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Your Digital Photos Are Too Professional

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the suck-more dept.

Media 739

ScentCone writes "AP's technology writer Brian Bergstein reports that your 8 megapixel camera, and lukewarm+ lens/Photoshop skills may keep you from getting over the counter image printing services. Professional photographers have successfully sued processors (like Wal-Mart) for reproducing their digital works without permission. Clerks are now being told to deny print orders for some work that looks too good. Talented amateurs are having to jump through hoops, present documents, and otherwise cajole teenage cashiers into taking their orders. No doubt one successful suit costs more than a thousand denied amateurs' orders, but sheesh. On the other hand, pro wedding photographers depend mightily on the income derived from reproducing their work, and it will take time for things to evolve to the point where clients are willing to pay a lot more up front in exchange for wider image rights after the fact. There's no well-supported digital equivalent to a negative (as reasonable proof of ownership), so retailers are defensively resorting to near paranoia to stay out of court."

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what's all the fuss? (5, Funny)

yagu (721525) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844116)

I don't know what all of the fuss is about.... I've been having my pictures printed at WalMart for years, and never had any problems....

That leads to some awkward moments at photo desks when customers' images get barred for essentially looking too good.

..., ahem, ...., uh, ...., never mind.

Re:what's all the fuss? (5, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844297)

Luck you! I had them rejecting freakin' accidental shots of the wall, claiming I must be trying to reproduce some expensive abstract modern art.

Sillyness (1)

ZephyrXero (750822) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844325)

...And in the land of foolish people, the King decried that ideas and virtual objects could be owned and controlled even though they never "really" existed in the first place. All sorts of confusion over this silly law broke out through the land, till the King of all idiots decided that no one but he should rule all things not physical.

Don't let your wedding photographer bully you! (5, Informative)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844124)

On the other hand, pro wedding photographers depend mightily on the income derived from reproducing their work

I always cringe when I read something like this. To anyone who is planning a wedding out there: Don't be fooled into this!

It's a little off-topic, but I want to point out that this practice - once "just the way it was" when it came to wedding photography - is becoming less and less common. When we got married (a year ago next Sunday), the #1 thing we looked for was a photographer who wouldn't insist on maintaining the copyrights to the photos.

This turned out not to be a problem; the few photographers we looked at who still wanted to maintain copyrights were all old-school (in a negative sense) in other ways, too. One guy even wanted to tell us that our relatives wouldn't be allowed to take pictures at our own fucking wedding! I can't imagine how someone would hire this guy; what kind of asshole is actually going to tell their guests they can't take pictures?

Anyhow, the photographer we ended up with used film rather than digital. I actually looked for this; it added a little bit of work on our part on the back end of the wedding, but as a hobbyist myself I feel there's a real advantage to film specifically in terms of the quality of black and white photos. She did a great job, too.

Once the pictures were developed, we got all the negatives. We scanned the pictures using a kick-ass negative scanner from Nikon that we bought refurbed (and then sold on eBay for a profit) and stuck the pictures out on Ofoto so our friends and relatives could order right from there. Compare this to my Best Man's wedding a year earlier where he went with a "traditional" photog who kept the copyrights from the photos and wanted to charge us $20 per shot... Well, let's just say I don't have any of the pro shots from that wedding.

Now, back on topic: If your photos look too good, why hassle with the local Walmart just to get yourself what's going to be, at best, an 'okay' print? Unless you need the prints Right Now, go online! When I'm trying to get my own "good" photos printed, I've had great luck with Adorama's printing service. Plus, they're used to seeing shots that are far better than what I can produce. Ofoto (or whatever they're calling themselves these days) generally kicks out satisfactory results as well.

Re:Don't let your wedding photographer bully you! (1)

wfeick (591200) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844253)

Here in the SFBay area, my experience in planning a wedding this year shows the norm seems to be that the customer owns the images for personal use (i.e. friends and family who want a copy of pictures from the event), but the photographer has control for commercial use (i.e. magazine reprints).

Re:Don't let your wedding photographer bully you! (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844269)

We scanned the pictures using a kick-ass negative scanner from Nikon that we bought refurbed (and then sold on eBay for a profit)

OT I know but, Quick question. Which model did you buy. I am looking for one for scanning in a whole bunch of old family photos and need a fairly good one.

