Ashley Cooper – Documenting Climate Change

In honor of Earth Day, we offer this profile on Global Warming Images by Julian Jackson

Ashley Cooper is a photographer with a mission, and it is an important one: to document the effects of climate change on every continent on the planet. Since 2004 when he started, he has visited all of the continents except South America.  In the process he has seen the deterioration of the environment for the people in the poorest parts of the world. Ironically these are the people who have contributed least to the problem – those with the smallest carbon footprints.

Members of an expedition cruise to Antarctica in a Zodiak in Fournier Bay in the Gerlache Strait on the Antarctic Peninsular.

Members of an expedition cruise to Antarctica in a Zodiak in Fournier Bay in the Gerlache Strait on the Antarctic Peninsular.

He has a background in geography and geology, but photography was always very important to him. He gravitated to taking photos of his favorite things, wildlife, nature, landscapes, and anything outdoors. He was a semi-pro photographer looking for a major project when 15 years ago he learned about climate change. Back then few people knew about it, or were interested at all. He read as many scientific papers as he could, and realized he wanted to document the effects.

His first trip, in September 2004 was to Alaska. He spent four or five months planning the trip. The objective was to photograph the retreats of glaciers, permafrost melting, and the effects on the trees and forests of the region. He went to a tiny outcrop of land off Alaska, near the Bering Sea, called Shishmaref Island, home to 600 Inuit who have lived there for thousands of years and scarcely changed their lifestyle.  As the permafrost ice melts, the winter storms can then wash away peoples’ houses. The island is so small – only half a mile wide – there is nowhere to retreat to. Scientists expect the island to be completely swallowed by the sea within a few years. “The impact on Alaska is very in-your-face and dramatic. All the roads are potholed as the melting collapses their foundations,” Ashley says, “Bad storms can tear big chunks out of the island.” The Inuit people who live there are very connected to nature and have seen dramatic changes in the weather patterns over recent years. This really brought home to him the effects on people were much more dramatic and destructive than technical scientific articles could convey and he decided to make this the center of his photography, because it can communicate the impact of global warming with greater immediacy than words.

Women welding joints during the construction of solar cookers at the Barefoot College in Tilonia, Rajasthan, India.

Women welding joints during the construction of solar cookers at the Barefoot College in Tilonia, Rajasthan, India.

Two years ago he received WWF International sponsorship which enables him to visit various places to photograph the effects of global warming/climate change. “I have spent the last 11 years traveling the planet documenting the impacts of climate change. My shoots have taken me to many locations, but can be pretty depressing, when you see the damage being wreaked upon the environment by climate change. My shoot to India was so uplifting, to see how communities are having their lives enriched by access to heat and power, all provided by renewable energy. It was humbling to see how a single solar panel the size of an A4 sheet of paper is enough to charge a battery, which will give light to a house overnight. Prior to the introduction of the solar panels, people used kerosene lamps for light.” Over one million people, mainly women and children, die annually from inhaling the fumes. Having solar electricity, in places that have never been near the grid, can make a huge difference to people’s lives: their health is no longer at risk, they can have light for their children to do homework, or earn some money by sewing. It is a huge improvement in the quality of their lives.

A WWF project to supply electricity to a remote island in the Sunderbans, a low lying area of the Ganges Delta in Eastern India, that is very vulnerable to sea level rise.

A WWF project to supply electricity to a remote island in the Sunderbans, a low lying area of the Ganges Delta in Eastern India, that is very vulnerable to sea level rise.

He has also visited Antarctica this year and documented some of the effects there.”Antarctica is the most remote, pristine, unspoilt continent and the coldest on the planet. Its remoteness from human activity can not protect it from the impacts of climate change. Temperatures on the Antarctic Peninsular have risen 2.8 degrees Celsius in the last 50 years, making it one of the fastest warming areas of the planet. This has led to 87% of the peninsula’s glaciers retreating, and a loss of 25,0000 km square of sea ice from floating ice shelves.”

King Penguins emerge from a fishing trip out to see onto the beach in the world's second largest King Penguin colony on Salisbury Plain, South Georgia, Southern Ocean.

King Penguins emerge from a fishing trip out to see onto the beach in the world’s second largest King Penguin colony on Salisbury Plain, South Georgia, Southern Ocean.

