The Treasure Hunt Begins Here

New York Public Library is one of the greatest libraries in the world; established in Manhattan in 1895, it’s not only a magnificent example of the Beaux-Arts architecture, it also symbolizes the democratic ideal of free and open access to knowledge, since it first opened to the public (in 1911).

nypl.digitalcollections.92e58d86-3a90-1ae2-e040-e00a18063187.001.r

But for those who are geographically unable to visit and browse its public spaces, research collections, and comprehensive programs and exhibitions, an incredible new online resource has recently been announced: as the library releases 180,000 of 673,452 items from its digitized collection.

Not only is this treasure trove available to anybody online, it’s also available for free. In the spirit of the library’s democratic ideal, all of these out-of-copyright materials are now available as high-resolution downloads; available after a removal of administration fees and processes. As the library states: “No permission required, no hoops to jump through: just go forth and reuse!”

Before even getting into the contents, it’s important to note that online users of the website will find recently refined download links and filters highlighting restriction-free content. More technically inclined users will also benefit from updates to the Digital Collections API enabling bulk use and analysis, as well as data exports and utilities posted to NYPL’s GitHub account. These changes are intended to facilitate sharing, research and reuse by scholars, artists, educators, technologists, publishers, and Internet users of all kinds.

Interestingly enough; all subsequently digitized public domain collections will be made available in the same way, joining a growing repository of open materials.

Where to start in assessing this vast collection of material? Here are just some of the historical wonders:

nypl.digitalcollections.8ca113d5-2a6d-59fe-e040-e00a18065fa2.001.r

  • The Works Progress Administration (WPA) Collection consists of works on paper, primarily lithographs and etchings, but also drawings and paintings created during the years 1935-1943 by African-American artists. The purpose of the WPA program was to create paying jobs for the unemployed at every skill level. The WPA allowed many artists to work full time on their craft for the first time. Students were able to learn new skills, while other artists served as mentors and continued to advance techniques and innovate — especially in the printmaking field. Most works were produced at the Harlem Arts Community Center in New York City.

nypl.digitalcollections.510d47d9-4e71-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.001.v

  • Photographer Berenice Abbott proposed Changing New York, her grand project to document New York City, to the Federal Art Project (FAP) in 1935. The FAP was a Depression-era government program for unemployed artists and workers in related fields such as advertising, graphic design, illustration, photofinishing, and publishing. A changing staff of more than a dozen participated as darkroom printers, field assistants, researchers and clerks on this and other photographic efforts.
    Abbott’s efforts resulted in a book in 1939, in advance of the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadow NY, with 97 illustrations and text. At the project’s conclusion, the FAP distributed complete sets of Abbott’s final 302 images to high schools, libraries and other public institutions in the metropolitan area.

nypl.digitalcollections.510d47d9-a964-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.001.w

  • Pioneering social photographer Lewis P. Hine was drawn to Ellis Island, and the promise of a “new immigration,” as foreign massed arrived from southern and eastern Europe and elsewhere. He photographed at the immigration station between 1904 and 1909, capturing the new Americans pouring through on their way to cities, factories, and farms. Hine’s interest in child welfare and the social conditions of the American industrial working class followed naturally as he became immersed in the reform movement, which grew with the rising social consciousness of his time.

nypl.digitalcollections.510d47e0-2bad-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.001.w

 

  • The largest known collection if its kind, the Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views collects over 35,000 stereographs of international scope, making it one of the largest and most diversely representative holdings of its kind in the world. From gold panning in the Klondike in 1899, the 1883 ruins of the Casa Grande in Arizona, or sunset over the Grand Canyon in 1902, history comes alive in parallel images that combine to transport us into the past.

To encourage novel uses of this digital resources, the NYPL also now accepts applications for a new residency and research programs. Administered by the Library’s digitization and innovation team, NYPL Labs, the residencies are intended for information designers, software developers, artists, data scientists, journalists and digital researchers. Two projects will be selected, receiving financial and consultative support from Library curators and technologists.

To provide further inspiration for reuse, the NYPL Labs team has also released several demonstration projects delving into specific collections, as well as a very cool visual browsing tool allowing users to explore the public domain collections at scale.

To start your journey, visit:http://digitalcollections.nypl.org … and enjoy!

 

What Deborah and Edward are up to..