Re:Don't let your wedding photographer bully you! (1)

Bill Dimm (463823) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844316)

To top it off, wedding photographers are ranked #10 on the list of most overpaid professions []

Re:Don't let your wedding photographer bully you! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12844357)

I am not a member, so I could not see page 2 for the seven through one results. :(

Re:Don't let your wedding photographer bully you! (4, Insightful)

lupine (100665) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844346)

I went digital for my wedding, but the agreement with the photographer stipulated that I was the copyright holder and that the digital copies would be turned over to me. He was allowed to keep & make copies to promote his business, but he was not allowed to sell them.

I agree absolutely there is no reason to give up control of copyright to the pictures of your own wedding. We were able to turn around and make good quality prints for friends and relatives for pennies. Our total printing costs came to just over a hunderd dollars and we were able to send out prints along with every thank-you card.

Photographers deserve to be paid as a professional at a fair wage for their time and effort, but they dont deserve to 0wnZ3r your wedding.

Re:Don't let your wedding photographer bully you! (5, Interesting)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844350)

My sister ran into a similar problem getting reproductions of old photos of us as kids.

You go to a professional photographer, and the studio claims to own the copyright, cause you just paid them to shoot the photos (a service) -- prints are extra and they still own the image.

Now, if you're a photographer working at the studio, you shoot the photos, but the studio owns the copyright, cause it's "work-for-hire".

Seems to me a contradiction, unless you realize that the actual rule is "It's always owned by the Man." Then it all makes sense.

To add insult to injury, some of the studios that shot the old photos don't even exist anymore to provide prints or permission.

You've got to be kidding! (2, Insightful)

Rowan_u (859287) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844364)

From what I've learned about weddings (from working as a holiday inn Chef) they seem be a the eternal hotbed of scams. Everything from when they sell you a small rock for thousands of dollars on down to the throwing of bouquet is a scam of some sort and everybody wants a piece of the pie. Ernest young lovers ready to through as much of their parents money away as possible are hard to resist. But keeping the copyright to the wedding photos? That is truly ridiculous. At our wedding (which didn't cost a dime btw) we had three photographers, all amature. I did a compilation of photos for everybody afterwards and burned them to cheap CD's.

My question is this; who is printing their digital photos at Walmart anyhow? With ink jet printers being the cheapest they've ever been (and with the average consumer knowing little about fading inks and the like)wouldn't a printer purchase quickly pay for itself?

Re:Don't let your wedding photographer bully you! (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844391)

My roommate hired one of his co-workers( a photo art student at a major college) That guys camera was an 8 megapixel, My roommates was a 6 megapixel. After words they created a DVD of all the photos, and then they printed out a thumbnail of everything to help them sort. 500 pictures printed on an 18"x60" piece of paper.

my roommate and his wife went through the whole list selected about 300 images and made 3x5's for the close family members, and for every thank you card they included a picture of the person in question.

Now working for a Digital print lab and being allowed to use the equipment cheap to free helps.

Best layout ever though.

Re:Don't let your wedding photographer bully you! (1)

doombob (717921) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844400)

I agree, this was one of the main draws that my wife and I looked for in a wedding photographer. Instead of charging outrageous costs for getting the film back and reprinting customers pictures, photographers can make money on reprints by offering "special" prints. Our photographer had "metallic" prints that had a nice chrome look to the images. They had these images that looked liked pencil sketches or paintings. That's stuff that I probably wouldn't be able to do, but still wanted or thought was neat.

Re:Don't let your wedding photographer bully you! (1)

blurfus (606535) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844425)

+1 insightful

I'd have to agree with you. I am sorry but if you are 'commissioning' a photographer to work for you, you should have, at least, ownership of all work and its copyrights.

I mean, you are *paying* for it already. You are paying for the labour of this professional and the results of his/her labour. It's up to the photographer to set the fee according to his/her skills (and what the market is willing to pay).

This is similar to a developer getting paid for the code he/she produces. The code (product, application, etc) belongs to the company paying the salary and not the developer.

Just my two cents.

Re:Don't let your wedding photographer bully you! (2, Informative)

Egregius (842820) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844429)

Actually, my dad is an old-fashioned wedding photographer. Besides having his chain of photoshops almost being put out of buisness by digital photography (simply because almost noone prints their photo's anymore, instead viewing them on their computers), he does work with the system 'we keep your negatives, you may reorder them from us'. Why? That's his buisness model. You can get reproductions for cheap, and this is the only way he makes a profit on making good pictures. The higher the quality of his work, the more 'expensive' reproductions people get.