A lot the work he does can be depressing. He says, “My perspective is what I have seen in my various travels is very scary stuff. Climate change is the biggest risk humanity has ever faced. We should be doing much more to move from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Ironically the people who are least responsible and have the smallest carbon footprints are the ones suffering the most, like the Inuit and people on Polynesian islands like Tuvalu which are being swamped by rising sea levels.”

Ashley runs Global Warming Images – a photo-library which specializes in visually documenting the effects on the environment of climate change.

juliancoffeshopcuJulian Jackson is a writer with extensive experience of picture research, whose main interests include photography and the environment.  His website is www.julianjackson.co.uk.  He also runs a Picture Research by Distance Learning Course www.picture-research-courses.co.ukLinked-in profile.

 

Chicago!

Gearing up for Visual Connections in Chicago next week? If you are going to be in town for a few days, some photography exhibits to check out:

The Schneider Gallery currently showing work by Christian Weber and S. Gayle Stevens.

Stephen Dalter Gallery – ANDRE’ KERTESZ; “Raison d’Etre”:  This exhibition is comprised of scores of the actual photographs André Kertész originally displayed in the historic group exhibition, The Concerned Photographer at the Riverside Museum in New York City in 1967. Raison d’ Etre ranges through many of the classic works from the artist’s three great periods, centered on Budapest, Paris and New York.

A personal favorite: Catherine Edelman Gallery has a wonderful show, “Gautier’s Dream” Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison

Catherine Edelman Gallery also has an online gallery devoted to photographers in Chicago: The Chicago Project.

Museum of Contemporary Photography Chicago

The Museum of Contemporary Photography is showing My Florence: Photography by Art Shay and a new show: Home Truths with an opening reception timed perfectly for after Visual Connections.

And finally, “Vivian Maier’s Chicago” is on view  through the summer at Chicago History Museum.

Street Photographer or Self-professed Spy?

Photo lovers captivated and mesmerized by the story of the negatives in a suitcase and the mysterious nanny/street photographer Vivian Meier are in for a treat with the just released documentary, Finding Vivien Meier. See where it is screening near you here and go see it immediately. Her story is not what you expect and it is just as haunting as her images.

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World War One in Pictures

(c) Julian Jackson

August 2014 will be the 100th anniversary of one of the most destructive conflicts that has ever taken place: World War One, or the “Great War”, as it was named at the time. Although centered on Europe, battles took place all over the seas and nations as far apart as the USA and Japan were drawn into the war.

Global publications will be covering this in print, on TV and in new media. Here is a guide to useful sources of images and footage in Europe which may help US-based researchers track down material in varied collections.

Obviously the major libraries like Getty and Corbis have large holdings of relevant visual material.  Getty Images took over the Hulton Collection of historical photographs years ago and this is a good source. However there are other excellent collections, both commercial and non-commercial which have fantastic images of the conflict.

Obviously the big daddy is the Imperial War Museum, just down the road from me in London. Formerly Bedlam – a madhouse (appropriate for a war museum, you might say), it holds huge amounts of footage and still images.  The main site is www.iwm.org.uk  and from there you can access film sales and image sales.  Note that only a fraction of their huge collection is available online and you may need to contact them directly for further research. Its focus is the former British Empire so it has good coverage of Canadian, Australian, and other imperial contingents, including the Indians – large numbers of them fought in the trenches in France too…which must have been even more unpleasant for them than western soldiers, given the difference in climate.

Here is a list of UK archives of WW1 topics: http://archiveshub.ac.uk/features/worldwarone

This covers a wide range of topics, from regimental archives to women at war. UK photo agencies which have good WW1 collections include TopFoto , Mary Evans including pictures of the battlefields and memorials revisited today and the Illustrated London News Picture Archive, and Bridgeman Art Library – which has a fine selection of the art, illustrations and posters of the period,

The Granger Collection has an unusual selection of very rare Autochromes – colour pictures of WW1.  This process was developed by the Lumiere Brothers – yes the pair who invented cinema. In 1907 the busy brothers released it commercially. The process uses a glass photographic plate, which when developed becomes a transparency which can be projected. Obviously the end product is quite fragile and so not many survive. Granger have over 100 images, see here for a selection . It includes a picture of Belleau Wood – scene of a very bloody battle in 1918 where US forces eventually prevailed.

