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copyright laws

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  #41  
Old 06-19-2003, 11:32 AM
Jim Conway's Avatar
Jim Conway Jim Conway is offline
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Express your views to Washington!

As there is no formal association of Retouching Professionals, perhaps this would be a good time for ALL of you to write to your Senators to express your views on this topic.

Laws that are being written for the business interests that are involved in music, movies and theme parks may swing the pendulum so far that they inadvertently take out the rights that now exist in other fields where copyright is also an important element in the mix. We can all lose when the law creates a Catch 22 and the need for a business policy like Jak's where you can't do anything without a documented release and the only party who could give you that release could quite possibly be long gone or who makes themselves "unavailable" waiting for an opportunity to catch some "deep pockets." like WalMart.

My opinion is that to keep a copyright valid, the owner should make an active effort to retain their interests on any unregistered or "automatic" copyrighted work. Maintaining a listing in the yellow pages in the town or city where the photo was made should be enough without further registrations, however, in the case of photos where the business no longer exists, a listing should be registered with the Secretary of State office just as you would for an assumed business name. The legislators should like that one, there are annual fees involved! :-)

Contact info for "Registered" copyright holders should be made available from a "dot.gov" Internet search. Their fees for granting copyrights are not cheap by any means so the added service should be a "given"!

The objective as I see this would be to require some positive effort on the part of the copyright owner rather than just specifying a given number of years. In our line of work it is not financially feasible to spend days or pay hundreds of dollars to search for someone who, in most cases really could care less about a fee that usually amount to $10 or less and who doesn't even have a system or schedule for collecting copyright fees. Yet, if you fail to make that search, it could cost you tens of thousands of dollars!

Although I have generally had a great deal of respect for Orrin Hatch, it seems that he has flipped and forgotten the principle of "due process" . He wants to zap out your machine by remote control. I find that childish and certainly hope something like that will never make it into the laws in this country! So do you care enough to do your bit to see that it doesn't? Write to your senator.

Jim Conway
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  #42  
Old 06-20-2003, 06:33 AM
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Jakaleena Jakaleena is offline
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I just got some new info on this issue yesterday.

Apparently, the PPA is the ultimate authority on what you can or can't copy at our company (WM).

IF the photo in question was taken before 1980, the Photo Center Manager or another member of management can call the PPA to request permission to copy the photograph. It MUST be the PCM or another member of management - an hourly associate can't make the call. If the PPA says it's ok to make the copy, the member of management must note the date, time and the person at the PPA that they talked to and keep it in the release file. At that point, the photo can be copied.

Hope this helps.

(BTW, I had to terminate someone just this week for violating the copyright policy - I hate when that happens...)
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  #43  
Old 06-20-2003, 11:33 AM
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Jim Conway Jim Conway is offline
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Very interesting. I wonder how the PPA could possibly be considered to have any legal standing in making such decisions? I would think their contribution would be an interpretation of the law much as we have been discussing here rather than any specific authorization as the "ultimate authority".

No doubt your Company has plenty of legal experts and have been through the system with everything necessary to protect the stores but I'm finding this perplexing. Your rules as you've stated them here would seem to imply membership in PPA could have something to do with copyright protection (I think that should be framed as a question!) ???

In the cases I've been involved in, the PPA both national and state were not able to offer much assistance in aiding enforcement (again other than guideline generalizations) so I have had some direct experience. If you want to try it out, I'll be glad to send you an "unidentified" (no copyright markings) portrait or two that has already been through the legal system and won substantial judgments based on access (how they were obtained) and end use (how they were displayed) - all evidence introduced in court and nothing that could have been known or verified in any way by PPA until it became part of the public record. The 1980 date is equally perplexing??

I know this has been a lot of work for you in responding to these posts so for one, I'd like to thank you. I'm sure a lot of professionals out there are very concerned over the policies of major chains and you have been very helpful in diminishing some of their fears! For that, I think the store owes you a big fat raise as a good will ambassador!

Jim Conway
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  #44  
Old 06-20-2003, 07:50 PM
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Jakaleena Jakaleena is offline
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I don't know if "ultimate authority" was really the best choice of words on my part or not. Of course the photographer has the ultimate authority on whether or not to copy their work.

Here is my gut feeling interpretation of what I've learned, not based on any real info and ONLY MY OPINION, so it may not be worth much.

If we contact the PPA, it would obviously be because we have a customer who's very upset about not being able to copy their photos. Most likely they will not know when, where or by whom the photo was taken. I assume that I would be expected to exhaust any possibility of tracking down the original photographer through extensive questioning of the customer. I would think that contacting the PPA would allow them to further question or investigate the possibility of tracking down the photographer. If finding the photographer through the PPA isn't possible, the effort would prove that we, and the customer, have made a good faith attempt to comply with copyright laws. I also think this is, in some fashion, the compromise that has been suggested for such situations.
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  #45  
Old 06-20-2003, 11:40 PM
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Jim Conway Jim Conway is offline
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Jak - I found the PPA letter that went out to the stores - but must have hit the wrong button here because it started another thread - not my intention but don't know how to undo it! :-)

In any event you have sumed it up very well here and we have all learned a lot! Thanks

Jim Conway
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  #46  
Old 07-08-2003, 07:25 PM
t_crisp t_crisp is offline
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As a photographer

As a wedding photographer, most of my profit is from reprints or extra orders. Think about it...16 rolls of perfessional film, processing, batteries, assistant, and ect does not leave a great profit. Unfortanly, my prices are going to go up becase people scanning and getting their own prints leaving my pocket dry.
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  #47  
Old 07-08-2003, 09:53 PM
Vikki Vikki is offline
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Question:
I can see more and more, that photographers must be losing money on reprints. Do you think it would be wise, in certain areas, to charge more for the initial sitting and less for reprints?

It seems to me, especially in the case of portrait photography, that the product you would want to sell is your expertise as a photographer, not your prints.

Vikki
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  #48  
Old 07-08-2003, 10:15 PM
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KevinBE KevinBE is offline
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I've been asked to reprint copyrighted portraits at least 3 times in the past several months. The customers were dissappointed when I turned them down. Most commented that the photographers wanted too much for reprints. They didn't seem aware that they were asking me to break the law. All they could think about was saving money. I can see where portrait photographers are losing money. There are so many people out there capable of printing their own or know someone who can. They aren't giving the copyright laws a second thought. But this is the generation that believe sharing music and programs online is OK. I think we have an uphill climb if we want to protect our work.
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  #49  
Old 07-08-2003, 10:31 PM
Mike Mike is offline
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As the owner of a photo studio, charging more for the sitting, or in the case of a wedding, the labor, and less for the prints is exactly what we have done. We have lost some sales because the customers cannot see the whole picture (pun intended) when we talk about adding up the price for sitting and prints and finding out that we are just about the same as the traditional low ball sitting and high cost prints folks. We can overcome some of the high sitting fee resistance with the offer of money back if you are not satisfied when you finish the sitting. Thanks to digital and instant proofing on the moniter, we can get what it takes to satisfy the customer.
I think that those who choose to operate in the manner t_crisp outlines are going to lose out in todays market. We find that folks tend to buy extra prints from us because they are inexpensive and of good quaility. Why should they do all the work to end up with a low quaility print? People will pay a good amount for your skills and time, so charge accordingly.
Mike
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  #50  
Old 07-15-2003, 05:31 PM
dipech dipech is offline
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I'd like to hear from the photographer's what they consider to be a reasonable fee for permission to have a photo retouched or restored? What kind of arrangements are usually worked out when permission is asked for?

Thanks,
Diane
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