Couvrette Studio hit the news nationwide recently over a case involving a major media company that we claim published our image on its Social Media without authorization. We have been careful to avoid comment on the case and will continue to do so as we respect the Court of Law over the court of Twitter.
It is, however, an excellent opportunity to educate the public on the law as it pertains to my industry. The courts have seen a surge in lawsuits regarding everything from copyright to libel and slander on social media. The average person has little knowledge of their rights and responsibilities, but the hundreds of Lawyers who work in copyright, slander and libel in Ottawa certainly do. How we behave in business, in person and even how we ride our bikes is the result of laws that were debated and litigated throughout history.
Simply put, sharing an image from a social media Friend or Fanpage is perfectly legal…as long as the image was obtained properly. The “correctness” of obtaining that image is the tricky part. Entertainers, artists and yes, photographers may post Facebook resolution images with or without a tag or a logo with the knowledge that you will share them…hence promoting that artist. The buttons below my posts on this blog permit and in fact encourage just that.
The problem lies in numerous other situations and these are just a few….
One is attribution… If a credit existed and you claimed an image as your own…you are wrong.
Another is profit…If you sold that image or posted it to create income…also, wrong.
A third is moral rights….If you claim you had a “lovechild” due to that snap of you and whatshisname (but you photoshopped him in)…dead wrong.
How far the owner of copyright will go is widely varied. We find a dozen cases of infringement a week at our studio without much looking. Yes, we use software that can track an image anywhere and right back to the start of the net. To be honest, 95% of them are not worth pursuing and besides we think it is not only bad karma but just plain silly to track down a high school student who used one of our images on a school project. On the other hand… when our work had been used improperly by hundreds of companies from Awkward Family Photos to major Law Firms and even National Magazines…we pursue them all vigorously.
Our industry, like music, writing, and journalism has been hit by the so called “disruptive tech wave”. That revolution has brought great things but also challenges for which most artists are woefully unprepared . I see posts galore about the theft of images, but this persists because most artists do not have the courage and/or resources to pursue them fully to a court of law. In fact, weak artists contribute to the demise of the industry by settling for less than their work is worth. The attrition rate of new photographers verges on 95% after five years as it now appears that LIKES are not accepted as currency by most landlords and camera stores…
The majority of artists in many fields, sadly focus less on the business basics and that, in effect is the death of any industry. Even a ten year old with a Koolaid stand would not put up with someone stealing their lemons.
Companies work on precedents and set policies based on law. #BooHooHoo is neither a legal defence nor an industry changing action. Legal judgements, on the other hand…change history.
If you think I am joking…try naming your business Micky Mouse Photography.Com and countdown 12 hours until a Lawyer from Disney sends a process server to your doorstep…You might also have fun bringing a pro camera to a Prince concert and posting your work on a blog….as many have learned, not good.
How wild is the wild wild west as regards photography and technology these days…There is a whole site devoted to the hundreds of photographers who have actually stolen other photographers images to promote themselves, incredible as that might seem. As they say…Buyer Beware
The law, however distasteful one might find it on occasion, is key to our entire social system and our economy.
As they say in the legal letters….Govern Yourself Accordingly.
How does a company survive and thrive in a competitive industry? Simple….Quality, Reliability and good old fashioned Customer Service.
We recently photographed the young Lawyer above and noticing her family name…pulled up an image we had shot for her mother over 25 years ago. Since opening Couvrette Studio over 40 years ago we have seen hundreds of photographers come and go. When we started, there were 20 studios in the Centretown core…half, owned by photographers.
We are the only fulltime studio owned by a photographer in the core. Given the changes in the industry…we will be the last.
Thanks to all our wonderful, devoted clients for their patronage over the years. We have been proud to have worked in this great city and this exciting industry during the golden age of photography..and we`re still having fun.
We shoot a range of architecture, from working with real estate agents, magazines, construction firms and property managers. This shoot, for one of Ottawa`s largest real estate owners was a fun challenge primarily because the client wanted all distortion gone from buildings in the core with narrow streets.
My office manager swears that I stay in the photography business just because of the fascinating conversations I get to have with interesting people. Minister John McCallum and I had a great chat about Immigration and some good laughs about the fact that he is one of the most qualified guys in Cabinet to deal with the economy…For the record…I am a supporter of our Immigration policies…as we came to this country as immigrants in 1655 fleeing religious persecution.
If I have heard the phrase, “I`m not photogenic” once, I have heard it a thousand times. It seems to be increasing in a time when lowest quote jobs are the order of the day…no surprise. Everyone deserves a great portrait. More so if you use it to represent your cause, your party or your company.
As they say…dare to compare.
A business portrait is your organization`s calling card to the world…
There are a dozen ways to show a person at their best from posing, expression and lighting to managing color and printing quality. We started in digital photography in the mid nineties and with 20 years of experience there is little that we have not seen, few problems we have not encountered and few challenges we have not met. Having spent five years as National Spokesperson for the largest digital scanning company in the world…we know how to make your image look great in various media.
The budget invested in a professional portrait always pays dividends whether one is selling products or representing a company or a cause.
Every photographer has a style and a certain set of skills…the image on the right shows ours.