours that she's spent on site with your family...

So, I'm sorry, but this isn't an issue of "open sourcing" the finals. By giving High-Res pictures to your entire family without paying for each one of those photos distributed, you have cheated and honest, hard-working, photographer out of a living. (I know a few who have been driven out of business because of this.) So, please, spare me the "I have rights to a picture" argument... Sure, you have the right to do what you want with that photo... But by the same tokein, the photographer has the right to not sell you the super high res photo you want.

As an aside, and unrelated, I think that "analog" photography is a much "truer" art form. If anything, you have a negative, which you can use to prove you took the shot- as opposed to a jpg, tiff, or what have you which could be the property of anyone.

-jokerghost

Re:The photographer is right (1)

settonull (79047) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258107)

This guy is effectively cheating a good source of revenue out of a photographer who is trying to earn a living

My reading of the article was that he went along with the terms of the photographer, simply lemented that it was not done differently.

As an aside, and unrelated, I think that "analog" photography is a much "truer" art form
Just as many people think painting is much "truer" than photography. Whatever, art is art.

-chris

Re:The photographer is right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4258119)

News flash: people don't buy wedding pictures to support your art, they buy them to distribute to hundreds of people as evidence of how perfect their wedding was. If you can't make money and give them what they want, either charge more or switch businesses. They're not paying you to take pictures so you can sell these pictures to an art gallery, maybe you should try thinking about somebody else for a change?

-smack.

Re:The photographer is right (1)

geekee (591277) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258175)

What diference does it make if it's a billion dollar company you're cheating, or a guy barely scraping by. Either way it is wrong. The MPAA deserves the same respect that an individual photographer deserves for copyrighted works. Everything you complain about, the MPAA members deal with on the order of millions of dollars instead of thousands of dollars. They're taking risks as well.

Re:The photographer is right... so what is right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4258227)

Neither the MPAA nor the photographer "little guy" deserve respect in this instance. Duplication is not wrong. Copyright is, however, very wrong; It destroys information and art which would normally make it into the next generation; It is damaging to the very freedom of a people; and in the spirit of the cathloic church: it is unnatral. There is absolutly nothing wrong with the duplication of information and art regardless of the labor he who originaly created it expended. Duplication of information and art is NOT destruction and has no ill effect on the art or information. In addition since duplication destroys nothing it also has no ill effect on the person of whom created it. The only thing that may not happen is that the creator recieves less wealth (in monatary terms) from the creation of said information or art, how is this a morally wrong thing? Does greed equal the right thing? Is the love of money paramount over all to make it the right thing and anything that would decrease the assumed amount of money morally reprehensible?

--mikeeusa--

" What diference does it make if it's a billion dollar company you're cheating, or a guy barely scraping by. Either way it is wrong. The MPAA deserves the same respect that an individual photographer deserves for copyrighted works. Everything you complain about, the MPAA members deal with on the order of millions of dollars instead of thousands of dollars. They're taking risks as well."

Re:The photographer is right (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258205)

But this is exactly the same situation that RMS is going on about when he says that software is a service industry that thinks its a mass production industry.

100% of all the software i have written in my career has been custom software written for a single customer. I got paid for the work I did rather than for each copy of the software. While the customer is the owner according to the contract, it makes no difference who owns it. The customer is the only customer because he had very specific needs. I couldn't possibly find another buyer for the same software, and neither could he.

It's the same with wedding photos. Only immediate family will want to spend the full price on wedding photos. They will pay a similar price for the right to make an arbitrary number of copies.

Not only this, but paying for an unlimited number is a much fairer way of paying. Does it take twice as much work for the photographer to make 2 prints of the same shot? If not, then why does the photographer get twice as much money?

Re:The photographer is right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4258208)

Ridiculous.

Not that I plan to get married, but if I had a reason to commission a professional photographer to photograph an event, I'd only consent to a contract where I received _all_ the negatives. It's my damn event.

Leave it up to me to print them myself or take them to a printing service, etc.

If you don't secure this agreement, then what happens if you want reprints after the photographer goes out of business, relocates, or dies ?

That's just a sucker bet.

Additionally, the cost to the photographer is reduced. No need to scan for proofs or make prints. Now, if they want to make a competitive bid on the prints, fine. Capturing the moment and making the prints do not need to be done by the same person. (Why, that would suggest that you'd need to buy your word processor from the same company that sells you an OS.)

Re:The photographer is right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4258226)

wah wah wah!
"Please give me special treatment so I can preserve my revenue stream!"
They said the same thing when Jacquard invented the loom.

The photographer is a thief (4, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258264)

Your point would be true, except that the photographer seems to be trying to get paid several times for the same work.


If the photographer profits from selling additional copies, then he should do the basic work for free. The low-quality samples provided should be treated as a sales catalog. The couple who got married should be treated as models, they shouldn't have to pay anything for the production, and should get part of the profit from the sale of additional copies.