If people are unsatisfied with the work, then they don't reorder. Simple.

Example of a Rejected Photo (4, Interesting)

TPIRman (142895) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844126)

Adding insult to injury, the photofinishers refuse to give explicit guidelines as to what qualifies as "professional-looking" (in all likelihood there are no guidelines, of course). But an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune on this topic shows one customer's example of a photo rejected by Wal-Mart [] , alongside an equally good-looking photo that Wal-Mart, in its infinite wisdom, deemed amateurish enough to print.

Re:Example of a Rejected Photo (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844159)

Hate to break this to you: I'd have guessed the black-and-white was professional too.

Re:Example of a Rejected Photo (1)

TPIRman (142895) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844349)

Hate to break this to you: I'd have guessed the black-and-white was professional too.

Don't worry, my feelings are unhurt, and I agree that the B&W one looks "pro" (although the color photo looks quite good as well).

That's not the point, though. One of the critical problems here is that the photo labs aren't being forthright in how they make their judgment calls. If they want to come right out and say "no monochrome prints because they are too likely to be professional," fine. It's still a frustrating policy, but they are being forthright about it. But because the photo labs refuse to provide any explicit warnings to customers, the customers get nailed with a "gotcha" after sending in their pictures.

And while this may seem to you like a relatively clear-cut case aesthetically, the FA details that from the consumer's point of view, it's essentially a crapshoot what is going to get tagged. So consumers are sending in photos without any reliable guidelines as to whether they'll get the requested service. It's not illegal, but it is a pretty low way to do business. Whether you agree on a case-by-case basis with the "professional-looking" evaluation is not the issue; misleading the customer is the issue.

Re:Example of a Rejected Photo (1)

daniil (775990) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844166)

It's simple really. Monochrome = professional; two berries = professional -- these are things that an amateur would consider to be professional-looking.

Re:Example of a Rejected Photo (1)

tzanger (1575) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844246)

"two berries" ??

The top picture's child is out of focus. I'd have picked the bottom photo as well; it's very sharp and clear. The top photo has the wood grain in amazing detail but the subject is not focused.

Piracy (0, Redundant)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844129)

A search of my comment history will show I am very anti-piracy. But stuff like this makes me feel lke telling everyone to go download every freaking copyrighted photo on the net and send to all your friends.

Big brother ridiculous.

Piracy-A Signature affair. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12844177)

Does anyone here know what a Digital Watermark is, and why they exist? Now the other issue we need to resolve is the "work for hire" issue.

Re:Piracy (1)

drmaxx (692834) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844248)

At the gas station: Hey this car looks too good. Is it really yours? I am refusing to fill the tank unless you show me your last paycheck! I do not want to be responsible for helping you to get away with a stolen car... :-) It's a sad world when Walmart clerks have to enforce copyrights....

Re:Piracy (3, Insightful)

OhPlz (168413) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844401)

I had something like that happen at a Quebec to Vermont border crossing. I was in my early 20's driving a brand new (gasp) SUV. The US BP agent was certain I couldn't own such a vehicle. She even hesitated to accept the temporary registration and title application as proof (I hadn't registered it yet).

There's too many busy-bodies and not enough MYOB sense.

Why would Martmart even be the victim of a lawsuit? They acted on a request of a customer, if the customer ordered a reprint of a copywritten work THEY should be the guilty party. Without an absolute way of verifying copyright status it's absurd to hold Martmart responsible.

Greedy bastards! (1)

Raistlin77 (754120) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844134)

"Professional photographers have successfully sued processors"

I sincerely hope that these greedy bastards lose business because of this. Retailers should take an educational stance instead of a paranoid one!

Thank god the paranoia begins here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12844136)

The paranoia only worsens after the wedding

Digital photos (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12844145)

Digital photos are pure shite qualitywise, so I welcome this trend.

I wrote about this yesterday (5, Insightful)

cens0r (655208) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844146)

If the wedding photographer is giving out the 8 megapixel versions of the images on CD, then they're just stupid. If a person has a CD that has 8 megapixel pictures on it, chances are good that they took them themselves.

Re:I wrote about this yesterday (1)

hawg2k (628081) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844359)

Exactly. Most places like that assume you own the pictures if you have the negatives. If the professional was stupid enough to give you the negatives when he/she didn't want you to have the copyright, too bad.

