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Old Sep 20, 2009, 7:51 PM   #11
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Les, I understand your comments but it's not the case here. This is a sad movement throughout media in the USA - moving away from professional shooters and trying to entice people that don't know any better to give away their product for credentials or the myth of 'getting your foot in the door'. Again, if you talk to any pro that shoots any type of freelance work for publication - not one will tell you to sign away your photos for unlimmited use for just an hourly paycheck. But that's what organizations are trying to do. ESPN isn't on the ropes here. And rest assured, I ran this by some other pros in other areas of the country (i.e. not competitors). They were all in agreement - it was a bad deal. Because they wanted unlimited usage for free. And ESPN knows better. Again, we were all in agreement in that if a lesser hourly rate was given it would make sense since they've never worked with me before. They wouldn't be on the hook for more money if they didn't use the shots. But if they were good enough for publication then they should be paid for. In a similar type of situation, Texes Tech was willing to provide shooters with a credential but TT got all the photos. They're trying to get work for free - praying on people's desire to shoot big time college football. So, to say it yet again - the problem with the offer isn't that they were going to pay me less per hour than standard but that they wanted to drop entirely the more lucrative half of the pricing structure. That isn't about them being on a tight budget. And the only 'door' agreeing to work for such terms gets you in is the door that says your a naive person willing to cut way below market value - just like the ignorant photogs that agree to the Texas Tech offer.
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Old Sep 20, 2009, 11:56 PM   #12
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Les, I understand your comments but it's not the case here. This is a sad movement throughout media in the USA - moving away from professional shooters and trying to entice people that don't know any better to give away their product for credentials or the myth of 'getting your foot in the door'. Again, if you talk to any pro that shoots any type of freelance work for publication - not one will tell you to sign away your photos for unlimmited use for just an hourly paycheck.I agree there. The photograph is your product, your ...."...intellectual property..." to use a legal phrase.

You have created a particular product and/ or have a ability to create a
particular product and as an independent businessman you should have the right to 'sell' it whenever there is an individual demand for this product. I don't think a company when they exchange consideration (arrange a temporary contract ) for your product, thereby gains all rights over this product, unless this is specifically stated in the contract, which would seem highly unusual and not particularly wise course of action, for the independent contractor.

IMO, the company would have all the rights to the products of a regular employee, but you are not, you are an independent contractor who as a result of a temporary contract agrees to provide appropriate product for their one time use, or at least that is the way it should be, IMO. You have a talent or a particular product they want and they arrange a business agreement to use that talent or particular product on an individual use basis.

If I understand what you are saying, please correct me if I am wrong, is that a company is offering you an hourly fee, but as part of that deal the company is able to use your product (intellectual property) for unlimited use and the only consideration (monies) that you receive would be for the original fee, no matter how many times or over an indeterminate time frame.

In other words the company as a result of the above contract is able to use your product (photograph) in an unlimited fashion without any further fee.

As an independent businessman or contractor, I believe you have you have all the rights to your product, which includes the right to determine who and how it is used .

To sign away your product for 'unlimited use' is essentially surrendering your rights to your product, in my opinion.
Not a wise precedent to set in business.

But that's what organizations are trying to do. ESPN isn't on the ropes here. And rest assured, I ran this by some other pros in other areas of the country (i.e. not competitors). They were all in agreement - it was a bad deal. Because they wanted unlimited usage for free. And ESPN knows better. Again, we were all in agreement in that if a lesser hourly rate was given it would make sense since they've never worked with me before. They wouldn't be on the hook for more money if they didn't use the shots. But if they were good enough for publication then they should be paid for. In a similar type of situation, Texes Tech was willing to provide shooters with a credential but TT got all the photos. They're trying to get work for free - praying on people's desire to shoot big time college football. So, to say it yet again - the problem with the offer isn't that they were going to pay me less per hour than standard but that they wanted to drop entirely the more lucrative half of the pricing structure. That isn't about them being on a tight budget. And the only 'door' agreeing to work for such terms gets you in is the door that says your a naive person willing to cut way below market value - just like the ignorant photogs that agree to the Texas Tech offer.
John, I think I have it right. The issue is signing away your intellectual property away, for unlimited use in exchange for an hourly fee.