Suppose it was a fashion magazine which had a photo of, let's say Cindy Crawford, on the cover. Would ms. Crawford have to pay for the whole production and not get anything from the magazine sales? Saying Cindy Crawford is famous and her image is worth a lot is not an answer, since, if one can sell pictures from a couple who is getting married, then they are professional models, deserving as much respect as Cindy Crawford, only their image would not be worth exactly as much as Cindy's, since it would sell less copies.

RE: The photographer is right (1)

pyrotic (169450) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258271)

Photography as a source of revenue is dying across the board. In the UK, where I work, the newspapers I work for pay the same page rates they were paying in the 80s. Meanwhile equipment is more expensive, and editors are less likely to assume risk for a project. Yeah, just bring us your pics when you get back from Ramallah. That's after you've paid for flights, film, batteries, bribes or whatever. Working for papers has one advantage though, and that is that papers understand that they do not (though some are trying to) have a right to reproduce the images forever. The only people I trust with my negatives/scans with are newspapers. Wire agencies like Reuters or AP get the copyright to your work, and let's not even talk about Bill Gates' Corbis/Sygma, who are trying retrospective contracts to own their staff's life work.

As a photographer operating today the way make money is either to take beautiful pics for rich clients, fashion/corporate style, or to string together a series of pictures as a story and present it as art. Keep the copyright. Wedding photography is a mug's game to be in, as is hard news - because everyone takes the same pictures nobody needs to buy yours.

Re:The photographer is right (1)

bbtom (581232) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258282)

"photographers are not millionares (for the most part! ;)"

Tell me about it. ^_^

Overrated (3, Insightful)

halftrack (454203) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258077)

IMHO I think he has overrated how widespread digital photographs has become, but I do agree that photographers must either adapt or become extinct as a profession (in the portrait business.) However there should be a meta-phase. Photographers should offer high-res copys on CD, but at a high(er) price (which essentially is the meta part.) As the author points out we pay for the composition rather than the high quality print you can get for yourself or just don't care so much for.

Cunard (1)

leviramsey (248057) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258079)

"That is why there is no airline called "Cannard" today. Cannard thought it was in the business of providing passenger service by ship"

Perhaps the writer means Cunard [64.55.185.163] ?

The problem is (2)

IIRCAFAIKIANAL (572786) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258091)

Put simply : You pay more for access to the source.

Compare this to the cost of hiring someone to build an accounting package for you instead of just buying ACCPAC or Simply Accounting.

Maybe. (2)

xenoweeno (246136) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258092)

We have a choice. We can treat the professional photographer's artistic work as proprietary intellectual property not to be meddled with. Or we can treat such work in an Open Source manner, allowing and expecting the "source" to change and be redistributed. This choice won't be made on moral or personal grounds. It will be made for pragmatic, business reasons.

Of course it will, but not to the conclusion that this author states. Consider, if you will, this passage from my college-level textbook:

... Less obvious is whether inserting a link to someone else's copyrighted material is a violation of the law. If, for example, the site contains a direct link to the content of another site, say a photograph, is it a violation of copyright law? In this case, the answer is probably yes. ...

-- Information Systems Management in Practice, 2002, pp. 98-99.

There are plenty of business weasels vying for the future of greater control and profit-through-litigation. Why? Because offering new service that goes above and beyond what is available now requires risk and, above all, more work--and as we all learned in our physical science courses, work = time + money.

Profit through legislation and litigation is easy. The RIAA wants to continue to sell you the same old plastic discs at an insane markup rather than venture into new digital markets. It's easy to pursue a BS lawsuit over an external linker.

Open Source, as in the author's usage of the term, is not a priori inevitable. It will take work to break the paragidgms that preceeded it.

What about Wedding Videos? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4258093)

Same story: My gf's sister recently got married and a videographer was hired to record the event. The final version was edited on a computer and then stored on a VHS tape. Because it was done on a computer, the recording was digital and could easily be burned onto VCD or DVD. However, the videographer refused to provide a DVD of the event. They explained that the digital format requires extra work to achieve, and it is too easily reproducible. After a little hackling they finally admitted that the DVD could be burned but they would have to charge an extra $800 for the rights to use it. I admit that I wanted to make my own edited version for the family, but I think this is a bunch of crap. How the hell can someone claim copyright of a private ceremony and private citizens when they have been hired to simply document an event. My advice (and what I will do) is to make sure your videographer is paid ONLY for the services, and that you make sure in writing that you are provided both copies of the original tapes and the final edited master in ANY format that you desire. It's gotten to the point where the recording and movie studios have spread so much bullshit about copyright that even the little guy is trying to exploit it.

Re:What about Wedding Videos? (1)

nattt (568106) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258182)

Both my wife and myself work in the film/TV industry. We just hired a camerman from the TV station with a DV cam to document the event of our marriage. At the end of the evening, I handed him a cheque for a couple a hundred dollars CAD, and he handed me the two DV tapes. I'll edit the wedding myself when I get around to it.

Wedding videos are outrageously expensive, are usually made by idiots who know nothing about TV production and look like rubbish - and then it ends up on VHS tape - what a laugh.

Woooooooooowwww! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4258235)

I'm so impressed! Will you autograph my penis?

all changes are welcome (1)

creslinux (468199) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258094)

In the article the photographer refers to her belief that she owns the moment the photgraph was taken, this she expressed by her annoyance at invited friends and family saving the moment via their personal digital cameras.

