Business Talk: Photographic Copyright for Brands and Models (UK)

Business Talk: Photographic Copyright for Brands and Models (UK)


Hi. I’m Katie from What Katie Did, and welcome
back. I’m going a little bit off topic today because normally my videos talk about lingerie,
vintage lingerie, vintage fashion, everything like that. But the other thing I also know
an awful lot about is running a small business and setting up a small business on no money
at all. I’m going to start doing a series of videos giving you tips about running your
own business. To begin with I’m going to talk about photography because there has been a
lot of queries in the last year about photography and copyright issues and who has the rights
to what. If you’re a model, if you’re a brand the rules
really are quite tough, so I’m going to give you a few tips and advice on how everything
works. It doesn’t really matter whether you agree with this or not, because as I’ve just
said the rules are quite tough, but this is basically the way it is and this is the law,
so just to lay everything out there so you are aware of how it works. One of the main things you have to remember
is that a photographer always owns the copyright, or should I say 90% of the time a photographer
will own the copyright. It might be that if the photographer does work for a brand then
the brand will take ownership from the photographer. But if we’re dealing with small companies
and independent projects then usually the photographer will retain the copyright. There was a story going round on social media
at the end of 2018 about a metal band. I’m not going to give you the name here because
I may not remember all the facts exactly, I just remember from reading it and my research
this morning again. If I missed anything out I don’t want to get in trouble for it, but
if you Google “Metal bands and a photographer” you’ll get the story. But anyway, this photographer
was a regular photographer for a band and he was always invited to take photographs
of them on tour. The deal was that the band would have access to the photographs. That’s
fair enough, right? Anyway, the lead singer was wearing this T-shirt
by an indie company which was basically a one woman brand, one woman made these T-shirts
and the singer wore the T-shirts. The indie lady who made the T-shirts gave the T-shirts
to the band member on the premise that it would get promoted and everything would work
together. When the band singer wore the T-shirt on stage and put the image from this photographer
on her Instagram page, on the band’s Instagram page the T-shirt designer then decided to
repost the image. Now, the photographer saw this as it wasn’t
what was agreed between him and the band, and it was now being used by a brand to sell
their products which is a completely different deal to what he’d agreed with the band. So
he sends a message to say, “You can either take the image down or you can make a donation
to a charity of my choice.” And both the lead singer of the band and the T-shirt designer
… It all blew up and they basically said, “No way, you’re having a laugh.” And so the
photographer said, “Okay, well here’s an invoice for $500.” And then it just went whoosh. You
know what it’s like on the internet, a whole can of worms was opened. Being a brand you can understand it from all
aspects. It’s a tiny little one woman company, and she’s like, “Well, there’s nothing wrong,
because I gave her this T-shirt. It’s my T-shirt.” It’s the singer saying, “I’m the singer, it’s
my band.” But the photographer is like he’s the Big Bad Wolf saying, “Ah ha ha, but here’s
my invoice.” It all went absolutely crazy and no one came out of it very well at all.
But the facts are is that the photographer owns the copyright. And while he had the agreement
with the band to use the images, no one else could use the images. Generally, if someone
re-shared it and it was on a personal account, they probably would have got away with it
and there wouldn’t have been an issue. But the fact was he saw it as a brand using it
to sell their products which was completely different, because he didn’t get paid for
that image and it was his work. And like it or lump it, that’s the way it is. If you are in this situation this is one of
the reasons why we do 95% of our photography in house now. And we really have cut down
on the amount of outside Instagram users we post on our Instagram page and our social
media is because it only takes one instance like that. If you do get approached by a photographer
who’s saying, “Hold on, you’ve posted my work without permission.” You need to back peddle
immediately because you are in the wrong, and 9 times out of 10 if you apologize and
take the image down you’ll be fine. It’s only if you say, “Well hold on, this isn’t fair.”
It might not be fair, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s fair or not, the fact of the
matter is that the photographer owns the copyright so he or they or she is in the right, and
for whatever reason, because of the way of the law you are in the wrong. That’s the most
important thing to remember. That’s a serious thing. Leading on from this, and I’ve got a friend
on Facebook who is a fashion designer and she was at a vintage event. The vintage event
had a photographer and the photographer took a picture of her in her dress and they’re
then using that image to promote their next event. Now in this case, again, the photographer
owns the copyright and you as the model, if you’re in a public space and you’ve given