Recently an unusual collection of images has surfaced of the german soldier’s view of the war. German officer Walter Koessler took almost 1000 photographs of german soldiers and the devastation caused by the war. Fortunately he survived the war, emigrated to America and became a successful Hollywood art director. His descendants preserved his picture albums, but they languished in a cupboard till rediscovered by his great grandson Dean Putney.

Another interesting collection is Europeana 1914-1918, which has details of collections and is a good portal to other sources, check out their network and partners menu.

There are many good sources for WW1 images and footage but the above covers most of the largest and most useful sources for people searching for images of what was a terrible and traumatic conflict. The motto on many war memorials is: “Lest We Forget”, and that is an important concept – we shouldn’t forget how damaging war is and how it should be the last resort.

 

juliancoffeshopcuJulian Jackson is a writer with extensive experience of picture research, whose main interests include photography and the environment.  His website is www.julianjackson.co.uk.  He also runs a Picture Research by Distance Learning Course www.picture-research-courses.co.ukLinked-in profile.

Preventing images from becoming Orphaned

© 2014 Doug Brooks, All Rights Reserved.

Questions:

1.     How can you prevent images from being stripped of their © information?

2.     How can you find a copyright holder when the image you want to license offers no information of any kind?

3.     What can you do to protect your images from becoming Orphans?

Answers:    There are ways* (notice the asterisk)

In this second article on Orphan Images, the first may be seen here, I want to discuss and make suggestions for how images may be protected even when they are stripped of their metadata.

 

Photographers who make a living licensing their images know very well the importance of labeling and identifying their images before letting them ‘out’ into the world.  They may apply visible watermarks, insert a copyright © credit or other name visibly at the image border and/or add IPTC metadata to the image, telling the world who the copyright owner is and how to find them.  As an image researcher, I’m annoyed by visible watermarks that are placed dead center over the image, unless they are ghosted and avoid infringing on the details of the image.  When watermarks obstruct the image from being clearly seen, I often don’t want to show them to my client. Watermarks, to put it simply, can be very distracting.  But I’m not the person who would steal an image! Our clients retain our services to ensure the images they use are licensed properly.  I believe we all need to worry about the people who will ‘take’ images and strip them of all metadata, as this is how great images can become ‘Orphans’.  Here’s an example.

When a photographer places images on a social media site like Facebook, they believe they are getting a bit of exposure and promoting themselves.  They are hopeful that their website SEO will improve and that maybe… just maybe… someone will want to license their image, for a profitable use and licensing fee.  Facebook, as an example, renames images as they are ingested into and onto their site.  This means a customary search by image file name has no chance of finding a copyright holder.  They also strip all the metadata, IPTC and EXIF, from the image.  This leaves little or nothing that will help people find the copyright holder should they wish to use an image. If an image creator has taken the time to insert a copyright credit on the face of the photo, there is a good possibility of finding this person.  For this reason I suggest strongly that any image posted on the Internet, for any reason whatsoever, contain the creator’s name preceded by the © symbol, visibly within the picture area.  But that’s not necessarily enough.  An unscrupulous user could crop the image to remove that © notice and the image becomes an Orphan.  More on this to follow.

Our Colleges and Universities are not doing a very good job of instructing their students in the basic points of copyright. Professional trade associations are missing the mark, as well. Many ‘picture professionals’ who are users of photographs still believe that any image they find on the Internet is free to use.  Ouch!  Fortunately, many others don’t, so I won’t be discussing ‘the good guys’ any further other then to ask each of you to spread the word and inform co-workers and clients.  The ‘bad’ guys will find your photo, take it, crop it to remove your visible © notice and remove all of the metadata. The image is out there and it is orphaned.

As legitimate image creators, researchers, marketers and licensors, it is in our best interest, even our fiduciary responsibility, to prevent images from being orphaned. We should then be aware of what we can do to help images maintain their identity and not become Orphans. Here are some cool solutions.