In my example of my wedding photographer (Independent Contractor)we had a contract. He would provide one set of pictures of our wedding.

But, he kept the negatives as the negatives were his intellectual property.

If we wished to have additional pictures, we would contact him and he would arrange for the additional pictures at an additional cost to us.

Which in my opinion is quite correct. The negatives were his product, not ours.

This is the style of business arrangement you are following.

Have I got it right ?

Les




Last edited by lesmore49; Sep 21, 2009 at 12:16 AM.
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Old Sep 21, 2009, 12:34 AM   #13
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Bynx, if I may assume to understand John's position, ESPN wasn't offering a "fair to the industry deal" but was rather undercutting what would have been right to offer, therefore if John would have taken the assignment in spite of his intention for the future, he would not have benefited from the experience.

He already knew up front that not only he but the industry was being taken advantage of from what ESPN was offering and, if knowing this, John decided to set his principles aside and take the offer then he wouldn't have to wait a short time to establish his reputation. The industry would know right away what it is and that is why John turned it down.
I beg to differ on every point you are making here. While ESPNs prices may be undercutting the industry prices, the price was far more than he would have gotten any other way. And taking this single assignment would have given him some experience. He would have met people in the business and given them the chance to see what he can do for them. He isnt chained to a lifelong contract. John set aside an opportunity and nothing more. Had he taken the assignment how would his reputation be tarnished? At this point in time he doesnt have a reputation does he, other than advanced amateur status? Sometimes you have to jump in the pool to find out how deep it is. Of course its not advisable if you cant swim. So until you know better, my attitude is "What the hell, why not". As for signing away his intellectual property, well I agree with that. My negatives were always mine to keep no matter what. John doesnt state what ESPN expected from him -- prints, negatives, raw or jpeg files. If you figure your pics would be good enough to be plastered in many publications and other media then ESPN will know in short order how good you are. Then you can set your price. Until then, I wouldnt be slamming any doors shut.

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Old Sep 21, 2009, 5:23 AM   #14
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As for signing away his intellectual property, well I agree with that. My negatives were always mine to keep no matter what. John doesnt state what ESPN expected from him -- prints, negatives, raw or jpeg files. If you figure your pics would be good enough to be plastered in many publications and other media then ESPN will know in short order how good you are. Then you can set your price. Until then, I wouldnt be slamming any doors shut.
Bynx, they wanted ownership of the images do what they pleased with them without any usage. And they refused to negotiate on that. Sorry, but I disagree with your approach. And the response was "our rates are non-negotiable". It had nothing to do with "you're new, etc." It was a bad business deal. And yes, I know something about business. In my "normal" job, I'm working on million dollar projects, working with vendors and contracts, etc. In short, I have the benefit of business background as well as contacts within the sports shooting profession.

