December 21, 2014, 10:54:03 PM

Author Topic: Surprise commercial use of one of my photos  (Read 3398 times)

Barrfly

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Surprise commercial use of one of my photos
« on: July 27, 2014, 11:15:32 AM »
 I find myself in an odd situation .
By trade I am an Union Electrician that works on industrial and commercial jobs. In most cases right along with my tools of the trade is my camera .

 In the past I've been requested by some of the contractors I've been working for to take photos of jobs for various reasons such as quality control, progress and on occasion just because they wanted a few shots for the shop. Since I was on the clock while filling these request ( and we make a pretty good hourly wage ) I was fine with taking the time to snap a few.  With the addition of photo credits listed to any public showing or I'd have no complaint . 

 Also the Union Hall has from time to time requested me to photograph events or contribute some of my stock photos to show solidarity by posting them on the website or adding them with a small caption to the monthly newsletter .
 Beforehand it was always mentioned that the photos would be used be displayed in the Union Halls online gallery or possibly published in the news letter .  One thing I always require is that when it comes to use of my photos that I get proper credit for them, and they be used as agreed upon.

 Yesterday while logged onto Facebook one of my Union Brother posted a photo of himself standing next to what I would call a rolling billboard , actually a trailer . On the side of that trailer was one of the photos I provided for the newsletter roughly 10X15 feet in size.
 While I feel complimented that they chose this photo but at the same time there's no indication marking it as my work nor was any permission asked from me to use it in this way.
 Don't get me wrong, I enjoy sharing photos and getting feedback as much as the next guy but if someone (or organization ) is going to use my images for a commercial purpose I think should get a piece of the pie that they invested  to make said rolling billboard.

 So there's the situation.  Rant off.   

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Surprise commercial use of one of my photos
« on: July 27, 2014, 11:15:32 AM »

Niterider

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Re: Surprise commercial use of one of my photos
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2014, 11:45:56 AM »
Just watermark your photos from now on if you are concerned about not getting credit for them. If you complain, they will just take your picture down, not pay you for it.

Plus your on company time when you took those photos. Not sure how it works for you, but when I take pictures while on the clock for "in the field" engineering inspections, those become the property of the company I work for.

sanj

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Re: Surprise commercial use of one of my photos
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2014, 11:48:05 AM »
I would feel violated if this happened to me.

Zv

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Re: Surprise commercial use of one of my photos
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2014, 12:00:33 PM »
You took the photo with your gear so the photo belongs to you. Doesn't matter if it was on the clock or not. It is your work. This is basically theft. They can't use your photo for commercial purposes and not compensate you. I assume the billboard ad has no connection to the Union in anyway?

What are you doing about it is the question. Are you letting this one slide becuase that's the worst thing you could possibly do. All that does is give other potential billboard picture theives the green light to steal more photog's work.
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Barrfly

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Re: Surprise commercial use of one of my photos
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2014, 12:05:15 PM »
I was on the clock for the company, the Union sends us to the jobs but are not our employers.

Barrfly

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Re: Surprise commercial use of one of my photos
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2014, 12:12:39 PM »

What are you doing about it is the question. Are you letting this one slide because that's the worst thing you could possibly do. All that does is give other potential billboard picture thieves the green light to steal more photog's work.

 I just found out late last night, as to what I'm going to do about it... I guess that is a valid question. First step is making contact on Monday when there are folks in the office.
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fragilesi

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Re: Surprise commercial use of one of my photos
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2014, 12:56:48 PM »
You took the photo with your gear so the photo belongs to you. Doesn't matter if it was on the clock or not. It is your work. This is basically theft. They can't use your photo for commercial purposes and not compensate you. I assume the billboard ad has no connection to the Union in anyway?

What are you doing about it is the question. Are you letting this one slide becuase that's the worst thing you could possibly do. All that does is give other potential billboard picture theives the green light to steal more photog's work.

Careful, are you really sure about that?  I suspect this is a grey area.  Certainly any intellectual property I generate while working, is the property of the company that I work for.  There's no question about that and the OP was "on the payroll" at the time.

It gets hazy given the unofficial agreements and the fact that he used his own equipment but I'd be careful about claiming "theft" personally.

Don't get me wrong, they really should have asked or mentioned it at least but theft . . . that's not something I'd accuse anyone of before being 100% let alone my employer.  Especially as we now know who they are, this is no longer about an un-named entity.

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Re: Surprise commercial use of one of my photos
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2014, 12:56:48 PM »

Khufu

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Re: Surprise commercial use of one of my photos
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2014, 01:24:10 PM »
Honestly, I'd try to find a third party with a level head who can back you up in regards to etiquette and professional conduct which they've seemingly overlooked, at the least.
What they've done is likely out of naivety and ignorance (read "obliviousness", not "active-selfishness") and an ideal outcome would be for them to aknowledge they're at fault and compensate you (perhaps excessively, if we're still talking ideals!) ;)
It doesn't feel good to fight your own fights when you're ethically and legally right though potentially can look like an arse to those who undervalue your personal skills, efforts and investments.
I feel I'd step in if I were a colleague, but I'm not... There's a lot of sensitive psychology at play here which can be difficult for the most level headed and impartial to handle with ease.