You may be familiar with an App called Shazam® that will, on your command, listen to music and identify the name of the song and the performer.  This technology also enables newer car radios to identify the music and, in my book, this is pretty fabulous.  In the world of photography, there is Digimarc®.  In 1996 Digimarc released its first digital watermarking system in conjunction with Adobe® Photoshop®.  If you’re a Photoshop user, take a look under the ‘filter’ drop down menu and you’ll see the Digimarc option at the bottom of the list.  It’s been there for over 17 years. The Digimarc digital watermark is embedded in a picture file so that it is both imperceptible and persistent… you can’t see it and it can’t be removed.  For about $50 a year you can embed a digital watermark in up to 1,000 images.  For about $100 a year you can embed a digital watermark in up to 2,000 images and you get their ‘search service’. The search service crawls the Internet scanning billions and billions of images for a digital watermark. The image owner receives a report showing each use the bots find.  The lower cost program does not provide this searching service leaving the image owner hoping that someone who wants to find them will know to use the free Digimarc Viewer to see if there is an embedded watermark.  This tool allows researchers and buyers to see if there is an ‘invisible’ watermark that will lead them to the image owner.  I fear very few researchers or buyers know to search otherwise Orphaned images for a digital watermark.  This makes the extra $50 per year, for the subscription that includes the search service, well worth the investment.  Sadly, I believe we are at a moment in time when professional photographers may be able to make more income from images that are being used without permission then those that are properly licensed.  This would only be true if the unlicensed uses are found and this is the value of the Digimarc search service.  There are, of course, Digimarc pricing options to watermark more then 2,000 images and enterprise solutions for stock agencies and others holding large volumes of images.   Check them out at Digimarc.  Image researchers, marketers and licensors need to know that they have this ‘extra’ option that may help them find image owners for otherwise Orphaned images.  Please, spread the word.

Another technology advancement that will help image users to properly find and license images thought to be Orphans is image recognition.  We’ve all seen TV shows and movies where the authorities, using surveillance cameras, zoom in on a persons face and in no time have scanned databases worldwide to identify the person of interest.   Images have their own online recognition system which you’ll find at Tin Eye .   The Tin Eye reverse image search service allows you to upload a URL where you’ve seen an image, the image file itself if you have it, or you may drag and drop an image onto the Tin Eye page from your own computer.  I tested Tin Eye this week by dragging a half dozen images off of the Getty website onto their page.  Search results indicated each of the images I chose appeared on websites other then Getty’s and allowed me to carefully compare the images and learn the URL where the image appears.  In several instances, one of the URLs was a photographer’s website… Yes, I found the image owner.  Image creators will be able to use Tin Eye to register their images.  By creating a database of your images within the Tin Eye registry the Tin Eye search bots will report back image uses found across the Internet.  Check out Tin Eye to see how their services might work for you.

At the beginning of this article I asked three questions;

  1. 1.     How can you prevent images from being stripped of their © information?
  2. 2.     How can you find a copyright holder when the image you want to license has no information?
  3. 3.     What can you do to protect your images from becoming Orphans?

I hope I have sufficiently answered these questions and as image creators, researchers, marketers and licensors, we will all move forward with a unified agenda that reduces the number of Orphaned Images dramatically.

DougBrooks-150x150

Doug Brooks has extensive experience in the field of picture research and licensing, including his leadership of an intrepid group of acquisitions editors at one of the largest general interest book publishers in the United States.  Today, he is a co-founder and co-director at the Image Research Team providing image and video services to publishers and museum exhibition developers. As a photographer, he continues to shoot for the stock market and he serves as an officer on the National Board of Directors of the American Society of Picture Professionals. He may be found at The Image Research Team and LinkedIn.

The Stock Photography Community Mourns the Passing of a Pioneer

Originally posted on the PACA Blog

Grant Heilman passed away on Tuesday, February 25 at his home in Buena Vista, Colorado, following a brief illness.  He was born in 1919, in Tarentum, Pennsylvania.  He had a wonderful small town bringing up, and loved small town living his entire life.  He could stand large cities for as much as a week at a time.

