|Sunset at Harbor Island, SC
We are all so careful these days about using photographs (the above photo is one of mine and you are welcome to use it! no bill will arrive from me!) from the internet and I know several people who have been threatened by photograph agencies and billed significant amounts of money even though their use of the photograph was educational only.
Therefore it was with great interest I read an article on the website hyperallergic.com (lots of interesting articles about art), about Carol Highsmith, the famous photographer who over time has donated nearly 19,000 thousand photographs to the Library of Congress for use by the general public at no charge. This has been her life's work.
Highsmith only discovered that a certain agency had taken the photographs from this source, added their own watermark and sold them, when she herself received one of their threatening bills for its use! And she is not the only one, 2013, Daniel Morel was awarded $1.2 million, after the agency pulled his photos from Twitter and distributed them without permission to several major publications.
The agency was trying to charge the photographer a large fee, a very large fee, for the use of their own photographs, photographs they had donated to the public domain!
In the comments in this article, it was evident that several people had paid the agency in questions large sums of money, having been totally mislead by them as to who had the ownership and copyright of the image. The agency affixed its own watermark AND frequently did not attribute the photographer with the credit. Quite likely they have already snitched my sunset, and soon I'll be getting a bill for using it!!
Let's hope that Highsmith wins her billion dollar lawsuit against them for doing this, but my guess is that these agencies will simply consider this "the price of doing business". Clearly - there will be more....and the old saw "the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour" is certainly going to be proven true yet again. However, it is good to know that sometimes the artist comes out on top!
If you have been, thanks for reading! All comments strongly welcomed by the way!! Have at it!