Articles, FEATURES

Copyright perception in the photography industry and how it’s evolving

Contributed by Tom Hind, Senior Manager, Creative Content at Getty Images

Tom Hind

There are many myths surrounding photography copyright. This is mostly due to inaccurate interpretations of copyright law and how it applies to the internet. We all know it only takes one person to pass on information they were told is correct and it risks spreading like wildfire across the online world.

Copyright issues have become increasingly commonplace since the advent of both digital cameras and the internet because people now have far more freedom and flexibility to source and share imagery. It is all too easy to post an image on the internet for which you do not own any form of copyright and reproduce it in digital form many times, without the consent of the person who took the original image. As small business owners seek out content to populate their websites and corporate collateral, and students look for content for their university projects, easy access to an ever-increasing number of professional and amateur images has opened up a legal can of worms.

Add to this The rise of social networks such as Facebook, Pinterest and more recently Instagram, which have made content sharing more prevalent than ever. Hardly surprising as, within the span of eight years, Facebook has become the world’s largest image collection – and it keeps on growing. Socialbakers estimates that 25 percent of all Facebook users are based in Asia. On average, globally, 300 million visuals are posted daily on Facebook – that’s 3,500 per second.

One of the more common misconceptions about photography copyright is the belief that once a photo is published online it is part of the public domain. It is important to know that, no matter where they are posted, images remain bound by copyright. The same rule applies to music – if you want to use a Beatles track to promote your business, you need to have permission to do so. Finding the track online does not automatically give you a right to use it commercially. Before using an image sourced online, one must first obtain the consent of the author of the image, or – when the license agreement in place allows it – the administrator of the website.

Copyright law is there to protect a photographer’s images – and ultimately their livelihood – and to prevent others from taking the credit for their hard work. It is important that people, whether small business owners, students or creatives, are informed about how to legally use imagery and where they can access content that is not only affordable, but has the requisite legal approvals in place .

To help with this ongoing issue, iStockphoto, the web’s original source for stock photography, media and design elements has introduced a new way for customers to download millions of royalty-free photos, illustrations, videos and audio tracks. For the first time, visitors to iStock will be able to add as many files as they like to their shopping cart, pay with a credit card and download them. This will ultimately ensure that small businesses, students and creatives looking for quick and affordable imagery solutions can purchase the exact photos and illustrations they need on an as-need basis.

It is important to educate people against the common misunderstandings about photography copyright. Sites such as Getty Images’ www.stockphotorights.com, helps do exactly this. A resource for information on image licensing, Stockphotorights aims to unravel the complexities, expose the pitfalls and provide image buyers with the knowledge they need to license an image with confidence.

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