I object to the photographers wish to own the moment. It seems logical that the hirer of the photographer, in this case the bride and groom are infact in ownership of the moment, and have in effect distributed an open license to the imagry by means of invitations.

I have long objected to profesional photographers working practice of keeping the negatives for further profits. The similarity between software code and a photograph to my mind does not exist. The photographer is hired to take the picture, in the same way a developer is hired to write code.
Finally who is anybody to object to a person recording what they can see for furthr personal use, unless under contract and therefore previously agreed not to.

BTW, last few weedings I have attended the Bride and Groom have found the best photo's were indeed from guests digital cameras, the high resolution in combination with tha habbit of taking several hundred pictures consistently captures a magical moment often missed by staged classical pictures.
Perhaps the profesionals simply fear the threat of being disclosed as not the best option.

my two pence worth

Re:all changes are welcome (1)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258230)

I object to the photographers wish to own the moment. It seems logical that the hirer of the photographer, in this case the bride and groom are infact in ownership of the moment, and have in effect distributed an open license to the imagry by means of invitations.

The photographer makes no claims over ownership of "the moment": You can have as many of your friends clicking away with their digital cameras and camcorders as you like. However, people have long learned that amateur photography, regardless of it being Uncle Bob with the awesome new digital camera (which this article seems to imply is far more of a revolution than it really is. You have been able to take extremely high resolution scans of the medium format slides for years), often is subpar. As such, the professional photographer brings a skill to the table that people obviously desire, otherwise they'd stick with the guest pictures and skip paying several thousand dollars for a pro. Which brings me to your next point.

BTW, last few weedings I have attended the Bride and Groom have found the best photo's were indeed from guests digital cameras, the high resolution in combination with tha habbit of taking several hundred pictures consistently captures a magical moment often missed by staged classical pictures.
Perhaps the profesionals simply fear the threat of being disclosed as not the best option.


Digital cameras, despite all the hype, still do not come close to matching even a 35mm camera (the type that have been in weddings for years): They have poor colour, slow shutter times, inaccurate contrast, and apart from the extreme high end, still trail 35mm in resolution (and the natural "dithered" resolution of 35mm is much more pleasing anyways). I'm sure there'll be people rushing in to claim "Oh, no way man...my Kodak XYZ kicks any 35mm's ass!", however the professional opinion is quite the opposite, apart from the very high end (the 5 digit cost cameras that your uncle isn't going to be bringing). My point is that digital cameras don't bring some amazing new "Equalization" to the table that hasn't been there for years in the form of good 35mm cameras.

Personally I abhor, like most people, having a wedding full of photographers, all shooting off (as you mentioned) "several hundred pictures". Can't people just relax and enjoy the moment rather than perpetually capturing the joy (that they're conversely not having because they're so busy capturing it)? One of the benefits of a photographer is that it is their job, and you know who to smile to and who to listen to when composing shots: Not turning around to every aunt and uncle yelling "cheese!".

Re:all changes are welcome (1)

innocent_white_lamb (151825) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258291)

The photographer makes no claims over ownership of "the moment": You can have as many of your friends clicking away with their digital cameras and camcorders as you like. However, people have long learned that amateur photography, regardless of it being Uncle Bob with the awesome new digital camera (which this article seems to imply is far more of a revolution than it really is. You have been able to take extremely high resolution scans of the medium format slides for years), often is subpar. As such, the professional photographer brings a skill to the table that people obviously desire, otherwise they'd stick with the guest pictures and skip paying several thousand dollars for a pro.

The professional carpenter makes no cliams of ownership of your home after he has built it for you. You can have as many of your friends painting the walls of the building after construction is completed as you like. However, people have long learned that amateur carpentry often is subpar. As such, a journeyman carpenter brings a skill to the job site that people obviously desire, otherwise they would stick with Uncle Bob and his boys and skip paying several thousand dollars for a pro.

Explain to me how me hiring someone to build a house for me or hiring someone to take pictures for me is different. The carpenter can't claim "ownership" of the house and demand that only his company be allowed to paint it after it's completed. Neither should the photographer - If I have paid for the labour and materials, the end product is mine to do with as I choose. If I want to hire someone else to add another room to my new house, I can do that. If I want to hire someone else to duplicate my photographs, why shouldn't I be allowed to do that?

Weddings??? (1, Redundant)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258096)

What's this about a wedding? This is slashdot! People here don't get married!

Re:Weddings??? (2)

billbaggins (156118) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258142)

People here don't get married!
Bzzt. CmdrTaco is [slashdot.org] . Or did. I dunno, there don't seem to have been any followups afaik.

Give her a brake! (3, Insightful)

Knacklappen (526643) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258097)

I declined to pay her price, not because I thought it was too high, but because she was not offering me source code access.
I feel she was ignoring the needs of her customer in a fundamental way, and that ultimately, for her and her profession, that would prove to be a mistake.

