Photographers vs. Publishers

Posted on 12/30/2009 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (3)

For much of the past decade, textbook publishers have licensed rights to print a minimum number of copies of the books they published and proceeded to greatly exceed the authorized press run, without informing the content creators. Only recently have photographers become aware of this problem, which we covered last month. Here is a summary of the settled and pending actions.

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  • Paul Melcher Posted Dec 31, 2009
    A few comments here:
    - seems as we have repeat offenders here
    - Does any of these photo supplier get blacklisted after bringing legal action ?
    - How come there is no big player like Getty or Corbis. Do they get paid additional fees or do they not sue ?
    - What are associations like PACA or ASMP doing about this ?

  • Jon Feingersh Posted Dec 31, 2009
    Jim-- Thanks for keeping this in the forefront of photographer awareness. The attorney information is of particular interest, as is the the number of cases.

  • Jim Pickerell Posted Dec 31, 2009
    Paul - Indications from their online price lists are that Getty and Corbis get paid LESS than most other suppliers, not more. Corbis says they've never had a problem with unauthorized use by the major publishers. I'm not sure about ASMP, but PACA has certainly made their membership aware of this problem. However, there are indications that not many of the PACA members are making claims.

    I suspect that suppliers do get blacklisted after they sue, and fear of that is probably the reason that so few pursue settlements. On the other hand it is hard to see why Getty and Corbis should be so fearful. Can you imagine the publishers doing without any of the pictures Getty or Corbis have in their collections?

    We don't have a list of the books where these violations occurred, but it is reasonable to assume that not all cases concern unauthorized used within a single book. The average textbook has about 200 photos in it. If the publishers are not paying for extended use of one photo in a book, chances are they didn't pay for any of the extended use of photos in the book. Thus, very likely there are a lot of other photographers and agencies who have legitimate claims if they could only uncover the actual number of copies that have been printed of the books where their photos have been used.

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