In short, you've been taken advantage of, there's at least another human being who needs (NEEDS) an education in professional (mis)conduct and, er, there's a chance you're going to be daemonised simply for being a victim of circumstances and I highly recommend seeking the level headed, passionate and likeable allies whom I recommended above ;)

Please do keep us all updated on the situation, Barrfly - at the very least the rest of us can get an education and some perspective in regards to how spectacularly tits-up or productive this winds up being ;)
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LetTheRightLensIn

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Re: Surprise commercial use of one of my photos
« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2014, 01:39:39 PM »
Wow, Parsippany.

Anyway it is a tricky scenario. Often while on the clock anything you do can be taken, fair or not, so there is a chance you may be out of luck. It does seem a little questionable the way they went about it morally though regardless of whether the law ends up saying that the photos are still 100% your own or not (and I'm not a lawyer so I can't be sure).


unfocused

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Re: Surprise commercial use of one of my photos
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2014, 01:49:23 PM »
You took the photo with your gear so the photo belongs to you. Doesn't matter if it was on the clock or not. It is your work.

No, that is just flat out wrong. In the U.S. at least, your employer owns anything you produce on the job and oftentimes even has a claim for something you produce on your own time. (For example, if you wake up in the middle of the night with an inspiration for a product improvement, your employer has a claim to that.)

Whether or not the job is performed with your personal equipment is irrelevant. Many union electricians own their own tools. That doesn't mean they own the work they produce with their tools. Same applies to photography or anything else.

This is a little unusual here because a third party (the union) appropriated the work from the employer. Technically, I would imagine the employer could seek compensation from the union, but I don't see that happening. I doubt if a union employer wants to get crossways with the union over a picture.

The union took advantage of you, that's clear. But, you really don't have much recourse. Maybe before giving them any more pictures tell them you want credit on anything you produce.

BTW, does the union have releases from the guys in the picture?
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neuroanatomist

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Re: Surprise commercial use of one of my photos
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2014, 01:53:06 PM »
Beforehand it was always mentioned that the photos would be used be displayed in the Union Halls online gallery or possibly published in the news letter .  One thing I always require is that when it comes to use of my photos that I get proper credit for them, and they be used as agreed upon.

On the side of that trailer was one of the photos I provided for the newsletter...

I see words like 'mentioned' and 'agreed upon'.   Does that mean mentioned in a written agreement, and agreed upon by said agreement being signed by both parties?  If not, it seems reasonable that they could use an image which you provided to them for whatever they want. 

It could also be a simple error - someone put the image on a server, someone else found it, liked it and used it for the truck.

As for accusing a New Jersey union of breaking the law, I hear that can lead to other things getting broken...kneecaps, for example.  :o
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Midphase

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Re: Surprise commercial use of one of my photos
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2014, 01:54:18 PM »
I think at the very least they should have asked you first.

I would guess there was some miscommunication somewhere along the way, don't just assume malice before you get all the facts.

And yes...this is possibly a grey area legally. I think the advice of protecting yourself from now on with some sort of watermark is valid.

Don Haines

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Re: Surprise commercial use of one of my photos
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2014, 01:55:25 PM »
I guess the question comes down to "what do you want" and "what will it cost you".

You want a photo credit, but going after the union with "guns a blazing" could cost you work...

How about going after them with a solution? Offer to print up a sticker for the corner of the picture which says "Photo by Xxxxxx Yyyyyyy, IBEW member 123456" and ask if they will put it on the trailer?
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Re: Surprise commercial use of one of my photos
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2014, 01:55:25 PM »

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Surprise commercial use of one of my photos
« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2014, 01:56:01 PM »
Verbal contracts and understandings are often the cause of hard feelings.  The person who used the image might not have been aware of the agreement.

The best way to avoid a misunderstanding is to get the agreement in writing, and include a pricing schedule for commercial use.

Its a tough situation, and I doubt if anyone intentionally violated your agreement.

Make sure that you let them know of the issue, and that they might not get further images if they are not used as intended.  Try to make something positive out of it.  They might agree to add a stick-on label giving you credit.

slclick

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Re: Surprise commercial use of one of my photos
« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2014, 01:59:11 PM »
Have a meeting, tell them you're flattered. Go in with your local property laws digital on your smartphone or memorized. Ask them to meet you halfway. It's just snapshot after all.

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Re: Surprise commercial use of one of my photos
« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2014, 01:59:11 PM »