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Legally/Ethically, Right or Wrong Practice

Hi, hope to find everyone well of LS family. Being a freelance photojournalist, I need your advice, your honest suggestions and legally/ethically right or wrong practice in photojournalism. What you advice?

For example when you are on assignment for any event or hired by any news agency, newspaper, magazines, photo/stock agencies etc., and you are paid full day by them.
You work full day and after spending a day you got hundreds of images for the same.
After editing a selection of 10-20 images some time more you submit and sent to the client, agency, newspaper, magazines etc., and they finally publish and display their sites.

My question is that, the rest of the images which are left after sending your final selection what do you do with them. Those all are garbage and go to the trash bin or dump in your PC/HD. Are they still useful?

Is it legally/ethically right or wrong practice to get again another selections from them to send any other news agency, newspaper, magazines, photo/stock agencies etc for other sale.

Please help me out with your professional advices, honest suggestions and is there any ethics of photojournalism and legalizations involves for the same.

Thanks for your time.

Best regards,


by [a former member] at 2007-10-19 17:58:09 UTC (ed. Mar 12 2008 ) Karachi , Pakistan | Bookmark | | Report spam→

The answer of who owns the images that are taken during an assignment should appear in your written agreement with the publication.

If there is no written agreement then, in normal circumstances and under US law you would own the images and you can do whatever you wish with them. A different legal situation may present itself in other countries.

Do bear in mind that if in that circumstance you license similar images to a publication that is a competitor of the first assignment client, there are likely to be non-legal repercussions, namely the assignment publication may be very unhappy.

This is not legal advice. You should talk to your own attorney.

by [former member] | 19 Oct 2007 18:10 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
yeah, read the small print…
if there’s no small print, put yourself in the shoes of the commissioner and ask yourself honestly how you’d react, and what the future ramifications could be.

by Con O'Donoghue | 19 Oct 2007 18:10 | Barcelona, Spain | | Report spam→
Questions about legal rights is not answerd easily. It’s very different from country to country, and there is a constant pressure from the major keyplayers on the market, to reduce the rights of the photographer.

But you refer to assignments without a written contract, I guess. Which makes it even more difficult, but never the less, gives you some rights, that a written contract might have taken away from you.
Get my point ?.

But if you put pressure on your client, as far as to sell the “second edit” images to their competitor, you should prepare for a legal battle.

But I have been in many situations where the client have a “here and now” interest in the images. The same images can later be used as stock images without offending you client. But to be absolutely sure, YOU would have to make up the contract. To make sure that everybody knows what is going on…

…or do what I guess most photographers (myself !)do, shoot…cash in…and on to the next assignment. Never look back…!

One aspect stikes me…before the internet became big and WWW…you could take chances..selling a little “out of the backdoor”. But now it’s very difficult to “hide”.

This is a different angle on rights, but I would like to invite you to a small YouTube film I have published. Please read the comments…I got cought “pants down” with this little thing. Do I have the rights to publish that rather innocent, but intimate scene ?


Well…I don’t think I helped you very much with this !
What can I say. Don’t ruin your bussines, but try to make the most of your images.

by Michael Harder | 19 Oct 2007 19:10 | Aarhus, Denmark | | Report spam→
it’s usually understood, or was in the old days, that a US newspaper / magazine assigning you is paying for one time reproduction use. Usually you would NOT give any out-takes to potential competitors until AFTER your assigning newspaper/magazine has either published or turned down the material.

Often times, they do not care if it goes to publications in other countries / markets that don’t compete. That’s why you might send it to your agency with the “USA OUT” clause if the assigner is American and doesn’t mind if it’s published in Europe or Asia, and vice versa.

This is VERY important for you to know as a starting point. In other words, EVERYTHING you shoot remains useful, sometimes to your surprise. For example, Bill Clinton meeting Monica Lewinsky in a receiving line at a routine White House function, that image was worthless and meaningless until Ms. Lewinsky emerged as a public figure in that scandal. I bet that photographer was very happy that he had maintained a well-organized archive.

Contracts will limit or more specifically define this. The New York Times standard contract, for example, embargoes your out-takes for 24 hours, and your published images for 10 days. Bloomberg, as another example, keeps your transmitted images in perpetuity, but allows you to do whatever you want with your out-takes, with the understanding that they are getting first pick.