VISUAL CONNECTIONS Founder/Partner Deborah Free shares some insights along with partner Edward Leigh into the strategy both past and future of Visual Connections.

How did you come to running Visual Connections?

I started in the industry by running a stock agency called Natural Selection. I left that in 1998, and then I worked as a freelancer helping photographers set up their businesses. I was at a PACA conference – I believe, in Montauk – when Michael Brown approached me; who was, at the time, running picturehouse. Picturehouse was still fairly new and he was looking for someone in the States to take over managing the US events. He knew I was available and aware of my involvement with PACA, and asked me if I would help him with his next NY event. It was the year he was at Tribeca Rooftop. The event was a huge success, a step change from previous years, and so my involvement evolved from there.  I started taking over the NY event, which is where I was introduced to Edward, who was also working for Michael.

Edward was working with Michael Brown, then involved in BAPLA (British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies), , when he started picturehouse. Edward built and managed the website for the first picturehouse expo in New York City in 2001 (not long after 9/11). A few years later I came on board to run the US events. I first met Edward when Michael invited everyone to a team meeting in the UK in 2006.

How you divide responsibilities?

In 2008 Edward and I joined forces and started Picturehouse Marketing US; after Michael decided to step aside and concentrate on European events. And in 2009 we changed the name to Visual Connections. Edward and I have a great relationship: despite living 3,500 miles apart and only getting together once a year, we manage to communicate well and make decisions quickly. Edward is the brains behind the company, developing our backend system, looking after the website, and writing marketing copy. I am the front person selling the event, keeping everyone happy, and managing the logistics around staging each event.

Visual Connections is evolving, yes?

We are really excited at the new direction Visual Connections is headed. Having Workbook as our Principal Partner at our events has helped us broaden our reach to include artist reps and production houses, which fits perfectly with our mission to be the meeting place for all visual creatives, whether using stock or commissioning new content.

Visual Connections has many success stories and is an integral part of the marketing plans of many companies. Can you tell us about a few?

We’ve been pleased how many new agencies have launched their businesses at one of our events (Stockpot, Catch & Release, everypixel, Lola Clips, LatitudeStock, SheStock, Mother Images, 500px, Venus, Robana Picture Library…).

“The best part was meeting all the art buyers and creatives! And the second was being with fellow stock agencies. I love the camaraderie that I felt with all the other stock agencies. This is my first VC and I have never felt so welcome. What an amazing venue to have them come to. I met so many people that I am still reeling!”

Ophelia Chong, Stock Pot Images, LLC

This year agencies exhibited from as far away as Europe, Africa, Russia and China. Our goal is to continue to expand; bringing in more companies offering key services/products to image users. So, by combining key informative sessions, great food and drink and awesome prizes, on top of being able to meet such a wide variety of diverse imagery, makes Visual Connection events THE only key industry event for both suppliers and users of imagery, stills and motion.

What other services do you offer?

The main other service to staging events, is that we offer is the online directory, which also serves as a gateway to DMLAsearch. There’s a free-to-access side for image buyers/researchers, and the industry’s most comprehensive directory of visual media suppliers is available to subscribers.

What’s planned for 2016?

After a two-year hiatus we are excited to head back to Chicago to the Ivy Room on May 5th. We are thrilled to have Workbook as Principal Sponsor for this event. Buyers can look forward to a NOT TO BE MISSED event which will include stellar informative sessions, great food and drink, awesome prizes and a great line up of agencies, artist reps and production houses. Workbook will be sponsoring a special Cinco de Mayo happy hour!!

And of course, we’ll be back in NYC at the Metropolitan Pavilion on October 27th, immediately preceding the DMLA conference.

2017 is in the planning stages with first on our list a long awaited establishment of a west coast forum in California. So keep your eyes on all the new happenings with Visual Connections in the months and year to come!

Deborah and Edward

 

Everybody knows Michael!

Stock photography luminary Michael Masterson was honored recently with the ASPP’s “Jane Kinne Picture Professional of the Year Award,” joining such company as Cathy Sachs, Jane Kinne and so on. Of course we took the opportunity to spend some time with Michael getting his POV on the industry.

(c)Jeff Bridges

(c)Jeff Bridges

You have seen the industry go through so many permutations. Where do you see the opportunities for Picture Professionals now?

