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What price to forfeit copyright?

I’ve been asked to take photos of a new embassy building that is opening soon. It’s not much work, perhaps a day and a half including post production. The embassy in question is insisting on owning copyright of the shots. That’s fine with me, but what should I charge to forfeit the copyright?

by Tom Greenwood at 2008-05-07 04:45:52 UTC (ed. May 8 2008 ) Vientiane , Laos | Bookmark | | Report spam→

Convince them that they don’t actually need the Copyright. It’ll just cost them unnecessary money. Ask them what they want to do with the pictures and explain a license for that is just as good.

People – especially government – always think getting control of Copyright is prudent and necessary but in reality it is almost never necessary and would just cost them more than they need to spend – and probably more than they are willing to spend.

Maybe take a look at this:


by Wade Laube | 07 May 2008 07:05 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Wade, AWESOME site, thanks!

Tom, what I’ve said to clients is I can sell you Unlimited Exclusive Use, but not the Copyright. Unless you want to resell the rights, you don’t need, and by the way, can’t afford the Copyright.

..but to answer your question, take a look at FotoQuote. Cradoc has been around for years now, it seems like 20? He’s got a great system.

by [former member] | 07 May 2008 09:05 | boston, ma, United States | | Report spam→
Having looked at this from both sides, I can say that there are situations in which the purchaser does have a legitimate reason to own the copyright in a photo. Examples are where they need to control the uses to which the photos are put, whether for exclusivity of publication, public relations, image control, or intellectual poperty linkage reasons.

This situation does not seem to be one of those. So, Wade’s suggestion is a good one…try to persuade them to buy a package of non-exclusive rights that would cost them less. The argument has to be that if you have the copyright you can exploit the photo income potential better than they would (through your agency, stock sales, etc.), as they will largely put the images in a (digital?) drawer after the initial usage. In any event they will not charge money for the subsequent licensing and thus not recover their costs of buying the copyright.

I have never seen or used the program Ted refers to (looks neat, however). But in pricing copyright in general you should look at what you think would be your income stream from further licenses of the images. That’s always full of uncertainty as the value of an image can be drastically affected by unforeseeable events (for example, if someone later tries to blow up that embassy). But you have to do it somehow. If you have a reasonable explanation of your figure you will be able to discuss the subject objectively and without emotion with the purchaser and thus keep matters on a professional level. You will only gain respect from that approach.

I should add one thing…sometimes government agencies are required by their country’s law to acquire the copyright. Others may have rules that require all intellectual property of the government (except security information) to be made available. In the former situation, you won’t be able to get anywhere in urging a broad license instead. But consider whether they will license back to you a right to license the images through your normal channels. In the latter, although the government may technically own the copyright, you still may be able to make the images available in ways that will get you income.

All of this cries out for you to at least talk on the phone with a lawyer, and not rely on some jerk from Washington who writes on a list-serve for photogs! :-)

by [former member] | 07 May 2008 10:05 (ed. May 7 2008) | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
Thanks very much for your advice, gentlemen, and for the links to those excellent sites. In this case, it was explained to me that ownership of copyright was part of Foreign Ministry rules based on security concerns. I don’t think I will be able to change their minds on this despite the wisdom of your arguements, although I will try.
But I’ve now got a much clearer idea of how to approach it and what I might charge should they fail to be persuaded. Cheers!

by Tom Greenwood | 08 May 2008 01:05 | Vientiane, Laos | | Report spam→

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Tom Greenwood, Photographer Tom Greenwood
Sydney , Australia
Wade Laube, Wade Laube
Sydney , Australia


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