Sorry, while I in principle am very supportive of the Open Source idea, I think you just have to give it a break here. OSS developers do not demand everybody to go OS as well (that's one of the differences to RMS's FS-idea).
If this woman decides for herself, that taking "proprietary" pictures is the business model that best fits her needs, then it's OK for her. If her business will not survive in the long run, then it was her own fault. If you have hired her without talking through the terms of the contract, nobody else is to blame than you.
Everybody should have the right to decide for him/herself. I understand you point, but I sure understand her's as well. In your situation, I would just buy the 8"x11" variant, scan it, edit it in the way you see fit and put it on your web site. And if you get sued, you may have the opportunity to brake new ground regarding copyright rules on wedding photogrphs. ;-)

the issue is getting compensated (3, Insightful)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258098)

You can certainly get a photographer to sell only the "labor" to you, but be prepared for that labor to cost ten thousand dollars a day or more.

Think of razors and razor blades -- right now you get the razor free because the blades cost a small fortune. if you came up with a way to make your own blades, all that would happen is they would have to start charging more for the razor in the first place.

If you really want unlimited reprints and digital originals, a professional photographer will be willing to sell that to you, but the price will probably be higher than you want to pay. The reason images are sold with limited rights is not to rip people off, but rather to provide the lowest cost possible to each person.

If you're only printing 1200 copies of a company newsletter, you probably can't and don't need to pay as much for a photo as the New York Times does.

Yes, professional photogaphers will go through the same business cycle that desktop publishing went through in the 80s -- everyone will think their brother-in-law is "good enough", but eventually people will remember why they paid a lot of money for photographers in the first place.

The low end of the market IS better served by a technology that lets them do it themselves. If you only have $200 to spend on wedding photography, you'll get much better results by spending it all on disposable cameras and having the guests shoot candids. Spending $200 on a pro will barely get you a seated portrait (and certainly not unlimited prints).

Re:the issue is getting compensated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4258116)

B.S. Photographers usually make jack. I can get a choice of great photographers for about $2000 a day. By the way that is more than a lot of people make in two weeks!

Re:the issue is getting compensated (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4258125)

...but rather to provide the lowest cost possible to each person.

If you're only printing 1200 copies of a company newsletter, you probably can't and don't need to pay as much for a photo as the New York Times does.


What you describe is called "price discrimination" in economics, and the effect is not that people are charged the lowest cost possible but that each person is charged the most they'd be willing to pay.

Now, it may actually end up a good thing for consumers. If there were no price discrimination (one set price for a photo, no matter the customer) and photographers decided they could make more money aiming at the New York Times market, then average people who want photos would be screwed.

But it's definitely not "the lowest cost possible to each person".

Re:the issue is getting compensated (2)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258302)

What you describe is called "price discrimination" in economics, and the effect is not that people are charged the lowest cost possible but that each person is charged the most they'd be willing to pay.

The most they are willing to pay IS the lowest possible cost. There are two parts of this equation -- the seller and the buyer. The seller has a property worth (hypothetically) a million dollars. The buyer can only afford $10,000, so the seller will provide as much of the property as possible for that low price, hence it is both the "lowest possible cost" it can be sold for while also being "the most you are wiling to pay".

It's like buying bandwidth -- you don't get "infinite" bandwidth, there would be no way to calculate the value. You get as much as you are willing to pay for, and no more, which will make bandwidth available to the most number of people for the lowest possible cost while keeping the provider in business.

Re:the issue is getting compensated (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258219)

Why is it cheaper to sell with limited rights?

The photographer spends the day taking photos of the wedding. He expects to make that back from selling photos.

If he charged for his time, then he should charge the same amount as he would expect to make from selling photos.

This is slightly different (3, Insightful)

cenonce (597067) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258120)

This is not quite like the popular topic of the RIAA and free access to your own music. First, you are dealing directly with an artist, not a representative of an industry (i.e., RIAA). For RIAA, it is all about the money. For an artist, it is about their work, effort and yes, the soul they put into the final product. You will never see an open source concept for artists. This is why artist freak out when their work is displayed in a disparing manner (see VARA (Visual Artist Rights Act). Definitely a European concept, but it has caught on in America (There was a big stink a while ago of a sculptors works being displayed in a disparging manner in a building and also a big stink put up by the artist who made the original of that "living sculptor" at the end of "The Devil's Advocate"). Open Source is a great concept, but there is a middle road too between it and Microsoft, as well as areas where I don't think you will see it enter (such as open source art). -A

Taco's Contract? (2)

Devil's BSD (562630) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258134)

This is why when I get married I want to make sure I contract only for the photographer's labor.

Just curious, what did your contract say, Taco? Were you scammed by the DMCA in a photographer's disguise at your wedding?

two words (1)

squarefish (561836) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258147)

"Then they will compare these with their own full motion, full audio, 3D, holographic images, and behold a future that we cannot now even imagine."

Better porn!

Getting what you paid for (2)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258159)

A photographer hired to shoot an event is producing a work for hire unless specified otherwise in the contract. The author of this article should check the language of his contract with the photographer. If there is no language specifically contradicting the work-for-hire status, he owns all rights to the original photographic negatives.