That’s a loaded question. I attended the DMLA (formerly PACA) annual conference in October and one of the panels was “The Death of Stock.” I think that’s been a topic at every conference I’ve attended in the past twenty years! And yet, Lazarus-like, the stock industry continues to morph and grow with new companies sprouting up with fresh content and different business models. I think it’s much harder to make a living as a picture professional these days, but there are still opportunities. From my perspective as a recruiter, it’s important for people to realize that they have transferable skills applicable outside the photo industry if there are more options for them there too.

Trade associations are also morphing – with your experience and insight, what does the ASPP of the future look like?

I think most trade organizations are struggling for membership now. It’s important to let folks know the value of belonging to a group of like-minded individuals who share similar experience and connections. The ASPP celebrates its 50th year in 2016, so we are gearing up for a membership drive in conjunction with that. And we need to remain relevant and accessible. I think we need to do a better job on social media and in providing educational content to our members. Most critically, we need people to step up and volunteer to be on chapter boards and the national board. There are terrific opportunities for networking with peers and giving back to the industry. Volunteering for ASPP has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional career. Dear reader: Think about it!

 

You have worked in many sectors of the stock industry all over the globe shoulder to shoulder with our leaders – can you share a memorable moment/anecdote?

Gosh, I’ve been to every PACA/DMLA conference since 1987 and most CEPIC events since the late 90s so I have lots of memories spanning many cities, countries and colleagues. One memory that stands out was from the CEPIC conference in Florence in 2007. I attended with Jerry Tavin, a fellow Picture Professional of the Year and an industry icon as you know. He’d arranged for us to stay in a stunning boutique B&B behind gates and a very high wall on a remote street several miles outside the center of Florence. In those pre-Uber days, calling a taxi was the only way to get to or from it. CEPIC conferences are very social and after the final night party I went out with a group of colleagues to savor Florence and sent Jerry back to the B&B in a cab. However, since he was with me, he’d neglected to bring his key and didn’t think about it. Nobody at the B&B heard him pounding on the gate or ringing the buzzer. Luddite as he is, he didn’t have a mobile phone either! When I finally came home at 4:00 AM he was huddled by the gate like the little matchboy, shivering from the cool night. He’s never let me forget it.

 

What do you see as your legacy?

We accomplished a lot during my four years as ASPP national president. I added member benefits, spearheaded updating the bylaws (unchanged since 1985) and chapter handbook and was part of the teams that revamped The Picture Professional magazine as well as the ASPP website, both enormous projects. We also diversified our membership categories and expanded our “Find A Pro” service at aspp.com. I also implemented the Board of Trustees on which I now serve. I believe I had a very positive impact on the organization. And I was honored that they acknowledged that with the Picture Professional award.

 

What is next for Michael Masterson, PPotY?

I worked with Deborah and Edward on last October’s Visual Connections in New York which was very successful. I’m helping them out with the Chicago event on May 5th where we also expect will see record turnout for both exhibitors and attendees. I’m also looking forward to helping several companies with their staffing needs, a job I love. Recruiting leverages all of my connections, industry experience and people skills and I love finding the right person for the perfect job. I hope and expect 2016 to be the best year ever!

And we fully know it will be a fantastic year! Michael, our heartfelt congratulations on the PPY recognition and thank you for all you do for the industry!

Creating A Conceptual/Fine Art Stock Photo

How DO they do it? Our ‘Stock Photo Guy’ and resident guru John Lund shows takes us behind the scenes.

Creating a fine art stock image for Getty Images

(c)John Lund

(c)John Lund

Siri Stafford, my art director at Getty Images at the time, suggested this stock image for me to create. She asked me to make the image because she thought my specialty of using Photoshop to create conceptual stock images made me a logical choice for the job. I truly loved the idea; but what the heck would lightning hitting a tree really look like? I turned to that technological development that has so radically changed the world of commercial photography…the internet. I simply typed in to Google’s image search “lightning and tree”. In just a few minutes I had found some obviously amateur images…but ones that were nonetheless stunning actual images of lightning hitting trees. Now I had something to work towards.

In my mind I pictured a lonely expanse of land with a single oak tree. A lightning bolt is caught as it hits the tree and illuminates the scene around it. The bolt travels down the trunk of the tree illuminating the leaves both from above and from behind at the same time. The sky is dark from storm clouds gathering at dusk.