Be up front and honest. A quick conversation with your assigning editor will clear up any questions usually. Also follow common sense. Obviously the NY Times does not want work that it assigned to be published in the Washington Post, a direct competitor. But it’s not going to care if you get it into Paris Match or Stern.

by [former member] | 20 Oct 2007 00:10 | New York, NY, United States | | Report spam→
and Michael, most photographers do NOT “shoot…cash in…and on to the next assignment. Never look back…!” That’s one of the more naive postings I’ve read here in a long time.

Unless you are a staff photographer, which I assume you’re NOT because you speak of cashing in after each assignment rather than on a regular, salaried basis, you OWN ALL of your work unless otherwise specified.

Your archive is your future retirement, and over a life career, it should be working for you in re-sales, print sales, licensing uses, etc. etc.

Do NOT underestimate this. Even if most of what you shoot seems pedestrian and uninteresting, it will have a life and a value that you cannot compute at the present. And certainly, your “greatest hits” — images that have iconic or historical or otherwise unique qualities — will continue to make money for you over and over again, slowly but surely.

Many of these sales are not exciting. $100 for a textbook use. $500 to be in somebody’s independent film. The occasional $1000 or $3000 for some nice advertising hit. But over years, it adds up. For some people, stock photographers, this is the entirety of their income. For photojournalists like myself who have covered historically important events, it’s a small but steady stream of income that comes in.

Especially as a photojournalist, remember that we are the first draft of history. You shoot not just for the newspaper tomorrow, but ultimately for how future generations will understand and perceive our time.

by [former member] | 20 Oct 2007 00:10 | New York, NY, United States | | Report spam→
If they paid you for the full day shooting the assignment, but you only sent them 10-20, any shots of that event you “offer” to other contacts can still be considered belonging to the original client as you only sent a small collection rather than everything you shot (as they paid for). You “could” get into some trouble offering those to other contacts without a release.

by . | 20 Oct 2007 00:10 | Victoria, Canada | | Report spam→
Listen to Alan. He’s spot on. There should be no “selling a little “out of the backdoor”” as was said by someone else. You should always have a contract for your assignments. If it’s not spelled out, spell it out. As the creator of your images, it is your right to do with them as you wish. Unless you sign off otherwise. At least in the USA.

Some outfits, I won’t name names, don’t let you push your outs for a year. I try to avoid. I have shot many editorial assignments though where there is a 7-14 day embargo on first edit as well as out takes. I have also signed commercial contracts that specify a 3 year exclusive. These are fair in my opinion, as long as the compensation is there.

Read your contracts. Talk to your editors. Don’t be mealy about your rights, and definitely don’t under estimate the value of your imagery. Sometimes the strangest or most banal out takes can pay the rent. And collectively, they can make your retirement.

by Jethro Soudant | 20 Oct 2007 01:10 | Buffalo, NY, United States | | Report spam→
kim, nothing “belongs” to your original client unless it’s a buy out or a work-for-hire. It BELONGS to YOU, the photographer. What you are selling is a license. Obviously, you should not offend your original client by offering anything to their competitors. But it is highly unlikely that they are going to object to usage in different languages and countries. It is standard to give photos to your agency with the “USA OUT” or “EUROPE OUT” or “MAGAZINES OUT” etc. caveats. As I wrote, a quick conversation usually clears all this up.

But Jethro, I have to disagree that you should always have a contract. Quite the contrary, you should NEVER have a contract, but in the absence of one, you as the photographer and creator of the work retain the most rights. Pretty much every contract out there, even the better ones, transfer some portion of your rights to the client. As you point out, there’s no problem with this if compensation is fair and mutually agreeable. But the default is that you are better off without any contract.

by [former member] | 20 Oct 2007 02:10 | New York, NY, United States | | Report spam→
This entirely depends on your contract with your employer/photo agency/news agency/client, and it also depends on the copyright laws in your country. If in doubt, always go back to the original contract.

by Gregory Yapp | 20 Oct 2007 05:10 | Edmonton, Alberta, Canada | | Report spam→
In Pakistan……we mostly follow and implement British law.

by [former member] | 20 Oct 2007 08:10 | Karachi, Pakistan | | Report spam→
That’s a damn good point Alan. And come to think of it, some of my better paying gigs had no contract whatsoever.

by Jethro Soudant | 20 Oct 2007 12:10 | Buffalo, NY, United States | | Report spam→

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Con O'Donoghue, Photographer Con O'Donoghue
Dublin , Ireland
Michael Harder, Photojournalist Michael Harder
Aarhus , Denmark
., .
Victoria , Canada ( YYJ )
Jethro Soudant, Photographer Jethro Soudant
Buffalo, Ny , United States
Gregory Yapp, Journalist Gregory Yapp
[undisclosed location].


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