Why can't it be the same for digital prints? If you're stupid enough to give out an 8 megapixel "proof", then you should switch back to film, rather than suing people just for being smarter than you are.

Mod Parent insightful (1)

mr_z_beeblebrox (591077) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844363)

That is a very good point. If you want to deny someone reproduction rights you will not give them an 8 MB image. Of course they could have scanned a photo...

Re:I wrote about this yesterday (2, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844410)

Not hard to make an 8 megapixel scan from an 8x10 print though.

I admit, I scan my kids' portraits and team photos into my personal digital photo library.

I Know (5, Funny)

sammykrupa (828537) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844148)

"Your Digital Photos Are Too Professional"

Yes, I know. Thank you.

Paiin (3, Interesting)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844157)

My dad takes photos for Seniors in High school who cannot afford a professional photographer. He started getting better than the Professionals and when he went to get his photos developed he had to jump through a lot of hoops convincing the store clerks that he was legit.

So are we trying to squash small business here or what? if you are a professional and dont digitally sign your photos then that is your fault.

Hrmm (5, Funny)

axonal (732578) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844163)

All the Walmarts I've been to denied the pictures from my honeymoon. I guess they must be some really good professional pictures.

Re:Hrmm (4, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844237)

I think it had more to do with the midgets, the trapeze and the leather restraining harness.
Not all employees want to see your "personal preferences".

TripMasterMonkey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12844164)

But... but... what does TripMasterMonkey have to say about this?


Wal-Mart wouldn't print my General Ackbar! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12844167)

They said it might be a trap.

Re:Wal-Mart wouldn't print my General Ackbar! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12844245)


Your dog posted this with a funnier headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12844326)

Insert picture of large-testicled squirrel with hand in economy-sized mustard jar here.

safety. (3, Insightful)

ShaniaTwain (197446) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844171)

..and yet you can still buy knives, hammers, pillows and other dangerous object that could be used to KILL someone. I guess full and complete protection of 'intellectual property' is more important than full and complete protection of human life.

Or maybe, just maybe we dont need everything to be protected?

Re:safety. (2, Funny)

Nogami_Saeko (466595) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844388)

Ah, but you see - after a knife, hammer, pillow, or other dangerous objects are utilized, there are less people around to file lawsuits.

Which means it's OK!


Stipulations? (1)

blinkless (835747) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844179)

My wife claims there is a stipulation that if the photographer is out of business the copyright is public domain or whatever.
Anyone know if this is true/partially true?

"Fat people are harder to kidnap."

Re:Stipulations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12844205)

That's absolutly incorrect.

Re:Stipulations? (1)

davandhol (728225) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844264)

Why in the world would the state of a person's business release a copyright into the public domain? I am not a photographer (or a lawyer), but that's just dumb.

Re:Stipulations? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12844323)

the stipulation is:

People with no money probably can't afford a lawyer to sue you.

Re:Stipulations? (5, Informative)

VidEdit (703021) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844421)

A stipulation where? Not in copyright law. Copyright does not allow you rights to reproduce "orphan" works such as wedding photographers--at least in the US. This problem is much bigger than Walmart. Ironically copyright law *presumes* that the person who commissioned the work owns the copyright, therefore if you or your relatives are in the photos it is reasonable to assume that the copyright belongs to you regardless of who took the pictures. Professional photographers try to turn copyright law on its head and make clients sign contracts saying that the work for hire is not work for hire and that the photographer owns all rights to your photographs. The first thing is to never agree to give up copyright to a photographer. Remember, if there is no written contract to the contrary, any photography you commission is copyright by *you*, regardless of whether the photographer tries to write "proof" or copyright by so and so. If this wasn't' the case, those pictures you ask strangers to take of you on vacation wouldn't belong to you either. At least one European country has a law saying that you have a right to reproduce pictures of yourself or of dead relatives. We need such a law to make sure that our heritage isn't locked up by silly copyrights.

Why is it the printer's responsibility? (5, Insightful)

bwalling (195998) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844180)

If I sign something claiming ownership of the image, why are they liable? They have no way of actually knowing, and couldn't reasonbly be expected to do so. To expect the printer to be the enforcer is only creating a point of friction between the printer and their customers. This just seems so black and white obvious to me.

Re:Why is it the printer's responsibility? (4, Insightful)

donutello (88309) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844281)

Because the current US tort system allows you to sue the person with the biggest pockets regardless of who holds the biggest responsibility for damages. Homeowner shoots burglar? Sue the gun company.

