Photography in Times of Social Media. Does Copyright Apply?
Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript of the video:
How does it feel to be a photographer in times of Social Media?
Exciting? Frustrating? Both? Let’s find out more.
Meet Amelia, a professional photographer who specializes in wildlife & nature shots.
Taking quality photos is not cheap. So over time, Amelia has invested a small fortune in camera gear (camera, set of lenses, lights, tripods). But equipment is not all she needs.
A great shot lies in the intersection of dozens of little details: the right settings, at the right angle & composition, with sufficient light and… it all comes together at the perfect moment!
Making all these elements align requires not only Amelia’s talent, but many hours of meticulous work.
Talking about hours, let’s not forget the hundreds of images Amelia needs to go through and filter out in order to select the few that will be forged into gems through the editing & development process.
Finally, a masterpiece is born! Proud of her work Amelia shares her photo on social media.
What happens next? Well, there are a couple of scenarios. Spoiler alert! If you are in a similar situation as Amelia, most of them won’t be to your liking.
Meet Bob, the admin of a community page, who sees Amelia’s photo. Wow! A great shot. He’d love to share it with his followers… So, he takes a screenshot (!?!), crops the watermark out, and adds “DM for credit or takedown”. Evil? Quite so.
Next enters Carol, an emerging designer, who follows all the fashion trends and also, Bob’s community page.
She loves Amelia’s creative image, so much that she wants to print it on her T-shirt collection! Carol is concerned about the copyright though,
so she contacts Bob to ask for permission to use the photo… Bob agrees in exchange for exposure.
Carol tried to do the right thing here, but if her collection is a success, Amelia won’t be the one to share the limelight.
Now, here comes Daniel, he crops off the watermark and uploads Amelia’s photo to a stock image marketplace. He checks the box on the upload page saying “the photos I upload are taken by me”, so the “authorship verification” test is passed. Well, at least he’s not making much money from Amelia’s image… It’s 25–45 cents per image/month for stock photos these days.
Last but not least, Elena, a tech enthusiast who recently got into NFTs, also likes the photo, so she adds a funny slogan to it and mints an NFT with Amelia’s image. (It’s kinda funny, it’s now a meme. Feel free to share!)
We could go on, but I think you get the point.
That’s what it feels like to be a creator in the age of social media.
Pretty messed up, don’t you think? Amelia and millions of others have little to no control over the content they share. Photos get copied, cropped, republished — and the connection between the artists and the image is lost entirely.
Is there a solution?
You can try to sue everyone, or simply vow to never put your work on social media again…
But we have a better idea.
What if there is a way to keep track of your published photos, get attribution, and sell or license them on your terms, no matter where they end up on the Internet?
Intrigued? Yes, it is possible.