Photographing the oak tree

(c)John Lund

(c)John Lund

There are many oak trees near my home in Marin County just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. I scouted an open space nearby and found an oak tree that suited my needs. I photographed it just before noon with a slight back lighting. At that time I was still using film and captured the image with a Hasselblad medium format camera on Kodak Ektachrome film. Due to the steep slope of the land I couldn’t get the whole tree in the frame, despite my wide-angle lens, unless I turned the camera to a diagonal angle.

In the same space I found and photographed an open expanse of land with a foreground

(c)John Lund

(c)John Lund

of wild oats. From my files I found a photograph of cloudy skies and some distant low mountains—shot in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with a dirt road winding through the composition.

 

 

Getting a picture of a lightning strike

(c) John Lund

(c) John Lund

During a recent winter trip to Ladakh, a region in Kashmir often referred to as “Little Tibet” I got my lightning. It was long after dark and I was suffering both from altitude sickness and a case of the flue exacerbated by the extreme cold in my unheated guest room. A flash of light lit up the room and immediate rush of thunder testified to the closeness of the strike. Being as how I had never managed to shoot lightning (rarely do we get lightning in the San Francisco Bay Area), I managed to drag myself out from under the covers and grappled for my camera. With my head spinning from my physical condition I groggily shoved a roll of film in my F100, steadied on the windowsill, open the shutter and waited. Boom! Another flash. I repeated the procedure until I had shot a roll then climbed, shaking, back into my cot. As a stock photographer using Photoshop to composite so many of my images together, I am always on the look out for elements that I will be able to using in my stock composites. That effort finally paid off, I thought, as I scanned two of those lightning shots for this image. I made the scans using my Scanmate 5000 drum scanner and scanning the images at 100 megabytes each.

(c)John Lund

(c)John Lund

Using Adobe Photoshop to combine the images into a stock photo

I began assembling the image by using layer masks to paint together the landscape and cloud images. I merged the layers, duplicated the new layer, lightened it up with an adjustment layer of curves, and then used the layer masking to paint in the area to be “illuminated” by the lightning. The Tree was selected using the Color Range, magic wand, and lasso tools in conjunction with alpha channels. Making a selection of a tree with thousands of leaves is quite a challenge and in this case required not just the above sequence of operations, but also considerable time going in at 100% magnification and by hand, using the lasso tool, “cleaning up” even more of the tree selection. With the tree selected I copied and pasted it into the background. I duplicated the tree layer twice, darkened one with the curves and lightened the other. I then used layer masking to create the effect of light and dark areas where the lightning would be lighting up the leaves closest to the lightning bolt. Finally, I brought in the lightning bolt itself, pasted it in, and then setting the layer mode to “lighten” only. By setting the mode to “lighten” the pixels in the lightning image that were lighter than the underlying pixels of the rest of the image become the only ones visible…thus there was no need to “strip” the lightning bolt out of it’s dark background (I used the curves to darken the image enough to eliminate all but the lightning bolt itself). I used the liquefy brush to “fine-tune” the path of the bolt.

A timeless fine art / stock photo

In the end I have not just a pretty picture, but a conceptual stock image that can be used my small businesses and large ones alike to illustrate the concepts they need to advertise and promote their products and services. The image, available for license through Getty Images, has licensed hundreds of times…and as it is a timeless image, will no doubt be helping fill the needs of businesses indefinitely into the future. That is exactly the kind of image that I strive to create…dramatic, useful and timeless. When I am able to create those kinds of images I have to marvel at what a wonderful career stock photography has been for me!

All images (c) John Lund

Skilled and seasoned photographer John Lund can be found over here when not creating gorgeous conceptual imagery: www.johnlund.com

Get Colorstock!

We hear over and over from researchers, editors and buyers searching for imagery about the need for a different kind of imagery. We chatted recently with entrepreneur Jenifer Daniels who has stepped up and has brought a new collections to market : Colorstock.

2
Colorstock has come onto the Stock scene with a mission statement of recognizing the need for authenticity and diversity in the stock world and delivering it. Jenifer, I see that you are a PR pro. How did you come to recognize this area of opportunity and what spurred you on to dive into the world of producing, marketing and licensing stock?