Re:Why is it the printer's responsibility? (1)

Uruk (4907) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844311)

If you're walmart, they may not even care if the lawsuit being brought against them has any merit or not. Swatting flies in the courts costs them the time of corporate lawyers who make $200/hour.

When you're looking to sue someone, you go for the deepest pockets that you can even somewhat plausibly go after. That's walmart. I think that the legal protections for them may either be shaky or incomplete...I mean, at kinkos they won't let you copy protected material if they can stop you, and they certainly won't let you counterfeit. Why should they care? How should they be expected to know what's right and what's not to copy?

What's right and what's fair isn't what we're discussing - this is strictly an issue of practicality in modern courts. Obviously someone at Walmart thinks that putting these restrictions in place is a lot cheaper in the long run than the alternative.

Re:Why is it the printer's responsibility? (2)

bwalling (195998) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844375)

What's right and what's fair isn't what we're discussing - this is strictly an issue of practicality in modern courts. Obviously someone at Walmart thinks that putting these restrictions in place is a lot cheaper in the long run than the alternative.

I keep forgetting that capitalism was redefined to mean screw people over to get their money.

Re:Why is it the printer's responsibility? (1)

qwijibo (101731) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844402)

Unfortunately, that's the trend that's applying to more and more aspects of our lives. Fear of being sued is the driver for this behavior. As a result, we have people who are being paid barely over minimum wage being asked to use their judgement. What's worse is that there is no penalty for errantly refusing to provide the service. This is the inevitable result of focusing on money and forgetting about the customer.

Re:Why is it the printer's responsibility? (1)

penguin121 (804920) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844314)

yes, create friction between the customer and printer to make your professional services more attractive in comparison, it makes sense...

Marriage (2, Insightful)

Spez (566714) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844182)

I'm getting married in 2 month, and the professional Photographer I've hired uses a digital camera and photoshop to accentuate colors and things like that.

The only difference is that a professionnal photographer, unlike me, knows how to take good poses, good angles, and knows what to do in photoshop to make the picture a lifetime souvenir

Is this not /. ? (0, Troll)

Eunuch (844280) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844380)

Just use a linux-based 16MP camera, spiff it up with Gimp, and save a whole lot while not giving archaic professions any money!

Shouldn't be a problem (1)

v3rb (239648) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844183)

Between photo quality ink jet and dye sub printers to serve immediate printing needs and online photo finishers like shutterfly to print on the cheap... I thought only people taking snapshots went to Walmart and the like. There's no chance of someone mistaking your snapshots of Timmy's birthday party as professional work.

Re:Shouldn't be a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12844337)

You're assuming that every amateur photographer takes that type of pictures. What about landscapes, interiors, abstract closeups?

Sometimes you just find that ideal cloud formation.

I also love how you use "you" in the last sentence as meaning that non-professionals only take that kind of pictures.

Umm, good printer anyone? (1)

sithsasquatch (889285) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844189)

If you can't reproduce digital prints at the store, invest in a sweet printer/scanner combo. Problem solved.

Hmm, I feel an entrepreneurial urge coming on. . .

Ha! I never have trouble. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12844192)

Oh wait. I'm sad now.

Stephen Ball - Photographs [] .

Use online services, kiosks and your own printer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12844193)

I'd suggest using online services, which probably do not have as many confused humans in the loop.

Also, self-service kiosks. Also, there are many home printers which produce better results than the processors...

Perhaps steganography would work (1)

HighOrbit (631451) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844194)

Include a hash or digital signature in the image file, something not readily detechtable to the naked eye but machine decernable (like a flipped bit or pixel every 100 pixels). Not completely foolproof, but could serve as a way verify origin of the photo.

sheesh... my spelling typos get worser and worser (1)

HighOrbit (631451) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844296)

and grammer too. Time to hire a proof-reader.

oh good! (1)

DeusExMalex (776652) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844202)

nothing like a the threat of "i'm going to sue you" to keep the masses in line

Just make the prints yourself! (1)

daviddennis (10926) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844204)

Any photographer worth his salt would have long since brought control back into his hands by obtaining a good quality photo printer.

What are they, $200 nowadays?



Re:Just make the prints yourself! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12844263)

Hmm. No.. They organize a deal with a developer company and have them do it.

