Friday, October 16, 2009

Photos, Photos, Photos!

A recent article about Getty and Corbis, two of the big photo licensing agencies, and their aggressive policing of rights violators on the web, from the LA Times, Sept. 13, 2009:

The letter arrived at Dave Formella's Long Beach travel agency the other day. It's fair to say it freaked him out.

"It has come to our attention that you are using an image represented by Getty Images for online promotional purposes," the letter from the photo service began. It demanded $1,000 in damages, or $900 if Formella agreed to pony up the cash within two weeks.

"We were really surprised, because we didn't think we were using any copyrighted pictures," Formella, 51, told me. He said he immediately pulled every photo from his company's site, which had been put together by a Web-design firm.

But Formella said he won't pay hundreds of dollars for inadvertently using the photo -- a generic shot of a woman sitting in front of a computer. Getty charges as little as $49 to license such images.

"A thousand dollars in damages?" Formella said incredulously. "Are they kidding?"

That's undoubtedly a common reaction among the tens of thousands of people who receive such letters each year from Getty and another leading image provider, Corbis, owned by Bill Gates.

I have licensed images from both collections. They are a bit on the pricey side, although sometimes they've got a photo you're not going to find anywhere else. Case in point, I needed a picture of Anthony Sabato, Jr. from his Calvin Klein underwear modeling days for an appearance he made on the Tyra Banks show.

I had to license the Sabato photo from the agency which had the photo rights.

For generic celebrity publicity photos, I generally like Everett Collections. For stock photography, I have used Shutterstock, a subscription service (if you're going to be downloading a lot of stock photos, as we did on the Tyra show) and, which has some beautiful photography at very reasonable prices per image, which is where I got the art photo for the home page of my Rights Camera Action! website.

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