Sailing and boating clubs and events need to address the need for copyright protection of images taken by event photographers. This is not a new problem, but as the media world consumes more and more images, the problem of unattributed or incorrectly attributed images being supplied by clubs and events to media is growing.
Image with IPTC data
There is a constant struggle to get sailing coverage in mainstream media, and the photo attribution issue does not aid that struggle.
Media react badly – very badly – having published event-supplied images in good faith when they are sent legal letters or invoices (we have seen some doozys) or receive aggressive emails or phone calls from event photographers complaining that their images have either not attributed or incorrectly attributed or even in fact used and attributed.
Yes that last one does not make sense, so here is the side story.
Recently it seems, one photographer was paid by a major event for images to be distributed free in press releases for media to republish.
The event sent out its press releases and images and guess what? The media used them, carefully following the event's requirements about crediting the images to the photographer.
Then to the horror of the event, that photographer, very unsuccessfully sent out invoices for tens of thousands of dollars to media who had published the event press releases and used the supplied images, crediting them exactly as requested.
The same media use of press release images happens hundreds of thousands of times a day, around the world, so this was going to be groundbreaking. .
What happened? Nothing. No reaction from lawyers, police or publishers .... No cheques written. A few laughs.
Probably not a good way to get more event gigs? Hey its a free world!!
Copyright issues can present problems for boat owners too.
Here is an issue than could happen to you, at major offshore events, where supply of images boats for both Search and Rescue and Media use is mandatory. At events like the Rolex Sydney to Hobart for instance, entrants must sign over complete copyright on those images for any use, anyplace, any time. No ifs or buts, 100% and the event keeps the disclaimers on file.
For the last decade the Rolex Sydney Hobart event organisers have encouraged medias to use those images. They appear in magazines and newspapers and online.
We recently heard of a case where an optimistic photographer sent an invoice for $6,600 to a media outlet who had used one such biographical image.
Sadly no cheque was forthcoming. There was patient explanation from the media outlet and a copy of the NOR and Medias disclaimer form onsent with the invoice to the boat owner.
Certainly not the media outlets concern, maybe a matter for the boat owner, who may or may not have obtained permission to supply the image copyright free from the photographer.
Don't imagine the boat owner thought it was worth that much either.
But we wait with bated breath to see if the owners are going to pay $6,600 for the boat photo. If they do we think it will be a wonderful story and we will keep you posted.
Again not a good way for a photographer to get work from boat owners, either. But hey its a free world!!!
But back to main game, as we started to explain images without adequate identification cause general issues. This usually happens when images are supplied to clubs by amateur or semi-professional photographers who are unfamiliar with the professional solutions available to ensure their data stays with their images.
Most photographers realise in these circumstances they have caused the issue and ask quietly and often apologetically for a correction.
Occasionally however photographers are too busy blaming the world rather than using the professional solution, so they have to be told, publically. (You guessed it, that’s what we are doing now).
The solution was developed almost 30 years ago. The magic words are ‘IPTC metadata.’ IPTC metadata is a standardised data set of textual information in images defined by the International Press Telecommunications Council. Developed for professional photographers, it allows photographers to attach information to images for electronic submissions.
The IPTC data stores captions, keywords, location, photographers’ contact details and copyright information, among other items.
Because the image’s information is stored in a standard way, it can be accessed by other IPTC-aware applications, used by major media outlets.
Professional marine photographers use IPTC metadata. However there are just a few amateur and semi-professional photographers supplying images to events and clubs, causing the industry issues because they are not conforming to professional standards.
For course, under Australian and international copyright law there is absolutely NO requirement to use IPTC data, the International Press Telecommunications Council has no legal status in this area.
They had just developed a practical solution used by the industry which solves a problem. Good enough for the mainstream media, good enough for the marine industry. Good enough for the serious and oft published marine photographers. Good enough for photographers still hoping for their every first magazine cover.
So what is the solution for event managers?
If you are about to engage a marine photographer, ask in writing that all images supplied and distributed by photographers to the event contain these minimum details in the IPTC data on the electronic files: event name, photographer name and photographers website and conditions of use. e.g.’ copyright free for media editorial use only’ - at an absolute minimum.
This is sensible protection for the photographer, and for the media and of course the Club or event.
Ask your event photographer to show you the IPTC metadata on supplied images. This does not just apply to paid media but to anyone supplying images to your event. It’s either there or it’s not. If it’s not, say thanks that’s great, but would you like to give us those images when you've added the IPTC data?
The data on the IPTC codes does not just solve ownership issues, its the best and most professional solution for captioning images. There is a constant problem with images from amateur photographers where the caption gets lost or is absent.
On a daily basis media outlets see emails like this... trouble looking for a place to happen.
Image 1 is ..... Image 2 is ..... when the images are IMG47867, IMG486863 Sigh! Now wonder what the image loading order was....
Here is an example of the copy on a good IPTC data set, attached to an image, from the highly regarded and truely professional Richard Langdon, who was an official photographer at Perth 2011.
Perth, WA - December 11: Mathew Belcher, Malcolm Page, 470 Men Medal race December 11, 2011 off Fremantle, Australia. (Photo by Richard Langdon)
Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships, 3rd-18th December 2011.
Perth 2011 image.-For further information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
+44 7850 913500
+61 478 221797
© Richard Langdon. Image copyright free for editorial use.
This image may not be used for any other purpose without the express prior written permission of Richard Langdon
So everyone knows who took the image, when, the event, the subjects, the conditions of use.
It helps the event, the photographer and the media.
The professional media understand copyright law very very well and the ones we know and work with, respect photographer’s rights… now the task is ensure photographers do their part.
If you hear a photographer complaining media have used their images incorrectly, ask them.
‘Did the images you are talking about have your IPTC data on them?’
If they say no, but… raise your eyebrows, then say, ‘Seems like you should do what the professionals do, aye? ‘
‘In fact, why don’t you? ‘