permission to have your photograph taken then you can’t ask for anything in return. You’ve
given permission, you’ve had your photo taken, if you’re in a public place you may not even
know that you’ve had your photo taken. You can’t ask for credits, you can’t ask for money,
you can’t ask for anything. The photographer has the copyright, he’s allowed to sell the
image and that’s just the way it is. We just got back from Goodwood Revival and
the newspapers always put pictures of the best dressed. What happens here is photographers
all go out and they’ll take pictures of interesting people at events such as Goodwood Revival.
I saw a couple of our customers in the newspapers and they looked amazing, but they were there
as public people and they can’t go and say, “Well hold on, I didn’t get paid for this.
My dress wasn’t credited, I didn’t get this.” Because they’re in a public place they’ve
got no comeback at all. Quite often when you go to events there’ll be a little clause saying,
“By entering here you will accept to have your photograph taken and be used for X, Y,
Z in future.” If you are concerned about that then you really
need to check out the terms and conditions before hand. But having said that, there’s
really nothing you can do because, I mean you can say to the photographer, “Yes you
can take my photograph, but I always want to be credited.” But the photographer, it’s
going to go onto a stock library and it’s going to go out to the newspapers or any other
usage, and they’re not going to have the control of making sure that you’re credited. It’s
really beyond their control. If you’re looking really, really fancy and
someone comes up and says, “Can I take your photograph?” You could, if you are concerned
about it being used somewhere where you’re not expecting it to be used, you need to say,
“Where’s it going to be used?” And if they’re going to say it’s for stock or whatever, then
you either say no or you can cut it down to say, “This is what I agree the usage is for.”
Or whether you say, “Yes you can take my photograph but I want to have prints.” Or something like
that. But you do have to be aware that if it is used on the cover of a book or if you
are on the cover of a Sunday Times newspaper there’s no comeback at all. You’ve given away
your photograph and that’s the way it is. The third thing you need to be aware of is
stock images. Now, if you’re working with a photographer quite often, or beginning you’ll
be working TFP which is time for prints. Basically you get the images for your portfolio and
social media use, and they’ll also build up their portfolio and social media and things
like that. The idea is it’s a friendly circle and everyone uses the images. Now, we used
to work with a photographer who also used these images for stock images and it was all
in the model release form. So the models would have signed up and said, “Yes I am aware that
this is going to be used for stock, and I am happy with that.” And they would have signed. What stock means is that the photographs go
into a stock library. When you read a newspaper, obviously they don’t have their own stock
library of images. Say if they need a photograph of a woman eating an apple, they won’t go
out and take a photograph of a woman eating an apple. They’ll go and go to a stock library,
which is a huge photographic library online, and they will select an image of a woman eating
an apple and they will pay to use that image and then they’ll be able to print the image.
The photographer will get a cut of what they’ve paid the photographic library. With our ex-photographer, his photographs
were actually used quite often in the papers. And sometimes models would get a bit annoyed
because they’d be like, “Well my photo’s been used in The Times newspaper and why haven’t
I had any money?” And he actually showed me how much he got paid once and we went through
the invoices he showed me online and there was this particular image of a model in a
swimsuit in The Times, and it turned out he’d got paid £80 for it which is like $110. Possible
yes, he should have given some to the model, I don’t know. The model at this point had
actually said, “Yes, it’s okay to use these images for stock.” So really they had no comeback.
But the photographer was like, “Yes, I got paid £80 but the bathing suit was vintage,
that cost me £50 and then I had to pay for hair and makeup so I was still out of pocket.” We worked with him for several years and he
came in very, very excited one day because he actually had sold a photograph in Italy
to be used on some billboard and for that go £1500, which is like $2000 and he was
so excited. I don’t know what happened in the end because he was saying, “I feel bad
about this, and I am going to talk to the model and give her a cut of this.” I don’t
know whether he actually did in the end. Even though she again, she would have signed away
for stock usage, he felt guilty for actually making the money off the photograph. But in
general, what he made, it was £30, £40, £50 for little images, and that’s the way
he made his money. He’d take your photograph for free and you’d have access to the images.
But the deal was he had to make a living, so he would sell his images for stock. So if you are working with a photographer
and it is TFP, feel free to ask them, “What are you actually going to do with the images?”
Because it’s fine if you’re happy with them going for stock, but if it does go for stock