Having worked as a communicator for over 15 years, I have been an event manager, PR consultant, and brand strategist. And I’ve always had one nagging problem: no matter how many times I searched via paid portals, I could never seem to find authentic images of people of color. Their visual stories were always told via the narrative of the dominnant society and never properly reflected their nuanced lives.
I never thought that I could solve this problem, but I was up for the challenge. I learned as much as possible about startup culture, coding and stock photography and decided to tackle the problem.
There are so many different business models in Stock – tell us about your pricing and how it works.
 
Colorstock maintains a constant feedback loop with it’s customers. Currently, our customers tell us that they would like to purchase their images a la carte, as opposed to credits or monthly memberships.  Our image licensing starts at $5, based on size and style,and be easily downloaded without creating an account on the site. This model will change if/when our customers demand it.
How do you work with/ recruit your contributors/photographers to coach them to create? Do you provide support with creative briefs and art direction?

We recruit photographers via social networks – digital and physical. We are looking for photographers with a unique visual point of view and those who believe in our mission. Our initial catalog was a product of our own art direction. We have now started open cals fr specific photo styles based on our customer feedback loop. For example, we have requests for travel photography, images of seniors, and green lifestyles.

1Tell us a bit about who is using your images?
Our largest block of customers are nonprofits, human service organizations and solopreneurs. These populations value the a la carte option of our library.

I see that you are connected with some really interesting sources of POC imagery – CreateherStock and BlackStock. Can you tell me about the community and how you support each other?

Colorstock, CreateHerStock, and Black Stock Images launched around the same time with the same goals in mind. We found each other in the #blkcreatives community on Twitter. We speak often about the state of our industry, possible collaborations, and the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. We are very supportive of each other and we want each to ‘win’ so to speak.

colorstock-logo-blackw. getcolorstock.com ig. @getcolorstock t. @getcolorstock

Secrets From the Set

Imagine if a donut was a diva… demanding that it only be shot from certain angles, or that the powdered sugar only be of a certain specific type; and you begin to get an idea of the stresses faced by professional stylists. For, make no mistake, food might not, in reality, be able to make demands, but that doesn’t mean that getting any foodstuff to ‘perform’ under the hot wilting photo lights on an eight-hour shoot is anything but a case of coercion, ingenuity, and good old-fashioned secret tricks of the trade.

Six food stylists share their food wrangling secrets:

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/jan/04/food-stylist-photography-tricks-advertising

 Coffee or watered-down soy sauce? Photograph: Photo by Beth Galton. Retouching by Ashlee Gray. Food styling by Charlotte Omnès.

Coffee or watered-down soy sauce? Photograph: Photo by Beth Galton. Retouching by Ashlee Gray. Food styling by Charlotte Omnès.

 (Courtesy of Guardian News & Media Ltd)

The Age of Content

Many thanks to the DMLA for letting us post this recap of the Keynote from the recent DMLA conference with Scott Braut, Adobe’s new Head of Content for Digital Media.

Content with impact.
Scott Braut’s message is that we now “Live in the World of digital experiences “ and this is the “Age of Content”!

2015-DMLA-Santa-012-150x150He has been in the industry for 20 years involved with visual content, technology and licensing and worked previously with Associated Press and Shutterstock and his new role is to grow the collection whilst supporting the artists who create the content.

Publishing communicates visually – internet is a dialogue driven by visual content. There is appreciation for quality, and consumers are looking for compelling and engaging content. He sees the future is not in how many views or hits you get, it’s now about action – what action does your content inspire?

Photographers are story tellers who have power to define our experiences, but “A good experience isn’t good enough. Our experiences must be great they must work flawlessly as well as beautifully. They must inspire us they must transport us and transform us.”

Scott describes Adobe’s mission as providing the means “to move the web forward and give web designers and developers the best tools and services in the world.” Having recently launched Adobe Stock with 40 million Fotolia images, they have produced the first stock content service to be integrated directly into the content creation process and the tools creatives use daily, thus becoming both a standalone marketplace and part of its creative service.

Scott spoke about the relationship between content and the creative tools and Jenn Tardiff gave an exciting demonstration of how Creative Cloud and Creative Sync support creatives in their work flow using different platforms. With pressure to deliver creative ideas and content faster than ever, synced tools and content make it possible to work across multiple devices to suit people’s busy working life on the go, at work or at home, allowing for collaboration and sharing.