My brother runs into this (2, Interesting)

lthown (737539) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844210)

My brother does wedding photos [] and gives the "digital negatives" to the people - he just charges for time. He sent me this link yesterday, he said now he knows why more and more of his clients are asking for print release forms. He is starting to include a stack with the CD when he gives it to people.

Let's all time travel back... (5, Insightful)

neonfrog (442362) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844213)

... to the invention of the photocopier.

Remember when you went to a Staples or Kinkos and they wouldn't let you photocopy lots of things because they *might* be copyrighted works? Remember when you had to jump through hoops to prove that you were photocopying a book segment for a school book report?

Fast forward to today. No problem anymore. They just refer you to the Self Serve copiers with the "Don't Copy Illegally" signs and look the other way while you make your own Oxford Englsh Dictionary at 5 cents a page.

This will be a ridiculously short-lived phenomenon for two single word reasons:

* Kiosks

* O-foto (that's not really a word...)

Experienced this (1)

geeper (883542) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844215)

My wife, as a amateur photographer, has experienced this several times. At first she was delighted that someone thought her photos looked professional, now it has become a nuisance for her. She has turned to having the pictures done online and sent to her. They are better quality and cheaper.

Proof of Ownership (3, Informative)

dos4who (564592) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844218)

RE:"There's no well-supported digital equivalent to a negative"

While it's not absolute proof of ownership, most digital formats these days include a specification called EXIF. (Google for "EXIF" or see [] for more info).
The extraneous information in a digital photo containg EXIF data includes such information as Make & model of camera, etc. While such information is not absolute, it can, in a pinch, providde reasonable proof of ownership, as long as you can show you own the equipment specified, and that all the images point to your equipment.

This happened to my mother about five years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12844220)

...though it was actually a professionally-taken picture. My brother died, and my mom wanted to get an 8x10 enlargement of a graduation photo. The studio that took the image no longer had the negative, and would charge a rather large fee to take the existing photo and blow it up. She then took it to Wal-Mart, where they refused to take it because of the studio's name on the bottom of the portrait, even when my mother explained the situation.

She finally carefully cut off the very bottom of the picture (it was background anyway) and told them it was a personal picture that she took. They didn't question it, and my mom got the picture she wanted.

I'm a photographer... (2)

graveyardduckx (735761) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844225)

and I've never ran into this problem, but I only use Walgreens since their photo lab is open 24/7. It's better to use a smaller shop like Walgreens so the people there will recognize you, thus avoiding this problem more often than not. And on a side note, screw Wal-Mart.

While on topic... any online recommendations? (1)

eXoXe (157466) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844229)

Does anyone know of any affordable online print companies that'll print up posters for you with your prints?

DRM (3, Funny)

RickPartin (892479) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844233)

I can't wait till they start DRM'ing film. You have developed this film more than one time. Please call this activation hotline you god damn pirate. Thank you

Re:DRM (1)

fracai (796392) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844433)

forget the film, what about the scenary?

If I take a photo of a quaint, rolling hillside I damn well better be the only one selling images of that scene. Anyone else who takes a picture of that area better have a big watermark of my name and contact info embedded across it.

I don't think this will be much of a problem (1)

Mostly Monkey (454505) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844243)

I seriously doubt that the average minimum wage retail worker is going to deal with the extra hassle of refusing people's print jobs. Even if the higher ups mandate checking the prints first, the judgement call will still likely be in the clerk's hands.

Heh (2, Insightful)

British (51765) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844250)

Maybe it's time to start up a photo business that doesn't care about copyrights.

Honestly, why would a photographer want copyrights on Ma & Pa Kettle's wedding photos? Is there a release form the couple has to sign off to the photographer for all images of THEM?

Maybe the photographer should be paying them for modeling, with a clause that they(wedding couple) get a copy for framing.

Or pony up the $ and just do it all yourself, have a neighbor kid take the photos and pay them an agreed-upon fee.

How about this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12844257)

I've got a suggestion.

It's an amazing one.

Don't go to Wal-Mart to have pictures developed.

Support your local businesses, you insensitive clod.

wedding photography (1)

w98 (831730) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844267)

Our wedding photographer will be giving us film and digital files for us to print ourselves (that's why he's so cheap, he doesn't do any photo processing himself) but if *this* is the kind of crap we're going to run into ... yikes.

Who printed what now? (1)

conner_bw (120497) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844271)

How is a professional photographer going to find out someone printed up one of their photos? Unless someone is printing thousands of them, there's little chance that they would have any idea of it's existence.