He attended the Academy of the New Church in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania, and then Swarthmore College, from which he graduated in 1941.  He remained a supporter of Swarthmore during his lifetime, and felt they had given him a wonderful education and lifelong friends. 
His education was furthered through military service in World War II.  He was drafted as a private in September of 1941, was demobilized as a Captain in November of 1945, spending almost four years overseas.  After Pearl Harbor he talked the Army’s Counter Intelligence Corps into accepting him as a Special Agent.  From then on he was sometimes in uniform, sometimes in civilian clothes.  Shipped to England in June of 1942, he worked mostly in London, partly as a liaison officer with Scotland Yard.

He went to Algeria, North Africa, in the invasion of November 1942 and eventually became Detachment Commander of the CIC operation in Oran, Algeria.  Most of his work gradually became acting as liaison with the French civilian and military counter intelligence forces.  With the invasion of southern France he moved to the Counter Intelligence staff of the Sixth Army Group, and his work there, again, was mostly as liaison with the First French Army’s counter intelligence, which had come from Algeria to France. 
His most publicized activity in France was in early 1945, heading up a team of French and American counter intelligence agents ordered to recover America’s most secret cipher machine, the SIGABA—and to find out who had stolen it.  It had been stolen from the U.S. Army’s 28th division near Colmar, in Alsace.  The story of its recovery has been widely written up over the years, though who was really responsible for its theft has never been told.  Grant was awarded both the American 
Bronze Star and the French Croix de Guerre for his work on the missing SIGABA.  He was also made an honorary Private First Class in the French Foreign Legion while he was in Algeria.  He finished his military career doing staff counter intelligence work at the US Group Control Council in Berlin, where he continued liaison with the French and the British counter intelligence and, when they could be found, the Russians.

Following his military service he returned to Pennsylvania, where he had grown up, decided he’d had enough of intrigue and avoided going into the fledgling CIA, which many of his fellow counter intelligence agents continued their careers in.

In 1946 he married Marjorie Mapel, a sculptor, print maker, and industrial designer. He started work as a magazine journalist, gradually specializing in agricultural subjects, doing both writing and photography.  In 1948, he founded the photographic stock agency that still bears his name and is located in Lititz, Pennsylvania.  He lived in Lititz for thirty years, becoming a devoted advocate for conservation and preservation of open space. Grant was a Nationally known and respected photographer covering the Country taking photos of our lands. Grant believed in and was an active supporter of the photographic and agriculture community and industry organizations having two National Presidents of the PACA (Picture Archive Council of America trade association) on staff.  He was involved in the National AgriMarketing Association, America Agricultural Editors Association, The Agriculture Relations Council, American Society of Picture Professionals, American Society of Magazine Photographers and many others. He retired as CEO from Grant Heilman Photography in 2011. His writing or photographs have appeared in almost every publication, and in dozens of textbooks.  He has authored, both text and photographs, a number of books, best known of which are Farm Town and Farm. In 2012 he self published a western novel, Krieger. 
He and Marjorie had one child, Hans, born in 1957.  Marjorie died in 1961.  Grant married a Swarthmore College classmate, Barbara Whipple, who was also a printmaker and field editor of American. Artist Magazine   Barbara and Grant moved from Lititz, Pennsylvania, to Buena Vista, Colorado, in 1976 and lived together there until Barbara’s death in 1989.

In 1994 Grant married Conrad W. Nelson, a neighbor and longtime friend from Pennsylvania, and she moved to Buena Vista.  Conrad is also a printmaker, photographer, and community leader. 
Obviously, during his lifetime, Grant learned a lot about, had a great interest in, and loved, art.  With Barbara Whipple he was one of the founders of the Chaffee County Council on the Arts. After Barbara Whipple’s death in 1989 most of their collection of prints and paintings was given to the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.

He had a longtime interest in land use planning, enjoyed hiking and the outdoors, particularly in studying and improving the forest that surrounded his and Conrad Nelson’s home west of Buena Vista. 
Above all, he just had a great time being involved in small town activities, and Buenie, with all its wonders and all its problems, remained the ultimate small town that suited him well.  He found fun in going to the Post Office every morning, getting lunch at Punky’s, going out to the college, and being fortunate to be able to have helped fund everything from the Clinic, to the schools, to the Barbara Whipple Trail, and to a lot of small activities that no one but the recipients know about.