A few statistics:

26% of marketers create 6 or more pieces of content per week

69% of these believe original content is more effective than licensed syndicated content
75% say they work across multiple mediums
80% recognise the need to learn new skills and tools
Creative Cloud has over 2000 desktop apps and 10 mobile apps
10million individuals and groups are working with Creative Cloud
Quoting Bryan Alvey, designer and entrepreneur, Scott says that the big change is that “The revolution occurred because the audience is now in charge”, and we can no longer control the audience, we have to engage and inspire them.

2015-DMLA-Santa-011-150x150

Adobe Stock – https://stock.adobe.com

All Types of Gifting this Season

As the season of giving is upon us, let’s take some time out from all that financial management – all that project billing, and equipment buying, and estimate building – and take a brief look at some folks in the photography community are in the the giving frame of mind:

Photojournalist Yunghi Kim has perhaps produced the most satisfying example of giving, because she literally turns an injustice into a positive. A fierce guardian of her own material, Kim has successfully leveraged payouts from unauthorized use of her work to the tune of $10,000… and intends to make the finds available as a grant to ten other photo-journalists, at $1,000 a pop. The final selection of the lucky winners will be made by Kim and Jeffrey Smith (Contact Press Images Director).From the Photoshelter Blog:

“In this season of Thanksgiving, I have decided to gift $10,000 to members of this PJ group in recognition of the values and principles all of us hold as essential to our creative and productive well being… I am doing this to emphasize the importance of copyright registration of your work and as a way for me to give back to the profession of photojournalism, an industry that I love and I am proud to be a member of for more than 32 years.”

The fantastic message behind this initiative is one of collegial support, but it also contains a valid message: copyright that works!

Photographer Bob Lee does his own good works in another way: documenting those who channel giving and kindness all year round. Lee is a constant presence at many fundraising and charity projects. He retired 16 years ago, and now, at the age of 73, dedicates himself to capturing the spirit of individuals and groups who want to put back, in the town of Barrington, Illinois.

Lee takes time out from behind the camera to actively fundraise himself; and volunteer awards from the Les Turner ALS Foundation, the National Hospice Foundation and the American Cancer Society are testament to the energies of a man who would put younger men to shame.

So what’s the secret to his longevity, his mixture of self-tonic and compassionate outreach? Speaking to The Daily Herald, he says that:

“I’ve found that you can lead a healthier and longer life if you can give back. If we put other people in front of ourselves that’s a medicine that we don’t need a doctor for. If you do that you’re going to find a greater joy.”

——

There are ways to give back even if you’re not a professional photographer: witness the “Donate a Photo” scheme in Times Square; wherein visitors at an interactive giving experience can do something positive in a “snap” (get it?); by redirecting our selfies and portraits of interesting urban phenomena into something shared for a new reason: raising funds for charities.

Anyone can participate by downloading the Donate a Photo app from the Apple App Store or through Google Play.  From there, it’s as simple as picking a cause to support, uploading a photo and sharing on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the handle @DonateaPhoto and #JNJ, #DonateaPhoto, #365DaysofCare or #DonateEveryday.

For every photo shared through the app, Johnson & Johnson donates $1 to one of its trusted non-profit partners, chosen by the user from a rotating list of causes. The scheme has already been kicked off in an event attended by actors Zachary Levi and Katherine McNamara, and celeb photographer Nigel Barker.

For more details go to:

http://www.multivu.com/players/English/7263551-donate-a-photo-operation-smile/

Any other stories about our community giving back? Drop me a line – would love to hear about them!

NaturePL – Bats About Wildlife

The giving season is upon us and Julian Jackson’s conversation with Tim Harris about NaturePL and how they do things a bit differently is nothing if not timely.

Great Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa) on snow with wings spread. Raahe, Finland, March. (c)Markus Varesvuo/NaturePL.com

Great Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa) on snow with wings spread. Raahe, Finland, March. (c)Markus Varesvuo/NaturePL.com

NaturePL (Nature Picture Library) is a world-renowned nature specialist photo agency, based in Bristol, a city in the south west of the UK. Bristol is notably an environmental and creative hub, and received the European Green Capital Award in 2015. The famous BBC Natural History Unit, which produces David Attenborough’s TV series, is based in the city, and that was the reason that NaturePL was founded here – to take advantage of the pool of natural history imaging expertise in the area.