As always, it pays to read the contract. I had to pay a high sum for the photography at my wedding, but I also got all the negatives, high-quality proofs, and high-resolution scans to distribute and reproduce as it pleases me. All I had to do was negotiate a work-for-hire.

If you don't read the contract, you are almost certain to get screwed.

Re:Getting what you paid for (1)

Profane Motherfucker (564659) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258203)

You've never read one of the fuckings things. Only some dipshit newbie photog working for much less than he's worth would *not* include some smallprint shit that gave the customer complete access to the negs and total reprint capabilities. That's not to say that such a thing didn't occur here as all the story is about is one guy bitching how the 'source' wasn't available, when really it was -- for a price that he was too cheap to pay.

Photos have been and for a while will be sold based upon the reprint intentions of the customer. A wise photog would charge some mook at Time a hell of a lot more for a photo than the local weekly community paper. Not only does Time have a billion times what the crappy local has, but they also will run several million copies of the photo versus perhaps a few thousand.

Oh, the OpenSource cries, information wants to be free. Great. Do it yourself at no cost and you'll get what you paid for.

The point of this all is that the photog *has* to charge more because people, deep down, are a bunch of mooching, sponging fucks. I've had people steal *my* photos. Rich people. They don't give a fuck. They'd never steal a bike because that's tangible and that'd be WRONG. But they think nothing about stealing an artistic creation. The only way to ensure that people don't steal and pilfer every fucking photo they get their hands on is to make it impossible to do so. For the same reason banks have safes, a photog has a contract and keeps the negatives.

conkidink (2)

K. (10774) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258160)

Funnily enough, I went to get visa photos today, and the photographer was very reluctant to give me the negatives as well (which I need coz Canada's changed its rules post 9/11), until I crossed her palm with a tenner. Which I thought was pretty reasonable.

I don't think the original poster's analogy holds, though. The source code for a photo is surely the information required to produce it, which is the scene, camera settings, darkroom/lab settings, etc, as well as the skill of the protographer. Information on how to take photographs is readily available, (though the ./configure stage is a bit long, fnar). It's more like buying a non-free-software product, agreeing to the licence, and then trying to insist that you have rights to infinite-user versions on all possible platforms.

Well, of course. (5, Interesting)

Chris Johnson (580) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258165)

Of course- that's the problem. Digital media makes information so liquid that it's really tough to meter it. You've got to figure out some way to operate that's more than just information scarcity.

I can't help but think that photographer should simply leave the cameras at home and go out to weddings with scenery and LIGHTING... amateurs simply do not understand lighting... she could charge the same price for simply directing photographic situations. A full complement of lights, the right setting, and it's *tweet!* bring over all the amateur digicam people and have THEM do the photo taking. It'd come out much better than their usual stuff. She could have some prosumer digicam herself, but not consider for a moment that the resulting images were what she'd be charging for.

I've been fooling with studio building for a long time now- and currently my focus hasn't been on assembling a bunch of recorders and stuff- people can do that in their homes so easily that it's a tough sell even if I can trounce their quality levels. Instead, I've been getting TOYS. Guitars, basses, now an electronic drum trigger kit (eventually a real acoustic drumkit). People can have all sorts of (half the time warez) software for recording, but they will NOT typically have a mesh-head drum trigger kit to bash away at. I'm hoping to expand that out until I can get business as a studio- NOT for having recording equipment, maybe some people will even want to bring their PCs and use their own! Instead, it will be for having a killer SETTING and the environment that you just don't see in most pocket studios.

It's like that. I hope like hell I'm making the right call here but I honestly don't see how else to do it. The actual media is next to valueless, but making the environment for the media to be produced can be all the difference.

I once produced some totally pro-looking product shots for guitar boxes I make [ampcast.com] , on an old Connectix Color Quickcam (640x480 webcam). Did it by using the sun for lighting, using a big curtain for strong diffusion where needed, taking lots of identical (except for lighting variations) pictures and averaging them together in software... couldn't overcome the resolution issues but dynamic range ended up being phenomenal, easily pro level...

And of course, there was a time when I could've told you that in a book and probably sold lots of them because it's such a killer effective trick, but now in the digital age I've just replicated those words God knows how many times over the internet for basically nothing, and have to hope that (a) it'll benefit people to know about PTAverage and averaging near-identical digicam pics together for dynamic range, and (b) if I keep giving good ideas, people might figure out that I tend to have them, and record in my studio or something :)

It's really quite a braintwister figuring out what constitutes work and value in an age of digital replication. It's like, to go into the future we need to DESTROY the idea of value for individual collections of bits and somehow reformulate business around expertise and convenience. In that light, the whole 'piracy' thing is counterproductive because it's a concerted attempt to teach people that copying is morally wrong, when it's still effectively costless and effortless.

What would the world be like if ALL copying was completely permitted and there was no IP at all, but then people had to seek out the producers of any particular new thing they wanted produced? Would it be abundance? Would it be drowning in media all of which was worthless?

Re:Well, of course. (2)

gilroy (155262) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258262)

Blockquoth the poster:

I can't help but think that photographer should simply leave the cameras at home and go out to weddings with scenery and LIGHTING... amateurs simply do not understand lighting...