He is survived by his wife, Conrad Nelson; his son, Hans, a granddaughter Jorie Beth, and two step daughters, Kate Schilling, of Silver City, New Mexico, and Chris Schilling, of Boise, Idaho. 
Contributions may be made to Hospice, Chaffee County, The Nature Conservancy of Colorado.  Private cremation was held.  Service to be held at a later date.

 

The Grant Heilman Agency can be found here.

Have You Seen This?

March round up from ’round the web.

Remember the story about Jon Crispin and the Willard Suitcase Project?

Well, he has a great Kickstarter that you can support for as little as a dollar!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/265363123/willard-suitcases-unpacking-the-rest?ref=category

Want to weigh in on EU Copyright? Everyone has an opinion:

http://www.rightsholderseucopyright.eu/

More from 2013 – Best Selling Microstock images from Fotolia.

Our congratulations to the ASPP and Sam Merrill on his recent appointment as the new Executive Director. Drop him a line to welcome him.

Finally, our favorite search tool PACASEARCH has added video as an option.

 

Visual Connections is coming to Chicago – any tips on great galleries and shows we need to write about? Would welcome your comments!

 

 

BAPLA

Julian Jackson gives us an overview of the PACA equivalent trade organization in the British Isles.

BAPLA (British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies) is the UK’s stock photography trade association. It represents over 200 members, including Getty Images and Corbis, but also a lot of small and medium sized photo agencies, which make up the bulk of the UK industry. Founded in 1975, members must adhere to BAPLA’s Code of Professional Ethics, which promotes fair dealing with clients, contributing photographers and other agencies. BAPLA is a voluntary organisation run by its Executive Board of well-respected industry figures, in a similar way to PACA in the US. It has a small office staff, but relies on a lot of hard graft by members as well.

The size of the photo industry in the UK has not been calculated exactly because most of the agencies are private companies and do not post public accounts. Getty Images used to, but also is now a privately-held company so using that as a proxy for the whole industry, as some analysts did, is not possible any more. BAPLA estimates their members annual turnover at GBP 310 million ($520 million).

BAPLA’s functions fall into two main areas: acting as a lobbying group, advocating for the interests of agencies and photographers, and raising the profile of the industry; and a secondary area of having events for their members including business education, networking and social evenings. This was very much appreciated by their members, with seminars on industry standards and procedures led by experts, but has been on the back burner because continuous lobbying over orphan works and changes to UK copyright legislation left little time to spare for other areas of BAPLA’s remit. The draft legislation, which has been much improved by lobbying by BAPLA and other industry groups, should pass into law in the spring.

 

BAPLA’s sterling lobbying to modify forthcoming government legislation left little energy on behalf of volunteers or staff to organize more industry-focused events, a shortcoming that BAPLA are planning to remedy later this year with a one-day seminar, to be held in the fall, which will include various panel events, guest speakers, and, I am informed, a nice lunch.  Details are yet to be finalized, but I will keep Visual Connections readers informed of the details.  This event is going to be open to everybody interested in stock photography, including photo buyers. BAPLA are also planning an upgrade to their website, which will make it more modern and user-friendly.

Steve Lake, chairman of BAPLA and library manager of 4Corners Images says that the UK stock business has steadied since the recession led-declines of 2007-8. Times are still hard but not as bad as they have been. Steve says, “Unfortunately the reality is individual prices are still going down. Nobody expects them to go up. You can still make some good sales in the commercial and advertising side of the business but editorial prices remain low.  There is some good news, volume seems to be going up so that partly compensates for the decline in licensing fees.”

My own take on a good way for specialist and smaller libraries to survive is where they have an established relationship with publishers, and particularly a recognized niche where they can deploy their staff expertise, which larger agencies sometimes lack. Skilled photo buyers recognize that having a subscription deal which limits sources means that sometimes inferior images end up being substituted for the really good ones – in terms of both content and technical quality – that can be found by searching more widely. It is in the interests of quality publications to have a plurality of sources, and BAPLA represents many accomplished photographers via their agencies.  The historical material owned by its members is vast, covering such sources as Mary Evans, the National Gallery, Imperial War Museum – important for its World War One coverage in this anniversary year – and legacy newspaper archives such as Mirrorpix, which holds material from the UK Daily and Sunday Mirror going back over 100 years.