Tim Harris is the Sales Manager of NaturePL. I first worked with him when I was a picture researcher many years ago when he was at NHPA (Natural History Photographic Agency), which was taken over by Photoshot in 2006. He says, “I started in this industry in the usual way, I fell into it by accident! I left University with a degree in Modern Languages, and I was looking for an interesting job. I have always had a passion for wildlife and nature, so I started off running the NHPA library – we expanded from one member of staff – me – to 10 while I was there.”

When I was searching for images, primarily for magazines, I was often looking for rare creatures, to illustrate articles for an avid readership and I needed to get it right. Tim unfailingly came up with the right animal no matter how obscure – and in those days there wasn’t the breadth of imagery there is now. I remember asking him for a picture of a lungfish. He came straight back with, “What particular one do you want, African, South American, or Australian?” Call me ignorant, if you like, but to me a lungfish is a lungfish. Tim, of course, knows better.

Bridled parrotfish (Scarus frenatus) clownish grin reveals its power tools: grinding teeth used to scrape algae from rock, Maldives, Indian Ocean. (c) Franco Banfi/NaturePL.com

Bridled parrotfish (Scarus frenatus) clownish grin reveals its power tools: grinding teeth used to scrape algae from rock, Maldives, Indian Ocean. (c) Franco Banfi/NaturePL.com

He joined NaturePL in 2009. The agency has a commitment to supporting conservation activities and green charities and has raised around £20,000 ($30,000) for various projects, which are detailed on its website here. They also try to be green and offset their carbon emissions and reduce their impact on the environment in various ways. They support a different charity per quarter, ranging from the nearby Avon Wildlife Trust to the far-off Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica, which aside from rescuing sloths (which I cannot help but imagine in slow motion) researches little-known aspects of sloth life, by giving them a GPS “backpack” which records their movements, so their existence can be better understood. Often a suitable conservation venture will be recommended by one of their photographers in the field, who now number over 400.

Of course these projects generate amazing images. The Tolga Bat Hospital in Australia is a rescue centre for flying foxes, which suffer from a horrible parasite which gradually paralyses them. The hospital treats adults and brings up orphans till they can be released back into the wild. This feature has been sold worldwide and helped gain huge recognition for the Tolga Bat Hospital.

Spectacled flying fox (Pteropus conspicillatus) babies or bubs wrapped in cloth in the nursery at Tolga Bat Hospital, North Queensland, Australia, November 2012 (c)Jurgen Freund/NaturePL.com

Spectacled flying fox (Pteropus conspicillatus) babies or bubs wrapped in cloth in the nursery at Tolga Bat Hospital, North Queensland, Australia, November 2012 (c)Jurgen Freund/NaturePL.com

Other conservation projects they have been involved with have help protect Monk Seals, Lions, Orang-utans, Rhinos, bugs, Bees, and fish: a wide spectrum of different causes. They also have been involved in the Wild Wonders of Europe project, documenting European wildlife, and ARKive, which is a non-profit catalogue of world wildlife for future generations.

NaturePL recognises that a lot of news about the environment can be disheartening, so they try to find stories which show the positive impacts people are making. They combine this with a pro-active approach of creating features (see here) which they then show to clients to generate stories which the client may not have known about.

The last few years have been very uncertain for the industry. NaturePL has responded with a threefold approach – it has expanded into footage, and is quietly rolling out clips, it has about 4000 on the site at the moment; it is pro-actively suggesting feature stories to clients; and it is also looking more towards digital media and the expanding multimedia education sector, rather than traditional publishing.

Tim adds, “In order to differentiate ourselves in a crowded marketplace, we place high value on our unique images, high quality creative input, and expertise, so we can offer the customer a distinctly special photographic product.”

Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) 11 month cubs play fighting, Ranthambhore National Park, India. (c)Andy Rouse/NaturePL.com

Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) 11 month cubs play fighting, Ranthambhore National Park, India. (c)Andy Rouse/NaturePL.com

imagehttp://www.naturepl.com/

juliancoffeshopcuJulian Jackson is a writer with extensive experience of picture research, whose main interests include photography and the environment. His portfolio is here: https://julianj.journoportfolio.com/ He also runs a Picture Research by Distance Learning Course www.picture-research-courses.co.uk. Linked-in profile.