This might be a marketing disaster -- people want to think they're hiring a photographer and getting something -- but it's not a bad idea. If I were to try it, I think I'd also take the pictures... but give the negatives for free as part of the service. Then play up the lighting, scenery, etc. And make amateur imitation a selling point, not an obstacle.

there is a difference between work for hire & (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4258166)

wedding photography is typically a work for hire.
the artistic stuff, that's the stuff no one pays you for. In the grand scheme of things, wedding photography probably falls between news and corporate work.

This does not require a fundamental business shift (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258169)

All the photographer needs to do is sell the copyright of each photo rather than copies of the photo. Send out a contact sheet, and the buyer chooses as many as he likes. These are then put on to CD and sent to the buyer to do with as he will.

Why does the photographer think he or she should need to retain copyright anyway? Is there going to be a market for these pictures outside of the immediate family? Of course not. By losing control of these photos, the photographer loses nothing, but gains a worthwhile reward.

The photographer's business model is wrong ... (2)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258176)

... and in my opinion, it has always been wrong. The photographer charges less for her time than it's worth, but tries to make up for it in overpriced photographic prints. That business model is almost as flawed as "We take a loss in every sale, but we make up for it in volume!"

It would be more fair for everyone if the photographer just charged for his time, and then charged a fair amount for reprints. The end result should be about the same cost.

In fact, a wise photographer would offer two payment plans: the traditional one, and one that charges more per hour for taking photographs but offers the negatives and lower-cost reprints. People who don't want to make their prints can pay the photographer to do it.

Re:The photographer's business model is wrong ... (1)

Black Copter Control (464012) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258273)

... and in my opinion, it has always been wrong. The photographer charges less for her time than it's worth, but tries to make up for it in overpriced photographic prints. That business model is almost as flawed as "We take a loss in every sale, but we make up for it in volume!"

It works socially: Everybody wants a good wedding photographer, but not everybody has the money. In the old business model, the people who want (and can afford) 7 copies of every picture and a 36"x54" blowup effectively subsidize the peole who can only afford a couple of 5x7s and one 8x10 formal.

For a photographer who does the photos for the cheap/broke couple, there is some hope that the happy couple will be able to afford a few more copies some years down the road.

Re:The photographer's business model is wrong ... (2)

phliar (87116) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258298)

In fact, a wise photographer would offer two payment plans: the traditional one, and one that charges more per hour for taking photographs but offers the negatives and lower-cost reprints.
Exactly! There is full knowledge on both parties' sides, which is much more likely to lead to a fair contract.

There are wedding photographers that do this -- I know one in Oakland, California.

catch 22 (1)

Black Copter Control (464012) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258181)

An argument can be made for releasing programs as open source. It's not altruistic. Other people will take my code, improve it and (directly or indirectly) the new and improved code will come back to me and improve my life.

If you pay me to take a picture, this is not the case. If you take my pictures and generate reprints etc. I will generally get zero benefit from this -- other than (perhaps) a referral, if you are religious about including contact information with all copies of my pictures.

As such, paying for rights to a photo are like paying a programmer on contract to do a program and then give you the rights to that program closed source ({,s}he will never see any future benefit from it). What would you charge me to do that with your source code?

We run into a marketing problem here, too. People often want a wedding photographer for cheap... A wedding photographer often has to bid low, and then makes their real profit off of reprints, etc. If you want their work 'open source' then it's appropriate to pay for the copyright on the pictures (i.e. something akin to what would be charged for a reasonable number of reprints with current marketing methods).

You can't have it both ways. Either pay for a cheap photographer and then prices for reprints, or pay for the full package, including unlimited reprints. If I tried to hire a high-quality programmer for $15/hour for a short contract and then expected to own copyright on the result, I'd be laughed out of most contracters' offices -- and I'd be worried about the quality of the work of anybody who accepted my proposition.

good luck (2, Interesting)

briancnorton (586947) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258190)

WHen I contracted a wedding photographer, I contacted 17 professionals, and NONE would release the negatives or waive IP rights. I ended up going with an amateur, and I havent gotten the pix back yet.

Author makes weak open-source argument (2, Insightful)

l33t-gu3lph1t3 (567059) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258198)

Here's the deal: If you don't have to pay for it, you won't. And if you don't have to pay for an inferior version, then you will get the freebie and skip the superior one.

Photographers know this. It's fundamentally the same as the MP3 craze. What would you rather have, free low-quality MP3 format songs or high fidelity CD audio for $15 per album? Too many people choose the freebie, and thus less money to those who produce the content.

When you hire a photographer to take pictures, you are paying them for 2 services: 1-their time and effort. 2-whatever photographs you eventually decide to purchase. A professional photographer cannot hope to make a living on only the labor fee. Thus, photographers are beginning to limit the availability of proofs. Photography is a profession from the time when it took a hell of a lot of skill and experience to "capture the moment". Now, in an age where we have a cheap and inferior substitute to "analog" photography, the profession is finding itself in a vulnerable position.