Overall, BAPLA is one of the most useful portals to find material for photo buyers, particularly for projects related to the UK and its part in global affairs. BAPLA members represent some of the best collections in Britain, and pride themselves on the quality of their photography and service.

Www.bapla.org.uk

http://4cornersimages.com

juliancoffeshopcuJulian Jackson is a writer with extensive experience of picture research, whose main interests include photography and the environment.  His website is www.julianjackson.co.uk.  He also runs a Picture Research by Distance Learning Course www.picture-research-courses.co.uk.  Linked-in profile.

 

 

Using Orphan Images

(c) 2014 Doug Brooks, All Rights Reserved

Question: When is it okay for me to publish (or otherwise use) an orphan image?

Answer:    Never* (notice the asterisk)

We all know that copyright is there to protect creative works from being used without the permission of the rights holder.  That’s good, that’s solid, we can all appreciate the message. Licensing an image for use, therefore, is fairly straightforward as you need only find the image, contact the rights holder and obtain the permission you seek.

When it comes to using images whose owner is unknown (in the vernacular, an orphan image), publishers and other image users are fearful to use the image, as the rightful owner may come forward and, well, sue their pants off.

There have always been issues with images becoming disassociated from their owner, and thus “orphaned”.  In the early days, film images would be paper mounted, sealed in a plastic envelope or some other protection that carried the owner’s name, contact information and © legend.  The Internet has caused an explosion of images to become effectively orphaned as files become stripped of metadata (if they ever had metadata), file names are changed by users to accommodate their work flow, or any of a number of other reasons. While removing that “copyright management information” (in whatever form) from images is prohibited under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, it remains the case that images that have been carefully identified by the image owner are routinely stripped of their identity to become orphans in a sea of images. Equally as horrible, image users locate images they really want to use, but can’t find the path to licensing the images.  The image owner can’t license their image, the image user can’t license the use of the image AND the general public can’t benefit from exposure to the image.  Everyone loses.

The Orphan Works Act of 2008 (HR 5889) has the intent of leveling the playing field by allowing image users to use orphaned images without the threat of huge punitive damages.  Unfortunately, to date, the bill has not offered the image rights holder a reasonable path to reassert their copyright in the orphaned image. In fact, as of the last incarnation of the bill, the image owner would have to jump through costly legal hoops to take the image infringement to court, prevail over the infringer’s objection that a “good faith” search for the author was made, and then go through a process to reclaim their orphaned image as their own. Not so good. Adding insult to injury, once an orphan publishes, every other image user is able to extend less effort finding the owner.  Instead, they can point to the first orphan use as an indication that due diligence had been done by other(s) and the owner could not be found.

The Orphan Bill as we know it is in the House Judiciary Committee and it is hard to know when it might emerge or in what form.

The idea of creating a fair and reasonable Orphan Bill is, in many respects, a wonderful idea as it would allow millions of images that are disassociated from their owners to be used.  But what is fair and reasonable?

I would suggest that fair and reasonable would allow a ‘user’ to publish a work after doing due diligence to find the rightful owner.  I can’t define ‘due diligence’ in this short piece so please allow me to move forward simply saying ‘due diligence’.  The user should be able to move forward without fear of unreasonable punitive damages should the rightful owner come forward.  That’s a sticking point.  What if the rightful owner would not have allowed the use of the image due to a social or personal belief?  What if the image owner were opposed to a political use or having their image promoting a social issue such as abortion, birth control, drugs, alcohol or sexual orientation?  Image rights holders control the copyright to their image and that means they control how it is used. Unless of course, the image is ‘declared’ orphaned. Maybe you see a solution to the ‘opposed’ issue, I don’t.  Having documented this issue for your consideration, allow me to leave that conundrum on the table and move on.