DMCA Takedown Notices Require Fair Use Considerations

Reprinted with the kind permission of the DMLA
Nancy Wolff and Josh Wolkoff, Cowan DeBaets Abrahams & Sheppard, LLP

Lenz v. Universal Music Corp., Case Nos. 13-16106 and 13-16107, in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was enacted in 1998 to address in part issues created by the internet and the widespread posting of content by users. In reforming the Copyright Act in 1978, the drafters thought that this Act would serve well into the future as it was content neutral but they could not foresee the way the Internet dramatically altered the way users exchanged content online and how perfect copies of copyrighted content could be virally distributed in seconds. Internet service providers (ISPs) were concerned with strict liability and monetary damages based on content posted by users and hosted on their servers over which they could not monitor and control. Section 512 of the Copyright Act was enacted to balance the concerns of ISPs and copyright owners. Qualified ISP were granted immunity from liability if they received a proper notice of infringement and expeditiously removed the infringing content.

There has been much litigation over the years regarding various aspects of the DMCA, including whether a copyright owner is required to consider whether the use made of the uploaded content is considered a fair use and not an infringement before issuing a takedown notice. Because of the massive amount of content uploaded by users, and the difficulty to search the ever increasing number of sites, content owners, including the music industry, employ technology to crawl the internet to find unlicensed content in order to end the ISP the requisite takedown notice.

A test case was brought in 2007 by Stephanie Lenz, a mother who sued Universal Music Group after YouTube removed a 29-second video of her toddler dancing to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” in response to a DMCA takedown notice submitted by Universal Music Group, Prince’s music publisher. Not surprisingly, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a pro user group supported Lenz in bringing this test case. Dubbed the “dancing baby case,” Lenz argued that her video was protected by the doctrine of fair use and that Universal’s takedown notice violated a section of the DMCA that provides liability for knowingly making material representations because it misrepresented that the video was infringing without considering fair use . Under the DMCA, a proper takedown notice must include a statement that the owner or its agent has a “good faith belief” that the use of the copyrighted work is not authorized under the law.

The case ultimately made its way to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. An appeal the court was asked to examine whether fair use was a right under copyright and an authorized use, or a defense to infringement and unauthorized. In a significant ruling to content owners and ISP’s, the court issued a bright line rule that copyright holders must consider the fair use doctrine before issuing takedown notices to remove otherwise infringing content under the DMCA. The Court’s decision makes clear that a failure to do so can open the door to nominal monetary damages and attorneys’ fees for any material misrepresentations made (or improper procedures used) in the course of pulling content from service providers like YouTube. The court explained that fair use must be treated differently than other affirmative defenses because fair use is not merely an exception to an infringement – it is one that that is expressly “authorized by law” under Section 107 of the Copyright Act.

The Ninth Circuit took great pains, however, to qualify the thrust of its ruling, suggesting that it was “mindful of the pressing crush of voluminous infringing content that copyright holders face in a digital age.” In particular, a sender must only form a “subjective good faith belief” that the use is not a fair use or not authorized under the law. The inquiry “need not be searching or intensive” and, in fact, the Court recognized the role that computer algorithms and automated programs might play in making such fair use determinations and issuing proper takedown notices. The Ninth Circuit also confirmed that the question of liability for material misrepresentations does not hinge on whether or not the use is indeed a fair use: courts are “in no position to dispute the copyright holder’s belief even if [the court] would have reached the opposite conclusion.”

As a result content owners should review their notice and takedown procedures in order to ensure that their procedures give due consideration to potential fair uses. DMLA, in watching this case over the years, revised the declaration in its DMCA notice to include reference to a fair use review: I have a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of herein is not authorized by COPYRIGHT HOLDER, its licensing representatives, or the law and is not a fair use.

Even if using recognition technology to find infringing uses, someone should review the use to determine if the use is a fair use or not. As fair use is determined on a case by case basis, and in not the easiest area of the law, the determination just needs to be made in good faith. As noted by the Ninth Circuit, it is not a material misrepresentation if a court might come out differently. Fair use is a judgment call after weighing the requisite four factors. DMLA has a webinar on fair use found [here] and the Copyright Office has published an index of fair use cases [http://copyright.gov/fair-use/]