10 years ago when you hired a photographer and bought prints, you were effectively buying a service and product that could not be easily or cheaply reproduced. In effect you weren't buying the rights to the picture itself, but a copy of the picture. Nowadays, you are still in spirit buying the printed photo itself, but you now have the power to copy them as much as you please, almost for free. How can artists compete with that? By A: charging more and B: limiting your ability to make high-res copies of THEIR artwork.

I also take offense to the comparison of "closed/open source" with the photographic medium. The primary positive philosophy behind open-source development is that when the original data is open to view and modification, it can be IMPROVED by the author's peers. This is completely at odds with the digital photography issue. The original data (the negatives/proofs) of a photo session can't be openly analyzed and improved by the photographer's peers. It can only be freely copied by the user.

IMO, this is a decently written, but very misguided commentary. You don't pay artists for all rights to a picture. You pay them for the limited quantity of paper images you receive. Hell, I guess you could buy the rights to the initial image, but if this were to become the case in the future, expect professional photos and negatives to cost much, much more.

waaa evolution is biting my wallet (2)

digitalsushi (137809) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258204)

You can run a nearly infinite number of these stories, and eventually the one that applies to you in some way, you will agree with. Technology is in that little exponential curve right before it shoots off into worlds unknown, our very own event horizon into the tech future. Quit snickering. It's true. Not a one of you in here can honestly predict what tech will have done to us in 50 or 60 years. Digicams are letting everyone emulate a professional photographer. We're stealing the environment she's set up? Guilty. The day someone pays a photographer to set up shop, hang out at the buffet and let the guests do their own shooting is the day we are vindicated. Maybe someone already has. What moral tragedy will it be when McDonalds realizes it is cheaper to replace all of its workers with automated machinery? Can a person of today really be so stale as to admit that day will never come? I've read this site for a few years now, and it's become apparent that companies care about but one thing- money. Before you know it, we'll have stock broker chat bots with financial AI, and convenience stores that are mutated into 35 foot wide vending machines. Every single job, or career, can and will be replaced with technology, with the rare exception. A long time ago, half of Americans were dutied to provide our nation with food- that's right, they were farmers. Now that number is a very low single digit. Did we complain? Yes. Is half of America unemployed? No. So what happened? That doesn't help push the position that our futures are all doomed. Amazingly humans have the ability to adapt. I don't know if I will be hyper enough to exist in a world with 12 billion people who have every utility provided to them by an automated process, but I'm sure the people of that day and age will have a most excellent plan for it. Maybe there will be two planets that shine blue, with all that tech. Maybe three!

Copyright ownership will cost you a lot more (1)

geekee (591277) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258206)

"This is why when I get married I want to make sure I contract only for the photographer's labor." That statement is fine is you can come to an agreement with a photographer, but be prepared to pay more. As an analogy consider getting Celine Dion to write you a song for your wedding. Do you expect her to simply turn over the copyright to you without charging extra? The song may turn into a top ten hit, at which point you'd be a millionaire. The artist should have the option to maintain his copyright, unless he signs it over voluntarily. The fact that a photographer doesn't want to provide digital images is similar to why the MPAA wants encrypted tamper proof DVDs. They know otherwise their work will be copied without their authorization. Even by putting one of these pictures on a website, you are providing others with a means of copying a picture for which you do not own the copyright.

Photographers have to eat too. (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258213)

Sure, you can have your friends with digital cameras take wedding pictures, but you are deluding yourself if you think you will get the quality a professional photographer will give you. A prosumer digital camera today offers a single zoom lens and 5 megapizels per shot. This is well below what a good 35 mm film camera with interchangable lens is capable of, and not even in the same universe as that Bronica or Rolliflex medium format camera used by the pro. Not only that, but the professional knows what poses, lighting, framing, exposure, film and so on to use. Not to mention the simple fact that in photography the craft is in the making of the negative, but the real art and skill is in the production of the print.

The fact is that the level of skill and equipment required to produce that color corrected perfectly framed razor sharp 8x10 is not going to be available unless you hire a pro. And that pro has a family to feed.

If you want open source, i.e. the negatives or high res scans, you can probably negotiate that with a photographer. But be prepared to pay a fair price for that, equivalent to what the photographer would normally net from selliing the prints and albums to all the relatives.

What would Leonardo say? (2)

geoswan (316494) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258220)

Leonardo da Vinci is an artist whose work was so interesting that he remains famous today. How did artists like da Vinci support themselves?

It was a different time, with a different kind of economy. And guys like Leonardo, or later, Mozart, sought out sponsors, patrons.

This tradition continues today. Richard Stallman and Tim Berners-Lee being two receipients of the MacArthur "genius" fellowships [macfound.org] .

Our modern understanding of intellectual property is merely a convention. It is not a natural law.

Having said all that I find I agree with dpilgrim that his photographer was making a poor choice about how to adapt to the introduction of new technology.

There are lots of tasks which were once the province of highly-skilled craftsmen. People who have had their rice bowl broken by technology have my sympathy. But they are best served by adapting.