In the end, if you don't value your work enough to get paid what it is worth, no client will value it either. And, let's be clear - on an assignment like this, for a company like ESPN, I'm dealing with the very lowest levels of ESPN - quite possibly an intern. As stated earlier - if this had been an action shoot, things might have been different. But it wasn't. And yes, it was much more than I make on my other photography assignments - but only in an hourly concept. It would have been 1-2 hours of payment only. And, after taxes..... Fortunately I don't have to rely on photography to put food on my table (otherwise my son and I would be eating very poorly....).
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Old Sep 21, 2009, 5:27 AM   #15
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Also - as to reputation. The sports shooting community is a small one. And you do NOT want a reputation as someone who signs away rights to photos without proper compensation. Employers get used to that in a hurry and it makes it tough for others to get paid. Employers aren't always interested in the best - they're often interested in "good enough" and when the prices are a lot lower for one photographer they'll often go that way. Then when you try to charge more, they'll simply move on to the next new photographer. And without those usage payments, the hourly rate isn't enough to live off of (because, of course, you're not working 30-40 hours at that rate). So yes, you can get a bad reputation pretty easily.
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Old Sep 21, 2009, 6:48 AM   #16
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I guess I look at photography as "too much fun" to worry about much. I do stuff for free all the time. Even to the point of it costing me money. Of course thats because its just Im not living off its income. As I said it was just for this one assignment and wouldnt make a habit of getting screwed. When all is done and said, none of us are in your shoes to know all the details, which you are still relating so for you, you made the right decision. I know in the past Ive given photo files to a news reporter that were used on the tv nightly news. It was not for compensation and I thought it fun to see my stuff on tv. Now if that reporter ever asked me again, then it wouldnt be for free. This has been a fun thread giving another side to photography, that of economics. Its something I never think of, but after the comments made here, perhaps I will. There is something somewhat similar going on with me. My local town has a photo contest every year. They get somewhere around 600 submissions of 8 x 10 photos. The catch is that all photos become the property of the town to do with as they wish giving the photographer only credit. In this case people are giving their time and money to "donate" their photography on the chance of winning a small inexpensive prize and seeing their work hung in the local Rec center. Is this worth doing?
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Old Sep 21, 2009, 7:25 AM   #17
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This has been a fun thread giving another side to photography, that of economics. Its something I never think of, but after the comments made here, perhaps I will.
Great to hear. That was exactly the purpose of this thread. In particular as it relates to sports and journalism because those professionals are getting hit hard by people giving away their work because it's fun. It really is a weird thing when you think about it. NOt to many other professions suffer because people do it for fun / notoriaty. Can you imagine someone doing your taxes for free because it's fun?
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Old Sep 22, 2009, 6:48 AM   #18
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I don't understand how this is any different from any other company trying to reduce costs and maximise profitability. ESPN (or MyCo whomever) will find someone that accepts their terms. They may not get the same quality (your level of expertise etc) but they'll get what they want for the price that they are willing to pay - this is basic economics and happens across any industry. And other pros in other parts of the country have nothing to do with it. Supply and demand is all it is.

Yes, I agree that it isn't in your best interests to accept this deal, but maybe for someone else it is. Don't we say that competition is good, lowering the prices of goods and services is good for the consumer isn't it?

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Old Sep 22, 2009, 7:32 AM   #19
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Don't we say that competition is good, lowering the prices of goods and services is good for the consumer isn't it?

Matt
Matt - competition IS good. But, it has to be a level playing field. What is hurting the sports photography and photojournalism industry is hobbyists who don't need money. In other industries, severely undercutting competition's prices is a very short term workable strategy. Long term, such tactics simply don't work because the business doesn't make enough profit to survive. But in the case of photography, hobbyists don't need to make decisions based on business - they want to see their photos in the paper or want a sideline pass. To them, that's often payment enough. There really aren't any other industries I can think of where this particular problem is prevalent. As I said earlier, you don't have people offering to do someone's taxes for free. You don't have people offering to serve tables just so they can be in a good restaurant.

So, do I blame ESPN for doing this? Heck no. As a business you always want to control costs. And if there are a number of semi-pro photogs out there that are willing to accept a bad deal just to have ESPN on their resume, if I was doing this hiring at ESPN I'd probably do the exact same thing.

So, on the one hand I make the appeal to hobbyists to not let their ego get in the way of people who need jobs to earn income because it ISNT a level playing field when you don't pay all your bills from your photography.

On the other hand - to people that truly want to be sports photographers, you need to be long-sited. If there is a constant stream of would-be sports photographers willing to work at drastic pay cuts, what do you think is going to happen when you're "inside the door"? What's going to happen is there aren't going to be jobs because there is a bevy of would-be photogs behind you willing to work at those reduced rates and companies aren't going to want to pay you.

The reality is - there are going to be a LOT less sports and photo-journalism jobs out there. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if we don't start seeing a lot more frame-grab photos from HD video in a few years. THere will still be a place for still photographers for high-end work. But websites and newspapers, I believe, will determine those frame grabs are "good enough" to justify downsizing the staff.

All of this is just my personal opinion. I do think it's an interesting discussion.
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Old Sep 23, 2009, 6:30 AM   #20
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It is an interesting discussion, and one that I think you have shown to be a bit different to some other industries by the 'amateur' aspect to it. Maybe creating software is a bit the same.

I wish you all the best, maybe ESPN will come back with a better offer.

Matt
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