Wednesday, May 6, 2009

PHOTOS, AND WHY BLOGGERS HATE THEM

Loyal readers know that here at T.A.H. we occasionally share our reader’s comments. This series of comments was posted between 11:32 and 11:41 last night while T.A.H. was trucking home from the Bruce Springsteen show down at the University of Virginia.

11:41 you are using my copyright image. you do not have my permission to use. take it down now.

11:40 you are stealing my copyright image. Take it down.

11:34 YOU ARE USING MY COPYRIGHT PHOTO. COPYRIGHT G. CARVAJAL. YOU DO NOT HAVE MY PERMISSION TO USE THIS IMAGE. TAKE IT DOWN NOW.

11:33 YOU ARE USING MY COPYRIGHT PHOTO. TAKE IT DOWN. MEXICAN BEER AND LIME COPYRIGHT G. CARVAJAL

11:32 You are using a copyright photo by G Carvajal. You do not have permission to use my image. It is copyrighted and protected by US law. TAKE IT DOWN


Now, it would seem reasonably clear that Mr. Carvajal believes that the photo in question was his, and that T.A.H. doesn't have permission to use it. (The photo above isn't the photo in question, but you get the point.)

He’s correct on both counts. Here’s the explanation for you, the loyal reader, and Mr. Carvajal.

This situation is not unique to T.A.H., but a problem for all but the mega-blogs that make mega bucks.

We didn’t steal Mr. Carvajal’s photo, we borrowed it. Just like we do with lots of photos every day. Sorry, dude, we didn’t mean to get you all worked up. Our bad.

We “googled” Mexican beer and Carvajal's photo is what came up. We did not see a photo credit. Had we, we would have credited G. Carvajal. Look closely and you will see lots of photo credits on T.A.H. as we used to be a stickler about it since we’ve been know to take a snap or two ourselves.

We happily ask for permission (and we have on many occasions) if we can figure out how to contact the photographer, but most times that info is not available. And even when it is, it’s hard to get an answer in the 24-hour-news-cycle-gotta-have-it-now world of blogdom. It’s especially challenging, when the blog in question is a hobby and one doesn’t spend all of one’s time in pursuit of this info…

Now, lately we have used fewer photo credits and here’s why. Blogs like T.A.H. can’t afford to pay photographers. We’ve discussed this with U.S. Presswire and Getty Images. They are working on a solution that involves advertising and revenue sharing on a photo by photo basis. This is brilliant if they can get it to work.

To subscribe to a big photo service (like AP, Getty or U.S. Presswire) costs $500 a month or more. Obviously, us little guys can’t afford that. Knowing this and wanting to keep an eye on their content (whether or not it is copyrighted) individual photographers set up Google Alerts to search for their name so they know who is using their photos (and, for the record, we don’t blame them) in an attempt to be compensated. But, since we can’t afford any photos, our only other viable option is to simply not use any…and, that would suck. If we don’t use any photos, we give you, the loyal reader, an inferior product as you all know that the photos here at T.A.H. are half the fun.

So, it’s a conundrum. We would be happy to share our pathetic T.A.H. advertising revenue stream with any and all photographers if we could find them…To that end, yesterday we got an email from Yardbarker saying that T.A.H.’s Google AdSense revenue for the month of February was $3.35. We will gladly share a pro-rata share of the add revenue with all photographers from which we borrow based on the number of hits for the story their photo accompanies as a pro-rata share to all hits that month.

By our calculations, we owed Mr. Cavajal about 1.3 cents – and we aren’t kidding, that’s just how lousy it is...

So you see the dilemma. It’s hard to figure out who took each photo, even harder to reach all of them in a timely manner in order to publish in “real time” and even harder to compensate them properly when revenues are minuscule.

Got an answer?

We’re listening, and so are millions of other bloggers.

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