Maybe the headline should read "Vindictive photographers may sue acquaintances to supplement income not not being made from own sub-par work, so Walmart pro-actively enforces insane policy to save it's ass from the future."

Who owns the Image (1)

DesertBlade (741219) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844275)

If I pay someone to take a picture of my family, is it not a contract and I am the rightful owner of the picture?

I would be more understanding if the photographers took the pictures for free.

The Jig is Up (1)

sv0f (197289) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844282)

Professional photographers are gonna have to face reality on this one. I remember interviewing a bunch for my wedding. I was shocked to learn that they would be retaining the negatives so that if ever in my life I wanted more pictures, I would be paying them an astronomical markup to print them for me. Almost every one of them had this policy. Sorta like razors and razor blades, except the razor itself cost $1000+.

Fast forward a decade. The means for reproduction are in our hands. They will have to change their pricing model so that more of their profit comes from the initial fee and less from the duplicates that a smaller and smaller percentage of their clientele will come to them for.

Re:The Jig is Up (1)

w98 (831730) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844356)

Exactly. Our wedding photographer is charging us next to nothing to photograph our wedding, we're basically paying him for his time and he gives us all of the film at the end: we therefore own everything about our photos, including the rights to make as many reprints as possible.

On the other foot (3, Funny)

Boing (111813) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844283)

I'm afraid I can no longer purchase movies or cds from Wal-mart, because for all I know they're just well done bootlegs. I've got to "err on the side of protecting copyrights", after all.

Same thing with other Wal-mart products, I'm afraid... I can't be sure that they're not violating the trademark protections of Coca-cola by packaging a knockoff as The Real Thing (tm).

change them (1)

xeroxurbutt (891811) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844286)

Pictures that I have taken that I have found to be 'good', at least in my non-professional opinion, I will often reduce the megapixels before giving them to anyone. This way, I figure, if there is ever any kind of legal dispute (I'm not that great so not really worried) I can always say "I have the originals, compare the pixels."

Similar experience at Kinkos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12844287)

A few years ago, I tried to get Kinkos to make a bound copy of a working draft of a lengthy academic paper, and they wouldn't have anything to do with it. Even though the manuscript consisted of photocopied pages in a 3-ring binder, and was not very professional looking at all, the clerk insisted "it's a book".

Of course, Kinkos is happy to copy and bind all sorts of material, as long as it is not "a book" in the view of the morons working there.

What about Work-for-Hire? (1)

harmless_mammal (543804) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844291)

When I write software as part of my job, whether as employee or contractor, my work-product is generally considered as work-for-hire. I.e. I don't own it because *they* paid me to produce it.

Why doesn't that work for Wedding photos?

bah?! (1)

BungoMan85 (681447) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844327)

This makes me glad that I have a printer and paper good enough to print photos at the same quality I could get at Wal-Mart or CVS. Not that I ever really need it, but it's there on the odd ocassion I do.

Produce a faked photographer's release form... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12844328)

If they want documentation...give it to them.

Personally, I'd like to see the look on the person's face when they read Samuel L. Jackson's name on the release.

Why not just use one of the professional labs? (1)

winkydink (650484) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844332)

There are several out there.

More Laws? (1)

mikeboone (163222) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844334)

Steve Noble, who oversees regulatory affairs at the Photo Marketers Association, believes the situation will remain hazy unless copyright laws that were written in a different technological era are altered to reflect the possibilities of digital dissemination.

Great, a call for more copyright laws! :(

They'll probably want to mandate an expensive DRM scheme by which you can prove an image came from your camera. Or maybe they'll require that you be a card-carrying member of a photo association in order to print your "professional" image.

Digital is killing Professionals (2, Insightful)

bahwi (43111) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844340)

Except in extreme circumstances, digital is going to kill off a lot of "professional" picture takers.

With more and more megapixels, you can take bad pictures, incredibly off-center, etc.. crop, and voila, the subject is now perfect center(you can even measure it with photoshop to be sure!).

Sure, there'll always be call for professionals, but it's getting to where you can have just about anyone with a 45-minute course and a big-megapixel camera can do some pretty good shots.

My favorite is my cheap kodak digital can take pictures from far away, with its little bit of zoom, and I can get home, zoom in on the picture in photoshop(reduces maximize size of final print though, not that I really print much) and it looks like I either had a very professional camera with a huge zoom, or I was much closer when I took my picture, even if that isn't a possibility.