*Some* photographers are getting it. (1)

caferace (442) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258223)

For a LONG time the vasy majority of photographers have "pooh-poohed" the very idea of digital camera, and for good reason. In the past, the output was inferior to film. Now, at the high end there are cameras that are capable of producing images as good, or better than their analog predecessors. With the advent of new cameras in the 10+ Megapixel range, the bet is going to be on digital. (And all you CD vs. Vinyl records freaks, listen for a sec :).

Professional photogs for journalism and sports have been the first to catch on, since time is usually of the essence. Eventually, the more esoteric pros will too. I'm surprised Adobe doesn't have a specific version of Photoshop targeted at these folks.

Here in California, there is a photographer that goes by the name of Photobitstream [photobitstream.com] . Essentially, he shoots action sports, commonly motorcycle roadracing [photobitstream.com] and enthusiast trackdays. At the end of the day if you'd like to he'll take your contact info, you hand him a 20 spot and within a week he send you a CD with super hi-res images. No watermarks, nothing.

His caveat (and there always is one) is only that the images may not be used for commercial purposes without their consent (and likely associated $$). Specific language says that you are free to use it on your website, free to print it out or have prints made.

As a way to help support him, he's partnered with a printer that is wise in the ways of printing idgital images (color correction, masking, etc) and has pretty good prices to boot.

There *is* hope. As a semi-pro photog in the past who is now ~80% digital and a geek to boot, it's a refreshing change to see others get "it".

Good Story, Editors (1)

limekiller4 (451497) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258228)

God, I hate it when people rant about "what Slashdot used to be," but ...guys? Please start doing more stories like this. I'm not suggesting you stop running the pieces on Stallman or the latest kernel release or the coolest case mod, but Slash could use a little more op-ed stuff like this.

Don't mod me up, just think about it.

I got the lot - Negatives, PhotoCD and Prints (1)

yuri benjamin (222127) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258237)

My gaw-juss wife and I got married on 13 April 2002, and our photographer was brilliant.
I had already thought through all the issues raised in the article, so I shopped around.
Some photographers were really anal retentave, so I voted with my chequebook.
We found a photographer with the philosophy that he made all his profit on the day, and then handed over the goods, lock, stock and barrell.
And they were good shots too.

The point is, ask around. Tell the prospective photographers that you want to hire their services for the day day and then get "the source".
Some will tell you that it's just not done, and that no photographer in their right mind would agree.
Then down the road you'll find one that says "no problem".

If you don't sort it out before the day - tough luck!

Analog Photography (1)

Sfing_ter (99478) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258244)

anyone know of a good buggy-whip maker?

Improvise, adapt and overcome.
-Gunny Highway

Re:Analog Photography (2, Informative)

little_moonboot (323355) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258253)

Being a designer that works with photographers, I say that photographers need not worry about losing out to amateurs with digital cams -- it's not just their knowledge of lighting and composition that gives them an advantage -- it's the simple fact that there are certain qualities and effects with a photograph shot with the right film and process that a digital camera simply cannot duplicate.

As for copyright, if a photographer (like a designer) is seriously worried that another fraudulent professional will steal that image and call it their own--quite frankly clients will find out soon enough whether or not they're a fraud. The cream usually rises to the top in our profession.

Negotiate terms beforehand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4258263)

In my experience (in Australia - don't know about the rest of the world) when you go to a reasonable wedding photographer, they give you package options that basically says you pay something like $1500 up-front and you get a full proof booklet, and a total of 100 selected copies for this. In the agreement it usually states that they will keep the negatives and you can get reprints any time you want. It also states - once again up-front - that you can buy these negatives for some nominal figure, eg. $200 in our case. This is reasonable, and in most cases should allow the photographer to earn an appropriate income for the time that they spent, and the creative input they supplied to the process.

If you don't negotiate the terms in advance, then you have no bargaining power and deserve what you get. This allows you to shop around, and helps the market decide how much this kind of service will cost.

The photographer should always charge enough so that they can make a living. In hiding costs and having them pop up at a later date, a photographer will end up with pissed off clients and no recommendations.

Pay for what you get. (2)

nuggz (69912) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258281)

You can get the negatives or a high quality digital image quite easily, just buy them, and the reproducing rights.

The photographer expects that they could make more money selling their work in the manner of reprints, and charges appropriately.

Just an idea, wait a year, the photographer will lower their expectations for reprints and sell the negatives for quite a bit less. My photographer wouldn't consider selling them until at least 1-2 years after the wedding. Of course by that point I realized spending money on wedding photos is dumb.

My Wedding Photographer (3, Interesting)

SWPadnos (191329) | more than 11 years ago | (#4258283)

When I got married (5 years ago), we hired a professional photographer we knew to shoot the wedding. His standard contract was for a proof sheet, several wedding albums, and extra prints (different quantities of albums and extras dependent on what level you paid for). Also, after 2 years, we got the negatives.

This allowed us to get albums for ourselves and our parents, and some extra prints for the family. He was able to sell more prints and albums to people who wanted them in the short term. We ended up with the negatives, so we can now scan / reprint them ad infinitum.

Sounds like the best of both worlds to me.
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