Let’s tackle the use of an orphan image where the image owner would have been happy to license the image for the use that was made. The image owner is first straddled with the responsibility of discovering the ‘use’ and then seeking a fair settlement.  I don’t see a way around that.  I do see the opportunity for something like the Orphan Bill to set a process by where a fair price is set for the use and the image owner has a clear and easy path to reestablishing their copyright in the image.  A fair price for the use would vary by several factors.  The use itself, one might look at a selection of stock agencies and what they would charge for the use itself as well as the industry status of the image creator, I find it easy to understand how an image created by a top dollar industry pro would be valued higher then an image created by someone just starting out.  I can also see a penalty charged to the user if the rights owner can document clearly that the use violates a personal or philosophical belief.  This would encourage those who have a ‘controversial’ use to look further for an image that they are able to clear the necessary rights. Let’s leave the comparison there. There needs to be an opportunity for the unique circumstances of the specific use, and the status of the creator, to be considered in the fair assessment of a retroactive licensing fee and that likely will need to be arbitrated by qualified people.  If arbitration were made the legal solution it’s possible all parties would find themselves a bit ‘unhappy’ but dealing with a reasonable outcome.  For the moment, I’d vote for arbitration.

In my opinion, the image user really needs to consider the backend liability and measure that against the value of the image they wish to use.  This step, in of itself, will cause many users to find substitute images for some orphans while moving forward using others.  As it stands now, image users are liable for damages when they use an image that has not been properly licensed.  That’s the reason why the Orphan Bill was first introduced, to protect users from huge punitive damage settlements.  The holdup in passing the Bill, so far, and only as the result of massive objections from the copyright holder’s side, is that it does not offer a level playing field for users and copyright owners to come to settlement, fairly.

As we move forward image creators and/or copyright holders will need to do more to protect their creative property.  There are solutions currently in our midst and others under development. Here are a few worth looking into:

Digital watermarking is a process by which a unique identifier is embedded within an image, not the metadata, and can’t be removed. Services, like Digimarc (digimarc.com), are available that allow images, that have been digitally watermarked, to be found by bots that tirelessly search the Internet.  Reports come to the image owner and any image found may be checked against licenses that have been made. Obversely, an image may be checked to see if it contains an imbedded identifier that will lead it ‘home’. This may one day soon become a part of a users routine due diligence.

Image recognition has come a long way.  Tin Eye (tineye.com) is one company that provides image recognition software that one uploads an image to.  The image is then searched for across the Internet.  If the image is found the URL locations of any use are reported may provide a link back to the rights holder.  This is another way users may do a portion of their due diligence in trying to locate a rights holder.

Image registries will be hugely valuable resources as rights holders are able to register their images as they are created and also retroactively. Case in point, PLUS Registry (useplus.org), years in development will soon be a global online resource connecting registries worldwide, images, rights holders and rights information.  PLUS is something to know about and I believe it’s in our near future.  It is well worth your time, as a user or a rights holder, to stop by useplus.org and check it out.

*So, the original question was, When is it okay to publish (or otherwise use) an orphan image?

Knowing now some of the issues surrounding the use of an orphan image I’m revising my answer to be, never… or when your company counsel says it’s okay.

DougBrooks-150x150 Doug Brooks has extensive experience in the field of picture research and licensing, including his leadership of an intrepid group of acquisitions editors at one of the largest general interest book publishers in the United States.  Today, he is a co-founder and co-director at the Image Research Team providing image and video services to publishers and museum exhibition developers. As a photographer, he continues to shoot for the stock market and he serves as an officer on the National Board of Directors of the American Society of Picture Professionals (aspp.com). He may be found at The Image Research Team and LinkedIn.

Been Leaning In for Awhile

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(c)Silvana DiFranco /SheStock

Earlier this week, Getty and Leanin.org announced a partnership whereby Getty donates 10% of license fees to LeanIn.org from sales of this collection:
This got us thinking and we wondered about sources of imagery of women, so we compiled a list of resources that we know of and use.
When looking for dynamic and diverse images of contemporary women, please remember these dynamite collections/agencies too:

SheStock
ImageSource
Monkeybusiness
Blend
Erickson Stock
Queerstock

Mother Image

By the way, most of these sources are partially/wholly owned by female entrepreneurs.

The stock industry has a history of female trailblazers who have been leaning in for generations: Ellen Boughn, Susan Turneau, Beate Chelette, Cathy Aron, Sonia Wasco, Jane Kinne, Danita Delimont, Lady Harriet Bridgeman and Sally Lloyd to name just a small handful.

Who are some of your favorite boutique sources?