Dear Wal*Mart (4, Interesting)

IvyMike (178408) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844341)

You're a behemoth corporation with more money than I can imagine. Why don't you throw some of that weight and money around and take a stand against these bullshit laws? Fight the lawsuits in court to establsh a set of sane legal precidents, and promote a new "common-carrier printer status" law.

Not only because it's the right thing to do, but because by being sissies, you're undercutting your future sales.


Ask for ID! (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844366)

If the photo looks too professional, they should ask the client to give some ID, so if the owner then claims copyright violations, we know who to blame.

Ta-da, problem solved.

Who cares? (1, Informative)

AndyMan! (31066) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844377)


I'm an "semi-profesional" photographer in my part time, and I bounce back and forth between printing my own on my home printer and using a service like Shutterfly [] .

I can't imagine ever using a retail service like Walmart. Good quality photo printers are just too innexpensive to justify using a retail service. This is hardly limited to "profesionals" either.

Print your prints at home! Everyone! Yes, I mean you!

Geeks have a great opportunity to take ownership of thier prints by printing themselves. Printers are cheap, paper and ink is cheap, and it's not much work at all. A decent photo printer can be had for under a hundred bucks.

Back when developing prints meant expensive equipment and dangerous chemicals we had a ton of excuses to outsource developing, but those days are long gone.

On another note, now speaking as a profesional, clients order prints from Shutterfly directly and never see high quality JPG's. If I ever release JPG's to clients they get branded with "COPYRIGHT" watermarks accross the center of the image.

Rights to digital photos are incredibly simple to protect as long as you never release high quality digital prints.

To all these Profesional photographers sueing Walmart, I really have to ask what in hell they're doing releasing high-rez digital files in the first place. What the hell do they expect? I guard my digital files as I would negatives.

I've never seen a high quality scan that looked remotely like the original, so someone scanning a print and then printing it themselves is not a big concern of mine. Quite frankly if someone is willing to go to all that work for a shitty print, all the power to them. I only ask that they leave my signature off.


The basic problem (2, Insightful)

lheal (86013) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844385)

Professional photographers have successfully sued processors (like Wal-Mart) for reproducing their digital works without permission.

That's a bad precedent. Service vendors should not be put in the position of monitoring content or judging it, any more than an ISP should monitor its customers' activity (except in a general way). Whether a customer has copyright or permission on a file or photo is not their call, unless they see something obviously illegal happening.

This isn't Big Brother, really, it's worse: enforced imitation bureaucracy.

Let the feds enforce copyright law themselves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12844396)

It shouldn't be Walmart's job to police for copyright violations; that's the FBI's job. The real problem here is that government keeps drafting private individuals and companies to work for them as unpaid law enforcement. And I thought there was a constitutional amendment, passed just after the War of Secession, outlawing involuntary servitude...

Another business model hits the dust (1)

danharan (714822) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844413)

So photographers now have to make money off their service rather than their image bank.

Is anyone here crying them a river?

If Wal-mart decides to be assholes about this, we could go the legal route (sue them), or make a big fuss at the counter. We could also go to shops that have more reasonnable rules.

My wedding, My photos (2, Insightful)

Pitr (33016) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844417)

Ok, I have a metric assload of problems with this whole concept.

First and foremost, photographers are paid to take really good pictures, and maybe do some prints. I still think the digital version belongs to the person who's wedding/whatever it is. Yes, the photographer needs to be paid, but he gets paid. And quite well too. What is it, a grand or two for a days work?

Second, if there are legitimately copywrited photos printed by someone who doesn't own them, it's the person who had them printed who is liable. Not the printer. Otherwise it's like suing maytag because someone washed your dry-clean only sweater.

It seems legal battles are now just big finger pointing contests, and copyright is about who you can sue. I think the whole process needs a reality check, because the spirit of copyright and other laws has been completely lost.

Sign a declaration (1)

nuggz (69912) | more than 9 years ago | (#12844432)

Sheesh make eveyone sign a declaration that they have permission from the owner of the copyright to make duplicates of the prints.
As long as there is no clear watermark or sign that it isn't the customers property they can claim it wasn't willful and they took reasonable means to prevent such a problem.

Secondly it doesn't need to be any good or even a professional photograph to be illegal to duplicate.
If you download my vacation photos you'd still be violating copyright to print them out... Even the blurry ones.
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