then you’ve got no control over how they were used. He actually did an amazing image many,
many years ago of a model in an aeroplane and it was used for a greetings card, and
the slogan on the greetings card was not a very nice slogan and the model was really
upset and he was really upset. But when it comes down to it he didn’t know what it was
going to be used for, the stock. But it was sold from the stock library as usage for greetings
cards, and that’s the way it was. Once the buyer had purchased the images, and
they would have had to buy them for use as greetings cards, he didn’t have any say onto
how the greetings card was designed or anything like that. They simply purchased the photograph
to use. And yes, it was distasteful and that’s probably the one instance in a decade where
something not very nice happened. So you do have to be aware that if you are letting a
photographer use your images for stock that you, or the photographer has really no control
over where the images get used. I’ve spoken about models and the image rights
models have, but let’s wheel back a little and talk a little bit more about brands because
there was a nasty court case a few years ago where a brand used an image on their website.
The photographer had actually given them permission to use the image. But what you may not realize
is you’re not actually allowed to edit that image. Say you have an image of a model full
length and you then decide to crop it so it’s just her head or just her mid section, you’re
not actually allowed to do that. Whereas 9 times out of 10 you could do that with no
issues, this brand did actually … And it was a teeny tiny brand, this brand actually
did edit the image and the photographer took them to court and the photographer won. Even
though it was a tiny brand and it was on a very small scene and everyone knew each other
and it’s supposed to be friendly. It just blew up out of proportion. When it comes down to it, as I’ve said before,
the photographer has copyright, so rightly or wrongly then they lost out big time on
that. I’m sure it hasn’t done the photographer any good at all because everyone on the scene
would be like, “Well no way am I ever going to work with them again.” Because you can’t
tiptoe so much, but if you are using someone else’s image you just do have to be so, so
careful. I have mentioned this previously that we’ve really cut down on the amount of
outside images we use simply so we don’t end up in this position. If you’re working with a model, say you’re
a tiny brand and you give a model clothing and you’re like, “Can I have the photographs
in return?” Then when it comes down to it it’s not really down to the model, it’s down
to the photographer. Again, we ended up in sticky water a few years ago with this because
a model came to us and said, “I’m doing a shoot with X, can you give me some lingerie?”
We gave her a few hundred pounds worth of lingerie and off she went. And then we saw
the photographs and the photographs were really great, and because the … Well, of course
they were because we knew the photographer and we agreed to it. But the photographs were
really great and we said, “Can we use them on social media?” To the photographer, and,
“Can we pay you X for them?” And the photographer said yes. Now the model then came back to us and said,
“Well hold on, why aren’t I getting paid?” This is again sticky, and what I said at the
beginning of this video is it’s not whether you think what’s right and what’s wrong, it
is actually the law of the land, and the photographer has the copyright of the images. Now our agreement
with the model was that we’d give you X amount of lingerie. She didn’t ask for any money
at the time, she said, “I want X amount of lingerie, and I’m quite happy for you to use
the images if you like any.” So that was the deal with the model. Now with the photographer, the photographer
was the one who actually had the copyright and we didn’t have any deal with the photographer
so the photographer didn’t have any lingerie either. So we said to the photographer … it
wasn’t a huge amount of money it was just a tiny amount of money and, “We’ll give you
this amount of money to use the images.” Again, this blew out of proportion and unfortunately
we’re no longer working with the model because it just gets too complicated. It is a complete
minefield out there. So if you are a brand and you’ve given stuff for a model it doesn’t
necessarily mean you can use the images even though the model says you can. You need to
get permission from the photographer, because if you haven’t got permission from the actual
photographer then you could end up in a lot of trouble. On that cheery note, I’ll leave you to look
up and research your own photographic laws and get to grips with them, because it’s one
of those things where 99% of the time you’ll be fine and everyone will be happy. But it’s
just that 1% that can cause an awful lot of trouble. If you do have any questions about
photography or any other subjects you’d like me to cover on this channel please let me
know, and in the mean time take care and I’ll catch up with you soon.

2 thoughts on “Business Talk: Photographic Copyright for Brands and Models (UK)

  1. This is such a great topic that you have picked to discuss. I think that especially now with the ease of sharing with social media, copyright can seem to be misunderstood by some people. Hence, I think it’s an important subject to talk about. As always, I love your videos. ❤️ XxOo

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